Thank you so much for your sweet words about my girls. They are pretty inside and out. Thank you Jesus for "nice" girls!
There is one phrase that my Mother said often to my sister and I that I am now saying to my girls. It is: Pretty is as pretty does. Most of our Christmas pictures reflect sweet little ladies gracefully opening their gifts, making sure to thank the giver with a verbal thanks and a hug.
And then there are these two pictures.
Oh my. It's okay to laugh out loud. We have...everytime we've looked at it. Her body lanugage is saying, "Oh YES he did!" These are the slippers I mentioned in my previous post.
I'm sure Morgan is thinking, "Why Uncle Chad? I ask you why did you put me into this giant gift bag and then take my picture? Why?" When she grows up to have a fear of giant gift bags, we'll know to blame it on Uncle Chad.
I have no other words.......
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thank you so much for your sweet words about my girls. They are pretty inside and out. Thank you Jesus for "nice" girls!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/30/2007 10:20:00 PM
Saturday, December 29, 2007
We are home and settled again! I feel like I've burn up the interstate between Atlanta and Chattanooga the last two weeks. That's okay, it's worth it to see our family. We had a wonderful time. I'm posting a few pictures for those who couldn't be there this week.
Christmas morning was spent here at home. We decided a long time ago that Santa would always come to our home. And He did. Chloe said, "Santa rocked out this year."
This picture is of Chad's gift to us. Each of "the girls" received 6 small packages. Inside were picture frames with a certificate describing a "date" with him during this new year. We each received three individual and 3 family dates. (He had us make a list of ten places we wanted to visit or things we would like to do in 2008 back in September, he took those ideas and created these dates.) Once the certificate is used, a photo of the "date" will go into the frame. Pretty cool idea I thought. He's going to be broke!
Emma and Chloe holding their gifts from Granddaddy and Zuzu on Christmas morning. Hopefully they'll be in for a visit soon.
Opening gifts at Nana's. Emma is checking out her new Hannah Montana purse and Chloe has sported her "Hannah" sunglasses ever since. (Rain or shine)
Santa left these robes at Gram's and Daddy Mack's house. He also left matching slippers. Chloe and Emma have been looking at and dreaming about owning these robes from Strassburg for over a year. When they realized that Santa left them at Gram's, they almost had tears of joy. They LOVE these robes. (Secretly, I may go get one for me! I think the largest girls size would fit okay!)
On Thursday, we kept the twins. Since we had Uncle Chad and Daddy Mack, we decided to get out and go to the TN Aquarium. It was a blast. Here's the grandparents with 4 of their 5 grandchildren. The only one missing is Colin. I wonder if I could cut and paste a picture of him into this? Hmmmmm, maybe a project for later.
Here are the girl cousins in the butterfly exhibit. There were butterflies all in this tree. All four of them could have spent the rest of the day in this exhibit. They loved it. I got a taste of what it must be like for my sister in law Lindsay. (twinsx2) People often ask us if Chloe and Emma are twins, but with Mia and Morgan with us, we got quite a few double takes. One lady said as we passed, "What did they do to deserve that! I think I would have stopped after the first set." What a goober....:) I just kept saying, "Here girls, let Aunt Steffie help you...." As much as I love them, I was ready to have my two potty trained girls to myself Thursday night!!!
Chloe and Emma with a little buddy. Too cute. Daddy would have stayed here and watched the penguins all day. He said the penguin exhibit in Sydney was better, but that these little guys were just as entertaining.
We took 90 pictures on this trip. Well, Chad took 89 pictures. As you can see, he did an excellent job of staying behind the camera. This is the ONLY shot of him I got. (I'll get my mom's camera and see what she has. She always catches him when he least expects it!) I think he was checking out the shark with Chloe and Mia.
I still have a few things from the Brickman concert I want to share, but right now my mind is on overload. I'm hoping to sit down and collect my thoughts this week.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/29/2007 02:22:00 PM
Monday, December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas to you! I am so thankful that God saw fit to bring you into my life and heart. As I thank Him for the many blessings in my life, I can't help but think of each one of you. I'm just tickled pink that we get to spend eternity together. :)
Since we are visiting with family over the next few days, the posting will be scarce. I may post a picture or two, but unless God tells me otherwise, I'll be posting this weekend.
I'll leave you with this thought. Jack Hayford says "You don't need candlelight and fireside glow to make Christmas happen. It's Him. It's priceless to discover the pleasure of His company."
Have a very Merry Christmas!
One more thing, I have to write this down before I forget. This week Emma, my artist, announced to my Mother and I that she wanted to visit the "Leaning Tower of Visa", we looked at each other and said where? She said it again a little slower and a little louder, the "Leaning Tower of Visa". I guess Visa really is everywhere you want to be!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/24/2007 09:21:00 PM
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It's good to be home for a few days. I really enjoyed my time with my nieces this week and it was so good to see my Grandmother leave the hospital and come home. She's doing great and we thank God for a successful surgery and so far, an uneventful recovery. Just don't mention the replacement aorta, she's having a hard time accepting that it used to belong to someone else. ;)
That old aorta was worn out. Her skilled surgeon took her to the point of death to take out the old, and then he replaced it with a new one. One that he examined, and deemed acceptable. Then, he began the process of waking her up. A long process, one that took several hours. She is still gaining strength, a little more everyday.
I can't help but make the spiritual connection here. Our God, His name Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals) is the best name to use here, takes out the exhausted, diseased, disfunctioning heart, you know the one. The one that holds past hurts, years of anger and unforgiveness. The one that you've decided to just keep because it's what you know, it's the only one you've had so why change. But our God is a healer. It's part of who He is and He isn't going to let you keep that old thing! One way or another, He will let you know that He's ready and willing to do some work within you. He tells us in John that He came to give us an abundant life. We can't fully enjoy that life when our heart isn't functioning properly can we! Jer. 33:6 says that HE will bring health and healing, He will heal His people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
I did a search for the word "heal" in my Bible Study tools and 44 references came up.
This one struck me. It's Isaiah 57:18 "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him and restore comfort to him." In spite of the choices I've made, the words I've spoken that I can't take back, the times I've completely turned my back on the One who loved me enough to die for me, He still heals. God still heals and restores comfort to me.
This was a week, where I needed God almighty to do a healing work quickly. I didn't want to let the frustration, hurt and anger to take root. I know myself well enough to know that if I didn't take the hurt immediately to the Father, it would quickly take root. This year has been hard enough and there is no way, the enemy is stealing the joy of Christmas from us! You see, I want to celebrate Jesus. His miracle birth, His sinless life, and most importantly I want to celebrate His resurrection.
I want to reminisce how every time we had a need this year, He supplied it. How HE provided a buyer for Chad's truck just when we needed to sell it. How He bought us groceries, in the lean times. How HE took Chad from a job he liked, to a job that he LOVES. How HE orchestrated my joining Freedom's Call....the list goes on and on.
These are the things I want to celebrate. But if I allow the hurt to fester in my heart, there isn't room for the joy. I can't have it both ways. Oswald Chambers asked yesterday "Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord?" I know that there have been times in my life where I've allowed the hurt to become more dear to me than God. AND there have been times where I celebrated the good times more than the giver of those good times.
So, God and I have talked this out. I will not mention this hurt again and will rejoice that once again He says "I AM the God that healeth thee" because He has healed us. I'm praying that whatever your hurt is, that you receive complete healing that only comes from our Jesus. I pray that HE is the dearest thing to you.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/22/2007 09:29:00 AM
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The following was part of an e-mail devotion I received on the 18th.
TGIF Today God Is First, by Os Hillman
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend. - Psalm 55:12-13
"You will always be attacked in the place of your inheritance," said the man sitting across the breakfast table. "God has called you to bring people together and to impact other people's lives as a result of this anointing in your life. You must make sure that you seek to maintain righteousness in all of your relationships." Those words came from someone who had the wisdom and authority to speak them to me.
I have had a number of close relationships that ended in betrayal. I am very loyal to my friends and those with whom I have covenant relationships. Yet there are times that no matter how righteous you are, when someone means to betray you, he will do it. Loving those who betray you is "graduate-level Christianity." The religious community and one of His closest friends betrayed Jesus. Those who were closest to David betrayed him. Joseph's own family betrayed him. Loving our enemies cannot be accomplished by mustering it up. It can only happen when we have come to a death in ourselves so that Christ can love through us. It is truly one of those acts of identifying with the cross.
As I read this on the morning of the 18th, somewhere deep inside I heard God say, "save this one". So I did. Wasn't sure who it would be for, but just knew that I was to keep this one for a little while.
Tonight I discovered that this simple devotion would be for my family. I opened an e-mail only to discover that Chad and I had been lied to by someone we care deeply for. It hurts, and to be honest, I'm furious.
The flesh wants to pick up my cell phone, make a call and handle this. 10 years ago that's what I would have immediately done, but it would have only caused more drama. Tonight I sit in my parent's guest room in shock, hurt and a little angry. Chad is in Atlanta and has no idea what has happened. It's late and I want to pick up the phone, but I know that he is already in bed asleep. There's no need to tell him tonight. For him, this betrayal isn't new, it's been going on for years. Now there are grandchildren involved, my children and my feathers have been rustled. I don't want them to find out, I don't want them to know what choice was made. I can only imagine the hurt that they will feel.
So tonight, I find myself flat. I have cried until there are no more tears and there are no words left. The impression on my heart is forgive. Just go ahead and forgive. Let it go. If Jesus can forgive me, and I've done some hideous stuff, then how in the world can I not forgive them.
This doesn't mean we have to allow ourselves to continue to be hurt, but we can forgive and with God's help we will move on. Not exactly what the world says, or even what my gut reaction is. BUT, my gut is sinful and I don't want to follow it's lead that only leads to more trouble. With all my heart, I want to be found faithful in this situation. I want our family to learn that even when the people closest to us disappoint, God will never disappoint. He just can't. He is a faithful Father, and not just a faithful Father, but OUR faithful Father.
It's kind of ironic, today I kept my 16 month old nieces. At one point, I had Chloe, Emma and the two little ones all around the piano. (I wish I had a picture of them all sprawled out underneath the baby grand. It was precious.) We were playing and singing Christmas carols. We sang an old carol that said, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." I had a quick thought of how cool it would be if this was the year of peace within our extended family. My heart aches for this. Coincidence? Nope, not with my God. I think I'm going to go grab that book and read those lyrics again.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/20/2007 10:36:00 PM
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Me and the girls on my birthday.
I don't think I need to say anything here.....
Our church choir and orchestra tonight at our Christmas Concert.
Chloe on the big screen tonight. She's in the blue jacket above the word "called".
Chad is hiding from the camera, but I WILL have at least one photo of him during this holiday season. :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/16/2007 08:33:00 PM
Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I am so thankful that God has brought you into my life! When I go to moderate your comment, I pray for you. I've said this so many times, but I'm so overwhelmed at the sisterhood and friendship that God has orchestrated through the land of blog.
Yesterday, Freedom's Call sang at one of Atlanta's housing developments. They were having a Birthday Party for Jesus. There were several hundred children plus a couple hundred adults there to party with us. We sang and the Karate demonstration team from our church presented an incredible display of bodily strength, but more importantly, the plan of salvation. I'm still in awe that God allowed us to be involved. The faces of those children are forever engraved on my heart.
After we sang, we made our way back to the back of the gym to watch the Karate team. I stood next to a very young girl holding her new little baby boy. He was beautiful. That caramel skin and his hair, oh that silky, dark curly hair this little boy was precious. I would say that he was less than a month old. His mommy looked tired, more than the new mommy tired. She was exhausted. Life appeared to be very hard. I can't get their faces out of my mind.
Friday, as I read my daily Proverb, God placed two verses on my heart.
Prov. 14:20 "The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends."
Prov. 14:31 "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
I journaled and asked God to help me to honor Him. While I was never afraid to go into this area, I was so nervous about saying the wrong thing. It's one thing to minister to a group of Bible carrying, sweet smelling, Jesus loving women sitting in a clean comfortable facility. It's another to stand before people who probably don't own a Bible, physically don't smell that great and the part that grieves me most, some of those precious people don't believe Jesus really loves them. It was hard, until....
We started singing and the sweetest group of ladies in the audience started singing with us. And I mean, SINGING. (I think someone told me these ladies are praying for a generation of change, they are the core group of Bible study and they want to see Jesus move in that development.) They engaged in worship, their whole body engaged in worship and it so ministered to me. Thank you Jesus for letting me see that. Oh, and the children! They swayed to the music, sang along when they knew the words and smiled at us. I kept looking into that sea of big brown eyes, thinking of what God could do if just 10 of them were sold out to Him. Saturday morning He gave me Galatians 2:6 "God does not judge by external appearance." I asked Him to help me see these children with His eyes, and He did. When we were singing "Who Could Imagine a King?" I felt Him tugging on my heart "that one, she's going to lead Bible study. and that one, he's going to be a teacher..that one will preach, that one will succeed in business..." It was overwhelming. I walked out of there so thankful that God trusted us enough to send us there.
By the time I got home, I was mentally exhausted. (it doesn't take much!) But God had so orchestrated Saturday December 15, 2007 for me. Chad had given me tickets (have I mentioned they were on the 3rd row?) to see my all time favorite artist: Jim Brickman.
We drove, in the rain praise the Lord, to the new Cobb Energy Center, checked our coats and made our way to our seats. (ON THE 3RD ROW! Oh, sorry I already said that.)
To be honest as we sat in this beautiful new hall, in our "dress up" clothes I teared up. I had seen extreme poverty just a few miles from where I was sitting just 8 hours earlier. Here I sat warm, dry, fed and ready to enjoy a couple of hours of quality time with my husband. That's when it happened. The lights went down, Jim took the bench and played "Joy to the World". The very song we started our concert with earlier that morning. God spoke to my heart, "Let me fill you back up. I've got great plans for tonight."
He used each musician at different points to speak things to me. Once again, I left ready to pull an all nighter and write away. It was incredible. I want to share some of the cool things that were said, but I'm still processing them!
I will tell you that, our seats (on the 3rd row) were close enough to see Jim's socks. Oh yes they were. AND I could see Ann's great shoes. They were stunning. BUT the coolest was being close enough to make eye contact and see the passion each one holds for music.
Chad, thank you for suffering through this once again.:)
All week, in my prayer time, God kept bringing back lyrics to a song I wrote a couple of years ago called "What Will You Give". I'm going to post them here. I hope they encourage you to ask God what you can do for someone in need.
WHAT WILL YOU GIVE
An aspirin for a headache, or a band aid for a knee.
Little things we take for granted can be the biggest need.
How can we be so blessed and keep it to ourselves,
When Jesus told us go, go tell.
Till the last person’s told,
We have to go, go and tell them who Jesus is.
Will your heart be generous, with what He’s blessed you with.
A dying soul is waiting to hear.
What will you give.
It’s just a cup of water, or a piece of bread,
But given in Jesus’ name brings life instead of death.
Its shoes for an orphan or a coat for the cold.
God will take the gift and heal the wounded soul.
Till the last person’s told,
We have to go, go and tell them who Jesus is.
Will your heart be generous, with what He’s blessed you with.
A dying soul is waiting to hear.
What will you give.
It’s not about your money, it's all His anyway.
It’s all about your heart child, are you willing to obey?
Just lay your yes down the altar and watch God make a way.
Eternity is waiting to begin, what will you give?
Till the last person’s told,
We have to go, go and tell them who Jesus is.
Will your heart be generous, with what He’s blessed you with.
A dying soul is waiting to hear.
What will you give.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/16/2007 11:51:00 AM
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I've noticed this week that before our read aloud time, the girls would disappear into the loft and quietly work on something. When I would come upstairs to read with them, the desk would be clean and they would be snuggling in on the couch to listen to "Little Women". Honestly, I didn't think much about it until yesterday.
I heard them giggling and then Emma said, "There might be something for you in the kitchen." Well, I headed in there to refill my coffee cup and this was sitting on my counter:
It's a one day early birthday card from "the who". She is in first grade, so pardon the spelling. but it says. "Hapee Brthday Mommy" I love my mommy." So precious, and the fact that she placed it right in front of my coffee maker is priceless. That girl knows where I spend my time!!!
About that same time, our doorbell rang. I needed to sign for a delivery. It was a very generous gift card to one of my all time favorite places. Compliments of my in-laws-A. It didn't take long for me to find several articles of clothing, place them in my virtual shopping cart and check out. And GUESS WHAT!!! I received confirmation that they were shipped YESTERDAY!!!! So maybe, just maybe they'll be here in time for our concert on Saturday! (if you think about it say a prayer for Freedom's Call on Saturday around noon, we're singing in what can be a dangerous part of Atlanta. Thanks) Can you tell I'm excited?
I had most precious alarm EARLY this morning. It was the sweetest little face standing over me saying Happy Birthday Mommy. Chloe has always been an early riser, and today was no different. She crawled in bed with us for a few minutes, and we put together a Birthday Puzzle she had made for me. It was pretty cool. This is the card Chloe made for me.
And this is the card Emma had waiting for me when I got up.
(Yes I know it's upside down. I've deleted and uploaded it twice and it continues to do this, I'm giving up!)
This is the first year they have done this completely on their own. Daddy did not have to prompt them, which tells me they are growing up! I'm so thankful they have such generous hearts.
My girlfriends in Freedom's Call gave me the most beautiful necklace. I LOVE it!
I'm trying to build an outfit around it to wear on Saturday when we sing again. :)
Last week when we were singing at Celebrate the Savior, my husband was very busy. I came home to find my dining room walls had been transformed into the beautiful Italian Olive that I so dearly love. Thanks Chad! I LOVE it. :)
He is also taking me to see Jim Brickman on Saturday evening. I can hardly contain my excitement. While I would never EVER take a picture during the concert, you better believe I'll have some of us before hand. I'll share those this weekend. One day, I'll have a picture with the Brickman, but until then, I'll just take a picture with the program...... honestly, if I were to have the opportunity to meet him, I would have no earthly idea what to say. I would probably humiliate myself, my husband, my parents and my piano teachers, plus scare the poor guy to death. :)
So on to the neatest thing about my birthday. A couple of months ago I posted about God using a Blog Siesta to help shove me to Siesta Fiesta (Living Proof in San Antonio) next August. For those who don't remember, (as if you hang on to my every word and remember every detail of my life!) this precious siesta could not attend and GAVE ME HER TICKET!!! Chad and I agreed that it was confirmation that YES, I was to go. Well......look what came in the mail TODAY.
Yes it did!! So I feel like I'm celebrating with Beth and Travis too!!
God is good. Shortly after I opened this my Dad calls to tell me how his biopsy went. He doesn't have one spot, he has three. BUT, they are so small right now they will not do a biopsy. (Gracious, I just re-read that last sentence and I originally typed autopsy. Glad I caught that one!) The decision was made to wait three months and then take another look. I've been praying that God would take the spot away, and I will continue to pray this way. I believe that those places may have gotten smaller over the last 2 weeks, maybe they'll be completely gone on that next visit.
THEN, my mom calls. Grandmother is moving to a private room as I type this. Praise the Lord. She wound up having her aorta replaced, and surgery was a little more intense than originally thought. She's doing well, but we want her to stay as long as possible!
I don't think this day could get any better. Thank you Lord, for giving me a day like today. You've shown yourself to me every time I've turned around. Thank you for health, friends, and family. But most of all thank your for your presence. It's more precious to me than anything.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/13/2007 10:09:00 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Last Saturday Emma tested for her Orange belt in Karate. She did great and walked away with a medal for doing so well. She was the youngest and the only "little" girl testing on Saturday. She was trying her best to have the highest test score so she could bring home that trophy like Big Sister did. The only person Emma was testing against was a Brown Belt and he was going for his Red belt. Needless to say, if Emma had beaten him, his instructors would have been a little upset! She came close, VERY close and so she was rewarded with a medal. Oh the joy. We are so proud of her. These pictures are from last night's belt ceremony.
Taking off the old and pushing it away. A physical act stating that you will not return to the rank. You are a new rank, there's no going back!
One of Emma's favorite instructors, Caleb. He's looking her in the eye as he puts on the new belt and challenging her to keep working hard.
Way to go Emma! We are so proud of you sweet "who". You did a great job.
And yes, my girls may do karate, but by golly they are going to have girly hair bows that match their belts!!!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/12/2007 11:19:00 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Thank you so much to those of you who have been praying for my Grandmother this morning. She is finally out of surgery and in SICU. They expect her to stay there 48 hours. Apparently, this surgery was a little more involved than they thought it would be. Leave it to my Grandmother to give them a surprise! When she wakes up, she'll tell them she wanted to get her money's worth!
I love this community of bloggers and I'm thanking God for each one of you. Can you just imagine what Heaven is going to be like?
Okay, I'm off to get my clothes ready for our singing gig tonight. Then I've got to get the camera ready....Emma gets her orange belt tonight!!! AND I have a pile of little girl clothes that I need to photograph before I put them on e-Bay. The list goes on and on.......I know you understand that!
Below is a picture of my Grandmother and her longtime friend George. She's holding the twins (obviously this picture is almost a year old) and the little boy off to the side is my nephew Colin. I always like to see the face of the person I'm praying for!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/11/2007 02:51:00 PM
Monday, December 10, 2007
I posted last week that my Grandmother's surgery was today. Her Dr. called Friday afternoon and they have moved it to tomorrow morning at 8:00. So if God brings it to mind, please pray for her! Thanks.
I got up this morning and looked out our family room window and saw that there was a little bit of fog. It wasn't very dense, just enough to make everything look gray. Health issues seem to have settled like a fog over our family this holiday season. We praise the Lord for my other Grandmother's good report last week and are believing God for miracles in each of the other situations. Even knowing that God is in control, I feel "gray" or "foggy". Maybe it's the unknown, maybe it's because my heart is torn between Chattanooga and Maryland. (I want to physically be there for my family and I can't.) Whatever is causing this feeling, God reminded me this morning that He is there. I watched the sun burn off the fog and it's a glorious sunny day.
Even though I am not able to be physically be with my family right now, I can pray. Prayer is such a powerful thing. It's talking to the Almighty God, Creator of this universe, our Savior, and it's all I can do right now. Last week I felt so guilty that I couldn't be there. I felt like I was useless to my parents, letting them down at a time when they need the help. Then God reminded me that my attitude of "just" praying was wrong.
You see, I was taking this attitude of "well, I can't do anything else so I'll just pray." What I should have been saying was, "I'm praying and if God wants me to do anything else, He'll tell me."
If we truly grasped how powerful it is, I don't think we would take prayer so lightly. My girls and I pray off and on throughout the day. Sometimes, it is quick sentence prayers, other times, it's longer more intense prayers. (Like Emma praying for that boy she's going to marry!) Whatever the situation, I never want my children to feel as if they are "just" praying. I want them to respect the act and realize that it is conversation with God.
So this week, I count it an honor and priviledge to pray for each one of these circumstances. I don't know why God has trusted us to walk through this, but I do know that we want to use every day to point those around us to Him. Whatever happens, He gets all the glory.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/10/2007 01:38:00 PM
Saturday, December 8, 2007
If you read Travis Cottrell's blog, then you know that he posted this week and shared some random things with us. I have a couple of things like that to share, hence this post! Let me just go ahead and tell you that unlike Travis, I didn't stand in the Hobby Lobby line next to Carrie Underwood.
Christmas on the Corner was awesome. Cold, but awesome. I sure hope this turns into a tradition. My family and our good friends from Conyers (Ron and Pam) came last night. When Chloe and Emma stepped off the shuttle at the entrance with me, their little eyes were HUGE. Emma said, "Oh Mommy, this is better than Disney World!" Emma compares everything to Disney World, so that says a lot.
I went to sign in and then we headed up the hill to my first stop. We talked about all of the neat things they could do and see, the excitement was growing. Once Chad met up with us, Chloe began to explain the map and tell him what the plan would be. I cracked up when she, as serious as a heart attack looked at Chad and said "Dad, there are once in a lifetime experiences here, and we NEED to experience them."
They seemed to enjoy themselves, every time I saw them they were smiling and pointing out something new. Poor Ron and Pam, I guess they can count this as grandparent training. (They are having a granddaughter in April!!!)
The caroling group sang to all of the parents/grandparents who were waiting in line with their little ones to ride the train. The train was THE thing for the five and under crowd. :) As one little girl walked by with her mother, she said "Mommy, let's get in line!!!" The mom said, "This line's to long, we'll ride the one at the mall." It was pretty funny. BUT, I later saw that mom and little one in line. (I guess she gave in. At least this train ride was free!)
Chad and I divided the girls up for the ride home and Emma wanted to ride with me.
As we pulled out of the church parking lot this was our conversation:
Emma - "Mommy, what man am I going to marry?"
Me - "I don't know Emma, but God knows and He'll let you know when you meet Him. When you're much older."
Emma - "I think we need to pray for Him right now."
Me - " Okay, do you want to go first, or should I?"
Emma - "I will. 'Dear God, thank you for my mommy. Thank you for the boy that will marry me. Please help him to be smart and listen to his teachers. Make him be nice and kind. And make sure he has a good Christmas. In Jesus name.' Okay mommy you pray a good word over him."
(I prayed and then our conversation continued.)
Emma - "Hey Mom - When I have my own little children, will I do everything just like you do it?"
Me - "Well, Emma, you might do somethings the way I do them, but I'm sure you'll find your own special way to do things too."
Emma - "Well, I want to cook like you cause it's real good. AND I want to make the bed like you do because I love the way you fold down the big comfortable to make it pretty. Like the ones at the Southern Bell dream house in Dalton."
Me - "Thank you Emma, that makes me feel so special."
Emma - "Hey Mom - Chloe and I are praying that you will have another baby."
Me - "Well Emma, God would have to work a miracle for that to happen."
Emma - "I'm going to have 18 children"
Me - "Wow Emma, you're going to busy."
Emma - "Yes and my husband will buy 2 RV's for us to drive around in. That way the big kids can walk around and help the little ones. RV's have fridges for juice cups and bottles. AND cabinets for snacks. You need A LOT of snacks when you have 18 kids."
Me - "I bet you do."
I love this kid. She never ceases to crack me up. She's a lot like my sister was when we were growing up. Valerie was one of the few people who could make me laugh so hard that my sides would hurt and the tears roll. She did a great "mad preacher". It was so funny.
Anyway ---I hope your weekend is filled with fun, family and great memories!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/08/2007 08:44:00 AM
Friday, December 7, 2007
For so long, Chad and I did double and triple duty on the holidays. We would wake early prepare whatever it was we were supposed to bring, get everything together and begin a long day of visiting family. Most of the time, we enjoyed ourselves once we got there, but the stress of getting there was overwhelming. Especially since this was during the time when Chad was the sickest. We would come home exhausted and by the end of the day, ready to be done with the Christmas season.
Once Chloe came along, we tried to scale back a little on the traveling, but were often made to feel guilty if we didn't get everyone in. We kept up the double and triple duty until Emma came along. We knew that there was no way we could keep up the hectic schedule, it wasn't fair to the children. We knew we had to form some new traditions. For some, they completely understood and supported us and even figured out a better time to get together. For others, tradition of the "day" is worshipped and they could not understand.
The longer I'm "grown up", the more I appreciate my family and the environment my parents and grandparents created for us as children. ALL of our holidays were spent with both sets of grandparents at my parents home. No one bickered, there was no competition. Everyone was comfortable. Things weren't always perfect, but everyone felt safe and loved for who they were and what they brought to our family. I believe it was like that because we spent time together all through the year, not just holidays.
I know first hand that not all families have this type of relationship. That makes me so sad. It's as if the holidays roll around and everyone feels sentimental. We feel guilty for that lack of relationship during the year and try to cram a years worth of visits and bonding into the few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. I don't get it. We spend excessive amounts of money trying to "connect" with the family we haven't taken the time to invest in all year. All this creates is an environment of stress.
I've listened to so many people tell me how much they stress during the holidays and 90% of the time, it goes back to family dynamics. Our family included. Isn't that sad. But you know what, we treat Jesus the same way.
We bless Him with our presence on Sunday and maybe Wednesday if we can work Him into our schedules. Occasionally we talk to Him (call) during the week, just checking in seeing how things are going, but mostly we just make small talk. In those quick conversations we really don't listen to Him. We're too consumed and focused on all the stuff in our life to really care about what He has to say. As much as He wants us to, we don't include Him.
Then a crisis (holidays) rolls around. We need Him in a big way. We start praying(calling) more and more. We tell Him what our plans are and expect Him to go along with them. We do a whole lot of talking, but still don't listen. We then have the audacity to question where He's been, or why He allowed something to happen.
We didn't take the time to invest in our relationship before the crisis (during the year), so we really don't know much about Him. We don't understand His ways. We aren't comfortable because we know that we are guilty of neglecting this relationship.
Once the crisis (holiday) passes, we get back to our "normal" life. Throw ourselves into work or friendships, all the places where we are comfortable . We fall back into the routine of occasional visits and brief conversations. Until next year....
Potentially, this is a never ending cycle, passed down from generation to generation. Just like some of you we have family issues that continue to raise their ugly head during the holidays. We are praying for change. This year, only through God's power...it stops.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/07/2007 09:25:00 AM
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Thank you soooooo much for your prayers and encouraging words! They mean so much to me. My 90 year old grandmother had all of her tests today and was given an excellent report. Praise the Lord. :) So, one down and 2 to go!
I can honestly say that I'm starting to relax about all of these situations. God is in control regardless of what happens. He already knows the outcome, I trust Him.
Let me give you an awesome praise report. Tuesday night at Celebrate the Savior, there were 3 ladies who prayed to receive Jesus as their personal Savior! Isn't that awesome! I'm so honored that God allowed us to be part of that event. Oh what a night!
Christmas on the Corner had a great turnout last night. It was so cool to stand up on the hill and look out at all those people watching the live nativity. I have to admit I got a little teary eyed when the shepherds came and bowed before that little baby. Then when the toddler age Jesus was "working" with Joseph and those Wise Men came to present their gifts, that just did me in. :) It was so powerful. The animals add so much. I did keep my distance from the camel. (For some reason camels freak me out.)
The caroling was fun, I was really surprised that people would gather around us and sing along. Granted, it was cold, very cold but so worth it. I'm looking forward to tonight.
If you live on the east side of Atlanta area you need to bring your family to this! It's free!! (There is Chik-Fil-A, pizza and Beaners coffee for sale) If you come, bring your camera as there are lots of spots for family photos. (And PLEASE find me in the Caroling group and say hi!)
You can e-mail me for further info. (My address is on my profile page)
I'm trying to sweet talk Chad into taking some photos on Friday night so I'll have some to post and share with you!
Love you blog siesta's!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/06/2007 01:04:00 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
..."Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." - Romans 4:3
You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.
This is a quote from an e-mail devotion I receive each morning. It spoke volumes to me this morning. God has blessed Freedom's Call with a very busy two weeks. Last night we sang at our home church's women's Christmas event. (say that 3 times real fast!) It was an incredible night. Micca Campbell from Proverbs 31 ministries spoke and WOW she was awesome. God moved and it was an awesome encounter with God. As awe struck and excited as I am about all of the opportunities God has given us, I have this underlying sense of dread for the next 2 weeks. It has nothing to do with ministry commitments, it has to do with things going on in our family.
I feel as my faith is being stretched a little, well okay a LOT!! Here's what's going on the next few days in my life. Before I start let me tell you two things. First, both of my parents are only children and second, my mom keeps my brother's twin daughters 3 days a week.
Thursday, December 6 : My Dad's Mom who is 90 years old will have a colonoscopy.
Monday, December 10: My Mom's Mom will have triple by-pass and while they are there, they will correct her enlarged aorta. We have been told she will be in the hospital at least a week. Once home, she will need my mother there to help her as she recovers and gets back to normal. Dr.'s orders. That means my brother and sister-in-law are trying to find back-up childcare for the twins. This is really where I feel guilty that I can't be there next week.
Thursday, December 13: My Dad has a biopsy on a place they found on his thyroid.
I'm asking God to show off here in a mighty way. I'm asking Him to remove the growth, and blow Dad's doctor out of the water. He isn't a Christian and I believe that God has placed my Dad under his care so Dad can be witness. Whatever God decides to do I'm at peace with and so are my parents, but I'm asking God to take the growth away.
Let me say, I know that I know that I know God has all of this under control. He knew before the beginning of time that all of this would be happening. Remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that our pastor said "If you can trust God with your eternity, you can trust Him with your everyday stuff."? God spoke to me during that time telling me whatever happened, He had it. I thought about that last night as I was trying to fall asleep.
Psalm 139 tells me that I can never escape His presence. Right before those verses it says that my God hems me in. In other words, He's got my back and my front. Praise His name I'm covered! There is such sweet comfort in that.
I'm asking you prayer warriors to ask the Lord to remind me of this when I'm wavering. I DO NOT want to fall into the pit of fear again. It was a hard crawl out of there and I have NO desire to go back! I'm clinging to Prov. 3 25 -26
You need not be afraid of disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. HE will keep your foot from being caught in the trap.
Just like Abraham believed and trusted God, I want to do the same. I'm asking God to provide holy courage and strength to our family over the next few days. Please pray that my actions and my words will honor and point to God during this time.
Thanks for letting me "vent", and thank you even more for your prayers!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/05/2007 09:42:00 AM
Monday, December 3, 2007
Forgive my lack of posts lately. Our children's choir Christmas musical was last night and we've been busy!! The kids were incredible as usual. I was very proud of all my fourth graders. They were leaders in every sense of the word.
Today is my Father-in-Law's birthday. I wish we lived close enough to celebrate with them, but Florida is just a little far to hop down for dinner! Hopefully, we'll see them soon and will celebrate then.
I wanted to share something I read this morning that was very calming to my spirit. I jumped around in Proverbs and I kept being brought to passages that deal with the effect of keeping God's word, His commands. Here are just a few that jumped off the page.
Prov. 3:2 says that "they (God's commands) will prolong your life many years and bring prosperity." Then down in verse 13-14 it says, "Blessed is the man(or woman) who finds wisdom, the man (woman) who gains understanding. For she (wisdom/understanding) is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."
I've said for several years that blessings follow obedience. Often, people who hear that automatically think of material blessings. (money, gifts, new house, better car...) That isn't exactly what I mean. Obviously, if God chooses to bless our obedience with a tangible "thing" He can. I've been on the receiving end of that and it's awesome. BUT, more awesome is when He blesses in other ways. I call them "special effects".
Things I would list as special effects would be:
peace, patience, love, quiet confidence..... you get the idea.
There are few hints in Proverbs 3 about the "special effects" of walking and living in God's Words and commands.
Remember verse 13 tells us that blessed is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding? Go on down to verse 16 and God starts giving the "effects".
Verse 16 says that long life is in the right hand and riches and honor in the left.
Then in verse 17 He tells us that the way of wisdom and understanding is a pleasant way and has paths of peace.
A pleasant path of peace. That is one effect I want to experience and I long for my girls to experience. Doesn't say an easy path, God never promised easy, but He did promise to be with us. This is what I feel God is saying to me here. As long as I am seeking Him and His ways, He will cover me with peace and make the path pleasant. Even when the scenery all around me doesn't seem that pleasant. It's part of the "special effect". It's choosing to look at each and every situation with holy eyes. It's asking, "God, help me to see this situation like you do, show me what to do and which way to go." Once we do that, God makes all the Hollywood special effects artists look wimpy.
I sure hope this is making sense. I'm typing faster than my brain is working. :)
The last thing that I'll share with you comes from verses 21-24. God says to "preserve sound judgement and discernment, do NOT let them out of your sight!" He then goes on to give us some "effects" of keeping this command. Get ready, they made my stomach flutter!
First verse 22 says they are life for us! Second, as if anything could top that, they will be an ornament to grace your neck. (The finest of all jewelry!) Then on down in verse 23 God says that we will go in safety and our feet will not stumble. I believe this an effect of being on God's pleasant path. Psalms tells us He is our front and rear guard. I think it's safe to say that no matter what is thrown onto our path, when we are on God's path we're protected. May not be easy, but we're safe.
Finally, and this is HUGE to me, verse 24 says: "when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. vs.25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, vs.26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared."
In other words: when I am seeking my God, when I'm earnestly asking Him for wisdom, understanding and discernment He will give it. Along with those things, He gives more! Today, the most precious to me is in verses 23 and 24. Sweet sleep and No fear. Those are some special effects that can only come from God.
This week is extremly busy. Freedom's Call is leading worship at our women's event Tuesday night, and then I'll be singing with a group of people Wed., Thurs. and Frid. night at Christmas on the Corner. I may be out of the loop this week, but will be reading and commenting as I have time. This is why I said "sweet sleep and no fear" were the most precious effects to me! I can't take a step without Him, much less do the things He's asked me to do this week!
Have a wonderful week!
Posted by ocean mommy at 12/03/2007 10:42:00 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I went to my mailbox today to find it stuffed with magazines, junk mail and a manila envelope with my name on it. The return address was Provident Label Group, Franklin, TN. (The holy land of new music.) I skipped back into the house, ran into my bedroom jumped on the king size bed and smiled. Christmas season for me, has begun.
Inside this envelope was the new Michael W. Smith Christmas CD "It's a Wonderful Christmas". I've been listening to it ever since. My girls are dancing to it as I type this. This collection of music plays like a soundtrack from a movie. It's beautiful, moving, inspiring. "The Promise" has me in tears. If I was a betting woman, I would bet money that this song will be in numerous choral collections next year. It's incredible.
"A Highland Carol" will be Chad's favorite. "Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah" is my favorite right now. When I heard the beginning of these two pieces, I immediately thought of Chad as a little boy when he sang with the Chattanooga Boys Choir. I could just see him singing first soprano in all those cathedrals he sang in when they toured Europe. And YES, I knew him then, remember we met in children's choir at church. I didn't really care for him then, or when we sang in youth choir together but that's another story.........
If you don't have this Christmas CD in your collection and my review of this CD isn't enough to drive you to your nearest retailer to pick it up, then let me leave you with one word.
She's on there too!! But I'm not saying anything else about that. Go BUY THIS CD and experience it for yourself.
What else needs to be said. Michael W. Smith has done it again. He's managed to take incredible individual songs and places them together in a way that creates a true worship experience. What a way to usher in our Savior's Birthday.
Thanks Brian at Paramount for sharing this with me!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/28/2007 04:06:00 PM
Tis the Season. I LOVE this time of year. Everything seems to generate excitement. My girls are wide eyed everywhere we go and watching them light up at every turn warms my heart.
They have discovered that they LOVE to read sitting next to the Christmas tree. We've had school in the family room the last two days so we can be near the tree. Granted it has taken a little longer to get done, but so what!! We're making a memory. :)
Our school day always starts with a devotion. Lately, Chloe has been reading from a devotional guide geared to young girls. She reads aloud and the three of us discuss. Emma then reads a couple of pages from her devotional Bible. I love how whatever Emma reads will come together so nicely with what Chloe has read, but that's another story.
Yesterday Chloe read this at the beginning of the devotion:
"We aren't at peace with others because we aren't at peace with ourselves. We aren't at peace with ourselves because we aren't at peace with God."
Chloe said "That is a good word isn't it?!!" Oh yes it is.
Ponder that quote again.
Just makes a whole lot of drama make sense doesn't it?
I want to challenge us all this holiday season to take the time to get alone with God and make sure we are at peace with Him. Ask Him to show you areas that are out of order and need correction. Ask Him to do whatever it takes for you to experience peace with Him. What a gift for your spouse, your family, your co-workers! When we are properly positioned and at peace with God, everything else is going to fall into place.
I don't want to go through another holiday season just waiting on some new drama to unfold! I want to enjoy the presence and peace of my Savior like never before.
One more thing -
Remember last Wednesday I posted about choosing wise words? I posted that Wednesday morning. That very afternoon I sat down to watch Life Today -Wednesday's with Beth. Well, she started a new series on what else - The Power of Words. I'm fixing to watch the second part of the series right now. I just HAD to share with you. God's speaking a theme to me and telling you helps keep me accountable! Check it out if you get a chance!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/28/2007 12:44:00 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
As I sit here tonight thinking on this day, I am in complete and utter amazement at our God. He truly is our portion, giving us just we need for this minute. He is our strength, to stand or crawl when we feel we can't move one more inch. He is peace, in times of great stress and uncertainty. I could go on and on for hours, I'm sure you could too.
Freedom's Call (The ministry team I sing with) sang in our morning worship services today. We sang a beautiful song called "Still He Came". We had an awesome sound check, and retreated to a large stall in the women's restroom to pray. ( It was really a changing area for baptism, but it was in the upstairs restrooms so I guess you still call it a stall!) We prayed that God would annoint and take over. It was a powerful time together huddled in that small space and though we were all nervous, we had a quiet confidence that can only come from the Lord.
First service was awesome, I had chills standing there with these ladies. Words can't adequately express how I feel about these women. God took over and we knew it.
Then the second service began. We sang after 8 baptisms! That is so exciting. 8 new brothers and sisters! It was an honor to sing after that. Our trax starts and we walk on stage. We begin to sing and I once again got chills.
A few measures before the first chorus, the trax stops. I mean an abrupt stop. The CD didn't skip, it stopped. Girls, there is NO accompaniment. Here is where God showed off. None of us flinched we just kept singing.
The second verse is broken down into solos. I start it off. As we finished that first chorus I glanced over and saw 3 smiling faces so I stepped forward and started the second verse. We finished the entire song accapella. Keychange and all.
We walked off stage, out the door into a circle of prayer. We thanked Him for being our shield, our protector and our strength. He used that to remind us that He is in control of all things.
Our pastor said a few things this morning that went right along with this situation. One that really stuck out to me was this "If you can trust God with your eternity, you can trust Him with your everyday things!" In other words He can handle ALL your stuff!!! This really spoke to me during the first service and I thanked Him for that during the invitation. I felt Him speaking to my heart saying "I've got it, whatever happens, I've got it and you." Little did I know just how much that would mean!
Girls, I've got so much to share, I just can't get it all in today. I'm in awe of Him. This morning in my time with the Lord I read Psalm 34. Verses 4 & 5 stood out
"I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame!" That was my personal prayer this morning; that the four of us would be delivered from all our fears and that we would radiate HIM! I also asked Him to solidify the bond between us. Well....He did that! We were a pretty close group before, but God put us on one wild ride this morning and we will never be the same! Funny thing is, I wouldn't change one thing about this morning. It is a precious memory of what God can do when we get out of the way and let Him be God.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/25/2007 06:54:00 PM
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thanksgiving week has come to an end. I say week because we celebrated all week. It started off last Saturday with all of my family. Since everyone was there, we had 17 around the tables. Mom did an excellent job and once again, did everything but the turkey. My Grandmother handles that for us. :)
Since everyone was under the same roof, Mom had a photographer come and take a family photo. That means we will have a picture of All my living grandparents, my parents, my siblings and their spouses and all of our children - together. How cool is that! You should have seen us trying to get my almost 4 year old nephew and 16 month old nieces to smile at the same time. It was a riot. At the same time, I was faced with the reality that my grandparents aren't going to always be there. I "know" this and have accepted it, but this year I was just a little more emotional about it than normal.
Chloe and Emma worked very hard on their schoolwork Monday and Tuesday and were able to start the school break on Wednesday. As a reward for working so hard, Tuesday evening we put up our Christmas tree. I can't believe we did this before the "official" Thanksgiving holiday, but I'm so glad we did. We are already enjoying it! We had to move a few pieces of furniture, but it was worth it. Chloe and Emma placed 90% of the ornaments and ribbon on our tree. They did a great job.
Wednesday the girls helped me around the house and we prepared for my parents arrival. Emma and I made a pot of spiced fruit to have for breakfast and for snacks, while Chloe made her famous homemade Lemon Bars. That little thing can cook! Wednesday evening while we waited on Grams and Daddy Mack, we made homemade bread. Well, I made bread while everyone talked to me. It was quite an ordeal that resulted in my big mixer going into the garbage can. The BIG outside garbage can. I was convicted of my "tone". The tone of my voice AND the tone of my feet as they stomped around. God was reminding that my body language was just as powerful as my voice. Believe me, I wasn't speaking love, joy, peace... and certainly NOT patience. God had to have a talkin' to my spirit before my parents arrived. :)
Thursday was a lazy day and we loved every minute of it. We woke up Thursday morning to lightning, thunder and RAIN. THAT was music to our ears. My girls immediately thanked God for the rain. We've been praying every morning for rain, God really showed off for them by sending it on Thanksgiving morning. It was a cool day so the homemade soup and bread was wonderful. (We decided that since we had the traditional Thanksgiving feast the weekend before, we would do something different.) That evening, we drove up to Lake Lanier Islands to see the Christmas lights. It was beautiful and we enjoyed every last minute of it.
We enjoyed a little bit of outlet shopping Friday, but mostly just enjoyed being together. Chad says he likes it when family comes to just be here. You don't need activity, you don't even need constant conversation, you just enjoy each others presence. Grams and Daddy Mack, we simply enjoy your presence when you're here, we hope you left rested!
We have so much to be Thankful for don't we? We are very quick to make lists, talk about and write about all the things we are thankful for during this week, but I wonder....what would happen in our homes, our churches, our schools, our world if we adopted a lifestyle of gratitude. Just an idea....
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/24/2007 09:07:00 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
How can you resist this?! If you have a blog with more than 100 unique visitors each month, click on the picture above and the nice people at this big music company want to send you this CD ----free. Yes, Free!! Hurry though this only good for the first 150 people. (I got one!!!! Oh happy birthday to me!)
These are the good people who sent me an early copy of Monk and Neagle's CD earlier this summer. And we all know that I did the happy dance then. :)
Go and check it out, listen to a few of the tracks, take the poll and sign up for a free CD!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/21/2007 01:45:00 PM
Holidays. I love them. The smells, the excitement, I live for this time of year. My daughters are at the age now that they appreciate tradition. This is the first year they have asked for a particular dish. "Real Dressing". I thought that was pretty funny.
Holidays can bring out the best in us and at the same time bring on a new level of stress. Often time that stress pushes us to the limit. We use words and speak in tones that we later regret.
This morning I was reading in Proverbs 21 and God gave me some verses about the mouth. Specifically verse 9. It says "Better to live on a corner of the roof than with a quarrelsome wife." Wow, that's powerful. Then on down in verse 19 He says again "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife."
So I'm thinking, "God, we don't quarrel, Chad refuses to argue, so I'm not getting why these verses are sticking out." That's when I felt it, "This doesn't apply to you and Chad. Keep reading." So I did.
Verse 23 came alive and this started to come together. "He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity." God had me jump back to Prov. 13:3 "He who guards his lips, guards his life." Oh, I see. God is gently telling me that no matter what happens, what is said or not said, keep your trap shut!
God has been working on my mouth for several years, and I believe He was gently reminding me that during this season especially, I need to be very aware of the words I speak. Proverbs 18:21 says "The tongue has the power of life and death."
That's humbling isn't it. The words we speak bring life or death. The tone we use brings life or death. The e-mail you send brings life or death. The Word tells us to encourage one another. I'm asking God to place a Holy guard on my mouth, and literally speak for me. I don't want my husband to say "I'd rather be sitting on the corner of the roof, or out in the desert than be in the same house with my wife!"
Let's make a concentrated effort to avoid quarrelling during this season! Let's not have wasted words.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/21/2007 08:31:00 AM
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thanks to those of you who left comments/suggestions on my request for Bible study suggestions. I'll let you know as soon as God tells me what study to do!
Sunday morning we had a little extra time before we needed to leave for church. As the girls finished getting their things together and Chad played with the dog, I turned on the t.v. This is rare on Sunday morning, we rarely have it on before church. I hit some strange combination on the remote and wound up watching Leading the Way. I listened to this on our Moody radio station in Chattanooga all the time, but have never found it here, so to SEE this was a treat.
I caught the tale end of the sermon. This was the statement that made my ears perk up. "The Christian life is meant to be lived like a marathon, not a sprint." Pretty cool concept I thought. My wheels began to spin at how to elaborate on that, then it was time to leave for church.
As our Pastor stood to preach. One of his first statements was "The Christian life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon." I about came off my seat and my ears perked up. He took the approach of Remaining Faithful and finishing well. Powerful sermon.
I couldn't help but come home and soak on this concept a little longer. God was reminding me of a lesson learned several years ago.
Chad and I met in church. We were both very involved, faithful, always there. Early in our marriage the pattern of involvement didn't change. We led middle school small groups, I played for our youth choir and directed our middle school ensemble. We were at church more than we were at home it seemed.
You see I've always had this thing about saying "no". I've always felt like if there was a need, especially within the body of Christ, I should step in to help. Regardless of whether it was my gift or not.
We burned out. We were "sprinting" through our Christian life and were quickly "done". We began to visit churches, we didn't fill out visitor cards. We didn't want to be visited! We just wanted to go, sit and soak. We didn't realize how spiritually malnourished we were. I for one had served until there was nothing left to serve.
God placed us in a church, and a Sunday School class with godly teachers, where we were challenged to quit riding the spiritual coat tails of others. It was time to grow up. We could continue to walk in this lukewarm water, and we all know what God says He will do with the lukewarm, or we could grow up and go a little deeper. The choice was ours and ours alone. We chose to go a little deeper, no matter the cost.
We were taught that there were some areas in the body that you should say yes to without question. (taking a turn in the nursery, greeting.....) We were also taught that not everyone was called to teach, to be a deacon or to sing in the choir. Simply saying yes because someone approaches you isn't God's desire. We were given guidance to find the areas where God had gifted us. Serving in those areas brings a sweet satisfaction that doesn't lead to burn out.
So yesterday as I thought about this sprint vs. marathon, here's the conclusion I came to.
Sprinters run short distances. They are fast, but only for a limited amount of time. Their race is over quick. Physically I could sprint, it's the long distances that kill me! Spiritually speaking, I don't want to be a sprinter. I long to be a marathon runner.
Marathon runners are steady. They find their groove and settle in for the long haul. Spiritually, we should all want to be marathon runners. There will be parts of our run that are a little harder maybe even uphill, but spiritual marathon runners keep their eyes fixed on that finish line and don't give up. They push through whatever mental, emotional, spiritual barrier they encounter.
If God has planned our life (race) to be lived (ran) as a marathon but yet we live as a sprinter, how do you think we'll cross the finish line? I would venture to say we'll collapse in exhaustion having missed all the scenery along our race route. I think God was reminding me that He intends for me to be a marathon runner. I want to cross the finish line shouting hallelujah, stopping only in the arms of my Savior. I want to live on this race route seeing all HE planned for me to see, experiencing all the things HE planned for me to experience.
So I'll ask you, how's your run going? Are you tired, exhausted? Do you sprint into church each week grabbing just enough to get you through the next week only to do the sprint again? I know exactly how you feel. I can tell you as a former sprinter, the longer run is so much better. Slow down, you're missing so much. Take some time to get to know our God, you'll be so glad you did.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/18/2007 02:24:00 PM
Friday, November 16, 2007
I posted a few days ago that God had asked me to host a Bible study in my home. Specifically with a few of the ladies in my neighborhood. (And anyone else who wants to come!) So I've said yes to that and now beginning to pray about what that study should look like. Seeing as this is the first time I've done anything like this and I'm not real sure of who will be here, I feel like I need to do something video based. Also, as much as I love homework and I do, I really want this to be lighter on that. (We won't be doing "Breaking Free" this time!) I don't women to feel like "I didn't get my homework done so I can't go." Not one minute in the Word is wasted!
Here's where I need your help. Tell me what studies you've done that you think might work. Think about women who may have never done a study. What would you suggest to them. I don't want to overwhelm the newbies, but at the same time, I don't want to bore the girls who want to dig deeper. I'm praying that God will lead me to just the right study. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
Thanks! I'll let you know when God shows me! Also, please pray. I'm asking God to make this happen and bring the ladies He wants to be here. It may be 1 it may be 5 I don't know. Pray that all these little details will come together and I will rest knowing that He's got this covered.
Thank you blog siesta's. I sure wish you could all be in my living room part of this, but your prayers and encouraging words make me feel like you're here. Can you imagine what San Antonio is going to be like?!! I bet we don't sleep the whole weekend. :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/16/2007 11:31:00 AM
WOW!! Is all I can say. What a powerful time we had last night. We had fun, laughed, ate (boy did we have a lot of food!) and spent some time bragging on our God. Some shared personal fears, others prayer concerns.... it was powerful.
Carol passed out a verse for us to read. I got two.
Psalm 63:4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never the the righteous fall.
I thought it was pretty cool that came just a few days after He gave me the verse in Isaiah. Seems as if He is telling me over and over to just do what He lays on my heart and He will take care of the rest. He can handle the consequences of my obedience.
Yesterday as I was praying about our get together, I was asking the Lord to tell me what to share. How do I "sum" up what He is doing and share it....briefly! Anyway, I just couldn't get a peace as to what to share. Sure I could share, but I wanted it to be what HE wanted. I never got a peace. In the car I prayed that God would guide our conversations and once again asked "God, what is it I'm supposed to say?" I felt nothing specific. For whatever reason, He had me not speak. So I didn't. And it was weird. I felt like I wanted to say so much, but knew that if I started to talk without His guidance, it would be a blubbering mess. :)
It was neat to hear the hearts of some ladies that I don't know that well. To watch their faces, as they let their guard down a little and share. I couldn't help but think of my mentor Bekita. An incredible Bible teacher and speaker, I used to wonder why when we were in small groups she was sometimes a little quieter. A little more slow to speak. I think tonight I got it. Sometimes you just need to listen to what women are saying, that's when you find out where they're really at. You don't have to offer a lot of words, just listen. That's what God had me do last night. Listen. I know now how to pray specifically for a few of those ladies. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Thanks Amanda and Carol for creating an environment last night that welcomed us and God.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/16/2007 09:55:00 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's quiet around here. Chloe and Emma are spending the night with our dear friends. They are taking them to see "High School Musical" at one of the area high schools. My girls are beside themselves.
Chad isn't home yet, it's me and Paddington the poodle. Even the dog is quiet! Small blessings. That's what I'm thankful for right now.
I'm getting ready to pop some appetizers in the oven. It's girls night out for the ladies in our Sunday School class and I'm really excited to see what Carol (Sheep to the Right) has planned for tonight. The e-mail says that this is Pep Rally for God. She mentioned a human pyramid.....then quickly said just kidding. I think that would be a hoot. So my camera is going in the bag, maybe we can talk ourselves into it. :)
It seems everyone is listing what they are most thankful for. Some are doing it daily. This year, I'm most thankful for what we normally refer to as the little things. Like...
A full pantry. This year has been hard, but we've never NOT had a full pantry. Others can't say that.
Shoes and Clothes that last! Remember how the Israelite's shoes didn't wear out in the desert? Well, God has stretched our budget and made things last when it comes to our clothing. It blows my mind! Boy is He good or what.
I'm thankful this is our second year of homeschooling. I don't feel the pressure/stress that I felt this time last year. It has been God's plan for our family and I'm glad that each member of this household is in agreement and willing to obey God when it comes to this.
I'm thankful that when I turn my faucet on there is water. Here in Atlanta, that may not be an option for much longer!! Please pray for rain. :)
Okay, I know some of you may be thinking this list is a little shallow, and honestly I struggled as to whether to post it or not. BUT.....
Remember a couple of days ago I took off the mask? This is just where I'm at right now. This entire year God has been saying to me "Quit relying on man (mainly my man) to supply your needs. I AM ENOUGH." I've known this, said it for years and even believed it, but God has used this year to drive that precept deep into my heart. He really does care about what we consider small, insignificant details. He cares about that sparrow and what it will eat. He dressed that lily in the field...
Yep, He cares about our "little" needs. Maybe learning this is faith practice"?
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/15/2007 05:42:00 PM
I was tagged by Darla at Overcomer. Thanks Darla! :) Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Ok, my facts are:
1. I've never colored my hair. Although the last time I was home, my Grandmother informed me that my hair was getting a little gray on the sides. Her way of saying "You really need to do something about it." :)
2. I love the reality show Kid Nation. We record it and watch it on Thursday afternoon after our schoolwork is gone.
3. I was an American Red Cross Volunteer for a 2 summers in middle school.
4. The first guy I "dated", (of course the only places we went were school functions/basketball games) was shorter than me. It was weird. Come to think of it, he was a little weird.
5. I'm obsessed with being on time. I operate with the mindset that I would rather be waiting on someone than having someone wait on me.
6. I love to walk early in the morning... when the neighborhood is still quiet. I don't do this very often but when I do I have a much better attitude.
7. I was born on Friday the 13th.
Okay - so I tag......
Bethann at Waiting for the Shout. (Don't you love the name of that blog!)
Lee at Live Well, Laugh Often and Love Much.
Robin a new blogging friend.
Kelli at Dying to Live.
Heather at A Woman's Worth.
Fran at Blessed by Him.
And YOU. If you haven't been tagged and want to play you're it! :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/15/2007 11:56:00 AM
Monday, November 12, 2007
Yesterday I told you I was going to write my most revealing post ever. I knew in my heart this what God was asking me to do. To some it would be nothing, not a big deal. To me, it was asking me to do something that literally brought butterflies to my stomach. So here goes.......
This is me completely and totally.......
Make up free.
Okay it's over. Feel free to scroll down to rid yourself of that!!!
God had me do that for a couple of reasons. First, I have this thing about my skin.(PRIDE) It was great until after my first miscarriage. During that time of my life it changed and my make-up free days were over. The older I get, the more self-conscience of this I become. Funny, in middle school I always thought that adult women didn't struggle with this sort of thing! Boy was I wrong. (Note to self, love on tweens and middle school girls a little more. Try to remember how all those changes felt like. Encourage them with kind words, notes and hugs!)
Second, having your daughter take a picture of you at 7:00 in the morning is humbling. Especially when she says, "Uh Mom...I will but are you sure? I mean you, um..... haven't really.....perked up yet." That's Chloe's way of saying. "Are you nuts! At least put some lip gloss on!"
In my life that's how it starts. A little "lip-gloss" to just make me feel a little better. Maybe I apply it when I'm surrounded by people I don't know as well and don't want to "scare" away with my true self. I mean, what are they going to say when they find out I homeschool, don't watch a lot of t.v. and operate on a strict budget? Yep, a little lip-gloss will make me feel a little more comfortable. Maybe I put it on when I just don't like what I see. Or when I want to try and hide what God intended me to be, afraid that it will seem to radical to others.
Truth be told, we all want to fit in. We don't want to show weaknesses do we? We don't want others to see what we perceive as flaws. And why do we do this? In my life it's fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of NOT being "liked". Fear of other women thinking less of me because of the decisions I have made in my life. Fear of failing. Fear of not being pretty enough, thin enough, just not being enough.
How silly is that. Just typing that makes me nervously laugh. As I write this, I hear the enemy saying "Change that so it's not so honest. You don't have to be that transparent. You are going to push people away. You don't have to do this." Oh yes I do defeated one, yes I do.
Over the last 6 years God and I have worked out most of these issues, but like most women I'm sure this is one area where I'm constantly taking these thoughts captive. Exchanging my thoughts for God's. I'm sure most everyone reading this has heard Beth Moore talk about her daughter "re-wallpapering" her bedroom wall. Taking down the pictures of young Hollywood actresses and putting up the WORD. Girls we have to wallpaper our minds with what God says about us. Especially when those other thoughts are in the forefront of our minds. There are times I walk around my house with a 3x5 card with a power verse on it. Sometimes it's in my pocket. Sometimes it's in my hands as I hold on for dear life. A few times I have taped it over my heart, just depends on the day. :) It's an outward expression of my need, my desire, my desperation for that Word to invade every part of my being.
Here is what God showed me this morning as I was nervously looking at that picture on my computer screen. It's found in Isaiah 51: 7-8 "Hear me you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations."
Here is what my God spoke to my heart this morning. I believe that He said it to share with you. So imagine God saying it you.
" Stephanie, Do what I tell you to do without worrying about what others think. I will never ask something of you that is beyond your ability. Remember you are not who you used to be. You are a new creation. My masterpiece. Because of my strength, you are capable of more than you imagine. Keep the mask off, don't even touch that lip-gloss! Me in you, that's all they need to see. You are my beloved daughter and I love you."
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/12/2007 12:44:00 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Our pastor recently preached on taking masks off, my friend Carol posted about masks, last week our Sunday school teacher touched on this topic. My real life friend Angela and I continually talk about taking the mask off and getting "real". Seems to be a theme over and over in my life.
To say I live this way (mask free)all the time would be a lie. For the most part, I try to be transparent. I never want to leave an impression that I think I'm "all that and a box of chocolate" as one of my dear friends would say. :) The truth is, I can't take a step without Jesus. One of the hardest things for me to do is make friends. Sure, I love all the fellowship! I crave that. I can talk to you, pray with you, socialize with you but to enter into deep friendship scares me to death. I am very guarded in "real life". Granted, every time God places this in front of me and I choose to take this step, HE blesses me beyond imagination.
How I love to watch and be apart of women interacting with each other. We talk family. We share details of our husbands, our children, our in-laws (or out-laws!). We spend hours talking make-up, clothing, underwear :) No topic is left untouched. But I would venture to say that 9 times out of 10, that's where it stops. I love to talk about all those things, what woman doesn't!! How much do we miss because we're afraid to go any deeper. Deeper in our relationships with each other and with God.
My most meaningful friendships are shared with those few ladies that I am totally mask free with. They know my weaknesses, my fears, my failures. They are the first to pray, cry and rejoice with me. They know those little details about me that can only come from a mask free relationship.
The longer I am in this land of blog, the more God shows me the importance of mask free living. It's easy to do here via the "interweb" as boomama calls it. Most of you will not see me in the grocery store, or at church! So it's easy to be the real me here. But God doesn't always operate in the "easy" mode does He?!
Here's what He is impressing on my heart for this time.
First. He's working out this fear issue in me. The fear of rejection. It's something we've been working on for several months, but I haven't been able to post about that just yet. This fear has been an idol in my life. I have hid behind it for the last time. He's asking me to take a huge step and be as transparent as I am in blogland, in real life.
Secondly, there are several ladies in my neighborhood that He has placed on my heart. I've felt since the summer that I was to host a Bible study in my home. To make an effort to develop authentic relationships with people that live around me. In January I am going to start this, so I ask you blog siesta's to pray with me that God will show me all the little details. ( What study, how and who to approach...) Pray that I will not chicken out of this. He's placed it on my heart for sometime and I can't do this without Him.
Okay girls, this next thing is the scariest of all. Brace yourselves. I'm taking the mask completely off here. On Monday, I'll post perhaps the most revealing thing I've ever posted. It's just what God is asking me to do and that is the ONLY reason I would ever do this.
I love you siesta's!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/11/2007 09:11:00 AM
Friday, November 9, 2007
The girls had a sweet surprise this morning. Chad and I told them this morning that they would be having some visitors for lunch. We had mentioned earlier in the week that Granddaddy might be in town later in the week, but they didn't put 2 and 2 together until about 10 minutes before they got here.
This is Chad's Dad and.... well how to describe Uncle Herbert...... words fail me here. Herbert is Don's longtime friend and former brother-in-law. I guess that's the easiest way to say this.:) Anyway.... they were in town for a golf tournament. They stopped for lunch on their way back to Nashville. The two of them together are quite a show. I'm serious, we could sell tickets and make a fortune. They are funnier than any old married couple I know. I guess that's why ZuZu stayed in Jacksonville!! Bless her heart, God has a special jewel picked out for her crown. When she married Don, she gained two children, the first of the grandchildren, a pregnant daughter-in-law and.....Herbert.
Here they are checking out the NASA website with Chad and the girls.
We absolutely love having company, especially family. (sidenote - If you love Jesus you are family.. you're welcome here anytime.) I love that homeschooling gives us the freedom to stop and enjoy days like this. I'm thankful that God has placed that calling on our life.
We ran around the corner and ate in a little family owned restaurant, similar to Cracker Barrel. Here's a great shot of Chad, the girls with Granddaddy.
Here is Don, Chloe, Emma and Uncle Herbert
Now, if we can just get the rest of Chad's Aunts and Uncles here for a visit!
One thing I've been asking God for is more time with our out of town family. God made a way for us to be with Chad's sister and family and Chad's mom and grandmother in October, as well as my brother, his family and my parents. Today we had Granddaddy and Uncle Herbert. This is one area where I SEE God moving. He is bringing them here and they have NO idea I've asked God for that.
"You thrill me Lord with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what YOU have done." Psalm 92:4.
It's my life verse. After all that Jesus has already done for me, (His death, resurrection, forgiveness...) He still desires to thrill me. He longs to show me more, and more of His character. I have this picture of baby birds huddled in a nest with their mouths wide open, just waiting for their loving parent to feed them. Don't you know those worms fill those little bodies up to overflowing! That's what I want. I want to be filled up to overflowing with Jesus. I'm completely satisfied with Him, and yet I'm not satisfied and never want to be satisfied with where I am in this journey.
Psalm 119:131 says "I open my mouth, panting expectantly, longing for your commands." (new living translation) May we never have enough, or get over what Jesus did for us.
Today, I thank my God for once again showing part of Himself to us by bringing family for a visit.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/09/2007 05:41:00 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I've been talking about Freedom's Call A LOT lately. A few of you have asked me exactly what we are about, so I'm going to tell you. :)
Freedom's Call is a women's retreat ministry team. We are made up of a speaker and worship team. So, we do weekend Bible Study retreats for women. The idea is that we come as a team. Jill teaches, Debbie, Amy, Debbie and myself lead in worship and also facilitate small group breakout sessions. You can host a retreat at your church, or at a "get-a-way" weekend at a conference center or hotel. Jill and the two Debbie's have been together for several years, Amy and I joined the team this summer. God has opened several doors for the worship team to sing, and we are looking forward to that first retreat!
Each one of us has a very strong desire to see women engage in worship, and experience HIM in a new, life changing way. We are all at different points in this journey home and we want to experience God in every aspect of our lives. From wiping little noses, to caring for aging parents. But it's not enough to simply have a good retreat. Our desire and burden is that women would leave desiring MORE of our God!
You can find out more about retreat topics here. And by the way, for those of you who are women's ministry leaders we have a ministry launch special if you book before June 30, 2008. You can e-mail me if you want more info on that.
I ask that you would pray that God would continue to give us wisdom and discernment as we seek His plan for this ministry.
Love you Siesta's!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/08/2007 12:36:00 PM