I went to my mailbox today to find it stuffed with magazines, junk mail and a manila envelope with my name on it. The return address was Provident Label Group, Franklin, TN. (The holy land of new music.) I skipped back into the house, ran into my bedroom jumped on the king size bed and smiled. Christmas season for me, has begun.
Inside this envelope was the new Michael W. Smith Christmas CD "It's a Wonderful Christmas". I've been listening to it ever since. My girls are dancing to it as I type this. This collection of music plays like a soundtrack from a movie. It's beautiful, moving, inspiring. "The Promise" has me in tears. If I was a betting woman, I would bet money that this song will be in numerous choral collections next year. It's incredible.
"A Highland Carol" will be Chad's favorite. "Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah" is my favorite right now. When I heard the beginning of these two pieces, I immediately thought of Chad as a little boy when he sang with the Chattanooga Boys Choir. I could just see him singing first soprano in all those cathedrals he sang in when they toured Europe. And YES, I knew him then, remember we met in children's choir at church. I didn't really care for him then, or when we sang in youth choir together but that's another story.........
If you don't have this Christmas CD in your collection and my review of this CD isn't enough to drive you to your nearest retailer to pick it up, then let me leave you with one word.
She's on there too!! But I'm not saying anything else about that. Go BUY THIS CD and experience it for yourself.
What else needs to be said. Michael W. Smith has done it again. He's managed to take incredible individual songs and places them together in a way that creates a true worship experience. What a way to usher in our Savior's Birthday.
Thanks Brian at Paramount for sharing this with me!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I went to my mailbox today to find it stuffed with magazines, junk mail and a manila envelope with my name on it. The return address was Provident Label Group, Franklin, TN. (The holy land of new music.) I skipped back into the house, ran into my bedroom jumped on the king size bed and smiled. Christmas season for me, has begun.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/28/2007 04:06:00 PM
Tis the Season. I LOVE this time of year. Everything seems to generate excitement. My girls are wide eyed everywhere we go and watching them light up at every turn warms my heart.
They have discovered that they LOVE to read sitting next to the Christmas tree. We've had school in the family room the last two days so we can be near the tree. Granted it has taken a little longer to get done, but so what!! We're making a memory. :)
Our school day always starts with a devotion. Lately, Chloe has been reading from a devotional guide geared to young girls. She reads aloud and the three of us discuss. Emma then reads a couple of pages from her devotional Bible. I love how whatever Emma reads will come together so nicely with what Chloe has read, but that's another story.
Yesterday Chloe read this at the beginning of the devotion:
"We aren't at peace with others because we aren't at peace with ourselves. We aren't at peace with ourselves because we aren't at peace with God."
Chloe said "That is a good word isn't it?!!" Oh yes it is.
Ponder that quote again.
Just makes a whole lot of drama make sense doesn't it?
I want to challenge us all this holiday season to take the time to get alone with God and make sure we are at peace with Him. Ask Him to show you areas that are out of order and need correction. Ask Him to do whatever it takes for you to experience peace with Him. What a gift for your spouse, your family, your co-workers! When we are properly positioned and at peace with God, everything else is going to fall into place.
I don't want to go through another holiday season just waiting on some new drama to unfold! I want to enjoy the presence and peace of my Savior like never before.
One more thing -
Remember last Wednesday I posted about choosing wise words? I posted that Wednesday morning. That very afternoon I sat down to watch Life Today -Wednesday's with Beth. Well, she started a new series on what else - The Power of Words. I'm fixing to watch the second part of the series right now. I just HAD to share with you. God's speaking a theme to me and telling you helps keep me accountable! Check it out if you get a chance!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/28/2007 12:44:00 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
As I sit here tonight thinking on this day, I am in complete and utter amazement at our God. He truly is our portion, giving us just we need for this minute. He is our strength, to stand or crawl when we feel we can't move one more inch. He is peace, in times of great stress and uncertainty. I could go on and on for hours, I'm sure you could too.
Freedom's Call (The ministry team I sing with) sang in our morning worship services today. We sang a beautiful song called "Still He Came". We had an awesome sound check, and retreated to a large stall in the women's restroom to pray. ( It was really a changing area for baptism, but it was in the upstairs restrooms so I guess you still call it a stall!) We prayed that God would annoint and take over. It was a powerful time together huddled in that small space and though we were all nervous, we had a quiet confidence that can only come from the Lord.
First service was awesome, I had chills standing there with these ladies. Words can't adequately express how I feel about these women. God took over and we knew it.
Then the second service began. We sang after 8 baptisms! That is so exciting. 8 new brothers and sisters! It was an honor to sing after that. Our trax starts and we walk on stage. We begin to sing and I once again got chills.
A few measures before the first chorus, the trax stops. I mean an abrupt stop. The CD didn't skip, it stopped. Girls, there is NO accompaniment. Here is where God showed off. None of us flinched we just kept singing.
The second verse is broken down into solos. I start it off. As we finished that first chorus I glanced over and saw 3 smiling faces so I stepped forward and started the second verse. We finished the entire song accapella. Keychange and all.
We walked off stage, out the door into a circle of prayer. We thanked Him for being our shield, our protector and our strength. He used that to remind us that He is in control of all things.
Our pastor said a few things this morning that went right along with this situation. One that really stuck out to me was this "If you can trust God with your eternity, you can trust Him with your everyday things!" In other words He can handle ALL your stuff!!! This really spoke to me during the first service and I thanked Him for that during the invitation. I felt Him speaking to my heart saying "I've got it, whatever happens, I've got it and you." Little did I know just how much that would mean!
Girls, I've got so much to share, I just can't get it all in today. I'm in awe of Him. This morning in my time with the Lord I read Psalm 34. Verses 4 & 5 stood out
"I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame!" That was my personal prayer this morning; that the four of us would be delivered from all our fears and that we would radiate HIM! I also asked Him to solidify the bond between us. Well....He did that! We were a pretty close group before, but God put us on one wild ride this morning and we will never be the same! Funny thing is, I wouldn't change one thing about this morning. It is a precious memory of what God can do when we get out of the way and let Him be God.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/25/2007 06:54:00 PM
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thanksgiving week has come to an end. I say week because we celebrated all week. It started off last Saturday with all of my family. Since everyone was there, we had 17 around the tables. Mom did an excellent job and once again, did everything but the turkey. My Grandmother handles that for us. :)
Since everyone was under the same roof, Mom had a photographer come and take a family photo. That means we will have a picture of All my living grandparents, my parents, my siblings and their spouses and all of our children - together. How cool is that! You should have seen us trying to get my almost 4 year old nephew and 16 month old nieces to smile at the same time. It was a riot. At the same time, I was faced with the reality that my grandparents aren't going to always be there. I "know" this and have accepted it, but this year I was just a little more emotional about it than normal.
Chloe and Emma worked very hard on their schoolwork Monday and Tuesday and were able to start the school break on Wednesday. As a reward for working so hard, Tuesday evening we put up our Christmas tree. I can't believe we did this before the "official" Thanksgiving holiday, but I'm so glad we did. We are already enjoying it! We had to move a few pieces of furniture, but it was worth it. Chloe and Emma placed 90% of the ornaments and ribbon on our tree. They did a great job.
Wednesday the girls helped me around the house and we prepared for my parents arrival. Emma and I made a pot of spiced fruit to have for breakfast and for snacks, while Chloe made her famous homemade Lemon Bars. That little thing can cook! Wednesday evening while we waited on Grams and Daddy Mack, we made homemade bread. Well, I made bread while everyone talked to me. It was quite an ordeal that resulted in my big mixer going into the garbage can. The BIG outside garbage can. I was convicted of my "tone". The tone of my voice AND the tone of my feet as they stomped around. God was reminding that my body language was just as powerful as my voice. Believe me, I wasn't speaking love, joy, peace... and certainly NOT patience. God had to have a talkin' to my spirit before my parents arrived. :)
Thursday was a lazy day and we loved every minute of it. We woke up Thursday morning to lightning, thunder and RAIN. THAT was music to our ears. My girls immediately thanked God for the rain. We've been praying every morning for rain, God really showed off for them by sending it on Thanksgiving morning. It was a cool day so the homemade soup and bread was wonderful. (We decided that since we had the traditional Thanksgiving feast the weekend before, we would do something different.) That evening, we drove up to Lake Lanier Islands to see the Christmas lights. It was beautiful and we enjoyed every last minute of it.
We enjoyed a little bit of outlet shopping Friday, but mostly just enjoyed being together. Chad says he likes it when family comes to just be here. You don't need activity, you don't even need constant conversation, you just enjoy each others presence. Grams and Daddy Mack, we simply enjoy your presence when you're here, we hope you left rested!
We have so much to be Thankful for don't we? We are very quick to make lists, talk about and write about all the things we are thankful for during this week, but I wonder....what would happen in our homes, our churches, our schools, our world if we adopted a lifestyle of gratitude. Just an idea....
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/24/2007 09:07:00 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
How can you resist this?! If you have a blog with more than 100 unique visitors each month, click on the picture above and the nice people at this big music company want to send you this CD ----free. Yes, Free!! Hurry though this only good for the first 150 people. (I got one!!!! Oh happy birthday to me!)
These are the good people who sent me an early copy of Monk and Neagle's CD earlier this summer. And we all know that I did the happy dance then. :)
Go and check it out, listen to a few of the tracks, take the poll and sign up for a free CD!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/21/2007 01:45:00 PM
Holidays. I love them. The smells, the excitement, I live for this time of year. My daughters are at the age now that they appreciate tradition. This is the first year they have asked for a particular dish. "Real Dressing". I thought that was pretty funny.
Holidays can bring out the best in us and at the same time bring on a new level of stress. Often time that stress pushes us to the limit. We use words and speak in tones that we later regret.
This morning I was reading in Proverbs 21 and God gave me some verses about the mouth. Specifically verse 9. It says "Better to live on a corner of the roof than with a quarrelsome wife." Wow, that's powerful. Then on down in verse 19 He says again "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife."
So I'm thinking, "God, we don't quarrel, Chad refuses to argue, so I'm not getting why these verses are sticking out." That's when I felt it, "This doesn't apply to you and Chad. Keep reading." So I did.
Verse 23 came alive and this started to come together. "He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity." God had me jump back to Prov. 13:3 "He who guards his lips, guards his life." Oh, I see. God is gently telling me that no matter what happens, what is said or not said, keep your trap shut!
God has been working on my mouth for several years, and I believe He was gently reminding me that during this season especially, I need to be very aware of the words I speak. Proverbs 18:21 says "The tongue has the power of life and death."
That's humbling isn't it. The words we speak bring life or death. The tone we use brings life or death. The e-mail you send brings life or death. The Word tells us to encourage one another. I'm asking God to place a Holy guard on my mouth, and literally speak for me. I don't want my husband to say "I'd rather be sitting on the corner of the roof, or out in the desert than be in the same house with my wife!"
Let's make a concentrated effort to avoid quarrelling during this season! Let's not have wasted words.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/21/2007 08:31:00 AM
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thanks to those of you who left comments/suggestions on my request for Bible study suggestions. I'll let you know as soon as God tells me what study to do!
Sunday morning we had a little extra time before we needed to leave for church. As the girls finished getting their things together and Chad played with the dog, I turned on the t.v. This is rare on Sunday morning, we rarely have it on before church. I hit some strange combination on the remote and wound up watching Leading the Way. I listened to this on our Moody radio station in Chattanooga all the time, but have never found it here, so to SEE this was a treat.
I caught the tale end of the sermon. This was the statement that made my ears perk up. "The Christian life is meant to be lived like a marathon, not a sprint." Pretty cool concept I thought. My wheels began to spin at how to elaborate on that, then it was time to leave for church.
As our Pastor stood to preach. One of his first statements was "The Christian life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon." I about came off my seat and my ears perked up. He took the approach of Remaining Faithful and finishing well. Powerful sermon.
I couldn't help but come home and soak on this concept a little longer. God was reminding me of a lesson learned several years ago.
Chad and I met in church. We were both very involved, faithful, always there. Early in our marriage the pattern of involvement didn't change. We led middle school small groups, I played for our youth choir and directed our middle school ensemble. We were at church more than we were at home it seemed.
You see I've always had this thing about saying "no". I've always felt like if there was a need, especially within the body of Christ, I should step in to help. Regardless of whether it was my gift or not.
We burned out. We were "sprinting" through our Christian life and were quickly "done". We began to visit churches, we didn't fill out visitor cards. We didn't want to be visited! We just wanted to go, sit and soak. We didn't realize how spiritually malnourished we were. I for one had served until there was nothing left to serve.
God placed us in a church, and a Sunday School class with godly teachers, where we were challenged to quit riding the spiritual coat tails of others. It was time to grow up. We could continue to walk in this lukewarm water, and we all know what God says He will do with the lukewarm, or we could grow up and go a little deeper. The choice was ours and ours alone. We chose to go a little deeper, no matter the cost.
We were taught that there were some areas in the body that you should say yes to without question. (taking a turn in the nursery, greeting.....) We were also taught that not everyone was called to teach, to be a deacon or to sing in the choir. Simply saying yes because someone approaches you isn't God's desire. We were given guidance to find the areas where God had gifted us. Serving in those areas brings a sweet satisfaction that doesn't lead to burn out.
So yesterday as I thought about this sprint vs. marathon, here's the conclusion I came to.
Sprinters run short distances. They are fast, but only for a limited amount of time. Their race is over quick. Physically I could sprint, it's the long distances that kill me! Spiritually speaking, I don't want to be a sprinter. I long to be a marathon runner.
Marathon runners are steady. They find their groove and settle in for the long haul. Spiritually, we should all want to be marathon runners. There will be parts of our run that are a little harder maybe even uphill, but spiritual marathon runners keep their eyes fixed on that finish line and don't give up. They push through whatever mental, emotional, spiritual barrier they encounter.
If God has planned our life (race) to be lived (ran) as a marathon but yet we live as a sprinter, how do you think we'll cross the finish line? I would venture to say we'll collapse in exhaustion having missed all the scenery along our race route. I think God was reminding me that He intends for me to be a marathon runner. I want to cross the finish line shouting hallelujah, stopping only in the arms of my Savior. I want to live on this race route seeing all HE planned for me to see, experiencing all the things HE planned for me to experience.
So I'll ask you, how's your run going? Are you tired, exhausted? Do you sprint into church each week grabbing just enough to get you through the next week only to do the sprint again? I know exactly how you feel. I can tell you as a former sprinter, the longer run is so much better. Slow down, you're missing so much. Take some time to get to know our God, you'll be so glad you did.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/18/2007 02:24:00 PM
Friday, November 16, 2007
I posted a few days ago that God had asked me to host a Bible study in my home. Specifically with a few of the ladies in my neighborhood. (And anyone else who wants to come!) So I've said yes to that and now beginning to pray about what that study should look like. Seeing as this is the first time I've done anything like this and I'm not real sure of who will be here, I feel like I need to do something video based. Also, as much as I love homework and I do, I really want this to be lighter on that. (We won't be doing "Breaking Free" this time!) I don't women to feel like "I didn't get my homework done so I can't go." Not one minute in the Word is wasted!
Here's where I need your help. Tell me what studies you've done that you think might work. Think about women who may have never done a study. What would you suggest to them. I don't want to overwhelm the newbies, but at the same time, I don't want to bore the girls who want to dig deeper. I'm praying that God will lead me to just the right study. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
Thanks! I'll let you know when God shows me! Also, please pray. I'm asking God to make this happen and bring the ladies He wants to be here. It may be 1 it may be 5 I don't know. Pray that all these little details will come together and I will rest knowing that He's got this covered.
Thank you blog siesta's. I sure wish you could all be in my living room part of this, but your prayers and encouraging words make me feel like you're here. Can you imagine what San Antonio is going to be like?!! I bet we don't sleep the whole weekend. :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/16/2007 11:31:00 AM
WOW!! Is all I can say. What a powerful time we had last night. We had fun, laughed, ate (boy did we have a lot of food!) and spent some time bragging on our God. Some shared personal fears, others prayer concerns.... it was powerful.
Carol passed out a verse for us to read. I got two.
Psalm 63:4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never the the righteous fall.
I thought it was pretty cool that came just a few days after He gave me the verse in Isaiah. Seems as if He is telling me over and over to just do what He lays on my heart and He will take care of the rest. He can handle the consequences of my obedience.
Yesterday as I was praying about our get together, I was asking the Lord to tell me what to share. How do I "sum" up what He is doing and share it....briefly! Anyway, I just couldn't get a peace as to what to share. Sure I could share, but I wanted it to be what HE wanted. I never got a peace. In the car I prayed that God would guide our conversations and once again asked "God, what is it I'm supposed to say?" I felt nothing specific. For whatever reason, He had me not speak. So I didn't. And it was weird. I felt like I wanted to say so much, but knew that if I started to talk without His guidance, it would be a blubbering mess. :)
It was neat to hear the hearts of some ladies that I don't know that well. To watch their faces, as they let their guard down a little and share. I couldn't help but think of my mentor Bekita. An incredible Bible teacher and speaker, I used to wonder why when we were in small groups she was sometimes a little quieter. A little more slow to speak. I think tonight I got it. Sometimes you just need to listen to what women are saying, that's when you find out where they're really at. You don't have to offer a lot of words, just listen. That's what God had me do last night. Listen. I know now how to pray specifically for a few of those ladies. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Thanks Amanda and Carol for creating an environment last night that welcomed us and God.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/16/2007 09:55:00 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's quiet around here. Chloe and Emma are spending the night with our dear friends. They are taking them to see "High School Musical" at one of the area high schools. My girls are beside themselves.
Chad isn't home yet, it's me and Paddington the poodle. Even the dog is quiet! Small blessings. That's what I'm thankful for right now.
I'm getting ready to pop some appetizers in the oven. It's girls night out for the ladies in our Sunday School class and I'm really excited to see what Carol (Sheep to the Right) has planned for tonight. The e-mail says that this is Pep Rally for God. She mentioned a human pyramid.....then quickly said just kidding. I think that would be a hoot. So my camera is going in the bag, maybe we can talk ourselves into it. :)
It seems everyone is listing what they are most thankful for. Some are doing it daily. This year, I'm most thankful for what we normally refer to as the little things. Like...
A full pantry. This year has been hard, but we've never NOT had a full pantry. Others can't say that.
Shoes and Clothes that last! Remember how the Israelite's shoes didn't wear out in the desert? Well, God has stretched our budget and made things last when it comes to our clothing. It blows my mind! Boy is He good or what.
I'm thankful this is our second year of homeschooling. I don't feel the pressure/stress that I felt this time last year. It has been God's plan for our family and I'm glad that each member of this household is in agreement and willing to obey God when it comes to this.
I'm thankful that when I turn my faucet on there is water. Here in Atlanta, that may not be an option for much longer!! Please pray for rain. :)
Okay, I know some of you may be thinking this list is a little shallow, and honestly I struggled as to whether to post it or not. BUT.....
Remember a couple of days ago I took off the mask? This is just where I'm at right now. This entire year God has been saying to me "Quit relying on man (mainly my man) to supply your needs. I AM ENOUGH." I've known this, said it for years and even believed it, but God has used this year to drive that precept deep into my heart. He really does care about what we consider small, insignificant details. He cares about that sparrow and what it will eat. He dressed that lily in the field...
Yep, He cares about our "little" needs. Maybe learning this is faith practice"?
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/15/2007 05:42:00 PM
I was tagged by Darla at Overcomer. Thanks Darla! :) Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Ok, my facts are:
1. I've never colored my hair. Although the last time I was home, my Grandmother informed me that my hair was getting a little gray on the sides. Her way of saying "You really need to do something about it." :)
2. I love the reality show Kid Nation. We record it and watch it on Thursday afternoon after our schoolwork is gone.
3. I was an American Red Cross Volunteer for a 2 summers in middle school.
4. The first guy I "dated", (of course the only places we went were school functions/basketball games) was shorter than me. It was weird. Come to think of it, he was a little weird.
5. I'm obsessed with being on time. I operate with the mindset that I would rather be waiting on someone than having someone wait on me.
6. I love to walk early in the morning... when the neighborhood is still quiet. I don't do this very often but when I do I have a much better attitude.
7. I was born on Friday the 13th.
Okay - so I tag......
Bethann at Waiting for the Shout. (Don't you love the name of that blog!)
Lee at Live Well, Laugh Often and Love Much.
Robin a new blogging friend.
Kelli at Dying to Live.
Heather at A Woman's Worth.
Fran at Blessed by Him.
And YOU. If you haven't been tagged and want to play you're it! :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/15/2007 11:56:00 AM
Monday, November 12, 2007
Yesterday I told you I was going to write my most revealing post ever. I knew in my heart this what God was asking me to do. To some it would be nothing, not a big deal. To me, it was asking me to do something that literally brought butterflies to my stomach. So here goes.......
This is me completely and totally.......
Make up free.
Okay it's over. Feel free to scroll down to rid yourself of that!!!
God had me do that for a couple of reasons. First, I have this thing about my skin.(PRIDE) It was great until after my first miscarriage. During that time of my life it changed and my make-up free days were over. The older I get, the more self-conscience of this I become. Funny, in middle school I always thought that adult women didn't struggle with this sort of thing! Boy was I wrong. (Note to self, love on tweens and middle school girls a little more. Try to remember how all those changes felt like. Encourage them with kind words, notes and hugs!)
Second, having your daughter take a picture of you at 7:00 in the morning is humbling. Especially when she says, "Uh Mom...I will but are you sure? I mean you, um..... haven't really.....perked up yet." That's Chloe's way of saying. "Are you nuts! At least put some lip gloss on!"
In my life that's how it starts. A little "lip-gloss" to just make me feel a little better. Maybe I apply it when I'm surrounded by people I don't know as well and don't want to "scare" away with my true self. I mean, what are they going to say when they find out I homeschool, don't watch a lot of t.v. and operate on a strict budget? Yep, a little lip-gloss will make me feel a little more comfortable. Maybe I put it on when I just don't like what I see. Or when I want to try and hide what God intended me to be, afraid that it will seem to radical to others.
Truth be told, we all want to fit in. We don't want to show weaknesses do we? We don't want others to see what we perceive as flaws. And why do we do this? In my life it's fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of NOT being "liked". Fear of other women thinking less of me because of the decisions I have made in my life. Fear of failing. Fear of not being pretty enough, thin enough, just not being enough.
How silly is that. Just typing that makes me nervously laugh. As I write this, I hear the enemy saying "Change that so it's not so honest. You don't have to be that transparent. You are going to push people away. You don't have to do this." Oh yes I do defeated one, yes I do.
Over the last 6 years God and I have worked out most of these issues, but like most women I'm sure this is one area where I'm constantly taking these thoughts captive. Exchanging my thoughts for God's. I'm sure most everyone reading this has heard Beth Moore talk about her daughter "re-wallpapering" her bedroom wall. Taking down the pictures of young Hollywood actresses and putting up the WORD. Girls we have to wallpaper our minds with what God says about us. Especially when those other thoughts are in the forefront of our minds. There are times I walk around my house with a 3x5 card with a power verse on it. Sometimes it's in my pocket. Sometimes it's in my hands as I hold on for dear life. A few times I have taped it over my heart, just depends on the day. :) It's an outward expression of my need, my desire, my desperation for that Word to invade every part of my being.
Here is what God showed me this morning as I was nervously looking at that picture on my computer screen. It's found in Isaiah 51: 7-8 "Hear me you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations."
Here is what my God spoke to my heart this morning. I believe that He said it to share with you. So imagine God saying it you.
" Stephanie, Do what I tell you to do without worrying about what others think. I will never ask something of you that is beyond your ability. Remember you are not who you used to be. You are a new creation. My masterpiece. Because of my strength, you are capable of more than you imagine. Keep the mask off, don't even touch that lip-gloss! Me in you, that's all they need to see. You are my beloved daughter and I love you."
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/12/2007 12:44:00 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Our pastor recently preached on taking masks off, my friend Carol posted about masks, last week our Sunday school teacher touched on this topic. My real life friend Angela and I continually talk about taking the mask off and getting "real". Seems to be a theme over and over in my life.
To say I live this way (mask free)all the time would be a lie. For the most part, I try to be transparent. I never want to leave an impression that I think I'm "all that and a box of chocolate" as one of my dear friends would say. :) The truth is, I can't take a step without Jesus. One of the hardest things for me to do is make friends. Sure, I love all the fellowship! I crave that. I can talk to you, pray with you, socialize with you but to enter into deep friendship scares me to death. I am very guarded in "real life". Granted, every time God places this in front of me and I choose to take this step, HE blesses me beyond imagination.
How I love to watch and be apart of women interacting with each other. We talk family. We share details of our husbands, our children, our in-laws (or out-laws!). We spend hours talking make-up, clothing, underwear :) No topic is left untouched. But I would venture to say that 9 times out of 10, that's where it stops. I love to talk about all those things, what woman doesn't!! How much do we miss because we're afraid to go any deeper. Deeper in our relationships with each other and with God.
My most meaningful friendships are shared with those few ladies that I am totally mask free with. They know my weaknesses, my fears, my failures. They are the first to pray, cry and rejoice with me. They know those little details about me that can only come from a mask free relationship.
The longer I am in this land of blog, the more God shows me the importance of mask free living. It's easy to do here via the "interweb" as boomama calls it. Most of you will not see me in the grocery store, or at church! So it's easy to be the real me here. But God doesn't always operate in the "easy" mode does He?!
Here's what He is impressing on my heart for this time.
First. He's working out this fear issue in me. The fear of rejection. It's something we've been working on for several months, but I haven't been able to post about that just yet. This fear has been an idol in my life. I have hid behind it for the last time. He's asking me to take a huge step and be as transparent as I am in blogland, in real life.
Secondly, there are several ladies in my neighborhood that He has placed on my heart. I've felt since the summer that I was to host a Bible study in my home. To make an effort to develop authentic relationships with people that live around me. In January I am going to start this, so I ask you blog siesta's to pray with me that God will show me all the little details. ( What study, how and who to approach...) Pray that I will not chicken out of this. He's placed it on my heart for sometime and I can't do this without Him.
Okay girls, this next thing is the scariest of all. Brace yourselves. I'm taking the mask completely off here. On Monday, I'll post perhaps the most revealing thing I've ever posted. It's just what God is asking me to do and that is the ONLY reason I would ever do this.
I love you siesta's!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/11/2007 09:11:00 AM
Friday, November 9, 2007
The girls had a sweet surprise this morning. Chad and I told them this morning that they would be having some visitors for lunch. We had mentioned earlier in the week that Granddaddy might be in town later in the week, but they didn't put 2 and 2 together until about 10 minutes before they got here.
This is Chad's Dad and.... well how to describe Uncle Herbert...... words fail me here. Herbert is Don's longtime friend and former brother-in-law. I guess that's the easiest way to say this.:) Anyway.... they were in town for a golf tournament. They stopped for lunch on their way back to Nashville. The two of them together are quite a show. I'm serious, we could sell tickets and make a fortune. They are funnier than any old married couple I know. I guess that's why ZuZu stayed in Jacksonville!! Bless her heart, God has a special jewel picked out for her crown. When she married Don, she gained two children, the first of the grandchildren, a pregnant daughter-in-law and.....Herbert.
Here they are checking out the NASA website with Chad and the girls.
We absolutely love having company, especially family. (sidenote - If you love Jesus you are family.. you're welcome here anytime.) I love that homeschooling gives us the freedom to stop and enjoy days like this. I'm thankful that God has placed that calling on our life.
We ran around the corner and ate in a little family owned restaurant, similar to Cracker Barrel. Here's a great shot of Chad, the girls with Granddaddy.
Here is Don, Chloe, Emma and Uncle Herbert
Now, if we can just get the rest of Chad's Aunts and Uncles here for a visit!
One thing I've been asking God for is more time with our out of town family. God made a way for us to be with Chad's sister and family and Chad's mom and grandmother in October, as well as my brother, his family and my parents. Today we had Granddaddy and Uncle Herbert. This is one area where I SEE God moving. He is bringing them here and they have NO idea I've asked God for that.
"You thrill me Lord with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what YOU have done." Psalm 92:4.
It's my life verse. After all that Jesus has already done for me, (His death, resurrection, forgiveness...) He still desires to thrill me. He longs to show me more, and more of His character. I have this picture of baby birds huddled in a nest with their mouths wide open, just waiting for their loving parent to feed them. Don't you know those worms fill those little bodies up to overflowing! That's what I want. I want to be filled up to overflowing with Jesus. I'm completely satisfied with Him, and yet I'm not satisfied and never want to be satisfied with where I am in this journey.
Psalm 119:131 says "I open my mouth, panting expectantly, longing for your commands." (new living translation) May we never have enough, or get over what Jesus did for us.
Today, I thank my God for once again showing part of Himself to us by bringing family for a visit.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/09/2007 05:41:00 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I've been talking about Freedom's Call A LOT lately. A few of you have asked me exactly what we are about, so I'm going to tell you. :)
Freedom's Call is a women's retreat ministry team. We are made up of a speaker and worship team. So, we do weekend Bible Study retreats for women. The idea is that we come as a team. Jill teaches, Debbie, Amy, Debbie and myself lead in worship and also facilitate small group breakout sessions. You can host a retreat at your church, or at a "get-a-way" weekend at a conference center or hotel. Jill and the two Debbie's have been together for several years, Amy and I joined the team this summer. God has opened several doors for the worship team to sing, and we are looking forward to that first retreat!
Each one of us has a very strong desire to see women engage in worship, and experience HIM in a new, life changing way. We are all at different points in this journey home and we want to experience God in every aspect of our lives. From wiping little noses, to caring for aging parents. But it's not enough to simply have a good retreat. Our desire and burden is that women would leave desiring MORE of our God!
You can find out more about retreat topics here. And by the way, for those of you who are women's ministry leaders we have a ministry launch special if you book before June 30, 2008. You can e-mail me if you want more info on that.
I ask that you would pray that God would continue to give us wisdom and discernment as we seek His plan for this ministry.
Love you Siesta's!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/08/2007 12:36:00 PM
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I've been bragging about our photographer for a couple of days so I'm going to tell you a little about her.
First of all her name is Deborah. (I've added a link to her in the Girly Girl Stuff section of my sidebar.) Deborah has the heart of a servant. She recently "retired" from her job to pursue photography full time. She is in her element when she's behind that camera, it was so fun to watch HER.
This sweet lady spoke a holy word over us after she snapped that last picture. It brought tears to our eyes and was just one more confirmation that we were where God wanted us. I just love her and know that you will too. So, if your in the Atlanta area, check her out. :)
I've also added a new blog in my Good Stuff. It's for my Sunday School/Choir friend DeAnna. We had been in this little town for a couple of months when my parents came down for a long weekend. That Sunday night at church, DeAnna was walking up an aisle of our church when she stopped, looked at my mom and started talking to her. They taught school together in Chattanooga several years ago. What a small world.
DeAnna sings in a group called By Design. They are one anointed group of ladies that God uses to bless my heart over and over again. Go check her out, I think you'll make a new friend.
Okay, I'm off to rehearse a little. Freedom's Call is singing in our Mid Week Worship service tonight.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/07/2007 02:08:00 PM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I couldn't wait! Here are a few of the photos from yesterday! I'll post about and link to our photographer Wednesday. She was such a gift from God to us. I think she really captured what we are about. Each picture tells a story.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/06/2007 09:27:00 PM
Can I just say how much I loathe Atlanta traffic. It took me 3 and 1/2 hours to get to Chattanooga this morning. YUCK. But coming home, we made it in 2 and 1/2 hours. It sure is good to have our girls home. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed our Fall Break, but I like having everyone home in their own beds. :)
Right now, I'm sitting on the couch laptop is truly on my lap and I'm enjoying catching up with my blogland friends. I'm still really tired after our big photo shoot yesterday so I'm not commenting much. Please don't be offended. :)
Now I will ask a very thought provoking question. How many of you have read blogs while your husband fed you an M & M Blizzard from DQ? I didn't think so. That's what I'm doing right now. It seems that Chad has decided to "share" his ice cream. Somebody mark it down, that doesn't happen too often.
Now he tells me it was MY ice cream, he already ate his. I knew it was too good to be true.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/06/2007 07:57:00 PM
Monday, November 5, 2007
Today was one of those days where the presence of God was so strong, I thought I was going to turn around and see Him. From the moment I opened my eyes this morning, I could feel something stirring. He had plans for this day, plans that would surpass anything I could imagine.
God worked out all the details for "Freedom's Call" to spend the day together. Jill was here so all 5 of us had the day together. God also worked it out for us to spend today with a photographer. And I mean ALL day. This sweet photographer must have taken 1000 pictures of us! We started at 9:00 this morning and she snapped the last one around 4:00. I can't wait to share some with you.
I thought I'd share some of the blessings/God moments of the day.
1. The first part of the day was at some railroad tracks. Before we began shooting, we circled up for prayer. Photographer (Deborah) included.
2. The foliage along the tracks, and the way the sun was peaking through the trees was stunning.
3. Deborah had us turn away from her, hold hands and walk along the tracks. When we did, the stop light at the the other end turned green and stayed green. It was as if God was saying "GO".
4. We had wonderful fellowship over lunch! I love these ladies.
5. The second part of our day was at a small lake near our homes. I love the water and it's one of the things I miss most about our TN home. This part of the shoot was my favorite! I really felt like God picked this spot just for me. The sun, the water, the fall colors..... God gave us a perfect day.
6. I actually like some of my individual shots and the group shots are so cool. These ladies truly reflect God's glory.
7. Deborah has a God given gift for photography. She kept smiling and saying, "you're gonna love this one". I'm so glad God brought her into our life!
8. After we were done, Deborah shared with us that as she was taking our picture the sun was surrounding us, as if God was saying "these are mine". It was a pretty powerful time. I'm sure I didn't get Deborah's exact words, but it was pretty close.
9. While Deborah went home to load all those pictures on her laptop, we headed back to Debbie's house to meet. We had a very productive time. We asked God for wisdom and discernment and He gave it. So much was accomplished and we were able to nail down some pretty important things. :)
10. I love that we were able to end the day with dinner at Asian Fusion. Deborah and her sweet daughter Taylor joined us. We looked at the lake pictures, oohed and ahhed over each other and we ate. And ate, and ate. Then the owner brought us 3 desserts....on the house. And we ate some more.
My brain is on overload and I'm just amazed at how many details God worked out for us today. Yesterday morning we sang a song that said, "in one word you amaze me". How my God continues to amaze me.
Soon, I'm going to post some of the pictures from today! I think you'll agree, these ladies reflect God's glory.
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/05/2007 09:58:00 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Wow, I haven't posted since Wednesday! I'm going to post some pictures from this weekend but first I want to share some thoughts.
Last week was emotionally tough for me but even with everything going on, God was faithful. It started off with HIM providing a pretty major need, and He moved in ways that amaze me. All week I saw His hand. In my daughter's smiles, my husband's words, you my blog siesta's comments. HE just showed Himself to me over and over again. It made everything else going on in my personal life seem so small. I praise Him for using the body of Christ to encourage me. Some of you have no idea just how much it meant to me.
As I was going over Romans 12 this morning, I just sort of stopped around verses 7-8. It's the part of the chapter that is talking about how each one of us are given gifts and we should use those gifts within the body of Christ. It's how a healthy body functions.... well like I said earlier, so many of you encouraged me last week. Thank you.
I thought about you and so many of my real life friends when I got to verses 10 and following. "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, Honor one another above yourselves." (Darla at Overcomer posted about this verse last week and it really moved me.) I'm so honored that you choose to be part of my life. Boy, San Antonio seems so far away! I sure am looking forward to meeting you in person and hugging your neck.
BIG TRANSITION HERE....but I'm so tired, that I don't have the energy to write anything!!! Forgive me?
Friday afternoon Chad and I took the girls to Chattanooga. I have a whole day with "Freedom's Call" tomorrow and since we homeschool, I've deemed Monday Fall Break. So my mom has some help with the twins on Monday.
Saturday morning, Chloe and Emma along with our nieces Mia and Morgan, attended a tea party at the Strasburg store. There was even a surprise guest. She read several stories and then danced with the girls. It was lovely. Of course I have pictures. :)
I can't remember which twin kept her hat on the longest and quite frankly I can't tell them apart in this picture.
My girls in their hats. Grams was pleased that they offered the girls hats. (Her hat collection is up around 100!)
Princess Kara reading to our new friends. And I'll have you know, my little 15 month old nieces sat on the floor for 40 minutes during this. I was very impressed. Of course it could have been the cookies and popcorn, these girls like to eat. :)
Princess Kara with our party friends. If you look in the right hand corner of this picture, you will see a guy wearing an orange shirt kicked back in the husband rest stop area. That's Chad. You would have thought we had drug he and my dad all over that mall. Nope, they had been there 30 minutes.
I've just skimmed back over this post and it is so rough. Sorry. I have so much on my mind right now! Good things that I want so bad to share, but will wait until given the okay.
Hopefully, I'll have some pictures of some really cool ladies on here Monday night! I can't wait to tell you all about it.
Have a wonderful Monday!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 11/04/2007 06:38:00 PM