Saturday, December 31, 2011

Static Cling to the Promises

This time of year it's not unusual to struggle with static cling. Most recently I introduce Savannah to a can of aerosol hairspray that I used solely for the purpose of getting rid of static electricity. She was a little weirded out when I told her to spray it on her pants and they would quit clinging to her skin....but it worked!

As I was thinking about the many spiritual lessons that God taught me over the last year they all seemed to center around one thing....clinging to the promises of God. I'm just like the next woman...I struggle with real-to-me issues....health, family, friends, money, home, schedules, busyness, reading God's Word, sorrow, pain...but of all the issues I've struggled with over the last 12 months, the greatest amount of peace and comfort I've found is when I've clung to the promises of God. His Word is full of nuggets of encouragement and understanding. Sure, my friends are great, my mom is great, my husband is the best....but when it comes to bearing my soul...there is no one I trust like Jesus. There are no one's words that comfort quite like the Father's. There's no one who can empathize with me, quite like the Father. He is who I want to cling to in the good and the bad. His promises are the advice I want to seek in the good and the bad. I want to be clinging...always....like static cling on a winter's day...to the promises of our all knowing, loving God.

Thank you God for proving yourself to me .... for proving your promises true every day. 

If you're struggling to trust the promises of God, here are some verses to get you started:

Source: tumblr.com via Megan on Pinterest

Do you have a favorite promise of God?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Meal Planning Ideas for the New Year-Overview




One of my goals for the new year is to eat out less. One of the reasons we are doing this is to cut our expenses. When we totaled up what we've spent in eating out...even though it's been really fun and we've had a great time with friends, we were astounded. We've decided that this is not the best use of our funds and in fact, is really not good for our family in many ways.

So...I've been enlisting the help of my family to come up with menu planning ideas for our meals. I figured if they helped me come up with ideas they would have to eat the meals! Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

Breakfast:

Fruit
Toast
Cereal
Sausage Biscuits
Yogurt
Poptarts

Lunch:

Egg Salad
Chicken Salad
Ramon Noodles
BLT's Sandwiches
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
PBJs
Ham Sandwiches
Turkey Sandwiches
Turkey Roll-ups on flour tortilla
Leftovers
Vienna Sausages (I barfed a little)
Mac N Cheese

Dinner:

Spaghetti
Lasagna
Chili
HB Helper
Roast
Pizza Rolls (Homemade)
Hot Dogs
Potato Soup
Link Sausage
Pigs in a Blanket
Nachos
Tacos
Cornbread Casserole
Hamburgers
BBQ
BBQ Chicken
Steak
Breakfast (we call this Brinner...breakfast for dinner)
Salisbury Steak
Chicken Nuggets
Frito Chili Pie
Turkey Roast
Chicken and Rice
Chicken Fried Rice
Corn Dogs
Beef Tips
Chicken Spaghetti
Grilled Cheese
Manwich
Hot Ham and Cheese
Ultimate Sandwich
Jambalaya
Enchiladas

I'll be adding fruits and veggies and sides to these meals, but this is a great starting point and will save me gobs of time planning the grocery list each week. Getting my family to chime in on their preferences helps me be able to prepare meals that everyone will enjoy....(except for the vienna sausage....that's going to mysteriously disappear from the list:)). I'm sure I missed some great idea for a meal so feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what your family likes to eat! Maybe I'll add it to my list!

Here's a free meal planning download that might be a help as you plan your 2012 meals

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Something Or Anothers



I've failed more times than not at making resolutions at the new year. It's terrible, embarrassing, disappointed and usually leaves me in an undesirable rebound position. So this year I'm not making promises. I've got goals but there are no deadlines. January 1st is a good starting day but truth be told, I've already started on a few of these New Year's Something or Anothers.

So, here goes-

1. Revamp current filing system for bills and important papers. Clean out ones we don't need and keep up with the filing on a daily basis so it never gets out of hand.

2. Eat out less.

3. Grow a container garden (yard gardening doesn't work for me since my yard is so shaded...been there, done that, wasted a ton of money...and was very sad).

4. Weekly Random Acts of Kindness with my kids.

5. Read from the Jesus Storybook Bible every night with the kids.

6. Find a hairstyle that I actually like. Don't laugh if you see me experimenting...LOL!

7. Pray for Bruce more.

8. Live more healthy...meaning make more decisions in the right direction than the wrong.

9. Keep track of and write my first 1000 gifts using the app on my iPhone

10. Visit the shut-ins from church more.

I'm sure these will keep me busy ...and some might change or get deleted altogether...that's the nice thing about making something or anothers rather than resolutions...or at least that's what I'm telling myself!

Are you resolving or making goals or promises or something or anothers for the new year? Whatcha aiming for?




Two Books for the New Year

I usually spend New Years Day sitting at a Barnes and Noble looking through books and magazines. I've done this for years. But, living in a small town with no quaint bookstore...not even to mention that it wouldn't be open on Sunday if we had one, I resorted to browsing through amazon today, reading reviews of two books that I've been wanting to read. After reading the reviews, its a done deal. This year I will be reading these two books for sure:


Source: amazon.com via Gina on Pinterest



Source: notafan.com via Gina on Pinterest


Any plans to read anything new in 2012? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smashing

I've wanted to get back into scrapbooking for over a year. Yet, as much as the desire for the finished product was appealing, the thought of all the mess that is involved and frankly, the perfectionist tendencies that I had when doing it before, all made the idea less than desirable for me.

But....I just found out about smashing. Have you heard about it? From my understanding it's old school scrapbooking, where you take your receipts, snapshots, movie stubs anything and smash it randomly onto cute paper. So it still has the feel of scrapbooking but not the perfection. Here are some pics I found online so you can get a better idea if you're interested:













So, this January I am going to give it a try. I'll try to remember to post a picture of what I smash at the end of the month...and I'll give my honest review if this is easier than scrapbooking. And for all of you who are avid scrappers....claps for you...I love looking at the finished project! If you're already smashing I'd love to see your work...send me a link and I'll take a look!

For more pictures of some great smashing check out this LINK.

A Few of My Favorite things

Here are a few of my favorite best things of 2011.

Favorite Book I read: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Favorite Free App for my iphone: Instagram

Favorite New Recipe I Tried: Amish Sweet Bread

Favorite New (to me) Song: What Do I Know of Holy - Addison Road

Favorite New Christmas Song: Celebrate the Day- Reliant K


So...did you have any new favorites of 2011? I'd love to hear about them!





Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recapping Christmas

One of the most memorable holidays I remember was New Years Eve 1999. I remember it because other than the birth of Savannah it was possibly the most sick I have ever been in my life. Diagnosis...FLU.

....That is....until this Christmas. Shortly after 10pm on Christmas Eve night, Bruce and I were sitting in the living room watching the news. Out of nowhere a sharp pain hit my stomach and to make a very long story short, I was in horrible pain for the next 24 hours, followed by mild pain over the following 24 and finally today...I'm feeling more human! My poor family suffered through with me...Bruce took care of all the cooking and cleaning up after Christmas and I laid on the heating pad, took pain killers and slept. I have NEVER been in that kind of pain EVER before. Tucker was left to guard mommy while Bruce and Savannah celebrated Jesus' birthday with our church family. Boy...this Christmas was nothing like I had planned!

But it reminded me that Christmas isn't about what we plan. It's not about the parties, or the traditions or even in some ways the church service. It's about Jesus...how He came. It's about a beautiful prophesy fulfilled and a heavenly angel and a virgin girl. It's about shepherds, wisemen, a star and a stable. In those quiet moments on my couch with Tucker on Sunday morning we talked about those things. We reviewed the story he's heard over and over. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. And...yes, we celebrated Christmas.

I hope you and yours celebrated Christmas wherever you were...however you were!




Friday, December 23, 2011

Pondering His Presence

Rev 1:8 and 22:13:  "'I am the Alpha and the Omega [the first and the last, the beginning and the end],' says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty"  (see also Isaiah 44:6).


As I read these scriptures earlier today I was reminded that He's been here all along...Isn't that a comforting thought. Nothing has happened that He hasn't seen. Nothing has gone unnoticed or ignored. He's been here... where I am...where you are....Emmanuel forever. 


When I'm feeling discouraged or lonely or like no one else on the planet could possibly understand how I'm feeling...I am calmed and comforted by the knowledge that there is nothing that is hidden from Him. He sees it all, His compassion feels it all, His mercy forgives it all, His grace covers it all. What a gift He is...a gift that keeps giving and giving and giving. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Your Year Changes Your Christmas

Bruce and I were talking about why this Christmas is different for us. Neither of us really need anything...even when we've talked about some big ticket items we both have seemed disinterested. Last night Bruce confessed ... this year is just different.

Don't get me wrong. We're enjoying the season. I love hearing Savannah play carols on the piano, Tucker singing right along. I love the wooden nativity the kids play with for hours. I love the musicals the kids have participated in at church and the caroling we've done, the parties we've attended and the shopping and hunting for just the right and perfect gifts. But as we've been talking we couldn't pinpoint the source of our "different" attitude.

Maybe it was our trip to Peru. Maybe it's been the tiny baby twin boys weighing only 2 and 1.9 pounds that has brought perspective and reminding us of our own real blessings that we have today. Maybe it's the thought of filling our lives with people and moments to cherish. Maybe it's the reality that a good friend will soon follow God's call across the country (and eventually the world). Maybe it's the reality of this year....full of ups and downs and the steadfastness of the Lord that has changed Christmas for us.

I honestly don't know. But what I do know is that I sit here pondering the tangible...the gifts, the food, the parties, the programs...I'm reminded that the tangible is good and fun but only a small glimpse of the eternal that Jesus was concerned about and if I'm not careful, I consume my life with only the things I can touch and see and forget that these things and events will pass away too quickly. And while I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy all the festivities, I'm challenged to look a little farther than my own small world and to ponder the things Jesus cared most about....relationships, eternity, peace and hope for a world desperate for Him. And when my mind parks there for more than a moment, I'm reminded He is the greatest gift I've ever received or shared with anyone. He's the only thing that will keep giving long after the presents are unwrapped, dishes washed and put away and even after the energizer batteries are dead. He'll still be there....in Peru, in the NICU, in North Carolina, at the cemetery, in uncertainty and in joy. He'll still be there. Wrap your heart up in that beautiful promise that He is Emmanuel, God with us....today and always! And maybe just maybe Christmas will linger....the spirit of God with Us...for more than just one day this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turning six

This month we celebrated Tucker's sixth birthday....some of my favorite things from this past year are...

- His new obsession with all things Lego
- His snuggles
- His funny faces
- His independence
- The way he takes care of Savannah in a "big" brother sort of way...even though he's 3 years younger
- His love for chocolate!
- His help in the kitchen (loves to bake with me)
- His sense of rhythm

He will change so much in this next year. Kinda makes me a little sad. But there are new and wonderful memories to be made during this leg of the journey that will make his lifesong sing. It's exciting to watch him grow.

My prayer is for myself as much as it is for Tucker this year. May I be the kind of mother that God wants me to be for him. And may Tucker come to know Jesus in His time. May I  teach by my life more than my words so that I don't confuse him or lead him away from the things that really matter in this life. May we have fun and laugh and enjoy each other and at the end of the day thank God that He gave us this gift of family.


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Same Story as Last Year

Last night as my family participated in the Live Nativity at our church, I urged Tucker (now 6 years old) to go listen to the Nativity Story being read near the stable. He sat down and listened for a few minutes and then came running toward me and said...

"Mom, they are reading the same story as last year". I chuckled and mentioned that it was because the story of Jesus birth is the whole reason we have Christmas. He shrugged his shoulder and went on his way.

He's six. And although I'm a little disappointed in his response, I know that as we teach him more about Jesus that he will come to understand the truth and the beauty of this wonderful season.

But...as I mulled the words over in my head last night... "the same story as last year" I wondered how many times have I acted like that. It's Christmas....Jesus Birthday....same story as last year. It's Christmas...all the hustle and bustle....the busyness....the gifts and presents...oh...yes, and then there's Jesus Birthday...same as last year. Or as I've listened to a sermon or read a devotion have I thought...I know this story....Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherd and wise men and the star....blah, blah, blah. The same old story....again...just like last year and the year before and the year before. 


Just in case you're like me and there's been a time when the story hasn't meant as much to you as it should....take a moment to reflect on the beauty of that night in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

The no vacancy sign
The wooden feeding trough where Jesus would lay
A scared first time mother
The first cry of the Savior
Shepherds who heard the news first
Wise men who came from afar

Yes...I've heard the story time and time again....yes, I can practically recite Luke 2. But what difference has that night made in my life? What do I carry with me because of the promised fulfilled in a baby? What new thing have I learned because I listened to this same story as last year?

May I never get tired of hearing the same story as last year. May the familiar words bring comfort and peace. May I be reminded of the revealed promise in a tiny baby and may my heart be humbled by the Savior who came in all lowliness and humility to save a world that would reject Him and eventually nail Hm to a cross. His story doesn't get old. His story is one of the only things in this world that will last forever. It may be the same one I heard last year....but it's the only real thing about this season!

Monday, December 5, 2011

11 Carolers Caroling

Last week some homeschool friends of mine and I, along with our kids,  headed out to Christmas carol a few shut ins from our church. One of us had mapped the route, one of us had baked a few dozen cookies and one of us had chosen three familiar carols that our kids would know. We loaded up in two cars, drove into the country and there began our Christmas caroling adventure. (BTW, an adventure is anytime you have to turn around more than once because you aren't sure where you're going!)

Did you know that lonely has a face? Did you know that it knows no season? As we went from house to house I was so touched by the gratitude each of these senior citizens had for such a small...very small act of kindness. Of course they were touched to see the children. Of course it was nice to have some company for the few minutes that we were there. Of course they enjoyed the slightly too high key picked for singing Silent Night and the too low key picked for Away in a Manger....according to one lady the kids sounded better than what she hears on TV (made me laugh) then of course she retracted her statement saying she wasn't talking about our church television broadcast (I was cracking up!)

But what wasn't so expected were the tears that flowed freely down one particular shut-ins face. It nearly broke my heart. As we sang, she cried. When we finished she invited us in...and oh, how I wish we could have spend an afternoon visiting. But we were on a schedule and there wasn't time to make a day of it. Instead we all hugged her...and she hugged back...tighter...because...

Hugs don't come as often when you're stuck in your house.

My kids learned some valuable lessons that day that we discussed later as we gathered around the table that night:

1. We are grateful for the ability to get out and fellowship with other believers...especially this time of year.

2. There are things that we can do to minister to these beautiful people in their time of home boundness. We started thinking and making a list of things that even little kids can do.

3. We are going to make it a point to visit these sweet people more often this next year. We learned that loneliness doesn't know a season and that missing someone or being sick or just growing old is hard on  person.

4. We learned that God can use little children to minister.

5. We learned that it doesn't take much money, time or effort to brightens someone's day.

6. We learned just how much a hug means to someone who hasn't see another person in a week.

We all learned something...even me.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 24 of 24 Days of Thanks

Three years of spending the month of November thanking God for His amazing blessings and gifts on my life...every year I'm reminded that I am such a small and seemingly insignificant part of this world...and yet, in Christ, He makes me worthy to walk as one of His own children. That's amazing to me!



So here we are at the brink of the month of celebrating Christ birth and I find myself where I am this time every year. How do I make the most of this season....this time when the world gives pause to remember the beauty of the biggest miracle in history. What are the things I can let go of to focus more on Him? How do I make sure the focus isn't on gifts, but, THE gift? What emphasis do I put on the fun, silly things that we do as a family? What about the financial end of Christmas and the stress many feel about the money spent? Where does it all fit in?



Thankfully as Christians, we have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas throughout the year....not just in December. We have the opportunity, but do we take advantage of it. What I am convicted about is just that. The issue of incorporating the birth of Christ all through the year. How can I live life with the birth of Christ in the front of my mind and heart? He isn't just the reason for this season...He's the reason for every season. During the month of December I'll be posting the things my family is doing to celebrate the season and also things we will be doing in the coming year to remember that the birth of Jesus isn't just something we remember for a few days a year....it's the very foundation of all the promises that prophets foretold. Christmas isn't just a day...it's everyday. Thank you God for the gift of your Son!


Day 23 of 24 Days of Thanks

Yesterday Bruce and I spent the day doing some Christmas shopping and some browsing and some catching up. We tackled a few items on the Christmas list, ate at In and Out Burgers for the first time, enjoyed each other's company and remembered that we don't spend enough time like this!

Funny how much I enjoy being with him but how easy it is to neglect our relationship when we get our priorities out of whack. Yesterday I remembered all my favorite things about him...his smile, his kind heart, his funny sense of humor, his generosity, his love of people, his spontaneity. I am thankful God created him for me.

Day 22 of 24 Days of Thanks

Family...the ones by blood and the ones by heart. I'm very fortunate to have had both with me for the Thanksgiving Day festivities. With 14 precious souls seated around the table I could not help but think how blessed I was. We shared food and more food, we shared our thanks, we shared our traditions. But most of all we shared love for each other and made a memory to cherish forever.

My sister spent Thanksgiving with us....a rare treasure. We enjoyed her so much. A single man, new to our church also spent the day with us. Bruce's family was in attendance as well as friends who will soon leave to go to the mission field. It was a wonderful day of noisy laughter, newspaper ads, nerf gun wars, movies and football....and eating...and eating...and eating!

Although I'm missing getting to spend the holidays with my mom and the rest of my family this year, I am thankful that God has given me my own family and always gives me an adopted family to share these days with. It doesn't replace them (how could it?) but it reminds me that we are not ever alone really, when we are part of the family of God.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 21 of 24 Days of Thanks

God gives us what we need and more....and today is one of those days that I want to acknowledge the more....


As we gathered to share blessings and food and friendship and family I was once again reminded of how good God has been to me. Whether I feel it or acknowledge it, everyday in many ways He blesses me. I don't deserve it, understand it or comprehend it but I KNOW that even on the days that I feel farthest away from Him...those days that I don't seem to have it together, those are the days that I KNOW in my core....even then.... that He is good. 

Thank you Lord for your amazing love for me, your goodness and blessing on my life is so undeserved. Thank You!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 20 of 24 Days of Thanks

I am thankful that Savannah experienced her first Lord's Supper last night at church. It was a moment I will remember forever. Her innocence and sincerity and excitement provoked me to think about how I approach God's table. I realized much too often I come burdened and guilty and not wide eyed with wonder and amazement at all He has done for me. Last night was a special and needed reminder to view His sacrifice with the wonder of a child...approaching His table with thankfulness for all He's done.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 19 of 24 Days of Thanks

For a church where...

1. Bus workers pick up children and bring them to a place where they are loved and taught about Jesus
2. Sunday School teachers reinforce the things I am teaching my kids at home
3. Caraway Street workers use their creative talents to share the message of Jesus
4. A Pastor preaches, without apology, the Word of God
5. Gifted musicians use their abilities to honor God
6. Donuts and fellowship go hand in hand
7. Relationships mean family
8. A Preschool is a ministry 
9. Work is hard...but the rewards are eternal
10. The boundaries aren't the walls....because the church is the people.

....and my list could go on and on. Today I'm thankful for the blessing CBC is to my family. Accepting us, loving us, encouraging us, forgiving us when we fail, appreciating us, serving with us and so much more!!! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 18 of 24 Days of Thanks

Wisdom...something I need everyday. EVERY. DAY. I'm thankful for the opportunity to come before the Lord every day and ask for it...and for the guarantee that He will give it to me if I ask in faith. What a promise! In every season of my life I am reminded of how incompetent and empty my own wisdom is. Yet, God does not leave us helpless or hopeless, He gives us His Word and His Spirit to help us along this journey of life. I need it everyday...not just for the big decisions but for every decision. Not just for the important stuff...but for all the stuff. Not just when I'm down and out...but for every single moment. I'm thankful His wisdom never runs dry, that I can go daily to Him for my portion of guidance. He's the counselor I can't live without.

Day 17 of 24 Days of Thanks

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend a little time with my students and their grandmothers at Muffins for Mom at school. Nothing thrills me like seeing good parents interact with their kids. Watching each mom sit quietly with their child for some one on one and muffins sure made me thankful for their participation in their own child's life. 

I love that God pieces our earthly families together. He knows just how the puzzle should look. His grace and patience as we work the puzzle must be enormous...especially in those early years of child rearing where there's lots of diapers and not so lots of sleep! 

I'm thankful for my little family. As a young married woman I wished for more kids than I have now, but God knew the future. He knew the struggles, the heartache and the pain that was ahead and He knew how He would be most glorified. I'm thankful for the extreme joy He's given us through our kids and the wonderful gift they are to us. 

Day 16 of 24 Days of Thanks

Thankful I get the blessing of working in the children's choir at church on Wednesday nights. Love hearing them sing! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 15 of 24 Days of Thanks

Lost things....

Usually when I lose something I get irritated.....my keys, my purse, my favorite recipe....I'll spend hours looking for whatever it is....only to find it and then remember exactly when I put it there. It's frustrating. But as I give thanks today, I'm reminded of a few things that I am grateful I have lost:

1. Chains of Sin
2. Guilt
3. Fear of Failure
4. Old Habits

These are just a few of the things that I am happy to have lost....and there are more that God is helping me lose hold of everyday. There are struggles with sin and temptations that only by His grace will I overcome and lose them fully, but it's not impossible...it's Godpossible.

Thank you Lord for taking those things that only hold me back from being who you desire me to be! Thanks for the lost things!

Day 14 of 24 Days of Thanks

Memories....

1. Going to the ATL Braves games with my dad when I was little.
2. My mom making dozens and dozens of muffins for our neighbors at the holidays
3. My sister telling me everything I was getting for my 13th birthday on my birthday eve.
4. Kickball in the backyard with all the neighborhood kids.
5. College friends
6. Remodeling a 100 year old farmhouse
7. Beautiful people who have gone home to Jesus before I was ready to see them go
8. Old Friends...and new
9. James Bible Study
10. Savannah's baptism

Today I'm thankful God allows us to enjoy sweet memories of the past. The times shared with people, doing things that we enjoy helps us get through the tough times. Memories help motivate us to move forward....knowing there are new memories to make all the times. I'm thankful God has given us this opportunity to recall the good, pleasant and fun memories instead of only the unpleasant. He's been so good to us!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 13 of 24 Days of Thanks

I'm sitting here watching my 9 year old daughter study for Bible study tomorrow. She's laying in the floor...fresh out of the shower...studying God's Word. I'm thankful for a friend who thought Savannah might enjoy going with her to Bible Study on Wednesday mornings but knew I couldn't take her, so she offered to pick her up...take her to breakfast and then to Bible study every week since school started! I'm thankful for the women who invest in her during crafts and games and music and Bible study time. This has been such a blessing for Savannah to study God's Word on her own and then go back and talk about it with kids her own age. Thanks CBS workers and teachers!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 12 of 24 Days of Thanks

Trials...I can't say that I've been grateful for them until recently...and even then...on some days...in my flesh, I am not. But today I can see how the trials of the last year are building my faith in Jesus...and isn't He what it really is all about anyway? A friend and I texted each other almost daily for a month with a phrase..."Less is More". During one of the most difficult trials I have ever gone through this little phrase reminded me daily that it's during those difficult times that I have to depend on Jesus more...and less on myself, my desires, my selfishness, hopes and dreams. Unless those things are fully grounded in Christ...I need less of them and more of Him. Trials have a way of exposing all our weaknesses. I found out many things about myself and how God's grace is maturing me...I surely haven't arrived yet!!

As I look back at the last year...I realize that my faith has grown by leaps and bounds. Those trials God allowed have strengthened my roots in Him. I trust that He knows my breaking point and will deliver me when His time is perfect. He's proven that over and over to me. My job is to endure....I don't have the responsibility or the omniscience to do anything before He says. Thank you Lord that you are interested and invested in our relationship!

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 11 of 24 Days of Thanks

For the first time in a long time we have nothing on the schedule this Saturday morning. It was so nice to ignore the urge to set the alarm last night! When I awoke this morning and it was still dark outside I didn't have to wonder what time it was...because...it didn't matter!

I'm thankful for the rest God provides us. Whether we take it or not is our choice...that's the freedom He gives us, but He does know what is best for our bodies and our souls. He provided us His example in creating that 7th day for rest. There's no reason to feel guilty for taking this day if I've worked hard this week taking care of the things God told me to! So today...resting a little this morning....enjoying the cuddles of two kids...the late start for Bruce at the church....the cartoons...and a slower pace.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 10 of 24 Days of Thanks

Last night I shared in a beautiful worship service with about 150 ladies at our church. God truly blessed as we gathered for the sole purpose of worship, thanksgiving and praise. It was a memorable evening filled flawed individuals embracing an opportunity to worship a holy perfect God. The great thing is, we were reminded at the end of the evening that we can worship everywhere.



When I think about the sacrifice that God has made for me to be close to Him, I am amazed and humbled and overwhelmed. I willingly want to worship everyday....all day. What a difference this will make in my life!

So, today I'm thankful He allows us to worship...to come boldly...to walk worthy though we are incredibly unworthy...to enter His presence with thanksgiving....to praise Him...to honor Him...to love Him. The rocks and hills speak of His glory....why shouldn't I?

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9 of 24 Days of Thanks

I'm getting in right under the deadline today! Whew!

I'm making the last minute preparations for our Women's Night of Worship and Thanksgiving and I am so thankful for all the ladies and men who have played a huge part in everything that will take place tomorrow night. From making desserts, decorating, playing an instrument, singing, giving a testimony, reading a scripture, all the techie stuff, countless hours of practice and planning, nursery workers, people who have prayed....I'm just thankful for them all. I'm thankful that no matter what our jobs are....God will get the glory and the praise for any good thing that happens! I'm thankful I serve a God who is worthy of all the attention we can give Him!

What are you thankful for tonight?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 of 24 Days of Thanks

Prayer....a lot has been said about it in the Bible, by scholars and demonstrated by struggling math students in classrooms across the world through the years. There have been songs sung, poems written, quippy quotes quoted....seems like if there is one thing in the Christian life most religions can agree on, it's the power of prayer.

I'm not sure how it all works..except that I know Jesus is interceding to the Father for me. That fact astounds me. To think that in East Texas a girl can pray and that prayer goes to Jesus Christ...the very Savior of this World...and then He takes that request to God the Father....WOW! That is a humbling fact.

I also know there are no unanswered prayers. There was a country song many years ago that alluded to the fact that maybe there were, but alas...I disagree. God always answers our prayers. In perfect time, He gives us a "go", "stop" or "wait". I love hearing "Go" because that means I got my way....and who doesn't love that? But "Stop" and "Wait" are rarely received as such gifts. However, I recently read about someone who looked at God's "stop" and "wait" as a message from God that something better, safer, more desirable was ahead...so, don't "go" or you will be settling for second best...not God's best. That description sounded a while lot more palatable (not that it is necessary) for me and more like the loving God that I know.

I am also very encouraged when I see God answer the prayers of someone who has been faithful to pray for some one or some thing for years. In my own life I have struggled with long-term prayer commitment- The kind that God waits years and years to answer. Recently a friend of mine had an exciting long-term prayer request answered and I was so excited for her....not only for her prayer to be answered, but also for her faithfulness to have been rewarded. What a faithfulness to God's timing and His omniscience. Make me more faithful, Lord.

Thank you Lord for answered prayer...for the "go" "stop" and "wait".

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 of 24 Days of Thanks

I'm digressing here just for today....but truly...there's no way most people could possibly understand my love for Pizza Hut. It's been like this since.....forever. And recently when our local chain decided to get their act together and provide really great service, it just motivated me to visit them more often! 

But my reasons for liking Pizza Hut go beyond their service or their deep dish. The thing is that most of the time when I'm there eating a pizza pie, I'm there with friends and family. The fellowship is better than the pizza, the conversation more lively than the game that's usually on the flat screen and the hilarity that usually explodes is funnier than any sitcom on the TV. We usually gather after church or for a GNO or a birthday and the buzz can be about anything from church to kids to sports. There have even been more serious topics discussed -like a friend who whispered her pregnancy secret, tears shed over an impending departure and even just plain old life getting the best of us. 

The thing is....maybe it's not really Pizza Hut that I love so much (although I do). Maybe it's what happens at Pizza Hut...the friendships, the fellowship, the laughter, the family. Either way...I'm thankful!

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 of 24 Days of Thanks

This Sunday morning I'm thankful for bus ministries. The bus ministry of one local church helped to change the course of one woman's life over 40 years ago. That woman was my mother.

My mom was raised in a home where there was chaos. A bus ride to church, a couple of hours in air conditioned rooms, a loving Sunday School teacher and the story of Jesus helped her see life from a different perspective. This perspective eventually became her perspective when she accepted Christ and began her walk with Him. I'm thankful that someone cared enough to get up early on Sunday mornings and drive a bus down the dusty Patch Road in Orlando, Fl and take my mom to church. I'm sure the job was no more glamorous than it is today. But it changed a life. Because my mom was taken to church, she met my father. They dated and were married 5 months after high school graduation. Because of their shared faith in Christ they raised their family to love the Lord. And now, I'm raising my kids to know the Lord. And hopefully the dominoes will continue to fall in that direction for generations and generations.

So, remember whatever ministry you are called to do...bus, nursery, children's, music....it's important! It could be the tool that God uses to bring a soul to Jesus. It could be the tool that changes the course of a family!

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 of 24 Days of Thanks

Home...Our's is a 1970's, brick, ranch style. A green front door on the front and a large covered porch on the back welcome guests from either direction. It's not fancy. In fact, there are a few updates that need to happen, a few things that need to be fixed, popcorn ceilings that need to be scraped and on any given day...there's a layer of laundry by the laundry door- but it's home. It's the place I love on my family. It's a refuge from a cold world. It's the gathering place for meals. It's where we talk openly. It's the safe place. It's a place to get refueled...built up...loved on...embraced. It's where you can be yourself....completely....comfy clothes that don't match, bare feet and all.

I realize every home is not like ours. And while not perfect (by a long shot) I know that what I have is a gift. Materially speaking, we live comfortably. That is a gift. My home provides shelter, warmth, defense against winds, rain and lightening. That is a gift. But even more importantly than that I know that our home is a place where God has first place. Where there is peace and security. Where people know they are loved. Where our children are being raised to know God. Where we share our deepest concerns, our funniest moments and our heartaches and at the end of the day we know there is no other place on earth we want to be...no place like our home.

In a world where hurting children, abuse, divorce, manipulation, harsh words, arguing and other damaging behavior is prevalent in the home, I'm thankful our home is a place of comfort, rest and encouragement...not because of anything we have done....but because Christ is the builder.


Psalm 127:1 - Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.


What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 of 24 Days of Thanks

Who doesn't like something new? While I love antiques and primitive decor, I don't particularly like the dirt and grime that often accompanies them. In fact I have a few things in my shed that I won't even bring in the house until I have the opportunity to clean them up and give them a fresh coat of paint. I love the look....but not the dust and decay that so often sticks. 

One of the things that I'm thankful for is how that God says, "Behold, I make all things new"(2 Corinthians 5:17 and Revelation 21:5)....because, let's be honest, who doesn't love new things? In my life there has been a lot of old....Old habits, old memories, old hurts, old sin, old skeletons in my closet, old disappointments, old burdens. Yet, God reminds me often that He is making all things new. He's capable of replacing all these old things with things that are new and beautiful and lovely. His plan is for us to walk in newness of life. It's a gift I don't know how to fully grasp. It's a struggle between my flesh and my spirit to embrace the new....Not because I don't want the things that the new offers, but because my flesh is comfortable in the old....in the grief and the heartache and the sorrow and the hurt. A short walk in the light of His newness reminds me that He offers new mercy, new peace, new grace, new life for each day. 

How thankful I am that His newness is fresh every morning (Lamentations 3:23). It's not only new, but sufficient. Enough. Adequate. Provisional. He doesn't leave us lacking. He is making all things new.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3 of 24 Days of Thanks

Whether it's family game nights, going to the movies, sitting in church together or eating a meal on the go...I am thankful for the time my family gets to spend together. One of the hazards of any job, but especially the ministry is that at the end of the day, you've spent your energy on everything else but those who are the dearest to you. I'm glad for a pledge that Bruce and I made to each other when we marriage....God first...family second...ministry third. We haven't always been perfect about this and we surely don't have an exact formula for making it happen...but we aim for it!

I'm thankful for the way God uniquely fashioned our family. A fun dad, a go-getter-mom, a smart fashionista, a mischievous boy....God balanced out our personalities, our gifts, our talents, our smarts :), our energy, our emotions. He designed us to perfectly fit.

Spiritually speaking, I'm thankful for the godly leadership Bruce provides for our family. He truly is the best man I know. He is kind, hardworking, loving, honest, wise, provides. Savannah is growing in her faith....learning to trust God with thunderstorms and the dark and learning to deal with pre-teen stuff and friendships. She'll take her first Lord's Supper at Thanksgiving. Tucker-man is asking all sorts of questions about God and sin and how could God love us....and I pray it won't be long before he calls on Jesus....a day I've praying for since his birth.

So today...and every day...I'm thankful for this wonderful family God designed. Thank you Lord!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 2 of 24 Days of Thanks

I'm thankful for God's Word and the way it has changed my life. To think in a small leather bound book, God has given me the words that I need to be equipped to live my life on earth. His instruction book has the answer to every question I have, it's the play book, the planner for every little thing I encounter. It's wisdom goes far deeper than the well meaning advice of a friend. It's correction is longer lasting that the rod of a loving father. It has the power to convict, train, admonish, encourage and change people. It's the words He wants us to live and love by. It's full of commands and adventures and romance and advice and love and grace and mercy and forgiveness.

These past few months I've learned how important it is to stay true to the plays that are outlined in God's Word. It's hard to do what's right. It doesn't always feel good. It's sometimes the least convenient thing to do. It violates my human fleshly desires. But God has a plan..and our responsibility is to obey and do the things He has commanded.

I'm grateful His word measures everything. His very word...spoken to me!

What are you thankful for today?

Day 1 of 24 Days of Thanks

It's Journaling Gina's 3rd annual Days of Thanks! 

I'm counting down to Thanksgiving...24 days from today. Join me?

I am thankful for the gift of salvation that is continuing to radically change me. It's not that it didn't do it's complete work when I accepted Christ as my Savior...it's that it is the gift that keeps on giving....reminding me of the beauty of the cross, the complete sacrifice, the shedding of blood, of a perfect Savior that wanted a relationship with a lowly sinner. It reminds me of an unblemished love, a grace that is deeper and farther reaching than any song that can be sung. It's personal, it's relational. And when I think about all the things that I can be thankful for....none of them mean anything to me without this first thing that changed everything. How could I not be continually changed by this? 

Feel free to leave your thankful list here or write your own in a journal or on a scratch napkin....the point is ....be thankful!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where Rest Is...

I guess I didn't know I was exhausted. I guess when I said "wake me up in 30" I thought that would be just enough to save me from myself. I guess when I fell face first into the bed, pulled the covers up over my head and shut the world out I had no idea how tired I was. But an hour and a half later I woke up startled in a house way too quiet. What time was it?

That was me....yesterday. I couldn't function. I needed sleep like a baby needs a bottle. Whatever the reason was, I got what I needed. Sleep....rest....refreshment.

Rest is different from sleep. Sure it is. We've all slept before and awakened only to find out we didn't really rest. We tossed and turned and dozed and slobbered but we woke feeling as if we'd had a fight with a professional boxer.

Sweet rest is when your mind isn't cluttered or worried, when you've given things over to the Lord, where your conscience is clean. Rest is when you wake up feeling good...rested...alert. Your productivity is up and your drowsiness is down. It's a feeling of "I can tackle the world". Energy, a clear head, relaxed muscles and a rested body. It's a good feeling.

Last Sunday I was reminded how often I take for granted those opportunities that God gives me to rest. He's given a whole commandment to us in His word regarding the importance of taking some time to rejuvenate this body. Why do I fight against it so hard? Why do I think my way is better? I'm striving harder now to obey. His way is perfect. His way is best....His way brings perfect rest!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Cards....

....Before we begin....this is not a post about baseball. So if you came here looking for some inspirational talk about the Rangers and the Cardinals...well I'm afraid your google search did you wrong.

Anyway...someone recently asked me if I was "happy with the cards life had dealt me thus far." It was out of the blue...and I quickly, without thinking, said..."absolutely" and then afterward I thought maybe I should have given it more thought.

You see...here are some of the cards life has thrown me....

- loss of father at a young age
- paying my own way thru college
- fertility issues
- near loss of life in child birth
- near loss of life of firstborn
- financial difficulties
- small church ministry pitfalls
- taking a loss on selling a house
- 3 months of bed rest
- hurricanes

And...

-Salvation
- Christian parents
- Bible College
- A godly husband
- Opportunity to serve in full-time Christian service
- 2 wonderful kids
- fulfillment in employment
-A beautiful home
- steady paycheck
- sweet friends
- Freedom to homeschool
- Peace of mind
- Support
- Good health


And there's more...much more. God's allowed so many things to happen in these short years and each one of them has had its purpose. I haven't always liked it when I went through it...and even now the twinge of pain I might feel about some of these things is tough, but I know these things are just the beginning of the good things he has planned for me. He allows these things to mature me.  In our ladies Bible study at church we've been studying James and how to walk a more spiritually aware life. It's difficult, but possible. I'm finding each and every day a struggle between my flesh and my spirit, but when I learn to trust Him completely....100%, then I can accept these comfortable and uncomfortable situations and all these moments in between as time designed to get focused on His goodness and His character...and to walk in HIM...under His control. There's no better place to be!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fear Factor

There is a girl who is scared. She doesn't know just what to do in this great big world yet. She's too young to really worry about it...all she knows is it scares her. Loud sounds, quick movements, unfamiliar territory...all things that can shake her up in two seconds flat. Today she faced a fear. With a trembling body she boarded a bus to go on a field trip. She beat her fear. She conquered the bus. At the end of the day when the trip was over and she climbed down still trembling...it really didn't matter how scared she was now....she beat the bus. She won!

I was so excited for her. I was thrilled that she took this huge step in a positive direction. I wanted to jump up and down for joy because I knew this was huge for her. Mom and I exchanged knowing looks and mom said..."We do a lot of praying". And I thought to myself...."so do I."

It hasn't been too many years that an awkward 14 year old girl trembled as she sat at a piano to play in church....not for a special occasion...but as the church pianist. I remember feeling like I could throw up...in fact I might have a time or two. Our music director didn't realize how terrified I was and had no idea that when he threw out anything in more than 2 flats or sharps I hyperventilated.

FEAR...it has such power over us. It paralyses, handicaps, freezes, manipulates, and transforms us. But it doesn't have to win. I was wondering today as I watched the girl face her fear, if in anyway my reaction was similar to Christ's? Does He stand there with His arms held out helping and encouraging us to take the first step? Does He cheer for us even though we were shaking the entire time we faced the fear. Is Jesus standing there interceding on our behalf when we take that step of faith....is He saying "We do a lot of praying"? I imagine so....because on our own we are unable to face fear and win. He's the cheering squad, excited and prepared for us to take His had for that very next step.

He can beat your fear.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When You Don't Know Why

Sometimes you don't know why God allows things to happen. Sometimes it's your fault. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it hurts immediately. Sometimes it hurts later. Sometimes it never hurts. Sometimes it's unbearable.

So, I'm going to be very transparent...I may lose some "friends". When we left the last church we worked in, I was grieving. Grieving the loss of friends...sweet people who I had grown to love. I was grieving the loss of ministry. Wondering why God called us to work at a church...to begin a task and then to be incapable of finishing it (in our eyes). I wondered if we would ever be ready to really serve, worship, love again. 

But God heals hearts and wounds and fixes broken things. He mends the heart strings. He binds the brokenhearted and gives grace...forgiveness...all the things that I needed. 

So...through social media I've kept up with many of our friends from past ministries. And today...there was a video...one posted by the current pastor of the church we left. They recently had a baptism service with MANY baptized. As I watched the video there were the faces of many who we had the opportunity to love on while we were there. They were getting baptized or their children were...some entire families where immersed in the water that day. And it touched me. In a stirring way...the kind where tears fall unashamed down your face. 

I was so excited and humbled and blessed and reminded. Reminded that sometimes we won't always understand why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we will never know why God allows things...even hurts or disappointments or sickness or death. BUT He does have a purpose a plan. We just have to do our part. 

While I'm still unclear what "our part" always is....I do know this 'Some plant, Some water....but God gets the increase". You never know what part you might play in someone embracing grace. God does all the REAL work. We just plant and water....I'm thankful for the chance to get to see that today. I'm thankful for the work of ministry that continues there...leading others to Jesus....teaching and preaching His word and encouraging the saints. What a beautiful body.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ooey Gooey Goodness

I needed to make a dessert for an event this weekend. I searched through a couple of cookbooks...then went to Pinterest and found this bit of heaven....I made one batch up to give away...and then made another batch for my own family to enjoy this weekend. Super Yummy!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy Bread Recipe

I made this bread with my preschool class today...and if I can do it with 11, 4 year olds....you can make it in your kitchen....I assure you...super easy...super yummy! Click on the picture for the recipe.


Late Night Talks

I was at the church late tonight working when Bruce texted me and asked how much longer...he wanted to talk. There's been some stuff weighing on his mind and he needed a listener and a sounding board. So, within 15 minutes I was sitting in our front room...he in his cozy chair and I in mine...sharing the ottoman and conversation. He spilled and I took it all in. His joys, his concerns, his worries, his laughter. We shared words of hope and even frustrations. We talked about the kids...Steve Jobs passing....church...school. We caught up. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. It felt good. Familiar. Comfortable. Easy.

These talks...all too infrequent...but so needed and loved...reminded me of how much the Father must enjoy it when His children send up their late night talks to Him. Does He sit and nod with understanding, share in our frustrations our sorrows and our cares? Does He wonder why we don't trust Him more...trust ourselves less or even at all?

How easy it is to exist in our relationships ...both earthly and spiritually....without really sharing these moments that make our days and weeks. The Lord is teaching me to be more attentive and to really take in these minutes that make up our hours and to enjoy, embrace and live them to the fullest.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Jesus Serve

I've been thinking about how Jesus served and loved people here on earth. I'm kind of overwhelmed with a few things that I've discovered as I researched. He truly was someone who walked against the tide, went against the grain and rose above status quo. In a world where we are told to take two steps back from anyone who we don't like, offends or hurts us....Jesus took two steps forward to minister to them. The very people who betrayed Him were the ones He reached out to touch...to love....to heal. His character is/was amazing.

Think about...

Peter's betrayal
Thomas' doubt
The sleeping disciples
Breaking bread with the disciples
The woman at the well
Soldiers at the foot of the cross

I'm reminded how His love looked beyond their hurt and betrayal and looked to the heart. A heart in need of something more. A heart in need of Him. Would His love have been perfect if He had written them off? Would His love have been perfect if He had moved on and forgotten about them? No...because perfect love has staying power. It is patient. It endures. It tries to see past the present and into the future. It gives people the benefit of the doubt. Perfect love forgives. Perfect love...a serving love...seeks to meet the real need and not get sidetracked by the traps of excuses and bad attitudes or wrong motives.

What a standard to live up to. In fact....I know I'm going to fail, but it's worth striving for....treating others with a love that's not our own....His love....what a privilege to know that kind of love in my own life...and get to share it with others. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Empty

I've been refueling. After nearly three and a half years of blogging. I took a little time off to refuel. I was at the end of ideas for blogging, feeling like I was empty...writing a bunch of nonsense and feeling some pressure from myself to write nearly everyday. I so didn't want to disappoint my readership or myself...not to mention God. So, after a couple weeks of very sparse writing, I feel ready to enjoy blogging again...with no pressure to write for anyone or about anything particular. Just journaling about life....the running, reaching and the resting. Hopefully you'll pick up something you can use along the way.

I've thought a lot about that feeling of emptiness lately. A friend of mine is emptying her house before her family heads off across the world to be missionaries...giving nearly all her earthly possessions away(talk about emotional?). My gas tank tells me all too often that it's dangerously close to being empty. When I neglect breakfast, my stomach tells me it's empty. My heart has a spot that is empty because of my dad's death years ago. Emptiness isn't comfortable. We arrive there by different means, but the truth is the same. Life is draining. This world takes more than it gives. On our own we feel empty, dried up, useless, tired, dejected and somewhat worthless. On our own we believe a lie about emptiness.

God's Word tells us when we are weary, burdened, heavy hearted - to come to Christ and receive rest (Matt. 11:28). Rest from what?....the weariness of the world- The hardships that come by just being in this sinful world. The grief of death, the worry of tomorrow, the sorrow of wayward children, the loneliness of a broken heart...Christ says....come...sit your empty self right here with me and find rest. You are valued, loved, cared for, cherished, worthy....you are my child. It's such a huge contrast to what we convince ourselves that emptiness is. Empty is where Jesus wants us. Empty is where we are most full.....of Him. Empty is the place of complete and utter dependence on the Savior. It's the place reserved for us at His feet. It's where we share the sweet fellowship of intimate conversation. Empty is good. Very good. The best.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Failure

You know the feeling. The one where you are keenly aware that you've failed. You've disappointed God. Yourself. Friends. You've believed the lies that your enemies told and you fell flat on your face. It happened to me today. The pain of the burn still hurts.

In my mind the fail was epic. Forgotten words. Miscommunication. Nerves. Confusion. Unfocused. The pain still fresh and the sting of disappointment still lingering, I crawled into the Father's lap. Daddy's know how to make things better. Daddy's know how to restore a girl's faith. Daddy's know just the right words His girls need to hear.

And as He whispered His promises sweetly to my ear, I was reminded that I am nothing. I was reminded that He is everything. And that the weight of this world may knock me down and down and down again, but His hand will reach out and pull me up and His gentle voice will calm the storm of failure. He dusts off the knees of His girl. He wipes the tears of sadness and sorrow. He reminds us of His amazing love. And He sends us back on our way to bring glory to Him.

It's done. It's over. It's forgiven.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Small Things

It's the little things that make the big picture of my life beautiful. Sure...there's big things too, but "big" things might not happen everyday...but little things do. Or maybe it's all in perspective. Either way, there have been some little things that have blessed my socks off lately and I'm in complete awe at how much encouragement can come from these small, yet extremely ministering things.

For instance, friends who will keep your kids at the drop of a hat. I can't tell you how blessed I've been by this on two occasions recently. They don't think it's a big deal....but you know...if you have kids and are ever in a panic about what to do when a situation arises that they can't be with you....IT"S A BIG DEAL!

What about the friend who made the bestest chicken stew in all the world last night and brought it to us? After an extremely tiring and emotionally exhausting week someone thought we could use a meal....I never knew how ministering a meal can be in a time of exhaustion...but now I do.

My preschool director is keeping a cabinet stocked with diet cokes and sweet and salty snacks for the teachers. I know it sounds crazy, but this small thoughtful act is not only appreciated, it's saving me $5 a week and allows me to leave the house a little later since I'm not stopping to get a drink on the way to school. This is a small and unnecessary act....but as silly as it sounds...I am thankful!

My hubby, who always has a plateful of stuff going on, seriously is the best guy around. He gave me 2 hours of quiet last night that I spent watching a movie I had recorded 4 months ago and doing laundry, but he knew I needed a quiet break. I'm thankful that he's sensitive.

As I look back over this list....I know to most it would seem like I'm making a big deal out of the "small" things, but I'm convinced that when you hear that small still voice urging you to make a phone call, make a meal, watch someone's kids, give someone a break or love on your spouse a little extra, that it becomes big in the hands of God. He is the master at making things minister to a person's heart. He's done this for me a thousand time and more. I'm eternally thankful for the people who listened to Him and helped make small things big blessings for me this week. It really is the small things.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Uncontrollable

This morning right as school was starting I received a phone call from Bruce saying that my stepdad had suffered a stroke. Tonight as we were eating dinner with friends we received word that Bruce's mom had fallen and the ambulance was on it's way to transport her to the hospital. It's not been the best of days by any standard.

WAIT!!!! stop the presses!!!!

The truth is...

This day was the Lord's....Psalm 118:24

He had it all planned....Jeremiah 29:11

So....I can rest knowing that....

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18


Thankful for a God who has the big picture all settled. Thankful for praying friends and family who lift our momentary needs to the throne on our behalf. We are blessed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School Photo

 This little man started kindergarten yesterday...

This little girl....fourth grade

Praying for them both as they fill their minds with numbers and letters...
and their hearts with the knowledge of Jesus!

Monday, September 5, 2011

What's for Dinner?

I made this recipe for dinner tonight...and everyone liked it! According to the website I got it from it is only 5 WW points if you use beef. I used turkey instead so it was probably even fewer points.



Baked Ziti Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:
- 12 oz Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta (I used the penne noodles)
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef (96/4)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add onions and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon as it cooks, about 3 to 5 minutes; drain off any fat and set pan back over medium heat.
Add the oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and mushrooms and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Spoon a small amount of beef-tomato mixture into bottom of a 4-quart casserole dish (just enough to cover surface); top with half of cooked pasta. Next, layer with half of remaining beef-tomato sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining pasta and then top with remaining beef-tomato sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces.
Entire recipe makes 6 servings
Serving size is 1 piece
Each serving = 5 Point Total
Read more: http://www.laaloosh.com/2010/06/25/baked-ziti-pasta-recipe/#ixzz1X8o8Qgf9

Friday, September 2, 2011

Praying Hands



I just finished cutting out these handprints of 8 of my new students in my preschool class. Last night at Open House I had each child and their parent/grandparent/guardian trace their hands for us to use in a lesson and craft on the first day of school.

I was sitting here in my comfy chair watching Shark Tank while three under 9 year old girls ran through the house with Savannah and it dawned on me that I could be using my cutting time to pray for these students and their parents. Preschool isn't a big deal to those not sending a child off for the first time, but for those young parents or perhaps grandparents that are sending their four year old to me it can be daunting. I know. I'm there.

Am I doing this right?
Is he/she well behaved?
Does the teacher like my child?
Does my child have friends?
Is my child up to speed?
Is he/she having fun?
Is he/she learning...growing?

It's hard. Trusting someone to take care of your child is hard....whether you do it when they are 4 years old going off to preschool or 25 and getting married. It's hard to believe that anyone could manage to take care and love your kid like you do. And you're so very right. Our job as parents is unique, blessed, a privilege. No one can do your job as well as you do. But the fact of the matter is that we have to trust something...some ONE bigger and much more trustworthy than our humanness. We have to trust God to protect them, to lead us, to grow them, to guide us. It's amazing the peace God brings when we take all our issues to Him.

So this night of cutting out these sweet handprints has turned into a prayer time for those bigger handprints...moms, dads, grandparents who are working hard and depending on God for the wisdom and guidance to do their best at parenting....and maybe even for some who don't know yet or need to be reminded of how special and valuable they are to the Lord. May this year be a year that changes all that. May our class be a special expression of God's love for each family.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Preschool Room 2011

I've spent the better part of the month of August knee deep in preschool. Here's how it's paid off:


Focus Board for September 


Circle Time 


Theme for the year "Oh Happy Day!" 


Left open for good work to be displayed 


Cutesy wreath from one of my students! 


 The Classroom


A little gift from me to my students at open house. 


Reading nook. It now has chairs and a rug in front of it.

It's gonna be a fun year!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Super Summer Wrap-Up

24 hours ago I thought it would be a good idea to blog a short list of what we did this summer. But I waited: Then I saw that my friend Jaime beat me to it. But instead of just forgetting about it, I've decided that I can blog about it too. So, hang on my friends because our summer was eventful!

1. Kids to GA
2. Bruce and Gina to Peru
3. Complete overhaul of house
4. VBS
5. Splash Kingdom
6. Snowcones
7. 18th Anniversary
8. 39th Birthday
9. Savannah's 9th Birthday
10. GNO
11. Movie date with Tucker
12. Tucker's first sleepover
13. Drought
14. Great Wolf Lodge
15. Grapevine Mills Mall
16. Airplane Rides
17. Dairy Queen
18. Howling Tornado
19. Junior Camp
20. Savannah and the Zip line
21. Rain Forest Cafe

It's been fun. But I'm ready for routine. For something more orderly. Here it comes....school starts Tuesday!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays #61-#71

It's been a busy couple of week and as life settles down I can honestly say that I'm glad for the routine...the everyday....even the mundane. I'm reminding myself...and maybe you too, of the multitudes I have to be thankful for this Monday.

61: New faces at choir practice today

62: The clean slate of a new school year

63: The 9th birthday of my sweet girl

64: The fun of 3 days away on vacation

65: A bargain

66: Ladies who rock babies during church

67: Moments that MAKE me depend on God

68: Kindred spirits

69: Good dr. visits

70: Making memories with the hubby on the Howling Tornado

71: Vanilla cupcakes

Do you see God in the everyday? What blessings have you noticed? Leave a comment and share what God is doing all around you!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Forgetful

When Time Flies

As I type this I am reminded that time flies....faster than I ever imagined....Savannah turns nine years old in just a matter of minutes and that bittersweet reflection of her birth floods my soul again, as it does every year.

Wasn't it just yesterday when I strolled through Walmart hiding a pregnancy test under other items just in case I ran into someone I knew, hoping to avoid that glaring question..."Are you pregnant?"

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was daily struggling with morning sickness? Having christened just about every store in Beaumont, Texas? And the Alabama State Line, Hoover Dam and well...you get the picture.

Wasn't it just yesterday that we found out you were a girl and all that shopping, and pink, and frills began?

Wasn't it just yesterday that we decided your name would be Savannah....from my GA roots and Malynne because it means "girl from God" and that's how we felt about you....a special surprise gift from God.

Wasn't it just yesterday that I started feeling bad? Really bad....like something wasn't right?

Wasn't it just yesterday that the Drs. looked uncertain and that friends surrounded us with worry lines and tears and prayers?

Wasn't it just yesterday that we welcomed you with fear, joy, hope, anxiety? Your 2 pound 6 oz frame so tiny and weak and frail and 3 months underdeveloped?

Wasn't it just yesterday that the ups and downs and sorrows and joys of 91 days in the NICU were over and Dr. Thompson hugged you and nurses cried over you with happiness and Dad and I took you home?

And wasn't it just yesterday that you stopped setting off the apnea monitor and you gained some weight and you took your first step and you spoke your first words and you learned to run and play and jump?

My, time flies.

I'm so proud of the young lady you are becoming. Your tender heart and sweetness makes me excited to see where God takes you.

Happy Birthday Savannah....may God's hand shelter you all the days of your life and may you be obedient to all He has in store for you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Preparing for the Best

The last couple of weeks  have been filled with prep for my classroom and students for the new year. We don't start until after Labor Day but I don't like to be rushed at the last minute so I've been working on it a little at a time.

It's funny how this time of year we never think about how we (as teachers) will be feeling around February 20th or so....tired, irritated, impatient, desperate for Spring break! We set out....preparing for the best year we can - Going the extra mile to be sure our students are welcomed and excited about the new year and learning. But somewhere along the way... some of us ...me .....lose steam.

I learned a few lessons last year that I hope will help me in the coming year. I've also brushed up on some classroom management tips over the summer to help me deal with those problems that arise (in other classes...not mine, of course!) I'm spending time in prayer for each family that will walk a child through my door on September 6. For whatever reason God has placed them in my class, I pray that I'll be up for the task and sensitive to what God wants.

And come along February 20th when I'm tired and wishing for summer, I will try to remember that these children deserve the best all year long. That God deserves my best, all year long. That my boss deserves my best all year long. Anything less than that is preparing for failure. It's preparing to start strong and finish weak. To be a bad steward instead of one who works diligently. It's taking advantage of a paycheck without doing the work to earn it. And that's just wrong.

I hope that as a teacher who knows that my responsibilities go way farther than the 3 r's, I will openly share Christ in everyday actions, lessons, prayer and conversations. After all, that will be more important than any math and reading and handwriting I teach.