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. 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 BAD. It will never bring the peace, comfort, calmness and perspective that a conversation with my God will bring. Picture it this 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'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 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'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 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 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.


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 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....