Saturday, September 29, 2007

We're Home!!!!

We are home and everyone is completely wiped out. You know the kids are tired when they ask to go to bed early. God is good! :)

I had some really awesome moments with the Lord this week. He showed me quite a bit through my parents. They have so much on their plate right now and yet continue to serve the Lord with happy hearts. More on that later.....

Chad had an incredible week in Indiana. He said it was pretty awesome to experience a company wide Chapel service on Thursday morning led by the company President. He came home very excited about this company and thankful that God has allowed him to represent them.

These are a few of my favorite pictures from this week. I'll post some more later, but just had to share these.

Mom and Morgan (I think...could be Mia I can't tell!!)

Beautiful Lookout Mountain. I had the privilege of going to high school at the base of this mountain. It is beautiful. We took this picture on a lunch cruise down the river. I'll post more about that later in the week.

My Daddy and three of the five grandkids. That's our 3 year old nephew Colin between the girls. Dad was able to join us on Friday for a play day up on Signal Mountain at the Pumpkin Patch. There are some great pictures of him on the zip line that will show up later in the week.

This is how I remember my Dad. He is a NUT. I'm sure all of you who know him as a quiet, mild mannered, serious man are shocked. :)

There are five grandchildren on my side of the family. Friday they were all together at my parents. That is so rare!!!! Of course we tried to get pictures of all of them, but Colin was "over" having pictures made. So, here we have Chloe holding Mia, Emma holding Morgan and Colin in the background pouting. (He was watching for Uncle Chad to pull up in the driveway and obviously, Chad wasn't getting there fast enough!)

I hope your weekend is restful and your Sunday is filled worship and fellowship with other believers. I know that this week, I can not wait until our worship service. I'm anticipating HIM and long for Him to speak to me.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Busy Week

We are spending the week with my parents and helping to take care of my twin nieces. These girls are very fun. They are walking and trying so hard to make words. They are calling Chloe Coco, it's very cute, and just laugh at Emma. I'll have pictures once we get home and I'm on my computer. There is one of the babies discovering Chloe and Emma's belly buttons. It was so funny.

Thursday I'm having lunch with two blogging siesta's and real life friends. So I'm hoping that they'll let me snap a few photos while we're together!!!

Until this weekend, I'll probably be pretty hit and miss as far as posts go, but I'm really looking forward to catching up with all you sweet siesta's as soon as possible. I didn't realize how much I miss you!!!

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Look What I found!

It's Saturday night. We have had a very long week. Lots of unexpected expenses, extra bills.... you get the picture. I believe God. He will provide, He knew the exact dollar amount we would need before this week ever happened. So, I'm just trusting Him. I entered blogland tonight to just veg out, check in with my siesta's and generally forget about this heaviness I feel. I ran across my GA siesta Jodi at Fruit Inspection. In her post tonight she writes about a lot of the same feelings Chad and I are having right now. God used her to encourage me so much.

All of that said, I felt like I was supposed to post something tonight but the creative juices just weren't flowing. The exciting part of my day was packing 3 suitcases, finishing up laundry from yesterday and all the dirty linens, organizing, hole punching and getting my music ready for Sunday morning. (I get to play piano in the morning. And you know what else, I get to play 3 of my favorites "The Presence of the Lord is Here", "Something Happens", and my newest favorite "Revelation Song" somebody pinch me!) Oh yes, I also packed and organized our schoolwork by day seeing as we will be gone for a full week. I'm just tired, plum tuckered.....

I decided to go through my posts and just see if there was anything "old" I could post. I ran across this post I wrote back in July but for whatever reason didn't post it. So here you go..... I hope to post some pictures next week. Hopefully I'll have some with some siesta's!

Back in January, Chad and I had a pretty lengthy conversation about the spiritual heritage our parents have given us and the spiritual heritage we long to leave for our children.

As I read in I Kings, I see God keeping his promise to David by making Solomon King. Solomon is granted wealth, power, and wisdom. But, he ignored God's command on marriage and married several foreign wives. Those wives brought their "gods" into Solomon's life. Over time Solomon began to worship these gods and even went as far as to build temples/shrines so those wives could worship their gods. This was complete disobedience and there would be consequences.

God told Solomon that those consequences would be drastic. He would take away, or as one translation says "tear away the kingdom from you, and give it to one of your servants." Solomon's choice to worship other gods, brought generational consequences.

Here's the pretty awesome thing. Because of God's love for David, Solomon's father, God would allow Solomon's son to be king of one tribe. God took the other tribes out from under them, but left one because of His love and faithfulness to David.

Look what David passed on! Blessing! That got me thinking.

If I had the choice, which would I want to pass on? Well, duh!! Blessings. But, so often I make choices that would say otherwise. What will my children say in 10 years about the example I'm giving them? I know what I want it to be, what I pray it will be. I want them to say my parents obeyed God even when they didn't understand His plan.

Blessings follow Obedience.

Obedience even when you don't like it.

Obedience. When it makes you admit you're wrong and asks you to say I'm sorry.

Obedience. When God has you make huge move and your world is still turned upside down.

Obedience. When you know God calls you to get up and get in His word. At 5:00. A.M.
But the warm covers feel more inviting.

Obedience. When God tells you to turn the other cheek for the 1000X!

Obedience. Plan and simple: Do what God tells you to do without asking questions.
Isn't that what we teach our children to do?

How easy it is to type or read a few words, agree with them and say that's right. May the love for our Father, and the sacrifice HE made through Jesus, be more than enough to bring us into a lifestyle of obedience. Then and only then will we leave blessings for our children.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Saying Thanks

Over the past few weeks, I've felt this nudge to say "thank you" to a few special people in my life. Specifically to past Worship Pastors, or Music Ministers as they used to be called, and to a few special ladies. These are the people that impacted my life at critical points. God used each one in a different way at different times.

Earlier in the month I e-mailed my old Bible Study teacher. Today, I wrote to the first music pastor that gave me an opportunity to play. God used him to teach me some important concepts off worship. Mark was the first person, other than my parents, to show me that worship was more than reading lines from a hymnal or lyrics from a bulletin insert. (Of course today we say reading from the screen!) Mark showed me, by example, that worship was a lifestyle. It was to be a lavish outpouring of love for the Father who so lavishly loved us enough to send His perfect Son to die in our place.

So today I told him that. I shared with him what God has allowed me to do. I did it to encourage and to express my thanks for his example. He and his wife meant so much to our family. They are just precious and will always hold a special place in my heart.

I hope that it totally surprises him. When I think of this family, I thank God that He allowed me to serve under them.

So I challenge you today to thank those people who have been Spiritual leaders, examples, teachers ..... in your life. They may need a word of encouragement to spur them on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 3 of Be Nice Challenge

Well. After yesterday's sorta nice act. :) I started looking for and asking for God to show me ways to be kind to unsuspecting people today. Understand, I home school so most of my day is with my daughters. So I tried to be kind in different ways today like complimenting things they do everyday but often go overlooked by others. All you mom's out there know exactly what I'm talking about. I thanked them for doing such a great job making their beds, without pointing out the mess around the bed! It was hard, but I did it. By the way, when I went back upstairs a little later, one child who shall remain nameless, had picked up that mess and asked me what I thought of her room. Hmmmmmmm.....

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail from our church pianist. She wasn't feeling too great and asked if I could jump in and play for rehearsal tonight. I said sure, and since I'm filling in for her on Sunday it worked out great! I guess that could be my kind deed for someone today!

All of these acts have made me realize two things. First we take the kindness of people closest to us for granted. My girls are eager to help around the house and I don't thank them enough for that. They love to dust and vacuum and I'm happy to let them! Instead I should be thanking them for helping me out with happy hearts.

Second, I realized how many times people do kind things for me. Like the girls helping me with the household chores. Chad, cutting the grass with a bad shoulder. My friend P. bringing over music today so I could cram before tonight's rehearsal. My parents buying the girls clothes or shoes when they come in. My girlfriends, (siesta's in blog language) that God uses to encourage me and challenge me.

I'm going to use Thursday to only thank and praise my God for all He's done. Carol and Amanda have done this and I'm going to follow in their footsteps on this. He's worthy of ALL my praise.

Okay, I'm high on sinus/cold medication and I'm going to hit the bed early!!! Thank you sweet sisters for stopping by and reading! I've prayed for you today.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Be Nice Challenge Day 2 (Do I have to be nice?)

Today started off so well. Fall is in the air!! I let Paddington out this morning a little before 6:00 and the temp. on our back patio was in the 50's!! I had a great time in the word and then a brisk walk. I even managed a shower before everyone else got up.

The speaker for "Freedom's Call" shared with us on Saturday that she felt like the team needed to memorize Romans 12. So I've been reading that every morning and trying my best to retain a little more everyday.(So far, I feel like I've got sometimers disease! Sometimes I do really well, and sometimes I wonder if I've retained the first word!!!)

So this morning the Lord really spoke to me in verses 9 -16. Verse 10 says "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Verse 16 says "Live in harmony with one another." I quickly thought that these would be great verses to share with the girls this morning as we started school.

We had a great school day, everyone worked extra hard and there were kind words all around. Chloe is fighting cold/sinus problems, but she worked hard and little sister was quite helpful. I was taken by their kindness to each other.

Today was special for both of the girls. Emma received her yellow belt in Karate tonight! She worked very hard and did great in her test on Saturday. Chloe had an audition for our Christmas musical this afternoon at 4:00. She has spent hours preparing, praying and going over her lines a hundred different ways.

Before I go any further, you need to know that with the job loss earlier this year and starting a new business, we agreed that we would sell one car and "share" my car for a little while. Well, that pretty much means that the girls and I are home during the day without a car. I am not whining, it really has never been an issue and honestly it hasn't been to bad.

Until today.

As Chad leaves this morning, the last thing he says to me was "I'll be back at 3:45 to take you all to church. I'll drop you off and be back at 5:00 to see Emma get her belt." I said "Ok, see you at 3:45."

At 3:30 I haven't heard from him..... I don't call him because he told me he'd be here. Then I start feeling my stomach flutter. 3:40 he's not here and I'm still not too worried, he's got 5 minutes and we have different views on time management. I'm obsessive about tardiness It's unacceptable. If you make a commitment, do what you have to be there on time or don't make the commitment. He pushes things to the last minute.

3:45 not here. 3:50 I call his cell only and listen to his 2 1/2 minute greeting, finally hear that blessed beep, and leave a message. A very kind message considering I had 2 little girls with their face plastered to the front door looking for Daddy. (They are as obsessed with tardiness as I am.) One of which was very aware that she only had 10 minutes to her audition. Fortunately we live 3 minutes from church.

3:55 No Chad. I start calling to see if we can come in and audition at one of the later slots. I leave messages but I'm not real hopeful. Chloe bursts into tears realizing that she is late. We talk it through and she continues to weep. (This was an award winning sob session.) The whole time we're praying that nothing bad, like a dislocated shoulder, has happened.

4:05 No Chad, and NO CALL. I shoot him an e-mail telling him that I was trying to reschedule and that she was okay. And that I was sure he just caught up in a meeting or something and forgot.

4:10 NO Chad. Chloe and I calmly discuss that maybe God doesn't want her to audition. She thought that maybe this was His way of keeping her from doing something He didn't want her to do. Pretty cool for a 9 year old I thought.

4:25 No Chad

4:36 Yes 36, He calls my cell. Here is a little of the very one sided conversation.

Me: Yes

Chad: I am so sorry.

Me: Okay.

Chad: We got back from our meeting and I've just been covered up in all sorts of stuff I have to get done.

Me: Really.

Chad: How is Chloe?

Me: Okay now.

Chad: I'm sorry, I feel so bad.

Me: She's okay and we're trying to see if she can get in the later audition time.(what I wanted to say was YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD!!!)

Chad: I'll drop you all off for Karate and go downstairs and take care of it.

Me: Well, she is going to stay with me until you find out because I don't want her to be disappointed if they are full.

Chad: Okay. I'm sorry.

Me: (silence)

Chad: Are you there.

Me: I am.

Chad: I'm sorry, I'll be there in 5 minutes.

So, things worked out. Chloe was able to audition in the later spot and she said she felt pretty good about it. Emma got her yellow belt. The funny thing was, the entire time I could hear those passages from Romans in my head.

"Live in harmony with one another." "Honor one another above yourselves."

So here is what God asked me to do. Forgive and NOT speak my frustration to Chad. I know in my heart that this was an accident. Chad knows first hand what it's like to be let down and would never intentionally do that to our children.

I know that there have been tons of times that I have done things that make him crazy. It's part of being human. I guess it all falls under "for better, for worse, for keeps".

So, my kind deed for today? I'm going to let Chad sleep in our bed tonight instead of on the couch or the guest room! :)

And yes, Chad has read and approved this post.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monk & Neagle Release

If you've been reading my blog for anytime, you'll remember this post where I expressed my joy and delight in a fabulous new CD I had the honor of receiving to preview.

Monk & Neagle will release their new CD "The Twenty-First Time" tomorrow! This is an incredible CD that our family has fallen in love with. The girls and I dance around to "Into Orbit" and I still find myself drawn into worship when the first note of "Hallelujah, Jesus" is played.

If you can, buy this CD and support a few starving artists!!!! I promise that you will be blessed in return.

Go check them out at

"Be Nice" Challenge Day 1

My friend Carol at Sheep to the Right has issued a challenge. Go check her out! She gives some ideas to be kind to unsuspecting individuals. Her examples are wonderful. I'm going to attempt to make a conscience effort to do this every day this week. Here Goes -

Monday, September 17 -

Well, this isn't anything I've done. It's how our morning started and what someone did to help us out. It's very post worthy.

We live in a new development. Part of that involves lots of construction debris in the road. Apparently last night on the way in from church, we picked up a fairly large screw/nail in one of our tires. I mean to tell you this baby was HUGE!! When Chad pulled out of the garage this morning, he quickly realized that tire was F.L.A.T.

I was busy getting breakfast cleaned up and the table set up for school. The girls were getting dressed and doing their morning chores upstairs when I heard him open the kitchen door and say, "hey, it's just me I'm back for a minute." I said okay and just kept on working. I noticed the girls were really quiet and that the area around our kitchen door (it leads into our garage) was noisy. I opened the door to see Chad and one of our neighbors changing a tire. The girls were quiet because they were huddled around Chloe's window watching all of this take place.

This neighbor lives up the street and we don't know him by name, just face. He was walking his dog. I think he was walking off steam as his car battery was dead this morning! He saw Chad getting ready to change our tire and knew that he was recovering from shoulder surgery and didn't really need to be doing that, so he jumped in to help.

That is kind isn't it! He could have kept on walking, but he stopped to help. He was our Good Samaritan today. So, on the plan for Tuesday, bake bread to take this family.

That's what I call a story worthy of the "Be Nice" Challenge. :)

Lord, show me when I can stop to help even when I may not feel like it. Thank you for taking care of this for Chad this morning.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Accepting the Wait....Part 4

The fall of 2006 and beginning of 2007 held lots of opportunities. God kept me busy with a couple of women's conferences and filling in for various churches around Atlanta. It was neat. I was being used, but God was giving it to me in small doses.

Most all of you know that in January of this year the job we moved here for was taken away. We believed with all our hearts that God moved us here and could trace HIS hand through every step of our move. Chad had said from the very beginning, we are not here for this job, this is the avenue God used to get us here. I would say "okay, but the job is a sweet thing!" Now the job was gone and we were left with 2 weeks of severance pay and for me, complete shock.

Needless to say, 3 months of no income depleted pretty much everything we had saved, but you know what.. God was/is faithful. Every need we have had has been provided for. Some in ways you wouldn't believe. In the moments when I would look at the things we truly needed and begin to panic,1 Sam. 7:12 would pop into my mind. I would start speaking scripture out loud: "So far, the Lord has helped us." "When I'm afraid, I will trust in You." "God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound-mind." "Perfect Love(GOD) casts out all fear!" I would begin to feel stronger and the fear would leave. He was teaching me to rely on Him for everything. Girls, I mean EVERYTHING!!!! I was soon praying, about the "smallest" things like the tread on our tires and my grocery list. ( Remember how the children of Israel roamed around forever and their shoes didn't wear out? This was that kind of praying..) I am telling you that every NEED, HE has met. It's been awesome. God has even put Chad in a dream job for him. With a Christian business man who isn't afraid to take a stand for what's right. That is an answer to prayer.

So here I am, Chad's doing a new job that he loves. The girls are involved in activities they love and I get to be at home with them - a thing Chad and I both feel God called us to do. But this passion to serve women continued to grow.

I believe that God had me waiting for two reasons. First He had to let me have a time of restoration. He needed me to understand again that HE was to be my everything. He was to be my passion and first love, everything else would fall in line after that. Things I knew, but had forgotten. He decided to make them real again.

Second, and the part I love. He wanted to show off for me. He used this time to "Thrill me"! And how He has. :) He has orchestrated a scenario no man could have ever thought of. It has reminded me what a passionate, loving, and creative God we have. Also, He knows just how to WOW me. And WOW me He has.

August 10 the girls and I leave early for Chattanooga. It's Emily and Jeffrey's wedding weekend. We arrive in Chattanooga around 8:30 a.m. and begin to dress and prepare for a busy day of pre-wedding festivities. Around 10:00 I returned a call from a fellow choir member. She had left a message the night before about a ministry opportunity. I figured she needed someone to fill in for her on the piano in our Mid Week worship. Little did I know what that call would begin.

This sister (Debbie) is involved with a group called "Freedom's Call". This group is made up of a speaker and worship team. They minister to women in conference settings predominately in the southeast. I knew this because I had been praying with my dear sister Joane about her joining the group. (Joane could not get peace about it, but apparently gave them my name. I did not know this, but a couple of other people had given them my name as well.) So, Debbie shared a little about them and asked me if I was interested in pursuing conversation with them. I agreed to talk to Chad and begin to pray about whether this was something God wanted me to do. Needless to say, I was distracted all weekend!

The following Monday night, I met with the worship team. What a time of fellowship and worship we had together. If you know me, then you know that I love nothing more than sitting with a group of ladies that love Jesus and talking about what He's done and is doing in our lives. It was awesome.

Today, we drove to Greenville, SC and met with the speaker. It was incredible and I'm pretty sure I can speak for the whole group when I say, we met with GOD today. He has pulled together 5 women each one in different stages in life, with one passion. To see women experience true freedom. Freedom that only comes in knowing HIM. I'm honored and humbled that God would allow me to be a part of this group of women. They just blow me away! They are crazy about God and I know that He is going to use each one to teach me something. They are just beautiful inside and out. (I'm hoping to get a picture of us on here soon. Our sweet waitress was gracious enough to double as a photographer today!)

Today, He said "See, I do have a plan that will blow your mind! This is only the beginning." I feel as if I've come full circle. This process was all about believing HIM, trusting HIM, and obeying HIM.

Thanks for taking this journey with me over the last few days. This was originally just going to be for my girls, but for whatever reason, God said POST! So I did...blessings follow obedience!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Place....Part 3

We were in our new town and what would become our new church the next Sunday. Honestly, I had a big ole chip on my shoulder but was desperate for a fresh word. I almost dared God to show off thinking the whole time He wouldn't. Boy was I wrong. Every song during the service was one of my favorites. In fact we had done each one the previous week in our "goodbye" service. Then our Pastor stood to preach. And he preached. God spoke. Nothing else needs to be said about that.

After a few days in Atlanta, the girls and I went back to Chattanooga and Chad stayed behind. I was torn and the waiting time seemed to be starting. All of our old friends and music buddies were getting ready for a huge community worship night. They were doing a collection I wanted to play so bad I could taste it. Really fun music from a little church called Prestonwood out in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. The collection was "Power in the Name". Every song is powerful. This collection moves me more than any choir collection ever has.

Anyway, God began to impress on my heart that this was to be a season of quietness. A time to be fed and reflect on the last year. I joined the choir and slipped into the role of choir member. I love our choir and our worship staff. I can't say enough good things about them. They are an anointed group of people and I thank God He has allowed me to serve under them. God is using them to teach me some new things.

By the way, last fall when I joined guess what collection they were working on. Yes indeed.."Power in the Name". Somebody say Hallelujah one time!

So last fall, God began to open doors for me to fill in for the keyboard players when they were out. The very first Sunday I was over on the keyboard playing the fun stuff. (organ, and other fun sounds...) During the prayer right before the choir special, our orchestra director taps me on the shoulder to say that the pianist is sick and can I scoot over to the piano to play. Praise Jesus I knew the song like the back of my hand we had been doing it in Chattanooga for quite some time. I just hadn't played it in 6 months or so! God was gracious with that one. Our Worship Pastor had already asked me to sing that night, but now I had the added pressure of playing piano with a rhythm section I had only played with 2 times. Oh, I felt sick. No lunch for me that day.

That night was a prayer service and I was singing "Speak to Me". There's that song again! That afternoon I locked myself in my music room and gave strict instructions to be left alone. I got flat and prayed, practiced, prayed, practiced... this went on for a couple of hours. Some of the arrangements for that evening, I had never played before. I wasn't so much worried about those because the choir and praise team and orchestra would all be singing/playing. It was "Speak to Me" that I was concerned about.

It would be the first time I would sing anything I'd written in front of strangers. Most every place I'd spoke or sang at I went in knowing several people there and they liked me! Or at least they acted like it!!!:) They knew my heart and passion. Here, they didn't know much about me. I felt like I'd been thrown to the wolves and now I had to sing! I had to make sure that God was with me on this I did NOT want any part of that idol of ability to creep back in. I was desperate for people to see HIM not Stephanie. I wanted HIM to ooze out of every pore of my being. That's my prayer everyday and every time I sit down at a piano or stand to sing, but especially on this night. I remember praying, "God please take away any seed of pride, remove it. Do whatever it takes to remind me that I can not take a step without you. I can not play a note without YOU. Let them see You, hear you, experience you while You play through me."

It was a powerful service. While I can't remember a lot of details, I can tell you that once again, God spoke to my heart. He confirmed that He wasn't done with me yet. That He knew my desire for ministry - He placed that desire in my heart! At that point in time, He just wanted me to be obedient. I had placed my "Yes" on the altar years before. I had said wherever, whenever Lord, I'll go. Now, in this new place with an uncertain future He asked me to do it again. To say yes to the unknown.

"Don't aspire to ministry...aspire to obedience." Kay Arthur at Deeper Still Nashville Sept. 2007

(I thought I would finish this today, but nope! I'll finish up Saturday night!!!!!)

Leaving...Part 2

In my post here I mentioned that just a short time after I answered the Lord's question to me, we received word that Chad had been promoted and we were moving to Atlanta.

Understand, as a married couple we had never lived outside of Chattanooga. My parents are there, Chad's mother is there, and all our grandparents. To top it off, just 4 weeks before, my brother and sister-in-love announced they were pregnant with twins. This would be the first time we would get to be "in-town" Aunt Steffie and Uncle Chad. I didn't understand what God was doing. I said "YES Lord, you're enough", thinking He would allow me to continue ministry as soon as my Doctor gave me the okay to play again. Wrong, very wrong.

I was so happy for Chad, he had worked so hard for this. Truth be told he had been doing a lot of his "new" job without extra pay for about a year. This promotion was something he had been working for. I could not have been more proud of him. We put our house on the market and Chad began to commute to Atlanta. Our house sold quick. My parents were generous enough to let us live with them until school was out and construction on our new home complete.

Our women's ministry was busy during January and February of 2006. We were preparing for Lisa Whelchel to come and speak. During the planning stages the previous fall, my co-director and a couple of other people approached me about leading worship. I had prayed about it and felt like it was something God wanted so I agreed. That was before my "fall". Now in January, I really wasn't sure I was the woman for that job. I began to talk to the Lord about it, I had to be sure it was HIS plan for me to lead.

During that time of seeking His plan, I wrote "Speak To Me". I've posted before of how God used that song the weekend Lisa spoke. It was during that weekend that God confirmed in my heart that women's ministry was what I loved and was passionate about. I wanted to do what I was doing that weekend, every chance I could get! BUT, only if that was HIS plan. She encouraged us to be honest right then with God about our dreams. Just as I was ready to get on my knees and tell him that my dream was to lead women in worship, she asked us to come back and sing "Speak to Me" again. I will NEVER forget the look Amy P. gave me. We both had tears in our eyes and looked like deers in headlights! God was doing something big. We saw several women SAVED during this particular session! THAT is what it's all about girls!

front (l)Me(r)Haley back (l)Tiffani(r)Amy P.

So, June of 2006 we ended our time of service at our church in Chattanooga. They went out of their way to show us how much they loved us. I still have cards, letters and notes of encouragement that our choir and church members gave us. They were even able to pull a surprise party on us! I love those people so much. That night as we drove out of the parking lot, I lost it. Moving, saying goodbye, all hit me and I didn't want to leave. To make it worse I didn't want to go into a new church and sit. What in the world was God up to!!

To be continued Friday..........

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Team Challenge CCFA

About 8 months into our marriage, Chad was placed in the hospital for 10 days. It was January of 1995 and he was a few weeks into his last semester of college, I was 6 months into a job that I loved. I received a phone call that he had left work and was going to the ER, I needed to meet him in the parking lot of my office building in 10 minutes.

It was a Friday night and I honestly thought we would be home later in the evening for a late dinner. Wrong...

Over the course of the next 10 days a multitude of tests were run. Physically he seemed to be deteriorating before my eyes. After all the tests were run and many things ruled out, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

This disease affects your digestive system. Chad had been dealing with it for as long as he could remember and once he was diagnosed, it was out of control. His weight wasn't much more than mine and I weighed about 105 pounds at that time.

The diagnosis of Crohn's disease left us with more questions than anything. So little information was given to us. Of course we were told what foods to avoid and he was given a multitude of medication. We went home and started life.

God was so faithful to us during that time. I believe He put blinders on my eyes so I wouldn't see just how bad it was. Looking back at pictures, I tremble. I knew he was sick, but at the time I didn't see just how sick he was. I didn't treat him like he was any different than the Chad I had fallen in love with and married. There were two nights in particular that I remember thinking, he's not going to make it until morning. That's a lot for a 20 year old to comprehend. But, God lovingly ushered morning each time and I praise Him for that.

He finished college a semester later than we planned, but he finished and walked at graduation. When we look at pictures from that day, I realize just what a miracle he is.

Through surgery, medication and most importantly the power of God, his Crohn's is in remission. He is back up to his "fighting weight"! Over the years, we have learned what triggers an attack, and when the Crohn's is fixing to flair up. We are both in agreement that God allowed us to walk through sickness and health early in our marriage so that we could be an encouragement to others who are going through similar things.

This coming January will mark the 13th anniversary of his diagnosis. To celebrate what God has done, Chad has decided to run in a 1/2 marathon in Miami on January 28, 2008. This race is a fundraiser for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. He will be running in honor of a 7th grade boy in our church who was diagnosed with Crohn's last year. Chad's training blog link is on my sidebar you can go there and read about his training. (If you would like to make a donation, there is a link on his page to his fundraising page and all the information you need is there.)

Please pray for Chad as he trains and for this young man he's running in honor of. Pray that Chad will remain healthy and will be an encouragement to the young man God has brought into our life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Fall - Part 1

It’s Monday, December 5, 2005. 5:30 am. This day starts production week in our worship arts ministry. A busy week it will be. Between church and our daughters school events, I will be on the go every day until Sunday night when the program is over. I live for weeks like this. I love the excitement, the extra rehearsals and the sense of unity production week brings. So I began my day early in the laundry room getting a head start on the daily chores.

I fell. I tripped and literally fell down each one of our basement steps. I caught myself with my hand, my right hand. (Remember, I was the pianist at this church) We immediately grabbed an ice bag and I began to take Aleve. By the time Wednesday night rehearsal got there, I was in some pretty serious pain. I played through the pain and tears and Thursday morning, my husband took me to the ER for an X-ray.

I walked out of the emergency room with a cast up to my elbow and an attitude of fury with God. Why would He allow this to happen the week of Christmas production, didn’t He know how that would effect our choir and orchestra!!

Over the next few weeks, God had me sit on the sidelines and watch as other people filled in for me. It was during this time that He opened my eyes to a particular area of sin in my life. I was confronted with the fact that I had fallen spiritually. The sad thing was and is that in the eyes of the world, and even some Christians, this area that had become a stronghold for me would be considered innocent and not a “sin”. It wasn’t really one of the BIG 10. Yet.

God took me on a journey and during this journey He posed a question to me. It was during a quiet time in my car sitting in the car pool line at my daughter's school. I was full of questions, but felt the Lord say to me “Stephanie, if you never sing another song, write another lyric, or play another note, could you, would you worship me? Am I enough for you?”

This question had been asked 4 years earlier in a women’s Bible study I attended. I remember thinking if God ever asked me that, I would say yes without question. But when it came right down to it, it wasn’t that easy for me to say yes, I really struggled with it. My first memory is on the piano bench with my Mom. Before I fell in love with my husband, there was the piano. Before I knew the joy of motherhood, there was the joy of making music at the piano. Even before I fell in love with Jesus and knew Him as my Savior, there was the piano. I was experiencing life without playing for the first time and I did not like any part of it. Could I go the rest of my earthly life without touching a piano key?

The few months before my fall down the stairs, my prayer life changed. We had seen a successful start to our new choir year, we had been praying all summer for God to pour out a fresh anointing on that ministry and HE did. God opened doors and I was able to go to an incredible conference to worship and learn from other women who also worked in Children's Music. We saw some answered prayer in our family life. All these major answers to prayer, and I got LAZY. God had moved in very visible ways all around me. I went from an active daily prayer time, to simply sending up crisis prayers when I saw a need. I also stopped listening. Deep down, I knew the sin was there and if I paused long enough to listen, I knew that God was going to give me a talkin' to. So I just avoided it. I'm ashamed to admit that, because some of you reading this were serving with me during this time. I let you down and for that I'm sorry.

Isaiah 29:13 spoke to me during this time. It says, "The Lord says, 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men'." My New Living Translation says "Their worship of me is made up only of rules learned by rote." My heart was far from Him. And my worship...well. What was I worshipping? God or my ability. I had carved an idol out of my ability and put it on a pedestal. God knocked that pedestal down.

Looking back, I can see how subtle the spiritual fall was. I knew I was slipping but just didn’t want to admit it. As I said, I got lazy in my prayer life and my guard was down. I had allowed my love for music, for the piano to become an idol. The affection and passion that had once been focused on Jesus, was now focused on something else. I had stopped asking God to play through me. I didn’t invite Him to sit on that bench with me anymore. It was “worship” by rote. My heart was far away from His heart.

I wouldn’t trade that Monday morning for anything in the world. Those 6 weeks of healing were hard. It hurt physically and spiritually. The funny thing was, the type of break I had was small and most of the time didn’t show up in x-rays until it had begun to heal. When the orthopedic doctor took my cast off and x-rayed my hand a few weeks later, there was no sign of a break. God totally healed my wrist and hand, the result of my physical fall. What is still amazing to me is that He did this while He was healing the break in my heart and soul, the result of my spiritual fall. I believe with all my heart that if I had not faced the sin and confessed my failure, God would not have allowed me to play again...ever. It was several weeks before I could answer that question. I'll never forget the day I did. I said "yes, Lord. You are more than enough for me. If I never play again, I will worship you." Shortly after, we received the word we would be moving to Atlanta. Leaving our church....and my "position". (More on that in a later post.)

So I ask you a tough question. Do you have an idol? Maybe your ability or position. Could it be a relationship? Your spouse or your child? Let me tell you as a broken and restored vessel who had to learn the hard way, when God says thou shall have no other gods before me, He means it. He is a jealous god and will not tolerate your idol worship very long. Ask Him to show you what your idol is and then confess that you need His help to tear it down. I promise you that He will.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend Surprise

I posted here a couple of weeks ago about my pouty childish attitude regarding Deeper Still, and what God had in store for me in place of this conference. And believe me, I may have said envy in this post, but I was pouting big time.

I wrote about how I read on the back of our choir newsletter about the Getty's coming to our church, and how much the words of "In Christ Alone" had ministered to me over the last year or so. Little did I realize just what God was going to do over the course of this weekend.

Saturday I had the honor of sitting in at the piano for our Christmas rehearsal. Completely last minute, but remember God doesn't call subs......
Anyway, I was just so pumped about playing parts for the ladies sectional that my excitement about the Getty's moved to the back of my mind. (Plus, I was sight reading most of the music and was just trying to get through it!)

After lunch, my dear sister in the Lord Joanne and I went into the chapel with the rest of our choir and orchestra to enjoy a brief time of worship with this amazing couple. Let me just tell you.....God is all over them! God used them to speak some things to my heart. One of which I've been praying for a while but they set those words to music and stirred my soul.

They spoke of something that I have been a victim of. Letting yourself become so involved in activity that you lose your wonder of God and the sacrifice Jesus made for you. I allowed that to happen a few years ago and found myself on a path straight into a pit. I was so caught up in all the stuff of ministry that my passion for Jesus faded. I was distracted by all the details that I couldn't see that I was slipping deeper into that pit. Praise the Lord he allowed a radical event to happen before I made some really bad choices. I'll share the story of this event later this week. I'm really just now in a place where I feel like God has given me the okay to talk about it.

The Getty's shared in our worship services yesterday and God once again radiated off of their faces. The words He birthed in their hearts are moving. I watched as our entire church engaged in worship. There was a unity there that was powerful. God was so present and I'm so thankful that HE allowed me to stay home this weekend. His ways really are higher than our ways and HIS thoughts higher than our thoughts.

Friday, September 7, 2007

100th Post

This is my 100th post. Well, it's sort of mine. Rather than list 100 things about myself, I asked my hubby to list 10 things about me other people may not know. So, here is his list. I have no idea what he is going to say, so ........

In honor of the 100th post in my wife’s blog, she asked me to write this particular post and give you 10 things that you don’t know about her. I think she asked for only 10 because she thought 10 would be a struggle for me to actually sit down and write and tell you about. Little did she know… I’ve got hundreds of things to tell you about. But I guess since she only wants 10, and since she’ll probably edit my post down anyway before she puts it on her blog, I’ll stick to the 10 she asked for.

1) Stephanie and I grew up knowing each other. Her mom was my children’s choir teacher when I was in the 2nd grade. That means I was 7 and she was 5. Little did she know at that point that I would be around to terrorize her life for a very , very long time. This means she has actually been in love with me for almost 28 years.

2) The last part of number 1 was actually not true. She couldn’t stand to be around me for a very long time. I was friends with a guy she dated in high school, so we went on double dates a couple of times. But even then she said I got on her nerves. It wasn’t until I went away to college that she realized what a good thing she was missing out on.

3) Stephanie is a very accomplished and talented piano player and musician. She has an ability that most musicians only dream of having. She has been playing since she was about 4 years old and it is like she was born at the piano. God has truly blessed her with this gift.

4) Going right along with the piano playing, she is also a song writer and arranger. She has written enough songs that I have officially lost count of how many there are. She personally recorded about 10 of them before we left our previous church in Chattanooga (singing, playing, backup vocals, the whole 9 yards). A friend of hers in Chattanooga made her own CD, and she recorded 2 of Stephanie’s songs on her CD. And Stephanie wrote and arranged a song for the Easter program at our old church – this was a choir song that ended up with full orchestra and everything. Again – this is one of those gifts God has given her and she uses it well. Her dream would be to be able to get some of the songs published and recorded by other artists, but she will tell you that if not one of them is ever recorded, published, or even played – that’s ok…because these songs are written first and foremost between her and her Heavenly Father as a way of prayer and praise.

5) When I am away from home for a night, traveling for work, Stephanie brings the kids and the dog to sleep in our bedroom to sleep with her, and she sleeps with an old stickball bat. So fair warning to all you would be burglars – my wife has a bat and she will use it. It hurts – trust me I know from personal experience.

6) Fair warning to all who visit my home – my wife is obsessive/compulsive about drinks that are set down and are not being actively drank out of. If you set a cup down and turn your back, when you turn around and reach for that cup again, it will be gone. And probably already emptied and in the dishwasher. Don’t sit it down until you are done.

7) My wife is a girly girl. And I love this about her. If it is outdoors and she might sweat…then most likely she will stay indoors with the air conditioning. If she might get dirty…Forget it.

8) The is something you may have already picked up on from an earlier post, but it is worth mentioning. The only man that I fear in my marriage is Jim Brickman. Should he ever show up at my house, I just might have to take him out back & do away with him, as that may be the only way to keep her from running away with him. I’m just kidding of course – but if they had met before Stephanie and I met (of course she would have been 4), I would probably still be single.

9) Stephanie was almost a widow at the age of 20. I have Crohn’s disease and was diagnosed about 6 months after we got married. At that time I weighed just over 100 pounds and was in the hospital for about 10 days. I think I almost died twice – it was pretty bad. But now 13 years later…I’m still here. She should have known she couldn’t rid of me that easily.

10) My wife is a wonderfully generous, giving, compassionate woman who loves life. She is very passionate about Jesus, music, her children, ministering to other women, and sometimes me. She is a woman to be admired and respected and I am blessed that God has chosen her as my mate.

So, there are ten things about my wife. Some you may know & most you probably don’t. I’ll save the other 991 you don’t know about her for the next time my writing is allowed to grace the pages of this blog.

Thanks for indulging me while I talk about Stephanie for a little bit. If you want any of the really good, unedited stories you can always email me. And by the way, Stephanie, I will read this blog after you post it and if anything has changed, edited, or otherwise altered – I WILL KNOW – and I will make sure everyone else knows too.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Prayer Time

This day started earlier than normal. 4:42 to be exact. I woke up way before my alarm with butterflies in my stomach. I needed God to show off for me today, to hold me up like never before. I knew there was NO way I could go through my normal day without Him. Desperation was knocking on the door of my heart. My God says to cast my cares on Him and I took full advantage of that invitation and began to cast away.

This morning my grandfather had major surgery. Just how serious we wouldn't know until they got started. What was supposed to be surgery on one aneurysm,(I'm probably misspelling this...) turned out to be surgery to correct 5,yes FIVE. Pretty serious stuff. He's 89 years young and loves life. We were tickled pink to have he and my grandmother here a few weekends ago. They don't travel much, but they sure did enjoy their visit! I still can't believe they came and spent the night. Wonders never cease. :)

So when I woke up that early, I took that as a sign to start praying. So I did. How I longed to be in Chattanooga at that hospital with my Dad. But that just couldn't happen so I prayed. (Probably harder than I would have had I been there.)

UPDATE: We just got a call that he came through surgery okay and is in recovery. He will be in the hospital until Monday. Praise the Lord. We continue to be amazed by Him.

This morning, my heart was just as heavy for my sister-in-love Lindsay. She has been so sick for about 7 weeks. Yesterday, she wound up in the ER. We all began to pray that she wouldn't leave without an answer as to what was/is going on in her stomach. Well, an ultrasound showed that she has multiple gallstones! (3 that are 13mm in size and several others that were a little smaller.) Praise the Lord we know what is wrong! She meets with a surgeon today and hopefully that baby will be out of there soon.

There were other situations that I prayed about, each one so important. Each person important, I found myself hitting snooze without pausing in my prayers. Eventually, I had said all the words I could and I still felt like I was missing something so I just claimed that scripture that says that when we don't what to say or how to say it, Jesus does. I rested in that and peace overwhelmed me. He was singing over me again.

I got up with a quiet confidence that whatever happened today, God was in control. Good or bad, He was in control. Looking back over the last few weeks, I wish that I had morning prayer times like this more often. There have been so many days that I have reacted/acted as if the world was ending over the smallest little things. My emotions taking control and setting a tone that encouraged chaos! I regret that, had I immediately gone to my knees, I would have experienced peace during those times.

Today could have been a very stressful, emotional roller coaster. But as hard as it has been, I have felt His presence a little stronger than usual. He is making it known to me that He is here, just like always. I just made more of an effort to look for him today. I got out of the way and allowed HIM to be GOD!

Note to self, GET OUT OF GOD'S WAY!!!! Let the Almighty do His thing... EVERYDAY!

"...Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry. Everything to God in prayer..."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Encourage One Another

The entire reason I got into blogging was to journal what God was doing in my life and the life of our family. I want my girls to be able to go back and read what God has done in our life. Along the way, this blogging thing has turned into more than I could ever imagine. It has brought sistership among a group of ladies that I may not see until Heaven! It has brought encouragement to me numerous times. Through comments you have left, and through your blogs!

One lady is Leigh. She has encouraged me through several of her posts. Now, I want to ask you to go encourage her. God has called has called her to speak. In order to help with some of the financial aspects that go along with ministry, she is selling purses. They are adorable! Most have scripture on them and could be used as diaper bags, laptop bags, bags to tote your Bible study in....... She also has the cutest Vera Bradley-ish backpacks and wallets and purses.... soooooo jump over there and if you can, buy a bag or two, or three and help a sister out! (maybe jump start some holiday shopping for all the ladies on your list!)

Click on her name and just see what she has. If you can't purchase anything, then give her a word of encouragement and say a prayer for her!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More Pictures....

Granddaddy and ZuZu didn't know what they were doing inviting all the grandkids at one time! We had so much fun just being together. The distance is especially hard after a visit like this. But, God has placed us in areas that are forcing us to grow, and giving us opportunities to serve Him in ways that we love.

This is Baily. I love this picture of her. It's hard to look at this and realize she's just 10. She looks so mature and beautiful!

Heritage. I look at all these pictures of my daughters and nieces and nephew and this is one word that comes to mind. Heritage.

Friday morning I woke earlier than everyone else. I snuck into the family room and turned on a small light and began to read the Word. I was craving some time with my Abba Daddy.

I was reading in Chapter 3 of Matthew. John(the Baptist) says in verse 9 "Don't just say - 'We're safe, we're the descendants of Abraham.' That proves nothing! God can change these stones into children of Abraham!" (new living translation) I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that my parents were so quick to teach us that our relationship with Jesus was to be personal. They were quick to instill in us that we couldn't ride their spiritual coat tails! We may reap blessings because of their obedience, but our personal relationship with Christ was just that PERSONAL! We had to admit our sin and our need for a Savior and invite JESUS to live in us.

Looking at our children in these pictures my heart rest in knowing that 4 of the six have that relationship with the Lord. We pray for the day that the other two enter that relationship! I pray that they will one day be able to look back and say "Thank you Lord for the heritage of our parents and uncle and aunt."

I long for them to experience the freedom and happiness that only comes from a day to day, minute to minute relationship with the Almighty Father! Life will be hard, but everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Even the hard days.Our God is faithful to keep every promise He makes. He promised He would never leave us. He will not forget us! His strong right hand is long enough to pull us back when we stray, and gentle enough to comfort us when we hurt. He is more than enough.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

We had a great time in Florida. I promised all the little girls I would post pictures of them. So here we go! The top left is Shelby, she's 10 almost 11. Top Right is Zuzu and Steven trying to keep the birthday candles lit! We celebrated 4 birthdays while we were there. (Chad, Emma, Chloe and Steven) Needless to say we had LOTS of great desserts! Thanks Zuzu for making each one feel special!

This little angel is Peyton. She's two and very spunky!
Next is Barron with his mom, Lindsay. I think Emma and Peyton buried Barron in the sand! He was quite content there.

This is Chad and I on the beach.

Chloe, Emma and I

The four "big girls". Chloe, Baily, Emma and Shelby.

The big girls with Granddaddy.

This last picture is all six grand kids at the World Golf Village in Saint Augustine. Zuzu works for a division of the PGA and her office is there. Granddaddy and Chad were playing in a putting tournament, we were there to pick them up. While we waited we hung out in the shade overlooking this small lake. It was beautiful.

As much fun as the trip was, it's good to be home. Everyone is wiped out! God protected our travel time. And let me tell you, remember how I asked God to give me a few shells...... well this is what my nieces and daughters picked up on Friday. Barron was too busy playing with a dead crab and being buried in the sand!

This was one of the two towels they filled with shells. Let's just say that when they come for a visit in October, we'll be doing lots of "crafts" with sea shells! God was so good to us. More on that later.......