Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 9 for '09


Here's a list of favorite things for 2009:

1. Living by radical faith
2. Tucker...POTTY TRAINED!
3. Watching Mission Gunter thrive
4. Mom getting married
5. My niece's arrival on Christmas Day
6. Chris Tomlin concert with Savannah
7. Strengthened marriage
8. New Church
9. Faithful friends...old and new.

What were a few of your favorite things in 2009? We spend so much time on New Years Eve trying to put the past behind us. Is there anything good that you would like to remember?

When Peace Eludes You

Do you know someone who has been through a devastating circumstance and yet, through it all, they have had a peaceful countenance? I've heard it said (by someone important, I am sure) that the depth of your true relationship with Christ is revealed by how you handle things when they fall apart. I've known some real peace-filled people who have managed to rest in the arms of Jesus during life-altering challenges....and then I've known people like me.

It goes something like this:

8:00am- Things are trekking along...T-man is out the door with Bruce for school, Savannah is clearing the sleep from her eyes and we are preparing to start our school day.
9:00am- School is well underway, I'm juggling math questions and pr campaigns for work...and drinking a diet coke to help me remain somewhat sane.
10:00am- Something happens....might be big, might be small...but either way whatever it is didn't make it onto my dayplanner. It's inconvenient, annoying or maybe even enjoyable....but it has the potential to turn my household into a frenzy.

Choices....how to handle these interruptions? I'll be honest and say that sometimes I seek guidance. Those times are beautiful. Consulting with the great Peace Giver always results in feeling better about things. In the stillness of a bathroom prayer (that's where all moms have the best conversations with God...just sayin') I can gain insight, perspective, wisdom and peace. In just moments, I might not have the answer, but I have something much more important: PEACE.

And then there are the other times. The call comes and instead of running to my prayer place or getting still and quiet before the Lord, I make a decision on my own. I reason within myself and try to do what's best. I believe a lie from Satan when he says that I can do this on my own and then I act on my pride. It's disasterous. No matter how GOOD I might think the decision that I made is....it is BAD. It will never bring the peace, comfort, calmness and perspective that a conversation with my God will bring. Picture it this way....it would be like Tucker climbing onto a chair and reaching up high in my pantry to get a snack. DANGEROUS for a 4 year old. Getting a snack wasn't the problem, the way he got it was. It's the same with God. Making a decision isn't bad....it's how we make it that matters.

Seeking God puts us in a submissive position. Not popular these days, but necessary for gaining true and long-lasting peace. Something that eludes most these days.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daily Resolutions

The last few years I haven’t made New Year’s Resolutions. For years I made the common resolutions – lose weight, read my Bible more, spend less, get more organized. – and each year, somewhere around January 15th, I fail. I beat myself up, did some pretty degrading self-talk and sometimes even tried again. But, with only a few exceptions, I would eventually give up. What a disappointment!

For a couple of years I conveniently ignored all the hype regarding resolutions and just opted for a resolve-free year. That was a commitment I could keep. That worked well, until I realized what God’s Word had to say about New Year’s Resolutions.

Paul knew the secret to successful New Year’s Resolutions. He said in I Corinthians 15:31b: I die daily. Paul knew in order to live in this fleshly life that we would have to take it a day at a time. That purposeful, driven, intentional decision, made daily, assured a greater success rate. That personal decision to die to myself each day hasn’t turned me into a perfect-professional-daily-resolution maker; instead God has tenderly uncovered those areas in true need for a make-over.

So this year, the resolutions will come, but in a different package. One that arrives daily, focused on the work God wants to do in my life. Less focus on what I think takes precedence and more attention focused on what He wants. It’s tough…and I am sure I will fail Him, but there’s a calm assurance knowing I’m able to approach Him daily. I don’t have to wait until next year.

VERSE: I die daily. I Corinthians 15:31b

Father, your steadfast love never ceases to amaze me and Your mercies are new everyday. Thank You for renewal and forgiveness. Thank You for daily directing my steps. Please help me to welcome those quiet moments with you, when I die to what my flesh wants and resolve to do Your will for my life. In Jesus precious name, Amen

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Honest Scrap Award!

A couple of weeks ago I received this award from my friend Kathy, over at Field Lily. Kathy is such an encourager. I've been blessed by her words left in my comments box more than once. Thanks Kathy!

I've been thinking a lot about what to write. I am suppose to write 10 honest things about myself....here goes:

1. I would rather be home than any other place on earth. I love a clean house, clean laundry and fresh bread baking in the oven. Now, don't get your hopes up...rarely do all these things happen at the same time, but nonetheless, I love creating an atmosphere that is relaxing and inviting for my family and friends.

2. I don't like football. At all. I would rather eat collard greens....and I don't like them either.

3. I enjoy my children. Yes, they are normal kids, but at the end of the day, I really-really enjoy being with them.

4. I love old stuff...Antiques, yard sale finds, junk on the side of the road and other people's trash.....you know...it's my treasure. There's very little a little TLC can't fix.

5. My favorite book of the Bible is Proverbs. This love began as a 13 year old child when my parent's were homeschooling me. Each morning my Dad would read a chapter with us and we would discuss it. He would explain the tough words....and they have guided me since then.

6. I want to be more aware of the presence of God working around me in 2010. I know He is working and I am hoping to write down more of what I see Him busy doing during this next year. Recently He provided us with a replacement dryer in a miraculous way (I'll blog about that later) and I don't ever want to forget the way HE is always watching over us.

7. I am content. It's been a long time since I could say it....and mean it. God's hand has been all over our lives this year. But that doesn't mean it's been easy. From moving, to RV living, to buying a home and owning another one in our old city, God has been teaching me that I can be content in any situation if I am focused on HIM!

8. I have very strong opinions about Christians helping the sincerely poor and needy. I'm not kidding. You probably don't want to get into an arguement about this with me.

9. I love blogging. I've missed it this month, but needed to get refocused and spend some time with my sweet family. I am on track again, and hope to be writing daily in 2010. I blog because I want to look back and see what's been accomplished, how God's worked things out and how my kids have changed and grown. I blog because I want to encourage others by what I am learning and with the testimony of the GREATNESS of God. I love hearing from all the people that read my blog...so comment!!!

10. I am ever thankful for the glorious gift of my salvation. What precious sacrifice that was made for me. It was the most honest prayer I ever prayed...at the age of 5. I am so thankful that Christ is daily working out His will in my life.

Thanks again KATHY for thinking of me for your HONEST SCRAP award!

I am passing it on to:


Here's what you have to do:

If you've been nominated and you would like to participate, the Rules are:


1. Leave a word of thanks for the person of nominated you, and link to their blog.

2. List 10 honest things about yourself.

3. Nominate 7 other blogs who have inspired you for one reason or another.

Running-Reaching-Resting

Three little words that fit nicely below the "Journaling Gina" blog title.  They perfectly describe this life that I've been given. And lately- I've been doing some thinkin' about this life....a lot!

I was spurred to thinking more deeply about all this after a sermon by missionary Brent Williams (to Peru). He and his sweet family are making our church and town home for their year of furlough. Bruce and I went to college with Brent and Miriam so it's been great to re-connect after all these years. Brent spoke about how we (Christians)  are so consumed with having the next latest and greatest that we (in general...maybe not you, but certainly me, sometimes) get caught up in working too hard (on anything not eternal) and not hard enough on putting a priority on family. He gave some extremely interesting stats on families that eat together and the positive way this influences children. I was stunned.

Being a homeschooling family I have let myself off the hook more times that I'd like to admit when it comes to "family" issues- After all....I HOMESCHOOL! I am with my kids 24/7. But in the quietness of a sanctuary a couple of Sunday evenings ago, I realized that I've let some priorities get out of whack. Some of my good intentions have taken a back burner and some of them remained in the intentions pile. Laziness has crept in to areas that I'd rather not think about and discipline in my life has taken a back seat. You see raising kids has as much to do with me being disciplined as it does them being disciplined!

So, I have been using the last couple of weeks to evaluate some things. I am seeking God's plan in this life He's given me. Running a godly household with Bruce, reaching for GOD's HAND and Resting in the plan HE has for MY family is a daily goal. I don't need to keep up with the Jones', I don't need to be so busy that my family falls by the wayside. I need to model a Godly family, be wise with what God has entrusted me with, shine a light from the corner of my street so that what I say matches what I live and unbelievers can see the difference HE can make in their homes too.

So this new year...there's gonna be more cooking and less fast food, more reading and less TV, more discipline for me...and probably the kids (they will LOVE that)  and more focus on breaking the stronghold of materialism, worldliness and busyness.....all with the help of the Savior.

So, I'd like to know something from you....what's something you are going to do differently with your family for the coming year? Leave me a comment...I'd love to know!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Tucker


Today was Tucker's 4th birthday. He is such a wonderful boy. This year he's grown so much in so many ways. Here are a few of his favorite things:

1. Sausage Biscuits with dad at the donut shop before school.
2. McDonald's chicken nuggets with bbq sauce
3. Handy Manny
4. Imagination Movers
5. Pre-school
6. The Fresh Beat Band
7. Tinker Toys
8. Wii
9. "playing" the guitar and drums
10. Feeding the fish
11. Saying the blessing at every meal
12. Pretending

Three was a great year and I am excited to see what year 4 brings our way!

Thank you Lord for our son. Help us to be the parents he needs us to be and to love him unconditionally.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Letter from Mary

If Mary could have written a Christmas letter to mail to the world, it might have gone a little something like this:




Dear Family and Friends,

You can’t imagine the kind of year it’s been. Ups and downs and many surprises - Let me start at the beginning.

Most of you know that last year I was betrothed to Joseph. He is such a good man, a hard worker and loyal. So loyal. We’d been betrothed just a short time when our plans began to unravel though. You know how it is. You get caught up in the planning of your life together with someone you care about and all other details in life get blurred. Well, Jehovah God must have really wanted to get our attention, because in the midst of my normal life, an angel appeared to me to tell me that I would carry the Savior that my people have been waiting forever for.


Now before you go closing this letter up and tossing it into the roaring fire, please keep reading. Like you, I could hardly imagine the messenger before me. I kept rubbing my eyes in disbelief wondering if I was dreaming or hallucinating. Then the Angel began talking, comforting me in my fear. He told me “do not be afraid”. I was afraid, but it was like an out of body experience, it was that feeling of ‘if this is true, why, of all the girls in the world would God pick me?” I was a young woman barely experiencing womanhood…and unmarried…very unmarried. That night as I thought about my amazing and almost unbelievable encounter with the angel, the news began settling in. I was carrying….in my body…this very moment….the Christ child. The one who would save the world….the long awaited baby. I was the virgin the prophets spoke about. The one every mother wished her daughter to be. I was that one. And it was there that I fell to my knees, feeling unworthy, scared, overwhelmed, self-conscience. How would I tell Joseph? Would he believe me? How would I love this baby? Would I be a good mother?

You can imagine the reaction as word spread of my pregnancy. My family was concerned for my safety. Girls didn’t just go around claiming they were with child….let alone the Christ child. I was sent to visit my cousin. After making the journey, confessing my heart to Elizabeth seemed the only natural thing to do. She then told me God had spoken to her that her child would prepare the way for the Christ-child. After all, she herself was expecting a miracle, she could understand. I was comforted and cared for and soon it was time for me to return to my family…and to Joseph.

Imagine telling a man who thinks he is marrying a virgin…that his betrothed is with child. But in due time, in God like fashion, an angel appeared to my Joseph and comforted him, confirmed the upcoming birth of Jesus and told Joseph to care for me. When Joseph told me these beautiful things I rejoiced. God was taking care of me…and this tiny baby I held in my womb…and heart.

Joseph and I made the 70 mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem to pay taxes. I was feeling tired and uncomfortable. I was obviously expectant. When we arrived in Bethlehem we tried to stay in several inns, but to no avail. Everyone was in Bethlehem. There were no vacancies. Thankfully, the last innkeeper said we could rest in his stable. As I descended the donkey from the day’s journey, I felt the first pains of labor and hours later, in the stillness of the night, amidst cattle and hay, Baby Jesus, the perfect son of God and man, was born into the world.

Like every parent, Joseph and I counted fingers and toes and listened for rhythmic breaths. He was here! He had arrived. Part of me wanted to shout it from the mountain top and part of me wanted to embrace this quiet moment, with this Christ child, cradled in the safety of my arms.

The days and weeks between then and now have brought visitors from near and far. A star led shepherds and wise men to us. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Such lovely gifts for Jesus.

I am humbled and blessed that God chose our family for Jesus. When I think about this responsibility I am overwhelmed. The words of the Angel ring loudly in my ears, “Do not be afraid”. As a mother, my love already exceeds anything I have ever experienced. Joseph and I are married now. His unconditional love for me and Jesus is proof of God’s amazing plan for our lives.

This year has been hard and wonderful and good and surprising and exciting and fearful and amazing and beautiful. What I have learned is that the faithfulness of God and His Words are true, dependable, trustworthy, good and the only thing in life that is worth putting my faith in. As I look in Jesus eyes, I see that same faithfulness. I believe God will use this babe to bring healing to this broken world. I believe God will use the child to save us from our sins. I believe…I believe…I believe.

A Christmas Reminder

Click on Inspirational DaySpring Movies for a sweet reminder about what Christmas...and really every day, is all about.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Conflict of Interest

Ever felt like things were going so fast that if you stepped on the brakes there would be more damage than you could handle? That's how I've been feeling lately. Life in the fast lane is dangerous!

I don't normally blog about things when they are bothering me...I usually wait until I have recovered and can see the light or silver lining. But, truth be told, I am mid-stream walking against the tide...and I don't like it too much. It's a personal battle- one between me, myself and I.

Doing what is right isn't always easy. Someone wise said that- not me (in case you were wondering). It's a great lesson that I have been teaching my children. It's also a lesson that I have been re-learning.

God knows my heart wants to please Him. I've seen the way He works things out and I'll follow Him because He's proven Himself over and over again. Sometimes there's that conflict of interest that happens between my heart and my head though. So, I'm not convinced I will do what is right on my own. Instead, I am trusting Him once again to give wisdom. I'm asking- trusting, that He is going to give it...just like His Word tells us.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One Man's Trash...

Every year about this time we take a couple of trash bags to our kid's rooms and do a clearing out of old, broken and disregarded toys. Mainly we do this so that there is some room for the new toys at Christmas. Yesterday was the day. We had lugged a bunch of toys from Gunter that had been in the attic from a couple years ago, and so we dug through those too. By the time it was over we had cleared out 3 trash bags full. They were taken to the road for trash pick-up this morning.

Today was the coldest day since February 11, 2009.

Today for lunch the kids and I ordered a pizza.

We were waiting for it to be delivered when the knock on the door came. I grabbed my cash and went to the door, opened it, ready to grab the pizza. When I opened the door, no one was there, so I peaked out and saw a man standing on my driveway. I said "Hello" and in broken English he said "bags?" and pointed to the curb. He didn't have to say another word. I knew what he was asking..."Can I go through your trash?" I said to him, "Do you want them?", he nodded and I said "You can have them all".

Then I stepped back into the kitchen and wept. Hard. I knew what he was doing. He was gathering toys for his kids. I peaked out and noticed he only had a bike, so I called Bruce. Bruce said, give him everything and I started putting together food. Bruce and Paul got here and I found a crate to put the food in and another to put the toys in that he was going through. Within minutes his bike was loaded and Bruce and Paul had him back at his own home with a crate full of old toys and some food.

I don't tell all these details to draw attention to what we did. Instead, I felt like God was giving me a personal wake-up call. I can't tell you how this situation affected me. I was so saddened by the depths a man would go to dig through someone's trash. A man, whose pride was surely shaken by having to ask me if he could have those toys. I shared this story with the kids as we sat and ate our pizza. We talked about how we can do better to be thankful for the things we had. We talked about what it must feel like to have to ask someone if you can go through their trash. We talked about how blessed we are. We prayed, thanked God, and asked Him to open our eyes to the needs within just blocks of where we live.

I feel like the scene is replaying in my mind. I wonder if this man is warm, loved, knows Jesus, feels secure, has good health, and a job. I'm wondering how I can keep this feeling fresh in my mind and heart. I'm hoping I don't have to walk in his shoes ever...but know ..that for there but the grace of God go I.

We'll be keeping our eyes on this man this holiday for sure. Bruce knows where he lives and I'm hoping we get to share Jesus with Him before this Christmas season is over.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Merry Christmas Wreath

I missed the deadline to get my wreath in at Keelie's 12 Weeks of Christmas.....I think I was busy doing something like 27 hours of Christmas shopping!
So here it is...my recyled wreath...



This wreath is one that Bruce won at a golf tournament many years ago. Yes....only in Texas do they still play golf in December...and it must have been a thoughtful woman who decided to make one of the prizes a Christmas wreath. Since that time I have recycled this wreath more times than I've changed the color of my hair.



This Merry Christmas sign was one I picked up at The Farmer's Almanac store in Atlanta one year. If you like country decor, you would love that store.





These are ornaments that I ordered at a Southern Living Party hosted by a friend from church. They are metal and very large...about 6-8 inches across. I just wrapped the wreath evergreen around the loop (where you could put a hanger if you wanted to).

And that's my Mery Christmas Wreath. What are you doing to decorate for Christmas? Are you over the top in snowman and reindeer or do you like sleigh bells and holly? Whatever you do, I hope there will be some place in your home where you remember what the season is really all about...the birth of a baby who changed the world....
JESUS

Monday, November 30, 2009

Keeping Christ in Christmas

My friend Felicia got me thinking about the things I am passing down to my children during the Christmas season today. We have a few Christmas traditions that we observe, but I am wondering what you do to help keep Christ the focus of your Christmas celebration? I'd love to incorporate new ideas as my kids grow older. Please leave a comment and let me know what your family does. I'll share a few of mine:

1. We have a wooden nativity set that the kids are allowed to play with.
2. We have at least 10 books with the story retold of the Nativity.
3. Christmas Eve Service
4. Reading from the Bible about the Christmas story
5. Helping others in need

Thanks for sharing your ideas too!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 26 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 26:


Thanks to everyone who has participated in the 26 Days of Thanks..whether publically or through quietly recognizing God's goodness. When we take the time to reflect intentionally it certainly takes the focus off us and all the less than pleasant things that happen around us and to us.

I am thankful for a God who knows my heart, the real emotions that no one else sees or knows. I'm thankful for real fellowship with believers. I'm overwhelmingly thankful for the family I've been gifted and above all for the relationship that I have with Christ. My list could go on and on...these 26 days have taught me to take time to think about the goodness of the Lord...meditating on His goodness cures a multitude of bad attitudes, discouragements and mood swings!

Thanks for joining in!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 25 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 25:

Today I am thankful for my in-laws.

After some pretty terrible health issues 4 years ago, my mother-in-law is as strong as ever. Battling breast cancer isn't for the weak and I am so glad God gave her the strength to fight so hard.

My father in law keeps us informed of our towns goings on. With one eye on the newspaper and an ear turned to the scanner, we can always be sure to know what's going on!

My in-laws are great grandparents. My kids love to go to their house and shop in Jo's store "without" money. They bundle their bargains up and bring them home to brag. They are making lots of fun memories with them.

My sister in law has been a lifesaver. She's scheduled a date night once a week with them, takes them to fun community events and goes to walmart any time they want to browse down the toy aisle.

I'm blessed to have this kind of help so close now. Thankful for the family I married in to!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 24 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 24

Today I want to testify of the overwhelming generous provisions that God has made for us over the last 6 months. When Bruce resigned as senior pastor, without having a firm lead on a new job at the time, I admit, I was anxious to see how God was going to work all this out....and boy has He....the glory and thanks go to HIM, it's nothing we have done, just the sweetness of a loving Father God taking care of His kids.

Here's a list of things:

1. Through the generousity of a very kind person, we were able to eliminate almost all our credit card and medical debt. This was such an incredible gift. I can't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, that the amount we were gifted was so close to the amount we owed it can only be attributed to God.

2. God provided a steady job for Bruce within days of his unemployment.

3. God provided an UNEXPECTED new ministry job for us within 2 months....we thought it would be much longer....but He had different plans.

4. He provided free housing (albeit an RV) while we waited for our home to sell in Gunter

5. He provided a new home for us to buy while we still owned our home in Gunter

6. He has provided renters for our home in Gunter who are willing to live there, take care of the place and it still be on the market to sell.

7. He provided us with a generous church family who recently pounded us with an enormous kitchen pounding....in fact we are still receiving things....3 bags came in yesterday!

8. He provided us with fresh meat.

9. He provided someone to repair our car for only the cost of parts

He is good! I don't want to take these blessings for granted. I want to have a heart of thanksgiving every day.

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gifts!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 23 of 26 Days of Thanks

Today I am thankful for the wonderful preschool Tucker (son, age almost 4) attends. Kids Central is a place that I know Tucker is safe, cared for, loved and taught the same values and morals that Bruce and I teach him at home. For three hours, twice a week, he makes crafts, learns numbers and letters, nursery rhymes, Bible verses and songs in an environment that is monitored and directed by the most beautiful servant teachers I have ever met in my life. EVER.

Tucker's teacher is an encourager. When I talk to her I don't worry about whether or not she cares about T-man. It oozes out of her. She's concerned for him, his wellbeing, his education and even whether or not he's having fun.

Thanks to CBC for supporting the ministry of Kids Central. Thanks to Terri for having a huge heart for the children that cross the threshold of the preschool wing Monday thru Friday. Thanks to the teachers who genuinely love and care for their students.

It helps this mom feel good about sending Tucker to school.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

22 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 22:

Today I am extremely thankful for my friends (for those who know me...you know I've been cautious with this word the past few years...but I think I can finally use it again!). In God's Word it says so much about the benefits of friendship. After a very painful end to a friendship a few years ago, I swore off friendships, their benefits and anything else positive that might be associated with them. Guess what that got me? A pretty lonely existence, a life hidden behind shallow and surface relationships and a lot of anger. Over the last six months I've done some soul searching, a self examination that revealed some ugly stuff and I've learned a few things through God's Word about myself and the few solid relationships that I have in my life. I'm understanding friendship a little better and I am not only learning how to be a better friend, but also how to let people be friends with me.

I'm thankful for a few good friends who have stuck with me through the years. I treasure these relationships  and now, through facebook, I have the blessing of renewed friendships from childhood. I am also thankful for the blessing of new friendships with those at my new church. I am looking forward to seeing what God does there. I am thankful too, for you faithful bloggy friends who return here day after day to read the crazy rantings of the Journaling Gina. I wish I knew who you all were (you could help me by clicking "follow" in the column to your right...hint, hint)!

Most of all I am thankful for the friend who sticks closer than any other. He has all the attributes that I would aspire to have as a friend.....Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 21 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 26:



Thankful for all the things I'm not normally thankful for today....like:

Dirty Laundry
Dirty Dishes
Yard Work
Unpacking
Washing Cars
Picking up toys

Because, each indicates the presence of blessings like...

Family to dirty these items
and material things God has give me..

Too often I complain and not often enough do I stop and think about the
blessings that come from these messes.

Day 20 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 20



God's blessed me with 2 incredible siblings.
Today I celebrate with thanksgiving the blessing they are in my life.

Andy, my brother is going to be a daddy for the first time in just a little over a month. Somewhere around Christmas time he and his bride, Jan, will welcome Sydney Claire into the world...
and I will be an aunt...finally!
Andy is a pretty special guy. He's an incredibly hard worker, loving husband, loyal brother and kind friend. He's a good uncle to my kids and a great bro-in-law to my  hubby. He's been more than generous to me in my life. I know he will make a great dad.
I'm praying a blessing of huge proportions for him this Thanksgiving season.

My sister Amy has been somewhat dismayed that I haven't already mentioned her during these 20 days...but to be honest, she's a Georgia Tech fan, and being a UGA fan myself (if I have to choose), it's been difficult to watch her go down such a devastating path!
But, seriously, I am thankful for Amy's lively personality, dedication to her family and giving heart. She volunteers with a food pantry and other services that help those in need in her commnunity and has even organized some food drives at work. She looks for ways to help out where they are concerned.
Although there are 5 years between Amy and I, she and I were extremely close as children, She called me her "best buddy" for years....she also told me everything I was going to get for my birthday the night before I turned 12!!!

I'm blessed. God placed these two incredible people in my life for a reason.
Whatever that is - I am so fortunate that they are mine.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Make Ahead Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

This is a recipe that I always used on Thanksgiving Eve. It's delish! I usually make a few without the onions and poppy seeds for the kids. I make them the day before, wrap them up and then warm them right before serving. Yummo!

1/2 lb. butter

3 tbsp. regular mustard

1 sm. onion, grated

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds

1 lb. shaved ham (The deli will do this for you)

1/2 lb. Swiss cheese, shaved

16 hamburger buns (Onion rolls are good too!)

Soften butter and mix well with mustard, onion, Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds. Spread on both sides of buns. Fill generously with ham and Swiss cheese. Wrap in foil and place in freezer or in oven at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. For those taken from freezer, defrost somewhat before heating or increase the heating time.

Day 19 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 19:

Yesterday (Thursday) I was thankful for the beautiful day we had. It was gorgeous outside....slight breeze, cooler temps, fall foliage (well, sort of...this is Texas afterall).

But, what made it really beautiful was all the great people I got to spend it with. 3 homeschooling families joined us for a small, informal Thanksgiving Party at the house. From 10am to 1:30pm we had a sweet time of visiting while we gathered around the table for a meal. The kids played for hours outside.

Then for dinner, we shared a meal with our missionary friends from Peru. They are here on furlough for the year. We enjoyed some relaxing fellowship and some great Cuban food. Who knew fried bananas could be so yummy.

Truly a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 18 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 18:

Thank you Lord for knowing my thoughts when I can't adequately describe them -Thank you for understanding my heart - For encouraging me with Your Word. Thank you for holding me close when I hurt and even when I disappoint you. Thank you for being there everyday...but especially today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 17 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 17

Today I am thankful for my new stepdad.

I might need to get a tissue here...hold on...got it...

Since my mom was 40 years old she's been a widow. I had hoped and prayed that she would find someone very special to remarry...but time passed and no one "that" special filled that spot in her life.

Back in the spring when I first heard about Tom (Pop to my kids) I knew he must be something special. First because of this high pitch little thing in my mom's voice every time we talked on the phone...but then later because I could NEVER get her on the phone. She was always out doing something crazy...four wheeling, tubing, motorcycle riding....and fun. She was laughing...I mean really laughing...gut laughing...for the first time in years. She was being a little irresponsible (yes...remember how it is to be in love). Andy (my brother) and I had to scold her more than once for not checking in with us. I mean...it's been almost 20 years since we didn't know most of her every moves!

Tom...he's everything I had hoped she would find. Loving, fun, kind, concerned, giving, a good father to his kids, laughs easy, smiles often, loves God and more and more and more.

God certainly knew what my often-too-serious mother (sorry..it's true) needed. Tom has filled a place in each of our hearts that we never knew was missing. I am so glad to have him as part of our family.

HAPPY ONE MONTH ANNIVERSARY MOM and TOM!

Thank you Lord for knowing what we need when we don't even know ourselves!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 16 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 16:

I am extremely thankful for the friends that God has given my kids. When we made our recent move I was thrilled to find out there were some girls Savannah's age. God's provided lots of little princesses to share moments with her. She's loving doing all the girly stuff girls do.

Tucker has his best pal Lucas. Lucas is an MK (missionary kid) from Peru and is only here for one year... and then they go back to Peru. I can't even think about that without getting a little sad for my T-man....and myself....Lucas' mom is a sweetie! Anyway...I'm learning to cherish these times my kids have with other great kids. I'm thankful for these parents that are doing a good job raising kids who are respectful, kind and giving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If....

If the kids are standing on the couch with their guitars and tinker toy microphones in hand and they are jumping around like crazy kids....do they get in less trouble because they are singing to Hillsong United's Mighty to Save?

Tucker has the guitar part perfect. Savannah's on pitch and has worked out all the hand motions. It's really good. I could charge admission...but where would you sit? They're on the couch!

Day 15 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 15


About 2 months ago our music minister at church decided to invite the teens who sang in youth choir to join the adult choir. I have to say, I have been blessed. I love looking around in choir and seeing a 16 year old, next to a 30 something year old, next to a 60 something year old. Such a great representation of what each generation has to offer.

Today they sang in church. Not only did they do a great job singing, but the song was absolutely beautiful. There's just something about youthful voices, who love Jesus, singing to Him. It's a sound that I am sure blesses the heart of God. I was blessed too. Thanks CBC youth.

Follow this link to the song they sang...At The Cross.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 14 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 14


Today I am thankful for the deep waters. We had a missionary at church Wednesday night who talked about the lessons learned from the deep waters. He talked about how much stronger you have to be to stand in the deep waters...the stormy waters...the shark infested waters!

I'm thankful for the growth that's taken place in my life during the deep water times. In fact, in some aspects I wish I could live in the deep waters....fully trusting, depending on my strong and stable Savior to get me through. ...hey....why can't I???

As fishers of men, God calls us to the deep waters...so I am thankful that He also equips the fisherman/woman with the equipment to endure the wild deep seas where the enemy is ready to eat us alive.

Living in the deep water is different for everyone....for me, it is having that first "get to know you" conversation with someone who is an unbeliever. Yet, if I depend on the great Fishman, and trust His expertise, the deep water experience isn't quite so intimidating.

Thank you for the deep water experiences, Father. Help me to have the courage to venture to the deep waters and live for you.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 13 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 13


On day 13 of 26 Days of Thanks I am thankful for music. I can't imagine my world without it! From everything from Go Fish for my kids, to John Schmidt when I am in a piano kind of mood, and everything inbetween. I am thankful for talented musicians who use their talents to bring happiness and enjoyment to others. I'm thankful for worship teams and choirs and other believers who sing their praise in churches across the world reminding Christians of the wonderful Savior we know. I'm thankful for Christian radio that introduces me to songs on a regular basis that lift my mood, encourage my walk and fill my heart with a tune to get through the day.

What song helps you get through the day?

Favorite Thanksgiving Dessert Recipe



Here's a recipe that I tried out last Thanksgiving and I will be making it again this year.

Journey over to It's So Very Cheri to link up to this fun tour...Explore Thanksgiving Traditions and Recipes and add your own too!


Caramel Bars

INGREDIENTS
32 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped

5 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together the caramels and heavy cream, stirring occasionally until smooth.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the melted butter until well blended. Press Half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Reserve the rest.

Bake the crust for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the caramel mixture over the top and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over everything.

Return to the oven and bake for an additional 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly toasted. Cut into squares while it is still warm.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday and Day 12 of 26 Days of Thanks


Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey
 
Today I am thankful for the blessing of homeschooling:

1. I am thankful for the state I live in, and the relative ease it is to homeschool here.

2. I am thankful for the days where I see Savannah "get it" and the light in her eyes when she experiences success.

3. I am thankful for the moments when she struggles and works hard to figure things out...and the opportunity to help her.

4. I am thankful for the flexibility we enjoy. With this latest move, I am glad for the time we took off....because we could!

5. I am thankful for the wisdom God gives to tackle the hard stuff.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Black Friday Shopping

Twelve Weeks of Christmas This week's entry for The 12 Week's of Christmas over at Keelie's blog is about shopping. After LAST YEAR'S SHOPPING ADVENTURE I have to wonder what this year will be like. I was so excited when I found out the church office would be closed on Black Friday because Bruce and I love shopping together on this day.

A few things I like about shopping on Black Friday:

1. The energy you feel shopping with all the other crazies!
2. The Christmas music filling the air.
3. Early Bird Specials
4. Fighting for  sharing shopping carts.
5. Looking for the perfect gift
6. Choosing coordinating wrapping papers for all my gifts
7. Drinking coffee/hot chocolate/ diet coke/energy drinks...whatever it takes to stay awake
8. Saying "Merry Christmas" to every cashier
9. Picking out a few new ornaments for our trees
10. Spending time with Bruce

Where's the Maid?


How is it that just 3 weeks ago my how was spotless...orderly...everything in it's place? How is it that the laundry is now piled high...and not just in the laundry room...seems like there is some dirty laundy in just about every room of the house? How is it that the Christmas decorations that we unpacked from the back of the moving truck are still sitting under my covered porch? How does this happen? How does one regain control of her surroundings?

Tomorrow I am going to find out. It's craziness around here. Everyone but Savannah has been pretty sick for the last 2 weeks. I feel almost back to normal  myself since before Halloween. It's been that long since I even thought about doing any major housework. So, tomorrow's the day. Pray for my family...it could get ugly!

Day 11 of 26 Days of Thanks

Day 11


Today I am thankful for God's beautiful creation.
His handiwork is all over the place.
Here's some of it on display in my yard.











Thank you Lord for the beauty of your handiwork.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

26 Days of Thanks- Day 10

Day 10



Today I am celebrating 26 days of Thanks by being thankful for the modern conveniences that I get to enjoy. Things like the washing machine and dryer, dishwasher, hot water heater, vacuum cleaner and more sometime seem like only items that indicate chores that need to be done, but in reality they save me hours of what would be even more difficult work.

After our months in the RV and no washer and dryer, I am so glad for the ones that sit in my laundry room, making life much easier!

Thank you Lord for giving men and women the "smarts" to make such helpful gadgets. Help me to be more willing to use them! To use my time wisely and to take care of what you've given me.
What's the helpful gadget in your home that you're most thankful for?

Monday, November 9, 2009

What's On Your Thankgiving Menu?

I'm wondering what you're having for Thanksgiving dinner?

Are you:

A. Cooking a traditional dinner with Turkey, dressing and all the trimmings?

B. Cooking something out of the ordinary, unconventional, crazy...tacos, lasagna, meatloaf?

C. Not cooking...You're eating out or someone else does the cooking

D. Haven't got a clue...it's way to early to be thinking about Thanksgiving!

Leave your vote in the comment section of this post!

26 Days of Thanks

Day 9


Today's 26 Days of Thankfulness post revolves around FOOD! I am thankful that God has always provided food for my family. Whether through the labor of our own hands (and the blessing of HIS) through a garden, or a trip to the grocery store or the generousity of friends...there's always been food on our table. God uses people and circumstances to meet our needs and to minister to our spirit. He's done that many times for us, through food. Whether the sharing of a meal with friends or the occasional anonymous food drop off at our house or someone who was just thinking of us and dropped off some goodies. God knows how to meet all our needs...physical and emotional!

I've now had the opportunity to be involved in starting 3 food distribution centers. I see the look on clients faces as they receive food for their family. For whatever reason, the look is lighter, less stressed when they leave our centers. They don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. I am thankful that God has allowed me to see this side of the world right here in the USA - Makes me realize the needs are great...even in our backyard.

Last night our church "pounded" us as welcoming gesture to the staff of the church.(Yes we've been here 4 months...but we just got into our home).  Here's a couple of pics of their generosity...



Thanks Central Baptist Church!





Sunday, November 8, 2009

26 Days of Thanks

Day 8



On day 8 of 26 Days of Thanks I am thankful for the privilege to be a stay at home-work at home mom. For over 2 years I have been blessed to have worked from home, allowing me to homeschool and stay home with my kids, while being able to help supplement our income as a family. This was something that I had prayed for several months...and God heard my prayer!

Thank you God for allowing me to stay home with my kids! Even on the craziest days...there's no other place I'd rather be!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

26 Days of Thanks

Day 7:



Today I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. I am sure I take this way too much for granted, but as someone who almost died giving birth to my firstborn (and no, I'm not kidding) and has been physically hit by two moving vehicles (not kidding again), I should have a more clear appreciation for the breaths that God gives us.

Bruce and Tucker are sick right now and it's just miserable watching them hurt, but I realize that there are many, many people who live with greater sickness daily. I am thankful that we only struggle with the common cold, seasonal allergies and the occansional ear infection. I'm thankful that although Tucker had stitches twice in two week when he was one year old, that God protected him from anything more serious...and do hope and pray that the circle of God's protective arms will be around him all his days....'cause he is all BOY!

I'm thankful for Savannah's health and that all of her birth conditions have healed themselves (God healed them!) and that she has caught up and actually registers now on the growth chart as an average kid.

Thank you Lord for taking care of my family. Thank you for watching over their bodies and physically protecting them from harm. Thank you for being the great physician...and for providing the ultimate healing for anyone who wants it in this sin sick world.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 6, 2009

12 Weeks of Christmas Project- Ragamuffin Garland- Complete

Well, this week the project on the 12 Weeks of Christmas meme over at Red Writing was "Handmade Gifts"

I had seen this over at The Nesting Place and knew I wanted to try to make one to give away...(or to keep if it turned out too darn cute!)


1. Start with fabrics that you love. I chose these calicos at Walmart for $2.00 a yard and got 1 yard of each. (the ones on the bottom, folded, are the calicos) The rolls of fabric were in the clearance bin.



2. Convince a sweet, handsome almost 4 year old boy to be your assistant
(No...you can't borrow mine if you don't have one!)



3. Cut your fabric into about 6-8 inch strips. No, I didn't measure...just guesstimate...If you cook, you know what I am talking about.



4. I used a twine rope leftover from my assistant's halloween costume to tie  my strips onto.


5. Keep tying until you reach the volume you want for your garland....then tie some more!


In the end you'll have a pretty ragamuffin garland to give away....


or to keep!

(Seriously this is for my daughter's room...her JOJO gave her a smashing quilt for her new room that this will match perfectly....more pictures soon!)

*I'll be making more of these...for some of my friends for Christmas.
*I thought it would take more fabric than it did. I have enough fabric to make at least one more with just the fabric shown in the picture at the top of this post.

FUN! FUN! FUN!


























26 Days of Thanks

Day 6

Having lived in a motor home for the last 3 1/2 months, I think I would be remiss to not use one of the 26 Days of Thanks to give thanks for my new-to-me house.


2 1/2 weeks ago we moved into our 1973 ranch style home, with lots of character and a back porch to die for,  it feels like we've been here forever.




This 3 bedroom 2 bath home represents a whole lot more than shelter for my family. It represents the goodness of God towards my family. I am so thankful He provided this house for us.

We do still own this lovely home in Gunter...and would love to make a deal with some fortunate family before the holidays...but no worries...really...God's got it under control.




Thank you Lord for the home you provided for my family. You are so good to us and words can't even explain what I feel or think when it comes to how you have provided and cared for us this year. Thanks for being Provider, Sustatiner and the Lifter of my head.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bread Box



It was bread making day at our house today. I was hoping for better results than last week's fiasco when I accidently used shortening that had soured. Talk about looked beautiful, tasted disgusting....I'm tellin' you...totally gross.

Today's venture was much more successful as I used a food-proof Banana Nut Bread recipe that I've used forever (insert angels singing here). Of course, it's from The Taste of Georgia cookbook, which as the picture testifies....has seen better days perhaps!

The bread box in the background is a piece that my dad made around 30 years ago. My mom just passed it down to me while I was home this last time. I love it, and it fits nicely into my farmhouse country decor too.

As far as the bread is concerned. It just needs a good slathering of butter or cream cheese and it'll be fit for a king....or queen...I can't wait!

26 Days of Thanks

Day 5



Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

I am thankful for the church. I'm not talking about my church in particularly, though I could; I am talking about God's church. Those faithful believers that are busy doing the work of the Lord all over the world.

I am thankful for preachers, teachers and workers who aren't ashamed to share God's Word. I'm thankful for believers who are active daily in their communities- meeting practical needs that are so obviously going unmet in our society. I'm thankful for those who can see past the faults of people and can get involved in their lives because they can see something more than an addiction, a welfare status or low income housing.

I'm thankful for student pastors and volunteers who are leading this generation to understand that being a Christian is much more than going to church, that worship isn't stagnant and that Christians aren't weak.

I'm thankful for nursery workers and children's ministers and teachers who care, love, rock and  teach children from birth, while parents recharge their spiritual batteries in coorporate worship. I'm thankful for their committment to sharing Jesus in an age appropriate way that partners what I am teaching at home to the church.

I'm thankful for church leadership that is faithful and committed, not because of their title, but because of their Lord. I'm thankful for the love they show their pastors and the way they care for the man of God.

I'm thankful for members who stick it out, through building programs, business meetings, low offerings and tough times. For those who don't eat the church staff for dinner on Sundays and for those who care deeply about the little things.

Thank you Lord...for giving your Son...for the church.
Are you thankful for the church today? How?