Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One More Photo......


My man and the girls just returned from their trick or treating adventure. They picked up a few friends along the way and this is what my daughters came home with.

It looks like we're going to need a dentist!!

We NEVER came home with this much candy!!! Of course, we got things like homemade cookies and candy apples from some of our neighbors.

Just Some Photos....

Just thought I share a few pictures from tonight. Daddy has the girls out right now and so far it's pretty quiet around here. I'm singing along with Darrell Evans to "I Lay Me Down", have a cup of Vanilla Biscotti thanks to Folgers coffee give away, and have candles lit all over the house. Oh goodness, my favorite Darrell Evans song just started, "Your Love is Extravagant". My God is Extravagant, yes He is. I'm just going to spend some time praying over all these little ones coming to my door tonight. Pray that they and their parents sense something different at this house.

Another Lesson Learned the Hard Way......

The last few days have been so hectic. We've had another round of house guests,Chad ran in a 5K on Saturday followed by a very quick day trip to Chattanooga, church activities, an early morning appointment on Monday.... It seems like I haven't looked at my blog until today. God has really shown off for us the last week. I'll share one specific, but the others I just want to ponder in my heart a little longer. As sweet as they are, they are for our family and I don't feel like I have liberty to share them...yet. :)

First of all let me just tell you about my man. So you know he's training for a 1/2 marathon that will take place in January. As part of that he ran in a 5k last Saturday morning. He did great and beat his personal time. I am so proud of him. He even crossed the finish line smiling, but that is just Chad. When I think back 11 or 12 years, I can't believe he is doing this. I pulled out some pictures today and thanked God for sparing his life. If you were to see them, you wouldn't believe it's the same person. God is still in the miracle business. Chad is a living testimony of that.

Now, let me just tell you what God did for us. I had an appointment very early on Monday morning. So early that I trembled just thinking about trying to find childcare. (Chad was to be with me at this.) Some dear friends, who moved to the area from Chattanooga, offered to have the girls spend Sunday night and Monday morning with them. It was all arranged and we were set.

Sunday afternoon, we received a phone call that our friends mother was on the way to the E.R. in Alabama and they were leaving to head that way. Our man-made plans fell through. I was literally minutes from leaving for children's choir and we just didn't have any other options! I began to panic and felt a migraine coming on.... again. (That would have been 2 in 4 days.)

I shot an e-mail out to our Sunday school class asking if anyone knew of a homeschool student or college age student that might be available. It was such short notice, I expected NO responses. I took some ibuprofen and headed to church.

Once I got home, several of our classmates had responded saying that any other time they would but couldn't on Monday, but were praying. I was so blessed to get those responses, but still doubted that anyone would have a sitter that could be available at that time of morning on such short notice.

About an hour after we got home, the phone rings. It's our Sunday School teacher's wife. Her words to me were, "Bring them over here, I'll be glad to keep them." It was as if this huge burden had been lifted. We worked out details and hung up. I breathed a sigh of relief and told Chad everything was worked out.

Later, God convicted my heart. You see, when the phone call came that changed our plans, I prayed quickly for our friends mother, but I didn't pray about the childcare issue. I never asked God to provide a sitter. Why do I do this!! I know that He is in control and cares about the smallest detail of my life, so why in the world did I not talk to Him about this?!!!

It would have been different if He hadn't been showing me in numerous other ways all last week that He is truly the giver of ALL things. I'm so grateful that He chose to show Himself to us by providing this need when I didn't even have the decency to ask Him!

So today, as I looked at those photos God spoke to my heart. As much as HE was with us during the "sick" years, He is with us know. HE cares about all of the things we deem as little because they are important to us. He wants to be involved, He really does! I'm still amazed. What an awesome God we have. He truly cares about each little detail.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Pink in the House

Earlier this week, my brother, sister-in-law and nieces along with my Mom and Dad, spent the night with us on their way to the beach. It was great to have them here. It was the first time the babies have been here overnight.

Some of you know that my Dad on top of being being a Pastor, has a furniture business. This is the same business his father started almost 60 years ago. They have a God given gift in this area and do incredible work. Dad has done furniture for people as far away as California and currently has work in his Senator's DC office, among other places. Girls, he's just good.

Last May when the girls, my Mom and I were in New Mexico, Chloe saw a small ladies chair and fell in love with it. This summer she and my Mom sketched out the design and asked my Dad to do something similar. Here is the finished product. Mom and Dad delivered it while they were here!

Chloe loves pink and polka dots, so this fabric was just perfect. Do you see the 20 small buttons on the back of the chair? They continue into the curve of the arms. That is tufting done by hand. It is a very time consuming process, but the results are incredible.

Notice the darker pink welt on the chair. Nothing too fancy. Now look at the welt on the throw pillows. It's the same fabric as the pillows, just twisted for a different look.

I'm bragging on my Daddy a little bit I know. But you should see some of the work they do. He's got quite a team there. If you live near Chattanooga and can sew, he is always looking for a good seamstress! You'll have a chance to be creative and work for the best in the business!! And just so you know, I'm not the only one who thinks so! While they get requests for new business daily, the majority of their customers are generational!! My grandfather did their parent's furniture and now my father does their furniture. I think that says a lot.

The time they invest and detailed work given each piece,sets them apart. People know they are getting quality work. I have watched my Dad turn huge rolls of fabric to get the pattern just right. He can't stand to see the fabric on a seat cushion not line up with the fabric on the back cushion! He is into those fine little details! Dad's business kind of reminds me of what God does for us. We come to Him tattered, well worn, and covered in stains. God lovingly strips away the old, worn out, and stained. He restores from the inside out. Filling and repairing each weak spot of our being up to overflowing with Himself. He makes us strong from the inside out. Then He customizes a new garment, taking great care of each detail. When finished the old is transformed into a new creation. And we look nothing like our prior self!

One day, I'll post a picture of my red velvet chair. This is my favorite piece of furniture in the whole world. It's one of the last pieces my grandfather worked on by himself. It's stunning. He left quite a standard for my Dad to follow. But he told me one day that my Dad had done him proud.

Thanks for letting my brag on my Dad for a little while, you are the best siesta's ever. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Look What I Found!!!! It's Pink !!

Pink Dyson Vaccuum Giveaway by the Domestic Diva

I have two vacuum cleaners, neither work well. When I came across this give-away tonight I almost burst into tears, sweet mercy this baby is pink!!!!

Pink is my favorite color.

I. Need. This.

You can click here to check out this sweet little deal. Thank you Domestic Diva for hosting this one!!!

Friday I'll share something new in our house, and yes it's pink. I think you'll love it. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

T.V. Challenge Update

I started a book this weekend by Thomas Young called "Do you want to go to the mountain?". Young was at our church back in May while the girls and I were in New Mexico. Chad really liked him and was very challenged by the message he brought each night, so he bought this book. I've tried to start it several times but each time something else would come up and I would put it aside. Friday night I decided that I would start it again. Wow!! This is an incredible book. While it isn't a hard read, I find myself reading sections a couple of times to digest it. It's packed full of good stuff. (and I just finished chapter 3!!!)

Young touched on a thought that God has recently placed in my heart. He says, "Gradually, step by step as we hold His hand along the way, Jesus becomes all in all to us. And gradually, we take Him out of the segmented box of our spiritual lives and understand that He is to be worshiped in every part of our day and every choice we make."

This isn't something I didn't already know or understand. But recently, God has shown me that I tend to leave Him out of areas of my life. Like the t.v. thing I posted about here.

Let me tell you what God showed me over the weekend. I kept my T.V. Journal all weekend and was really surprised that we didn't watch as much t.v. as I thought we would. Friday night was the hardest, there just wasn't much on that even peaked our interest. So, after the kids were in bed, I read your blogs and Chad worked on some fundraising stuff for Crohn's & Colitis Foundation Team run. We had the t.v. on in the background and it wound up on a movie. This movie was rated PG. We didn't see this on the big screen and weren't really paying attention to it. However, the longer it was on, the more I became aware of the story line. I began to feel God tugging at my heart. This wasn't lining up with Phil. 4:8. What I would have once "overlooked" and ignored, now made my stomach sick.

Sunday afternoon during rest time, the girls wanted to watch a movie. Chloe had set the DVR to record a certain movie with a dancing Arctic animal featured as the main character. We first saw this movie last Thanksgiving. It's filled with all sorts of music that Chad and I grew up listening to. (most of which my parents didn't allow, so now they're going to read this and know that I listened to Lite Mix 105 and various other radio stations behind their backs! Let me just say that I NEVER listened to KZ 106. Just wanted to clear that one up before I see them again and get a talkin' to!!)

Back to this dancing Arctic animal movie. From the time we first saw it, Chad and I both agreed that we were shocked, and a bit offended, at the sexual undertones in this movie. We weren't that impressed with it. We have not watched it in over a year. Sunday afternoon, Chloe asked to watch it. I agreed to watch it with them. Maybe I was just being a prude about this movie the first time I saw it. Maybe I made more of it than was really there. This time, the girls fell asleep and I was so glad. God confirmed that my first impression was correct. This did not please Him. Nothing about it lined up with Phil. 4:8 and for our family, it's a no.

We want to bring glory to God in ALL things. That includes the things we allow to enter our home. That cute little movie with the catchy songs will take residence in the minds and hearts of my daughters. They will sing the songs, dance the dances, and act it out.

The word says in Psalms

"may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you oh God."

As much as I want for, long for and pray for my daughters to have hearts and lives that bring glory to God, it isn't going to just happen. They have to see it. See it in my actions and hear it in my speech. There has to be a difference, a marked difference. Allowing them to watch this movie or others like it, tells them this behavior is okay.

God showed me Sunday that as entertaining and fun t.v./movies can be, He is more. He isn't asking me to give it up, disconnect cable and boycott movies. He's asking me to take a stand. To be very aware of what is on in our home and the amount of time it's on. I think I'll keep up the journal for awhile. There is some accountability there. Writing down and looking at what I'm watching in print is so eyeopening.

I'll leave you with this quote from John Piper. (It's in Young's book) It sorta goes along with what I'm saying here, and I really like it.

" God is glorified in his people by the way we experience him, not merely by the way we think about him. Indeed, the devil thinks more true thoughts about God in one day than a saint does in a lifetime, and God is not honored by it. The problem with the devil isn't his theology, it's his desires."

Are you experiencing God in your daily life? Let's change the way we think about Him and include Him in everypart of our life. As Young suggests, let's take Him out of that segmented box once and for all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I got a surprise!!!!

Before I get into the real purpose of this post, I want to thank all of you for your comments on my "Up for a challenge" post. I was very hesitant to post that, but God has so burdened my heart in this area I had to. I LOVED reading all of your responses. One of my favorites was Jackie's. She and her husband leave the t.v. off on the weekend as long as their sweet little girl is awake. This helps to promote family time. I LOVED that idea. (Although, it's Football time in Tennessee and since we are on the foreign mission field here in the backyard of Athens, GA, my man isn't going to turn off t.v. until after the SEC Championship Game!!!!) Anyway, thanks for encouraging me!! I love you!!

About 6 weeks or so ago, my real life friend and blog siesta Carol at Sheep to the Right, hosted a be kind challenge. I participated some, and posted a little about it. It was fun for the girls and I to find ways to be kind to others. It sure was nice to see others smile, and look a little surprised. :) Little did I know that I would soon be the surprised one.

From the time Beth Moore and Living Proof Ministries announced Siesta Fiesta I've wanted to go. I just really felt like it was way too much to ask of Chad right now. When I finally said something about it he said "So, make plans and go." I kept saying no, we can't afford this.... but he was insistent that I should go. In fact we were driving home from church one Sunday two weeks ago and the subject came up. He said "You know, if you feel like it's something you should go to, just make the plans and God will work out the rest..." So I agreed.

The next day as I was fixing dinner and finishing up some little chores around the house I received an e-mail. This e-mail brought tears to my eyes and sent me to my knees. I still get emotional thinking about it.

A blog siesta had bought a ticket to this conference and was now unable to attend. She felt led to give that ticket to me if I wanted it. Can you believe that!!!! I read the whole thing again, very slowly. I wanted to digest every precious word. What a surprise. I had just committed the day before to go. I was prepared to start putting a budget together and planning. Then God used this siesta, whom I've never met in person, to complete the first thing on the list!!

So --- I'm going to San Antonio for Siesta Fiesta next August!!!!!!!! I sure hope I get to meet all of you there!! I want so bad to look into your eyes and hear your voice. I'm pumped about seeing Beth Moore "LIVE AND IN COLOR", and then there is Travis Cottrell.... but you dear Siesta's are the icing on this big ole cake!!!!

By the way, Carol, Amy and any others in the Atlanta area who might like to go...I would love to have some travel buddies!!! This is one fiesta that you don't want to miss!!!

To that precious Siesta who extended that kindness to me.. THANK YOU!!!!! I know you "get" how big this is to me!!! Thank you for being sensitive to our Father and His prompting. I can't wait to post pictures and chat all about it. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Up For A Challenge?

One of the things Freedom's Call is doing right now, is memorizing Romans 12. Now, we aren't on any sort of time table, we have just committed to hide this passage in our hearts. I did really well the first week or so spending 5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes in the afternoon on this passage. I struggle with memory work, so I was asking God to make this happen. I felt and still feel that when I put forth the effort, He will bless that. Lately though I find that it has been harder for me to dive in and spend the concentrated time I need to on this.

In between ironing and folding laundry this afternoon, I picked up my Bible and looked at this passage again. Just reading through it from verse 1 down to verse 21. When I got done, I went back to verse 2. Oh how it stirred something in me.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Verse 1 reminds us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. I don't really know how to start this post without sounding preachy, or judgemental. So I'm praying that you will understand, as much as possible through the interweb, :) my tone.

God has really put on my heart that I need to be very aware of what I allow myself to watch on t.v. I'm really pretty strict with the girls, but probably not as strict with myself.

Several years ago when I was just beginning to do Tuesday morning Bible Study with a group of ladies in Chattanooga, I asked God to show me where I had time to spend 45 minutes each day doing my homework. Immediately, He said 12:30 - 1:30.

I said surely you don't expect me to get up in the middle of the night to do Bible Study 5 days a week!!

God said "P.M."

I trembled. Didn't He know that I lived for this hour. Chloe napped during this time and I folded laundry while I watched "The Young and the Restless". This can not be. Niki and Victor were the highlight of my afternoon.

I agreed, because I didn't want my homework to be imcomplete. Yes, I'm one of those. Every question must have an answer and every outline completed. You have no idea how freeing it was for me when we moved to Dacula and discovered that our pastor here doesn't print study guides for his sermons. Anyway.......

I would love to tell you that one day was all it took, but it wasn't. Each time I would choose Y & R over Bible study, God would interrupt. I am not kidding. One time the power went out, another time Chloe woke up running a fever. Then there was the time I flipped it on only to find March Madness. Which for me is just as tempting, but do you see where I'm going here.......

The times that I left that t.v. off, God spoke. It was life changing. Chloe napped the entire time and somehow, God multiplied my time and I got everything done. Our days were better, much better.

I was visiting my grandparents one afternoon about a year later and Y & R came on. My mamaw is a die hard fan. I was shocked at what I saw. It was as if, God had given me new eyes, and I felt so sick. I had allowed that story into my home, but more importantly into my mind and heart.

As I loaded Chloe into her little carseat to go home, it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I had lost time with Him and that grieved my heart. God gave me this verse that sits in a frame next to our DVR box.

Psalm 101:3 I will set before my eyes, no vile thing.

Today, God reminded me of that time. I don't watch a whole lot of t.v. now unless it's H.G.T.V or Food Network. (or Survivor and that gets to me at times.) I just feel like there is so much on that goes against Phil. 4:8 Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. We become what we expose ourselves to, I want to be Phil. 4:8, I long for my daughters to be Phil.4:8.

This is an on-going battle for me because it's so easy to just flip on the t.v. and veg out. But God tells us on down in Phil.4 that :

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I'm asking God to give me the strength to keep the t.v. off when what I want to watch doesn't line up with Phil. 4:8. I know and believe He will because the word says :

And My God will meet all your needs... Phil.4:19

I need more of Him! I'm believing God to knock my socks off. Something t.v. just can't do! (Unless of course you're watching Wednesday's With Beth on Life Today! God is all over that 1/2 hour of television!)

My friend Angela says it best to her college age girls. "You can't leave church, go home and watch Desperate Housewives and expect God to bless that!" It just doesn't line up with the word of God.

I'm challenging myself to keep a t.v. journal for the next 5 days. I'm going to write down every show I watch. Then I'm going to ask the Lord to show me if there is anything I need to stop watching. So I challenge you to do the same. Let's just see what God has to say to us.

I love you ladies, you are precious to me!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Freedom's Call

Here we are!!! These are the ladies God has allowed me to serve with. Aren't they beautiful! Each one of us are in a different stage of life. Each one has a distinct story, but those stories have the same theme. There is Freedom in Jesus. There is life! A good life regardless of our earthly situations!

This is what God has been preparing me for the last 2 years. I knew it the moment I looked into this group of women's eyes that Saturday in Greenville. When we began to talk about the things God was doing in our hearts and lives, there was this common thread that just seemed to knit us together. God orchestrated this. He handpicked each one of us for this time and let me just tell you, I'm so humbled. I still get chills when I think that He would allow me to minister next to these ladies.

Our speaker is Jill, she's in the middle of each picture. I've had the privilege of praying with her over the phone this month. There is no better way to get to know someone than by praying for and with them.

The other 3 ladies, are Debbie, Debbie and Amy. We all sing in Worship Choir together and that is how we met. You know what I love about these girls? They are as real as real can be! When we practice, I completely forget about the time, the place, it's just pure worship. Don't get me wrong we work hard, but we love to worship our Jesus!

All of these ladies make me want to love Jesus more. I sure hope that you have women like that in your life. Women who will hold your arms up when you get tired.

Maybe we should start asking ourselves who's arms can I hold up today?

This is our favorite picture. I call it the Fountain Picture.
We hope that one day soon we will be putting it on posters! Right now, God has opened several doors for the worship team to sing. We are praying that God will give us opportunities to minister to women in retreat settings. Either on church campuses or at get-away retreats. Jill is an anointed speaker, who delivers truth in a powerful way. If you would like to know more, you can e-mail and I'll be glad to chat with you!

This May or May not Make Sense.....I'm medicated

It's a little before noon here and I'm already exhausted! I'm fighting some sort of cold/sinus thing and it seems to be taking every ounce in me to stay awake. The next few weeks will be very busy with several different singing/playing opportunities, plus I'm in the middle of a writing project. Fortunately, I've mapped out our lesson plans for the next little bit and we are ahead of where I wanted us to be as far as school goes, and it's a good thing!

This morning I realized I hadn't posted anything since Saturday and I'm not kidding you, I got a twitch in my left eyebrow. This has become quite an addiction. In a good way mind you!

I thought I would share with you what the girls and I read this morning as we started school. First we read Psalm 16 concentrating on verses 5, then 9 and part of 10.

"Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure"

"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me."

We talked about all the things the Lord has given us. How we were thankful first for Salvation, and that was more than enough. But then, we looked at all the things God does for us! Tangible things like our home, clothes, car and things that we feel. Like love for our family, excitement, hope, peace...

As always, I just guide the conversation and let them talk it out. They usually wind up in the spot I intend for us to soak in.

"My body will rest secure because you will not abandon me."

I wonder how many of us feel abandoned. I read many other blogs each week and the large majority of them are Christian women with similar beliefs. Last week, I came across a believer's blog and couldn't help but ache for her. She was lonely and had been hurt by numerous people from her parents to church members. She was tired and felt abandoned by God. She was basing her entire belief system on what she felt. On emotion. She kept going back to the point where she was saved and saying, I don't understand why I still don't feel like that! When did the "new" wear off?

If we were all honest we have probably felt that way a time or two. What I wanted so bad to say to her was this. Your relationship with God is like any other relationship, it changes over time!

Here's the best way I know to explain this. As much as I loved Chad the day we were married, I love him more today. I don't want to love him like the day we were married because today's love is a deeper love. If I didn't love Chad more today than yesterday, then our relationship probably wouldn't be very healthy! It's the same with God. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. The more I recognize and acknowledge His hand in my life, the more I don't, no that's not right... the more I CAN'T live without Him.

God has more than done His part to make us feel secure and safe. Will you do your part and seek Him everyday? He longs to be included in our everyday life. He sees the season of your life and cares about you so much. All He asks is that we seek Him. He promises that when we call to Him, He will answer and show us some pretty awesome things! (Jer. 33:3)

Is your heart glad and can your tongue rejoice? Your heavenly Father sees you and cares about you. You are not forgotten......

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do ALL for the Glory of God.

This summer I noticed that the my girls were developing a bad habit when chore time came around. During the school year I'm pretty organized as far as what has to be done daily. We break our chores down by morning/afternoon. Things we need to accomplish before school like make beds, straighten up bathroom... and hard cleaning like bathrooms, floors, windows..... for afternoon. Each afternoon has one pretty big chore and a couple of smaller tasks. The idea is that we spend less than one hour each day and the house stays in order. (Notice I said the IDEA.)

As I said, over the summer the chore chart pretty much slipped of the fridge into the garbage and we began to "wing" it. This doesn't work in my house. It seems that if I don't have the chore chart to back me up, chore time is miserable for all involved. I wind up doing everything and in a grumpy mood, the girls can't find anything they're looking for and Chad just can't understand why he finds white socks with lace trim in his sock drawer!!

Sooooo, I've started reciting this verse to the girls. "Whatever you do in work or deed, do ALL for the glory of God." Then we discuss the tasks we have to accomplish. When the first person starts to whine, "I don't want to...." I remind them that cleaning the toilet or folding a basket of laundry falls under ALL. Things are getting better and I'm finding that the attitudes are disappearing and my regular children are returning.

There is power in the Word sisters. :) Wonder Working Power.

We are using this verse in every part of our lives. For example....

This morning Chloe had her first Karate test. She was testing for her yellow belt. Emma tested for hers last month and did great. Chloe was showered and dressed before 7:30 this morning, she was ready. As I fixed her hair I asked her if she was nervous. She said a little, but not too much. We talked about doing her best and to do every punch/kick for God's glory. She smiled and said "I will!"

She was very intense the entire test and gave her all. At the end of the test, the instructors announced that everyone passed! That is awesome. These children and adults worked hard for 2 and 1/2 hours. Each one giving their all. Then they announced the two highest scores. One for the adults and one for the juniors (under 12 group).

Chloe had the highest test score in the juniors and took home the trophy! She was shocked, and so was I!! I knew she had done her best and that is all that mattered. I think what made me smile the most, was her genuine surprise and gratitude. It meant so much to her.

Way to go Chloe! I'm so proud of you. :)

Tonight as we sat down to dinner, Emma prayed. This is what she said word for word. "Thank you for Chloe doing her best and getting that trophy. Help her get it again next time." How sweet is that!! Little sis was just as proud of her big sis as Daddy and I were. That made it even better.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mathetes Award

Angela at Refresh My Soul has given me this award. It originated at Management by God and you can read more about it here.

Mathetes is a Greek word meaning “disciple” and is given to those seen as “acting in the role of a disciple of God.” Angela is a good friend and siesta and I'm honored that she would give this award to me. She is a true living example of a disciple of our God. Thank you Angela! Your words inspire and make we want to love the Father more. :)

Now, I'm supposed to pass this along to 5 bloggers. So here goes.

Carol at Sheep to the Right and Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders. Both of these ladies are new friends and true lovers of God. They weave God into everyday circumstances in a way that shows genuine Christianity. I love you ladies and will be praying for you next week!

Leigh at Speak Thru Me. Wow! This woman is seeking the Lord with her whole being and when you read her blog, you walk away knowing a little more about the Word. She is a true disciple of Christ.

Abby at Unshackled. I just recently "met" this young lady. She is starting down a new path and seeking the Lord in all things. Abby, you are obviously a disciple of our God and you encourage me sweet girl!!!

Kara at Mommy Dot Com. Kara you are a walking testimony to the grace and love of our Father. HE is all over you! Every step you take, every word you speak oozes Jesus. That can only happen when you are a true disciple.

Each one of these ladies give me glimpse of Jesus in their own special way. I thank God each time I read one of their posts. Even in the "fun" stuff they encourage me to walk a little closer to the Lord. I love you girls and pray that you are encouraged today.


I've been tagged

I’ve been tagged for a meme by Princess Darla! (And boy do I have a story to share about this princess one day real soon! With her permission of course.)

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. American Red Cross Candy Striper. ( oops, I put two p's in that last word! Glad I caught that!)
2. Desk Clerk for Courtyard by Marriott
3. Every clerical job possible for a fairly large national retail contractor
4. Church Pianist/Children's Choir Coordinator

Four movies I can watch over and over and over:
1. The Princess Bride
2. Beaches
3. Return To Me ( I watched this for the first time over Labor day with Mother in Law A and cried my eyes out.)
4. The Notebook
5. The Goonies

Four TV shows I like to watch:
1. Survivor
2. Divine Design on HGTV
3. Life Today
4. Any Food Network Show

Four places I have vacationed:
1. Bermuda
2. New York City ( My favorite non-beach destination)
3. Hilton Head
4. Orlando

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Manicotti
2. Any Shrimp dish
3. Fried Chicken and all the fixin's
4. Chad's Nachos made with peppers we've grown on the back patio!

Four websites I visit daily
1. my blog
2. my friend’s blogs
3. LProof
4. I usually visit Jim Brickman's site at least once a week.

Four places I would rather be
1. This was Darla's answer and I agree :Heaven for real but I have work to do here…but I am ready when HE calls!
2. The beach
3. Alone with a piano in a mountain cabin. Just sounds like a place where lyrics might come.
4. In Bermuda with Chad

Four bloggers I am tagging
1. Haley at Mommy's Heart - hopefully this will inspire you to post!! I miss you!
2. Lindsay at TwinsX2 - praying this will distract you a little
3. Amanda at the Stokes Story - because I want to get to know you a little better
4. Angela at Refresh My Soul - I think I know some of your answers and I'm just curious!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Was that a Roast?

This morning in my attempt to be productive with my time, I decided to throw a roast in the crockpot. Every member of our family, toy poodle included, was in the kitchen with me. It was crowded, but I love it that way.

I gathered all my ingredients from the pantry, placed them on the counter then grabbed the "roast" out of the freezer. Of course I was talking as I threw that block of meat into the crockpot and started slicing onions. I tossed the onion in the pot, added my beef broth and some water. It was at that point that I realized it wasn't a roast in there. It was 1 1/2 pounds of hamburger meat! How I made that mistake, I do not know. Anyway, I just decided that we would have some sort of beef/onion soup tonight. At this point, we haven't had dinner so I'll let you know how bad it was later!!! :)

I couldn't help but see a parallel to our life right now. There are 2 relationships in our family that we have poured ingredients (ourselves) into and no matter what we (Chad and I) do, the meal (relationships) isn't turning out the way God intended.

Chad keeps telling me that WE can't make these relationships healthy. We should just keep doing what we're doing and pray that God will change their hearts. I agree to some extent. The thing that concerns me is that, bless his heart, he's been dealing with this since he was a very young child. To him, the unhealthy relationships are just part of life because it's what he's lived for so long. He doesn't know any different and that grieves my heart like you can not imagine.

(If you've read "Get out of that pit", you would agree that he was thrown into this pit. Over the years, Chad has allowed God to heal those wounds and pull him out of that pit. It's been hard work, but he hasn't given up yet. I'm so proud of him. )

Prayer is vital in this situation and God is the only one who can bring true restoration. Believe me, I have been praying about this for years. My struggle is this:

I'm all about talking things out. Honestly I don't think these 2 people even realize the hurt, they've caused. Chad says, even if he were to talk this out with them he's not sure they would hear him. All they would hear would be an attack. So, he figures the best thing is to keep doing what he's been doing his whole life. That makes me so sad.

I guess I'm so concerned because now these issues are filtering down to our children and I'm beginning to get lots of questions. My oldest especially has a sense of discernment that is beyond her years. She sees things, hears comments and is coming to an age where she knows something isn't right. In her words, "God doesn't want family to be like what Daddy had growing up does He." Do you know how hard it was to have that conversation with an 8 year old.

When these issues come up, I try my best to turn the conversation to what God can do in hard situations. That our God can heal and restore anything! There is nothing too much for Him.

Restoration is our Father's business! I believe this with all my heart and pray that one day, these people we love so much, will let their guard down and allow God to heal them. Totally heal them and this family.

As Beth Moore said on Life Today this week, if we turn away from God in the hard times, then the pain we've been through will all be in vain!! We should be asking God to give us the strength to crawl just a little closer to Him. I'm telling you right now, in this situation I'm asking Him for that strength because it would be so much easier to just give up and say no more. But that isn't what He wants.

Jesus died so that my relationship could be restored with God the Father. If I don't take the steps to restore the relationships in my life, then I'm not living authentic Christianity. Even if it means being bold enough to speak things that are hard to say and hard to hear.

Okay, enough rambling! Sorry to be so long-winded about this. Any scripture, or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Love you siesta's.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Same old Struggle, Same old Sin

Yes, I've said his before, but I will say it again. I love this land of blog. I'm convinced that it makes the enemy as mad as a hornet. We siesta's are encouraging and loving on each other the way God intended! Last week when I had a house full of family here, I was really struggling with something. God gave me some scripture, but He used so many of you to remind me of who I was in Christ. That isn't always what I see in the mirror.

In fact one day I felt a very strong tug or temptation in an area of my life that was once a stronghold. So much in fact I e-mailed a confident to say "pray". Nothing else needed to be said. For several hours, I felt so confused. Why was this happening this week?! I've dealt with this issue and thank God for victory in this area so why is this coming up right now? Nothing had been said or done to trigger these thoughts. I was perplexed.

For those hours, I was finding myself thinking about the past sin and the grip it had on my heart and mind. I'm going to be real frank here, and I hope it doesn't scare you away! I felt a nudge that what I had been set free from wasn't a "real" sin. No one had been hurt, no commandment had been broken. Maybe I had just blown it all out of proportion and in some way exaggerated it. The enemy is crafty isn't he.

With 6 children and 2 extra adults in my home, finding a quiet place to get alone with God was next to impossible. Especially since one child didn't want to leave my side. :) Wasn't that convenient timing!! Once I was able to get alone, God reminded me of something that my mentor taught me years ago. The temptation isn't wrong, it becomes sin when I act on the temptation. I had done the right thing, I asked for prayer support and I prayed through this. God was faithful and was all the strength I needed.

My mentor also had a little way to identify times you may be vulnerable to Spiritual attack. It's this word:


Angry, aggravated

I was all of the above at different points last week. (Well not angry...) My time in the Word was limited and had been for 2 weeks, that was my fault. My defense was down and the enemy took a great shot.

The first line to a song I wrote called "Whole Again" goes

"Same old struggle, same old sin, sneaks around in my mind again. But now I find, my heart's desire, is to run to you for cleansing once again."

Do you really "get" that Jesus loves you? Do you want to run TO Him when the junk of the past comes into your thoughts, or do you try to handle it on your own? Can I tell you something - Jesus didn't die for you to handle them on your own. Stop trying!!

And to that friend who prayed me through this - thank you. I think of Isaiah 32:2 when I think of you. "Each man (woman) will be a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. " Thanks for being my desert friend.

What Completes Me?

I thought I would wait until Monday to post again, but there is something stirring in me that I've just got to get out!!!

My Mom always has a little something for the girls when we go home, but last week when we were unpacking, she told me she left Chad and I something on our bed. For Chad, she had the new Casting Crowns CD. That was a gift from God because he had just commented in the car that he would have liked to have bought it before his 9 hour car ride!! For me, she had a book entitled "LifeStories" by Mark Hall the lead singer and songwriter for Casting Crowns. It is awesome and is what I've been reading ever since. Get this book if you don't have it already. :)

Over the last few weeks I've heard several women make comments about a man or their children "completing" them. It seems to be a recurring theme through a few blogs I've read as well. Last night as I was reading "Lifestories", I came across this theme again.

Mark uses the famous movie scene from Jerry McGuire. You know the one. Tom Cruise looks into the eyes of Rennee Zellweger and says "You Complete Me." Remember that line? Women in theaters everywhere, myself being one of them, cried and swooned over that one. How romantic we all thought. Every girlfriend I had at that time mentioned that line and longed for their man to speak those words to her. I think the concept of this statement is awesome, we all want to feel needed loved and appreciated by the men in our life. God did create woman to complete and be a helpmate to her husband. What concerns me, is that so many women are looking to their man or other relationships to complete, or fill up every part of their hearts.

A few years ago, Chad and I had what I thought was a huge disagreement. Understand, Chad doesn't fight or argue, he refuses to because of what he lived as a child. But for whatever reason, we had words, he shut down and I pouted. I retreated to our bedroom and wrote him a letter, in the most loving of tones I might add. :) Just as I finished this detailed description of Chad's faults and suggestions of ways he should change to better meet my current needs, God convicted my heart. What I had written wasn't what Chad needed to hear, big surprise. I opened my Bible and read, prayed and then I just sat and listened.

God impressed on my heart that Chad would never be able to be my everything. He's human and that is impossible. On top of that, it was very unfair of me to expect him to! What God taught me was that I was to concentrate on the most important relationship in my life first. That relationship isn't with Chad, it's with Jesus Christ. No one else can or will do. I wept because that letter I had written was all about what I needed Chad to do for me, to make me feel better about me.....It pretty much said "me, me, me, I, I, I, I..." get the picture?

Looking back we were so tired, spinning our wheels trying to meet each need of every person in our life. It was exhausting! When I committed to put my relationship with God first and let HIM fill me up, it freed Chad. Freed Him to be the husband God intended him to be, not the husband Stephanie said she needed. Those two didn't look alike, because our priorities were all out of order. I e-mailed Chad sharing what God had told me and I apologized for placing so much pressure on him. Things began to change.

Hear me here, we are not perfect and do not have the perfect marriage. I would love to be able to tell you that we never argue or disagree, but we do. There are times when I want to pinch his head off!! Any "success" as the world would call it, is simply by the grace of God. We are two people who are crazy about each other, but crazier about God.

God's love is the only thing that will ever complete you. The enemy has a crafty way of making you believe otherwise. I know, I've lived it. Praise the Lord that my God is the God of restoration, healing, and completeness..... He will satisfy like none other.

Psalm 90:14 "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's So Quiet Around Here

This morning we watched as 4 precious children, two parents and a van loaded down with luggage pulled away from our home. Yes, I got weepy but hid it well. It was still dark outside so no one noticed.

This week, Chad's sister and her husband along with the other staff members they serve with attended a conference here in Atlanta. We had the privilege of keeping our nieces and nephew while they they were in conference. On top of the 4 kids, my mother in law and her mother came down to visit. We have had a house full and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love to have company, especially family.

Tonight, I'm going to post a few pictures (big surprise!) and I plan to get back to some serious blogging this week!

Uncle Chad with Peyton, Barron and Paddington. This is pretty much how it was for him the whole time they were here. :)

I tried to get a really good picture of all the grandkids with Nana and Great Grandmomma, but Emma and Barron were so over the pictures. So here is the result. I was laughing so hard at Barron that I cut half of GrandMomma out!

Here is Nana just a few minutes after she arrived. Emma is on her back and Peyton is just waking up to realize Nana is really here.

We didn't know that Great GrandMomma was coming! I was so surprised and excited to open that front door and see her smiling face there. She just glowed all weekend. Praise the Lord she is seeing a new Doctor and is like a new woman.

Peyton and I had so much fun drying her hair. Uncle Chad snapped this picture right after we were done. I wish he could have been a two seconds earlier. She turned around and grabbed my face and said "I love you." It melted my heart.

The "Big Girls". I wish I could let you know just how many theater productions we experienced this week. Each one involved orphans, gems, servants, and wealthy young ladies. In this particular play, one of the characters died. To top this off, each one had British accents. Very good British accents mind you. I see Tony awards in the future.

The little ones and I read.... a lot. In this picture we had two books going. It was very interesting. "GoodNight Moon" and "Going on a Bear Hunt" will never be the same.

Here is our only man child. His Mommy calls him her man-cake. And let me tell you...when that little man says "Hold You, Aunt Step-o-me"...I melt. If that isn't enough. He asks to sit in my lap and play the piano with me. What else can an Aunt ask for!!!!

It has been a wonderful week, exhausting, but wonderful. I praise the Lord that Steven and Lindsay were able to attend this conference together this year. And Linds. if you decide to go next year, I would love to have the kids again. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bragging on My Man

Okay, since I "vented" here two weeks ago about Chad forgetting to pick us up, I thought I would just share with you how proud I am of him.

He has had a tough year. With all the drama he has continued to work hard and be patient not pushy with his clients. Today he began to see some of that hard work come full circle. He has been working very hard for several months on two particular partnerships. Today, he had meetings to discuss the details. Both meetings, they were back to back, were awesome. God was in every detail. Chad feels that he was prepared and did the best he could and now it's in God's hands.

I just got off of the phone with him and he is floating. I'm not sure I'll be able to bring him back down to reality! But you know what, he deserves to float a little.

I'm proud of him not because of the success today brought, but because whenever he is faced with adversity he is constant. Even when he's frazzled, I don't know it. He has had some drastic ups and downs, but he never looses sight of the Lord. He keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus. That is why I'm so proud of him.

Chad's sister and her family should be arriving anytime now and we are so excited to have them here for the rest of the week. I'll be posting pictures as I can. Not sure how much writing I'll get done as I'll have all 6 children by myself during the day! KARA give me some help here!!!!! :)

Some Random Thoughts

"Fear not, you will no longer live in shame. The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more." Isaiah 55:4

Last week, I sat in on a class my Dad teaches on Wednesday night. He works with 11 or 12 teenagers each week. They are doing a study on purity right now. You can imagine how "comfortable" my Dad was with me in the room. :)

The longer the session went on, the more their faces changed. There were lots of questions. Some were voiced, most were not. I felt like I could almost read their minds...shame was in that room. A few were seeking truth, others talked a good game in front of their pastor and other adult leaders.

My heart can't forget the faces of those few who were seeking truth. God says that when we seek Him with our whole heart, we'll find Him. We talked about how our God is a God of second chances. (I just had that song from the Veggie Tales movie Jonah run through my head.!) Dad emphasized that when we sin, God's desire is that we turn around and come back into a proper relationship with Him. That God is forgiveness and that He will forgive even the things we think are unforgivable. There was such need in that room.

God also says that He is absolutely everything we need. Strength to stand - He is enough. Strength to say No when faced with tough choices - He is enough. How I long for them to fully understand that. I was left with the impression that those young people were filling the empty place in their hearts with lots of stuff, and a little Jesus. They are settling for leftovers when they could be having the main course the first time around!

Isaiah 55:1-3 tells us to "come and drink - even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk - it's all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!"

So often we waste our time, our money, our emotions on things that can't fill the void. When that doesn't work we turn to other people to fill that empty place in our hearts and then wonder why they let us down. I can tell you exactly who will fill up that empty space. It isn't a house, or money, or power or fame. It isn't a man, and haven't we all tried that one! It isn't your children or grandchildren. It's HIM, God the Father! He gave us Jesus and that alone is all you or I will ever need.

What I saw last week was a group of young people at an intersection. They have to make a turn, I pray that they will turn and run towards Jesus. I was so convicted to pray harder for the young people God places in my life. They have so much more to deal with than I did just a few years ago!

I want to go back and visit with this group of kids again, but next time I pray that I don't see shame in that room. I'm asking God to transform that group of kids into trophies of grace.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A little journaling and more pictures

I have the privilege of directing our 4th grade children's choir at church. Children's choir is very special to our family and I'm so glad God saw fit to allow me to serve this year. That being said, Sunday's rehearsal was....challenging to say the least. I walked out feeling pretty defeated, honestly I felt like I just wanted to crawl up in the fetal position and cry. Don't get me wrong, I love these kids. They are sharp and catch on so quickly, but yesterday they were wound up and not at all interested in focusing on the task at hand. You would have thought it was the week before Christmas break!! By the end of rehearsal, I felt so beat up and as if the whole hour had been wasted. Who knows if they will retain anything we learned!!

When I see these children, I see future worship leaders, orchestra members, teachers..... the time we have each week with these kids is an investment in their spiritual life. Maybe I'm just all sentimental because I've been writing to the people who impacted my life, but I want to pour into these children the way a precious few poured into me.

I started this Monday morning feeling exhausted, and a little defeated. This afternoon a good friend e-mailed some much needed encouragement. Obviously they had been nudged by the Lord because it was just what this weary heart needed.

I love it when God does things like that!

Okay here are a few more photos.

These pictures were taken at the Pumpkin Patch playground on Signal Mountain. This is my Dad and I playing on the zip line. We had as much fun on this as the kids did.