Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011....It's been a wonderful year!

I feel like a stranger at my own blog.  Funny, huh?  But I do.  For several years this was just my little online journal. Then about a year ago, I began to make a few online friends who became very special to me.  I also began blogging a bit more.  Posting more of our life and sharing my thoughts.  I began to love this little space and the friends I shared it with.  But as our pastor often says, "God is always taking us someplace new."  Well, He has taken me to a new season of life.  And it's good!

Now days I hardly even email.  I am rarely on the computer for personal reasons.  And that it good, too.  My life is full of people and things to do.  Sometimes that does overwhelm this self proclaimed HOMEBODY.  Life has been busy.....

and I don't like busy!  Busy can distract you from what really matters if you don't guard against it.

This is my end of year note to self.  Remembering 2011......

I have to say this has been the best year.  So much to be grateful for!  Undeserved favor from God Almighty!  My heart is so full of thankfulness for all that God has done for me.

For many years December only put me into a funk!  For many reasons.  This year.....

No funk!  Praise God.

It was a simple Christmas and yet, the BEST EVER.  My tree never got fully decorated.  I didn't wrap a gift until 10pm the night before Christmas Eve.  Even when I did wrap, I didn't have to wrap much.  We kept things simple.  And simple is good!

Everything I have ever wanted was right here in this house.  Healthy family.  Laughter.  Love.  God's peace and provision.  Joy.  Contentment.   Friends.  What more could a girl want?

God choose to bring Jesus into this world with simple people and humble surroundings.   Oh, I am so glad He choose to use the simple things and people of this world to bring Hope and Love into a dark and dying world.

Ok, I am getting sleepy and I need to hurry this along!  Soooooooooooooo much to say (sniff, sniff....I do miss being here.)   Wrapping up 2011.....

God did so much in my life and heart this year.  WOW!!!!!   A great season of life and reflecting on about 13 years of struggle.  But now I see how God used those years to grow me and teach me.  Wasn't fun, but very necessary.  If you are going through a season of struggle (and yes, it can last 13 years), don't lose hope or give up.  EVER!  Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, YES, wait for the Lord!  Psalms 27:14. I understand WHY God gave me that verse as a 20 year old new Believer.......just didn't know it would take me 20 years to grasp the Truth of that verse and really take to heart the lessons of waiting.

God turned my stay at home, homeschooling life upside down this year!  He gave me a job!  The perfect job.  I would love to share the story because it is a God story.  He tells me something crazy to do and I do it....and BAM.....

I end up working part time in the office at Emmanuel Christian School which is only 2 miles from my home and all three boys are enrolled and loving it.  I am so thankful I will cry if you get me to talking about it.  Trace, who is in the 5th grade, had never been to school.  He was very sad and a little afraid.  I told him that if God was taking us there, then He would take care of us.  Turns out Trace has a teacher he adores. She loves the Lord, and she loves my boy.  THANKFUL!  Turner is coming along.  It is a big change for him as first grader.  He still misses home and really doesn't care that much about learning to read and write.  He loves math and anything to do with a ball.  That boy loves sports!  Tolar loves school (7th grader) and is blessed with an amazing mind.  Both Tolar and Turner are like their mom, they like to talk.  That does get them to into trouble.  I just keep looking around and wondering how we got here.  I blinked and my babies are all in school.  What a blessing they are to me.

The people I work with are amazing.  The environment I work in is amazing.  And I am still right there with my kids everyday.  WOW!  And God did this for me?  I stand in awe.

Ok, it's late and I really need to end here are some pictures from our year.

Happy New Year friend.  Hopefully I will get back here before next year this time.

Happy New Year.....God is so good!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Loving Requires Dying

John 12:24-25"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.
 26"If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

A few days ago I was struggling with the flesh.  It is really a battle to lay down our selfish desires when things are not the way we want them to be.  My emotions were overtaking me and I was growing angry because I felt that I was being mistreated.  I was not even considering how the other person might feel, my eyes were only on me.

Then, as I went to God, He revealed to me it was not a person I was waging war with, but the enemy.  Somehow, I had been deceived!  And Oh, how I pray to not be deceived by the enemy.  Yet, he had gotten me!  Gotten me focused on myself, that is.  It had become all about ME.  And it's not!  I was the one in the wrong, not the other person.

As I realized what was happening and that I was under attack, I asked God to change me.  I am not responsible for how others respond, but I do answer to God for how I respond.  He sees my heart.  He knows my motives.

I know God loves me with a crazy love that I will never get over.  And for that, I am forever grateful.  His love has changed my life.  It has also changed the way I love.

I am free to love because I know who holds me.  I can love with a reckless love, because I am  loved by God Almighty.  I have no doubt!

So I approached God with this huge struggle of my heart,  then He so sweetly gave me His Word, and I was changed.  I decided to let go of my life......

and live the life He has given me.  I want to love God with all that I am....reckless in love for Him and others.  Learning to let go of my life is not always easy, but it is possible.  It's when I let go that I find freedom.  Loving others is really not about what they do for us, it's about what He did for us and how He loves us and refuses to let go.

Love is powerful.  It changes lives!

Let's choose to love.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is Just the Beginning......

I have a burden

and it's for churches in America.

Somewhere down the line we started missing the point.

My heart has been heavy over this matter for several years.

Churches are bigger than ever, yet we are farther from God.

What has gone wrong?

Many things.....

Discipleship, for one.

We are to make disciples, not converts

Yet, we fail to disciple new believers in our churches today.  We are missing it!

We are missing what matters most.  Our priorities are wrong.

Our people are not in the Word of God, nor being taught how to study the Word of God.

I just completed leading an inductive study on Philippians with a group of  ladies at our church.

Just about everyone in that group had NEVER studied the Word of God like that.....just digging in to the Scriptures.  Using God's Word as their Bible study book.  Digging into Truth for themselves and discovering the promises and commands of God for themselves.

Amazing.  But even more so was the response I got from this study.......They LOVED it!!!!

Women got excited about what God showed them through His Word.  They saw things they had never  noticed before.....and they don't want to stop.

How I pray that we will desire the Word of God......daily!

But sadly, most Christians today rarely open the Bible other than Sundays.  They are not teaching God's Word in their homes.  This grieves my heart.  It's not the church's responsibility to teach our children.....It's OURS.

Do you find it appalling that most of what we consider our "mature" Christians in our churches today have never studied the Word of God on their own, nor do they have a passion for The Word?

No wonder we don't look any different than the world.

This has been a process........over 5 years of God speaking to my heart and through His Word.  Just now am I ready to start writing down these things..............

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Can't Stop Thinking About Him

His name is Kevin and he's 43 years old.  He is originally from Gary, Indiana and has twin 13 year old children, a boy and girl.  Their names are Kevin Jr and Destiny.

My family met Kevin on the streets of downtown Atlanta.  We were staying in a hotel that had a Starbucks in the lobby.  As we waited in a long line of people this past Saturday morning, we were divinely lead to step out of line and go look for a bakery I had noticed on our way in the day before.  As we crossed the street I noticed a black man in front of me my kids were about to run over.  He tried to step to the side, out of their way, and we spoke.

He was kind and friendly.  Kevin asked us if we were going to the Aquarium and we told him we were not, only heading to the bakery around the corner for breakfast.  We chatted as we walked up the street.  Then as we approached the corner, Kevin got a serious and almost embarrassed look on his face.   He then asked us if we could get him some food because he had not eaten in a day and a half.

Our family joyfully asked Kevin to join us for breakfast.  I told Kevin that I believed God directed our steps and put us just where we needed to be.  He said he shared that belief, too.

As we sat down to eat our family joined hands with Kevin, my youngest sitting beside him, held his hand and then blessed our meal.  Six year olds pray the sweetest prayers.  Especially, this sweet child who has such a passion for the homeless.  Only he did not realize at that time that he was sharing a  meal with a man who had no home.

That meal was the sweetest meal I've ever had.  The time spent with Kevin was too short.

Our children got to know Kevin and he asked them questions about what they liked to do.  We got to hear his story and he was interested in our family.  Chuck spent some time talking quietly with Kevin as I chatted with the kids.   Again, we heard how hard it is when you  are living as Kevin does.  You are not really looked at as a person with value. People avoid you in every way.   Being looked down on is painful.  We had heard this same story from Kenny, another man we met on the streets of Atlanta in May.

Kevin was articulate and smart.  He has hit hard times and he is trying to find a way out.  It is a struggle when you are already down.   But he has hope.

As we visited with this man who obviously did not blend in with my very WHITE family, we got noticed.  And that was a good thing!

Conversations sprung up all around us.  Only God could do this thing.  It just didn't make sense but it was beautiful.

People who probably would have never talked to us DID.   I had on my Compassion t-shrit and the couple next to me couldn't figure it out so they asked me what my shirt was about.  I gladly shared about Compassion and all that they do....and our sweet Marta that we sponsor.  This couple was very interested and said they would be looking it up online.  Then our waitress, Sherri, spent time talking with us.   As Kevin sat outside talking with my children, ( yes, I left the kids with him while I refilled my coffee cup...but I could see them), Chuck was able to share with Sherri.  She is a believer but her past has her bogged down in shame.  (Boy can I so many years ago).  She was encouraged in that conversation to come as she was and find a place to worship.....and hopefully grow in the Lord who can heal all her wounded places.  God used Kevin to get all this started!

As I came back from refilling my coffee cup I paused at the door and just watched my children talking and laughing with Kevin.  It was a sweet scene.  I just took it in.  They were so comfortable and so was he.

As we parted we were able to throw our arms around Kevin and pray for him.   Then we said goodbye.

Every time we eat, we pray for Kevin, that he will have food.  When we go to sleep, we pray for Kevin, that he will have a place to sleep.  I pray God will work in his life and provide for him all he needs.

I can't stop thinking about him.  Here I sit in my cozy home, but how many people like Kevin are out there unsure of where their next meal will come from or where they will lay their head?  So many are like Kevin, good people who have hit hard times.

It makes you wish you could do more.   But what can we do?  We can obey when God puts opportunity right in front of us.  We can give freely with joy to those who have needs.  We can stop being so focused on our wants and start being aware of the needs of others around us.  We can get out of our comfort zones and step into someone else's world.   We can live with reckless abandon in obedience to Christ.  We can be willing to do things that might seem "uncool" to our friends or even our culture.  We can be WILLING.....and available!

There's a lot we can do.  I pray we will.   Because I can't stop thinking about him.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Our Favorite Things....

My girls! (Well, we are missing Tish)  We decided to have a Pioneer Woman Cooks Night and share it with those we LOVE the most.....

Our Children....we LOVE them!

Our Husbands.....we LOVE them TOO!

Anything is fun with cleaning.....but especially cooking.
Most of all......
I LOVE making memories.....and we made some good ones this night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

CELEBRATION WEEK....14 Years of Marriage and 6 Years of Life with a Cool Kid

Here we go!  Once again I will use pictures to tell my story.
I apologize if you find typos...right now I am so sleepy, but want to get this posted!

Our wedding anniversary is May 24th and our youngest child's birthday is May 28th....
So we like to celebrate by making memories.  
Last year we made some memories....we decided we would laugh, rather than they are funny to us now.  
This year Maz blessed us with two nights at Calloway Gardens, then we headed to Atlanta for a couple of nights.  Turner had asked to go see the Braves play ball for his birthday.  Thanks to a friend, we were wonderfully blessed with great tickets.

Let's our hometown at a place called "Cake in a Cup."
Maz made sure we left town with LOTS of sweets in tow!

Our Anniversary Dinner......random, but nice!


Calloway Gardens was wonderful.  Again, funny stories to tell.....oh, to be a fly on a tree!

The Raptor Show was a favorite.  We were treated to a private training session by Mark.  Tell me God isn't in the details!  My boys were thrilled to get  up close and personal as this young man worked with his raptor.  My oldest was eating it up.  It ended up being very educational for us all!

ATLANTA....The Coca Cola Museum

A BIG SURPRISE....the boys did not expect to go to the Aquarium.....they were thrilled when we surprised them with tickets!

TURNER FIELD......this really was a fun game for us, even thought the Braves lost.  The firework show at the end was gorgeous....just  a fun night...and all the kids stayed in their seats, enjoying the game.  We have come so far in the past few years!  Thank you, Jesus!  But the biggest surprise came when we got back to our hotel........they had a SURPRISE for will soon see.....

LOOK what we found when we got to our room after midnight.....the Marriott staff  had left us a BIRTHDAY treat............and......

An ANNIVERSARY TREAT....WOW!  (Now we have a good bottle of cooking wine in the fridge! Comes in handy with some of my Pioneer Woman recipes!)


My Anniversary Flowers from Chuck!

Packing up...time to head home.  Oh, My baby is SIX.....times flies when you are having fun.

We must head back to Alabama....because we are not done yet!

 Cake creation by  Jana....she's that friend for me!  Takes such good care of me.  I don't deserve her.

My angel friends....I am so thankful for theses gals!  Jana and Carmen

Jana's oldest with my middle...born 21 days apart!  A God thing:)

That crazy boy would be Carmen's oldest!  They have so much fun.

Blowing the candles out....and we are DONE!  Praising God for all HE has done for us and how HE has blessed us with everything we have.  We are HIS....and Here for HIS Glory!

I wish you a wonderful week!  Thank you for stopping by.