Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrapping Up 2013

In 16 or so hours we will ring in 2014. I am ready. I love a new year, a fresh slate, a empty notebook full of blank pages to write a new story. And if I am honest, 2013 has been a year of growth. God's stretched me in ways that I am pretty sure I will feel for the rest of my life. I don't really feel the need to join a yoga class any time soon!

So as 2013 comes to a close, I want to give thanks for the things God allowed me to experience….

January- soul-friends Jason and Jaime Brewer and their sweet kids left us to live in PNG as aviation missionaries with JAARS/Wycliff. The first few months they were gone was brutal as we had little to no communication. Now, we communicate daily thanks to email and other modern technology. So thankful to have this connection. 

February- I tendered my resignation for the 2013-2014 school year. I loved teaching at KIDS Central but I am thrilled that God has allowed me this opportunity to stay at home! I am enjoying being more involved at church and ministry as time allows. I finished out the year strong with my first grade class and look forward to going back to teaching whenever God says it's time!

March- Our church hosted our annual Mission's conference. I am always moved and motivated during this time. This year's guest were so special and there were bonds made that will be eternal. Enjoyed a visit to GA to attend my sister's bridal shower. 

April- I had the opportunity to attend the Gideon's Pastor Appreciation Banquet with Bruce. What an awesome ministry and what a great work they are doing distributing God's Word around the world. It was impressive and also convicting to hear how many have received a copy of God's Word in their own language and to hear how great the need is still to reach the Bibleless nations. My sister got married so we made a quick trip to GA to celebrate with them.

May- We bought a new (used) car. We survived and finished school! The kids also tested for their BLUE belt in TKD.

June- We bought 2 acres of land…and this is like a dream come true. God has truly given me the desire of my heart. We're in the process of paying it off and hopefully 2014 we will break ground on our new home. We also hosted our annual VBS at church. Loved the outreach events and getting to see a long time friend, Joe Schmidt. 

July- Our family was on the road constantly in July….first camp for Savannah and Georgia for me. Crazy busy but good. My step dad had hip surgery so a friend and I went to help for a week. Fun…but exhausting!

August- We packed up again to head to Wyoming for a church missions trip. Great time of growth and outreach for our friends who pastor there. Fun time with our church family. Savannah turned 11 years old.

September- School started back! I started homeschooling both kids from home…first time ever! I've home schooled Savannah since kindergarten but it's been a very unconventional style. I'm liking this more traditional style. Enjoyed a quick visit with my sister. 

October- I survived blogging about all the beautiful things in my life. This was life changing as I have learned from my own life that some beautiful things come disguised and ugly, old and worn out! We hosted our annual fall festival at church and it was a huge success! God blessed as we ministered in our community.

November- Spent the month praising God for his goodness. Enjoyed a beautiful visit with my mom and step dad. A full house of church friends and family for Thanksgiving lunch. Loved it!

December- Filled to the brim with Christmas programs and events. All which I love. Many unfortunate deaths in our church family during this month, which certainly put the glorious HOPE that we have in Christ into perspective. 

What a year! Thanks God for all these gifts…and so many more!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Update on Christmas '13 Bucket List

I rarely reach my goals…either I aim too high, succumb to laziness, lose motivation or change my mind. But this Christmas was different. Bucket list kicked to the curb! I managed to achieve all the goals I had set! YAY!!!

Here's how:


1. Plan and prepare a no-stress Christmas meal.  I enlisted the help of Bruce to bake the ham and make Paula Deen's famous Lady Mac and Cheese. Debbie (SIL) and Jo (MIL) helped by bringing pink salad and broccoli and rice casserole. I made green bean roll ups, cornbread casserole and chocolate delight. Thanks to friends we also had enough candy and other holiday goodies to open our own candy store and thanks to Sister Schubert…we had yummy rolls. If you haven't met Sister Schubert….you are missing out. She lives at Walmart in the frozen food aisle. Go now and meet her.

2. Go Christmas Caroling This was something that I really really wanted to do. I've tried the last two years and because of illness it never came to pass. So…I called a couple of friends and made a list of a few people who I thought could use some holiday cheer and weren't too particular on pitch or musical accuracy. We loaded up our daughters and the seven of us went caroling. Next time I'll invite everyone…visit more people and make a big night of it. It was so much fun. 

3. Watch lots of Christmas movies with the family Thank you Hallmark Channel, Family Channel, Lifetime, ION, Up and various other networks who helped me achieve my goal. My DVR won't be clear of Christmas movies until July 4th.

4. Bake for the church staff I love these people. They are hard workers who deserve more than my baked goods. Lucky for me they are easy to please. Snickerdoodles, Ultimate cookie bars, pumpkin and heath candy bar muffins and raspberry bars….delivered just in time for Christmas. 

5. Make a few handmade gifts  For Christmas I made homemade napkins, a really pretty gift book for my mom, helped the kids make nativity blocks and a pillowcase. Nothing too exciting but I really enjoyed making them!

6. Buy less I bought less…and honestly I didn't like it. I love spoiling loved ones and friends at the holidays. But focusing more on the season allowed me to reach these goals and that was part of the success. So….I will buy less again next year if it means I have time, effort and energy to do the more important things.

7. Take a decent family Christmas photo  Thanks to my friend Felicia and the awesome Christmas program background scene at church, my family got a fantastic Christmas photo….it was like a Christmas miracle.

8. Read and meditate on a portion of the nativity story each day of December  one more day…but I have to say this was very instrumental in helping me get through the holiday season with the right frame of mind. We had 7 funerals within 2 weeks that Bruce and I had a part in. Most were people in our church. Broke my heart to see so much grief and sadness, but every single one of these families had the HOPE that is so clearly represented in the nativity story. What a gift at Christmas. 

9. Take my time in Walmart…ignore the long lines and just breathe  I did this….it was hard…but I just decided that at 10pm, when the crowd was smaller, I could be nice and happy and choose to not complain. And I actually enjoyed shopping!


I hope you accomplished all your holiday dreams and are ready to tackle the new year with your own Bucket List for 2014!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Pinterest Success Story

This recipe just might be my new favorite. It's a great alternative to your regular green bean casserole. But just about 1,000 times better. I made it at Thanksgiving and it was a big hit!

Green Bean Corn Casserole
Rating: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 10-12 servings
Serving Size: --
--
--
Ingredients
  • 3 cups buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed and divided in half
  • 2 14-ounce cans French-style green beans, drained
  • 1 14-ounce can shoe peg corn, drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 8-ounce container sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick melted butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Layer 1 1/2 cups of the crushed crackers in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle the green beans evenly over the crackers, followed by the corn and then the onion.
  4. Mix together the soup and sour cream. Spread over the green beans, corn and onions.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese over the soup mixture and then top with the remaining cracker crumbs. Drizzle the butter over the crumbs. At this point, you can refrigerate the casserole (covered) overnight or bake immediately.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly.

Thanks to www.live.charbroil.com for the yummy recipe! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas '13 Bucket List

1. Plan and prepare a no-stress Christmas meal.

2. Go Christmas Caroling

3. Watch lots of Christmas movies with the family

4. Bake for the church staff

5. Make a few handmade gifts

6. Buy less

7. Take a decent family Christmas photo

8. Read and meditate on a portion of the nativity story each day of December

9. Take my time in Walmart…ignore the long lines and just breathe


What's on your Christmas Bucket List this year?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

For the last few years I've been making my own cranberry sauce at the holidays. Now don't get me wrong, the slithery jelly goop that you shake from the end of an aluminum pan is enticing, I know, but the aroma of homemade cranberry sauce....oh my word.

Here's what you do:

You'll need:

1 bag of fresh whole cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar

That's the basic recipe ingredients. Now if you want to step it up a notch...and I assure you, you do....add some of these:

pecans or walnuts
mandaran oranges
cloves
cinnamon
raisins

First you boil the cranberries, water and sugar. The heat will help burst the cranberries open. You'll keep these simmering at a low boil for about 10 minutes.


After boiling, pour cranberries into a shallow dish. And start mixing in your other ingredients. You can leave it plain and it will taste 1000 time better than the can cran. But, why do that when you can add all these spices and fruits and make it an indulgence that you can't resist. The smell of all the flavors coming together is AMAZING! And it's pretty too.



After you've mixed in your goodies, place your dish in the refrigerator so that it can gel. Once it is set good, you can cover it. I make this a day ahead of time.

See how easy that is? Make your next holiday a #nocancran holiday! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nativity Blocks- Pinterest Success

A few months ago I saw a pretty easy wood block craft that I thought the kids and I could do together for some of our toddler aged friends. These nativity blocks were super fun and easy....here's our project in pictures:

I sent Bruce to Lowe's and asked him to buy me the largest 2X4 he could and after he paid for it, to have the cut the wood for me in the lumber department. This seemed doable and efficient in my head...but just so you know, Lowe's does not but wood in anything less that a 6 inch length. And since I needed 3 inch blocks this wasn't gonna work. So my sister in law asked the shop teacher at the high school if he would do it for me (I think I owe him some cookies) and he said "yes" so within 48 hours we had a basket full of 3 inch blocks that needed to be sanded.




After all the blocks we sanded, we took out our paints...all different colors, and painted each block...all sides.


Then we sanded the edges down to give them a little distressed look. Then we applied nativity stickers. I divided the nativity scene into 5-6 blocks and used the stickers in groups of 5-6.



After the stickers were applied I covered each block in modge podge just so the stickers would not peal off easily.



And there you have it. A pinterest success story!



Total Cost was $7.94 for the 2X4. I had all the other supplies.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Days of Thanks -#30

Day 30- thankful to have witnessed the exchange of wedding vows tonight and the reminder of the purity and beauty of true love.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Days of Thanks #28

Day 28- thankful for a beautiful day with beautiful people. God has been so good to me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Days of Thanks- #27

Day 27- thankful for all the ways God answers prayers... "Yes", "no" and "I've got something better in mind."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Days of Thanks #25

Day 25- thankful for pajama days, games with the kids, corn chowder and cold medicine that promises 24 hour results.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Days of Thanks #24

Day 24- thankful my mom and stepdad are on their way to my house...looking forward to spending the week together.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Days of Thanks #23

Day 23- Thankful for the fellowship we share with other believers. Enjoyed gathering in our home with the Homebuilders from church last night. Such good food, fun, laughter. Thankful for the ties that bind our hearts.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Days of Thanks #21

Day 21- Thankful that, as a kid, my mom tortured me by making me take and practice piano. Over the years it has provided an income, paid my way through college and brought me to Jesus feet through worship. Even through she had to wear earplugs for the first three years, I'm glad she MADE me do it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Days of Thanks #20

Day 20- chocolate covered cherries, Yankee candles, thanksgiving dressing, Oh Holy Night... Thankful for good memories I have of my father in law. Thankful for hope and the promise of heaven for those who know The Lord.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Days of Thanks #19

Day 19- thankful that nothing can separate me from the love of God... Not anything..no thing... Thank you Jesus!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Days of Thanks #18

Day 18- today I'm thankful for the professional carpet cleaner who is working a miracle on my carpets. The carpet crisis is over!!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Days of Thanks #16

Day 16- today I'm thankful for the church food pantry. Each month God supplies the needs of people in our community through this ministry. Each month we wonder if we will have enough to give out and like the loaves and fishes.. God multiplies the food so that we have never turned anyone away. Thanks to all those who give their time, money and non-perishables to this ministry.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Days of Thanks #14

I'm thankful for the ladies that attend Bible study with me. I may be the teacher but I learn so much from them as we discuss and learn God's Word. They bless me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Days of Thanks #13

Day 13- I am thankful for a warm house, blankets, hot chocolate, thick socks and yes, even coffee on mornings like this! Brrrrrr

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Days for Thanks #12

Day 12- Thankful that God orders my steps each day. I can plan...but He's the Master Planner and when He changes my plan it's always for my good.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Days of Thanks #11

Day 11- I'm thankful for missionaries who carry the good news to places I will never be able to go. Thank you for your service to God and your obedience to His calling.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Days of Thanks #10

Day 10- I am thankful for my mom, who taught me the value of a Sunday afternoon nap, a good bargain, leftovers, Murphey's Oil and God's Word.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day of Thanks #9

Day 9- I am thankful for teachers... I can remember the names of every teacher I had in elementary school and at least one valuable life lesson I learned from them... It's been 30+ years and they still impact my life. Thank you teachers --for all the lessons you teach each day in your classrooms!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Days of Thanks #8

Day 8- I'm thankful for family dinners around the kitchen table... Where conversation, laughter and second helpings flow freely.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Days of Thanks #7

Day 7- Thankful for the reality check that God's Word brings. Comforting, convicting and conforming me to the image of Christ. No other "book" does what His Word does for my soul.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Days of Thanks #6

Day 6- I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a stay at home mom for this season of our lives. Even on the crazy days.. It's a dream come true!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Days of Thanks #1


What are you thankful for? Join me and a host of others in giving thanks for something(s) each day during the month of November. Post to your twitter, Facebook, instagram, blog….anywhere….about the blessings of God on your life!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day #31 Beautiful Month

So...we made it. Well...at least one of us did....I've managed to successfully blog about all the beautiful things in my life for 31 consecutive days...and I survived.

I learned a few things along the way and I thought that might be a good way to wrap up the month. So here goes...

1. Blogging about one topic...no matter how broad...for 31 days is hard. It's a commitment and planning and scheduling and spell checking...and making that commitment should come with a 48 hour chance to back out.

2. Blogging takes a lot of time. I wanted to be sure that what I was writing was worth reading...and since I second guess what I write most of the time anyway...it took longer to publish a day's article. What you saw was sometimes second, third and even fourth drafts. Gracious....that's a lot of time!

3. Blogging about beautiful things helped me to realize how truly beautiful my life is. It's not so much the stuff or even the people or the things that have happened, but the grace and the love that God has blessed my life with. It truly has made me pay attention to the beauty all around me. And by beauty I'm not talking pretty. Sometimes the most beautiful things are found in the most unlikely places.

4. I realized that people actually read my blog. I watched all month long on my stats page to see which articles people were reading the most. It was interesting to see Beautiful Homes and Beautiful Loved Ones getting the most hits....and since that was largely about having a Christ-like home and loving the special people God places in your life...this made me pretty happy.

5. And lastly I learned that even when I feel weak and inadequate to do something that seems so trivial in the grand scheme of life, that God can use those words to meet someone where they are at, encourage them and bless them. He's so good.

So, it's been a beautiful month...and now we're heading into my fifth year of giving thanks each day in November. I'm excited and hope you'll join, privately or publicly in giving thanks to the only one truly worthy...the maker of all things beautiful in His time, Jesus.

For a complete list of all 31 Days of Beautiful Things CLICK HERE

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day #30 Beautiful Rain

If you know me personally then you probably know that there isn't much I love better in this world than a rainy day. And we're getting one today. Everything just looks better after rain....the trees and grass are greener, the flowers brighter, the dust off everything washes and vegetation looks stronger. It's been nourished, watered, fed. Things slow down...people are more careful about how they drive and walk and we hold things a little tighter...like they matter a little bit more...so they won't slip or fall out of our grasp.

And sometimes we all need a day of rain to look better. A day of refreshment, of feeding on the Living Water, of being nourished in His Word, fed by the bread of life. We're stronger after sitting in the "rain". Things look brighter, the cloud of dust and dirt that once hindered our clear view of life, of God, of ourselves and others...it's lifted...and we are stronger, more deeply rooted. We slow down...we're more careful and we remember what's truly important.

And when His rain comes down...what refreshment it brings! When His glory comes down it fills our spirit...His presence fills us. We get a glimpse of who He is...and it's empowering. We're reminded of our smallness in the rain...of His greatness. It's in those moments...we find ourselves wondering why we don't pray for rain...beautiful rain... more often.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day #29 Beautiful Landscapes

Beautiful garden flowers of summer

beautiful garden designs ideas modern home design

Gardens of Geneva

Waddesdon Manor House and Gardens

WOW! Some people just have a knack for placing vegetation in the right place...and it all end up looking beautiful! My mom is like this....and it also helps that she has a green thumb. These pictures show the evidence of hard work, diligence and careful planning by expert gardeners. And the result is stunning.

The same is true with our growth as a Christian. It takes hard work, diligence and careful planning to fight off the flesh and grow in the Lord...but the result is stunning. It's beautiful.  So do the work. Follow the master gardeners guidebook and stay rooted in it. You will see results in no time!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day #28 Beautiful Mommas


A New Perspective For Moms from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

Because sometimes we are hard on ourselves and on each other....you should know that you're a beautiful momma. God sees the intent of your heart..the desire to be better, more patient and loving...and your kids see it too. Take a look! Be encouraged.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day #26 Beautiful Body

Last night I watched our church serve our community. It was beautiful. It's happened before but this time I was paying better attention. There were carnival games, face painting, bounce houses, a dunking booth, barrel train, cotton candy, popcorn, snowcones, hot dogs, grilled bananas, tea, lemonade and hot chocolate and more...much more.

There were smiling faces and serving hands and encouraging words. There was laughter and hugging and conversation. There was community and love and concern. There was a body of believers giving to their city a taste of more than a hotdog....more than a grilled banana....more than sweet treats. They were giving them a taste of what it means to give and love and care. A taste of what it means to be part of the body...doing what you were designed to do...to serve using your particular ability. To enjoy the company of your brothers and sisters in Christ and to give without receiving anything in return...except maybe the priceless joy of those receiving the gift.

And hundreds of people enjoyed a night of fun and giving..thanks to the beautiful body of Christ. What a blessing to watch it all unfold. And how thankful I am that we have a reason to share and give and love. Jesus....the reason for every season and every day.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Day #25 Beautiful Day

We've had the most gorgeous weather this week in Texas. It's really the first real "fall" like temperatures I can remember in years....Watch out world...we might actually be having 3 seasons now...Summer, August and Fall. :)

Here's one of my favorite young artists singing a song about today and everyday...it's all perspective! Plus...It's Friday....and every Friday is BEAUTIFUL!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day #24 Beautiful Photography

I'm a fan of beautiful photography. I just wish I could take beautiful pictures. With the help of instagram and other photo editing programs my pictures look decent...but not near as good as some I've seen.

The Best Kind of Gold - Fall in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico

Luckiamute Falls

Falls of Spring - Swinging Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California


These pictures were obviously not taken by me. They are clear and reflective and my thumb isn't in the corner. The focus is good, the clarity and colors are vivid. Truly there is an art to this.

I like how a photo tells a story. You can imagine yourself in that scene or recall what you did. Photos bring back memories of good times and happiness. They remind us of loved ones and the power of a negative developing into something beautiful. It's a reflection of tiny details coming together to make something worth remembering.

That's life isn't it? It's our story, all the scenes...the good and the not so good...the happy and the sad...the loved ones...the negatives developing us into something beautiful...all the tiny details coming together to make something that is worth remembering. Worth passing down. Worth sharing. Worth taking a second look at.

There are no perfect pictures. There is always something the photographer would do just a tad bit differently. But sometimes the imperfections make the photo really beautiful...really interesting....worth remembering. It's those photos that tell the stories worth repeating...those stories of hope and heartache and blessings and beauty. It's those stories that allow us to share the provision, greatness and blessings of our sovereign God. Because, for those who love Him,  He is working all those things out for our good, they are being transformed in the dark rooms of life. And that truly is beautiful photography.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day #23 Beautiful Defense

It's no secret my kids...and now my husband are into marital arts. Taekwondo (TKD) to be specific. It's kind of comical since we are such a laid back kind of family. We started Tucker in TKD when he was four. He was interested and needed something to get rid of some energy, so we thought this might be a good outlet. Shorty after that, when Savannah saw some of her friends getting involved, she decided she might give it a try and now, two years later, Bruce has begun his own journey towards a black belt.

It's crazy to think that my sweet kids are only one year away from becoming black belts. Seriously? I may need to be concerned now that they are stronger and able to defend themselves with "killer" moves. One of the things I love about TKD is that the disciplines that are taught are more along the lines of self control, leadership and dedication, rather than fighting, hurting someone or making yourself look cool by showing off your moves. There are strict rules about defending yourself and using your weapons in any type of non-sportsmanship way.

But, truth be told, one reason I have my kids in TKD is so they learn to defend themselves if someone/something bad was to ever happen to them. Let's face it, we live in a world of kidnappers, child abusers and abductors and although I'm not into living in fear, I'm also not into going to children's funerals. The leadership skills that Savannah has learned as she has gone through the leadership program have been valuable and are right in line with the principles that we are teaching at home.

However, I realize that in life, an important lesson that I need to teach my kids is that the LORD is their defense. He's the ultimate Defender. When situations come their way that they can't or don't know how to handle, their shield and defender is right there to help them make wise decisions and protect them. Before TKD, before all the moves they know, all the skills they have learned, their Defender is there. In moments of name calling, bullying, hurt feelings, meanness, gossip, lying, unkindness....He is their shield and defender. And because we live in a world where there's such hatred and malice and sin, they need to know that He's the one that provides protection and their confidence should be in Him...not in their skills.

Isn't that a beautiful principle? I'm thankful my kids know how to defend themselves from the evil people of this world, but it's more important that they know how to defend themselves from the prince of evil and darkness of this world. They can only do that through knowing the great defender. It's much more important that I teach them about HIM than enroll them in self-defense classes. His skills set is one that they need to learn from, model the form and use to destroy the spiritual enemy.


Click here for a complete list of my 31 Days Posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day #22 Beautiful Gratitude


If I was asked to name one thing I have changed in my life for the better over the last 5 years I would not have to give it a single second thought. Gratitude. I am more thankful. And not just for the good stuff...but I'm learning to be thankful for the bad times...and that's kind of the beautiful thing isn't it.

God's Word...specifically the Psalms...command us to praise the Lord....for who He is...what He's done...This should be every Christian's mission...and it will be our eternal destiny. And that will be a beautiful eternity of gratitude.

In 2008, here on this blog, I took a challenge to record things I was thankful for during the week of Thanksgiving. I listed 20... you can take a look HERE

Over the next five years I have continued the tradition (actually expanding it to a whole month) and here's why:

1. Gratitude produces humility. I thank God and others and in the process realize how weak, needy and blessed that I am. I acknowledge my gratitude to God by giving me wonderful gifts that enrich my life.

2. Gratitude puts things into perspective. After a rough day, week or year...thinking back to the goodness of God on my life, gives me a clearer picture of just how good God is to me. That these trials will pass and that He has my good in mind. His sovereignty glows in history.

3. Gratitude is part of prayer...giving thanks for things/people/answered prayer... puts the glory back to God. Where it belongs. When the kids are well behaved...glory to God, when someone is saved at church...glory to God, when my family gets to go someplace special...glory to God. These aren't coincidences that God allows to happen...no matter how trivial...these are details worked out by the hand of the Lord. The glory, thanks and gratitude belongs to Him.

4. Gratitude helps me give honor where honor is due...sometimes I forget to say thanks, forget to acknowledge something kind someone has done for me...taking the time to get my gratitude on gives me time to think about all those special people in my life. And I don't know anyone who doesn't like to be thanked.

5. Gratitude makes me feel better. And I know it shouldn't be about how it makes me feel. But, I'm gonna be honest, thinking positively about life does help me feel better. It's part of that ..whatsoever things are pure, honest, good report....those are the things you are to think about. Yep...there's a reason for that!

So a little while back I started posting on Thursdays, on Facebook my list of gratitudes and others started posting theirs...and I can't tell you how much it has encouraged me to see God doing such amazing things in the lives of people. I don't want to keep it a secret! He is good and even in my lowest times, I am amazed at how He showers me with things to be grateful for.

Join me this November as we daily give thanks on Facebook....I can't wait to see and hear about God's goodness in your life! You can follow me HERE or just list your own thanks anyway you can...in a notebook, on your blog, twitter or your own facebook page.

PS...if you go over to the column over on the right ...the arch
ives. Look under November of each year and read the Days of Thanks posts. It'll keep you entertained at least!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day #21 Beautiful Comfort Food

The beauty of food...

Food



BBQ Pork

Cookies

Fried Macaroni & Cheese @ front street brewery

I'm not a terribly good cook...I mean...I enjoy it, I'm adventurous...but let's just say, I'm pretty sure I've never made anything that looked as good as these pictures. Still, I love to see food displays that are creative and pleasing to the eye and taste...and maybe if I learned to be a little more creative with my display...my kids might eat more veggies!

We all find comfort in food. If nothing else it helps our belly quit growling like a band of wolves, but for most it's even more than that. A certain food might remind us of someone or a certain time in our lives. I can hardly eat a donut without thinking about all the Saturday morning's my dad would buy a dozen of Winn Dixie's hot and fresh bakery donuts. It's a sweet childhood memory that I have.

Then there's the smell of stinky cabbage and collard greens that reminds me of my Mimi. My grandmother passed on her love of all things southern to the rest of the family...I unfortunately don't like things that don't smell good while they're cooking. And by admitting that, I've lost some street cred in Georgia!

Those memories bring me some comfort. I think of the times shared with loved ones and the memories I have of the people I shared a meal with. But, real comfort food, only comes from God's Word...the Bread of Life. Real comfort doesn't know a perfect temperature, a pinch of this and that or more or less of anything. It's whole. Nothing lacking. Good for you. Everything you need to stay properly nourished in this life. It's the balanced meal your soul longs for...full of the nutrients that will help you grow into maturity.

So while my tummy might be rumbling for some apple cobbler and a scoop of homemade vanilla, my soul longs for the words found in the Bible. It's always fresh and ready.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day #19 Beautiful Hope

Death. It doesn't really matter how a person dies that catches our breath...it's that they're gone. Yes, we can analyze and compare stories of cancer and brain aneurysms and organ failure and old age...and even murder...but the end result is that we are left with this feeling of empty lonely purposelessness.

Death strikes. We are never prepared enough. We can't be ready enough. When that last breath is drawn and you realize it won't be followed by another raising of the chest and an exhale, no amount of preparation, of God-knowledge, of eternal perspective is enough for that first moment without the one you love. Its heavy thickness is near strangulation strength.

And then you remember. It may take a moment or a few months of moments ...even years...but your mind finally comprehends and shifts to the beautiful hope we have in Christ. That hope that we will be with our Christian loved ones once again...that this is not the end...this world is not the final stop. The hope ...the resurrection hope...that we can cling to in the worst of times. That same hope that he promised 2000 years ago...the hope that we have in a glorious future that He's prepared for us in eternity. The hope of His soon return. The hope that believes He keeps His promise. The hope that does not leave us lonely but filled with the beautiful reality that we are not alone as we walk in the day to day...in the weight of grief. We have hope. Hope in Him. Beautiful, beautiful hope.




Friday, October 18, 2013

Day #18 Beautiful Keys

At eleven years of age my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. I'm not sure if it was my incredible ability to play "Heart and Soul" or if it was her dream of personally playing the piano, that prompted this move but after school on Thursday afternoons, my brother, sister and I would walk to the piano teachers home just down the street from our school.

And what I learned over the next seven years has been invaluable to me over the years. By age thirteen I was playing in church and through college it paid the way for me to go tuition free. And as a church musician I have been playing in some sort of capacity for nearly 20 years. 

I tried to pick up other instruments. After a month of violin lessons, Bruce begged me to quit. I agree it was absolutely awful. I also tried the guitar---didn't work out. So, I finally gave up and just embraced the keys for all it was worth. I don't play by ear, my theory knowledge lacks, and I didn't learn to play by a chord sheet until my thirties...but one thing is for sure...all those hours of practicing, and God's orchestration have allowed for many years of piano playing. Sometimes God gives you an ability...to be developed. Sometimes it takes work. Sometimes patience. I'm thankful for a determined mother who ordered at least 30 minutes a day tickling the ivories. I'm thankful for some of the best teachers in the world pushing me...sometimes to tears...to work hard...harder and even harder. And I'm thankful most of all for the years God has allowed me to do this for His glory..for the joy it brings Him, others and even myself.

God's good that way. He allows us to worship Him in so many different ways. When we use our gifts, talents, ability to honor Him, it's worship. We are giving back some of what He's given to us. It's an offering of sorts. 

And over the years, I've listened to many great pianist. Here are a few of my favorites...some inspiration to play on...








Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day #17 Beautiful Promises

No earthly promise is as beautiful  to me as the vows I exchanged with Bruce 20 years ago. The day, the moment...etched in my mind and my heart forever. 

The next most important and beautiful promise I made in my life was when my kids were dedicated back to the Lord. I promised to do my part in training them up to love the Lord...heart, mind and soul.

Recently I was at a meeting with Bruce and the speaker spoke on "ministry vows". These promises that we made or maybe needed to make in ministry. I'm reposting them here so maybe if you're in the ministry, serve as a teacher or helper in a class at your church...or are a minister in any way...you might glean something from them. I know they have helped me to renew my own vows to serve God faithfully with my life. 

1. I promise to depend on God alone to provide for all my needs.

2. I promise to remind myself daily that I cannot accomplish my calling without the Holy Spirit.

3. I promise not to seek significance or approval in what others think about me.

4. I promise never to convince myself that I am indispensable.

5. I promise not to isolate myself in sin, sorrow or success.

6. I promise to be a man/woman of God...not a whiny, little baby.

7. I promise to be myself, not some version of someone I wish I was.

8. I promise to never stop saying "Yes" to new ministry opportunities.

9. I promise to walk with the Lord...not run.

10. I promise to prioritize renewal in my weekly and yearly schedules.

(From Pastor Max Kennedy)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day #16 Beautiful Quietness

I'm writing this post in my den, small corner lamp, feet propped up on an ottoman, sweet tea within reach....everyone is asleep. It's beautifully quiet. I almost want to pinch myself because in this house of piano lessons and Taekwondo forms and homeschool and nerf guns this is a rarity.

I'm learning though, that to enjoy the quiet in my home, it takes effort.

- Effort to plan ahead so there aren't distractions.
- Effort to get up early or stay up late when the eyeballs are wishing otherwise.
- Effort to settle myself, to relax, to not feel guilty.
- Effort to be prepared with Bible, books, journal, computer.

It's almost as much work to prepare for quietness as it is to get quietness. And sometimes, if I'm honest, it's too much work and in my laziness I miss the beauty of the quietness.

Because it's in the quietness that I hear things otherwise unheard. Sweet truths of Jesus fly off the pages of His Word when I sit quietly before Him. I recall things in the quiet that I would otherwise not take the time to savor....memories, answered prayer, intercessory request. In the quiet I also realize my own worth and my own sin. I have the time to confess and praise and thank.

Being still before the Lord isn't some silly mantra that we obligate ourselves to as Christians. It's a privilege....we are being still so we can KNOW the Lord God. (Ps. 46:10) Depending on your season of life, you may or may not have plenty of time to do this at anytime during the day....for me, it requires effort. A real, purposeful, decision to get up or stay up so that I can spend quiet time getting to know the Lord.

Here are a few things I do....

- Get comfortable
- Sit quietly for a few minutes, settling my mind down
- Consider things to be thankful for, write them down if desired- Pray
- Read God's Word
- Confess sins that are brought to mind- Pray
- Think about the gift of salvation and praise God for giving me salvation - Pray
- Think about others and their needs and requests - Journal these
- Meditate on 2-3 scriptures that have something to do with something I'm struggling with
- Listen for anything that God may be saying to be through His Word.

There's no set rules for spending time with God. No time limit. No list of things you must do in order. Find what works for you. I can honestly tell you, when I start my day sitting in the beautiful quietness with the Lord, it does help me through out the day. I'm finding too, that when I don't have time for some quiet time with the Lord, in reality, that's really all I do have time for.

I've come across journaling ideas through pinterest and thought they might inspire you to document your beautiful quietness:

What's On Your Mind Today (printable)

Story Analysis (printable)

Heart

Shelter

The-Kingdom-of-Heaven

Untitled


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day #15 Beautiful Dust Bunnies and Dirty Laundry

See the complete List of Beautiful Things HERE

Fellow Mommas,

I've only been doing the mom things for 11 years. Some of you have been doing it much much longer, but whether you're a veteran or a new mom, there is a common bond between us...whether it comes from intense labor, the terrible twos, or the pride and joy of just being blessed with this beautiful job of raising the next generation, I'm not sure. But I'm glad to be a part of the unofficial club.

There were a few things I underestimated before I became a mom..

- the amount of talking these kids would do.
- the amount of dirty laundry they would produce.
- the amount of time it would take to instruct and train them.
- the tears of joy I would cry over them.
- the blessing and pride I would feel as I watch them make good decisions
- the trust I would need to put their lives in God's hands

and my list could go on and on and on.

Other moms can describe the feelings of becoming a mom but it doesn't do it justice. There's no words to describe your personal feelings about the blessing it is to be "The Mom" on a good day. But let's get real....some days the days aren't good.

In any "job" or "calling" there are off days. Days where the employee doesn't get everything done, gets mad at the boss, frustrated with co-workers, questions God. Why do we think mothering is any different? We all have those days.

Recently I was thinking to myself..."Why can't I seem to get it all together?" "Shouldn't this be easier no that I am home full time?" "Where the heck do all these dust bunnies come from?"

And maybe you've thought the same thing...or at least something similar. Let me tell you something that I am in the thick of learning- This parenting thing...it's hard work....important work...a heavenly assignment. Sure I've known this in my head since 2002. But I'm paying better attention lately and quite frankly, I'm pretty sure I'm not qualified to raise two kids to become high functioning adults in a postmodern world.

Thank God...that's not my job!!!

What I'm in the throws of learning is that my job is to train them to be a reflection of Jesus....and even that is mostly the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. What I do is create an environment where they are exposed to Jesus, His people, His Word, His love...and I let Him do the rest. I'm not really the one in charge....it's up to Him. As we do Bible study at home, go to church, sing in the car, discipline them...it's all about what Jesus is doing and so little about what I am actually doing. He's got these kids....their hearts....already. Thankfully I get to play this small, but important role in giving them the tools to know Him better. But the growth...that part...it's between them and God...I can't make it happen.

Hebrews 11:6 says: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


This verse has comforted me in times when I have felt overwhelmed with parenting. But the beautiful promise is that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. If there was ever an area in my life that I need to be seeking Him in...it's how to raise my kids. But I know who my God is...and He knows my name....and He is a rewarder of wisdom and of grace...of which I need in bulk daily. 

So, how about we spend just a little less time thinking about the dirty laundry and the dust bunnies and maybe a few more minutes in the "diligently seeking" department. In the end, there will be plenty of time to catch those bunnies and do the laundry...but these days...the ones we are living and breathing right this second.... are flying by... flying...by.




Monday, October 14, 2013

Day #14 Beautiful Surprises

In 2012 I turned 40. Some of my friends from church threw me the surprise party of a lifetime---Complete with wheel chair, old lady costumes, pasta and canned good donations for our food pantry. It was a beautiful surprise. I probably have never laughed so hard in my life.

In 2002 I was surprised with a positive pregnancy test after being told there was no way I would ever get and stay pregnant. You can imagine our surprise again, when baby Savannah arrived three months early.

Again in 2005 after taking three pregnancy tests I finally realized God was surprising us again with baby #2 and although it took a lot of careful care, this one didn't surprise us at all. After a very planned C-section, Tucker arrived right on time.

I remember being surprised as a child when I spent the weekend with a friend and came home to a brand new bedroom re-do. It was so pretty and I was so excited about my newly painted refurbished furniture and sweet girly bedspread.

I also remember getting an urgent phone call that my dad was on life support at age 45. I can't even tell you how surprised I was when he passed away 45 hours later.

Surprises happen. Good ones and bad ones. You don't know to prepare...so you don't. You can't plan how you're going to react...because you don't know!

But with God, there are no surprises...and that is what is so beautiful.

He isn't surprised by your life or your death.

He isn't surprised by your health or your wealth.

He isn't surprised by you children or your parents.

He isn't surprised by war or peace.

He isn't surprised by your 40th birthday....or your 60th.

He isn't surprised by government shutdowns, Obama Care or Social Security debacle.

He knows about it all. Everything. Every.Single.Thing.

He's knows...and He's got it under control. It's in His hands.

And that's beautiful.




Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day #12 Beautiful Hollywood

Last weekend a friend and I took our girls to see "Grace Unplugged", a newly released moved about a worship leader and his daughter. The plot captures the tendency we all have to make performance about us instead of about worshipping the Lord. AJ Michalka's beautiful voice is heard throughout the movie and there are special appearances by Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace. It portrays the difficult transition Christians face when brought head to head with the temptations and overwhelming worldliness that typical Hollywood offers.

The film is excellent. There's a careful innocent romance, enough father-daughter tension to make you pay attention, real thought-provoking choices to be discussed, and heart wrenching full on forgiveness and repentance. Hollywood did good this time.

And that's what is beautiful. Another movie, well done. We can add it to the list of other Christian films like Fireproof, Courageous, Chronicles of Narnia, that have renewed our hope that we might still darken the doors of a theater in this century. While "Grace Unplugged" is overtly Christian, it's also done so well that Christians need not bow their head in shame by poor acting or a small budget. Thank you.

Christian teens, music enthusiast and worshippers of all ages are giving this movie two thumbs up...5 stars...or whatever the best rating is. If you live in a major city, chances are it's showing where you are. I drove 55 miles to see it...and I'd say it was worth it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day #11 Beautiful Details

handmade quilted Grandmother's garden patchwork bag

Hand quilted project, boutis

Embroidery

Nature

The word tells us that through Him and for Him all things were created,
That we are as clay in the potter's hands.
What kind of potter possesses the power to change the seasons
And the subtlety to bring forth a radiant flower from the smallest bud
Or endows a fragile monarch butterfly with the instinct to travel thousands of miles
Or through the thunder and lightning of a panoramic storm brings life-giving rain?
Who blesses a humble grain of wheat by some miracle to germinate and produce a stalk with multiple grains at its head?
When planted in great numbers it produces food for thousands.
The Word tells us that the pinnacle of creation,
The baby conceived in a virgin's womb by the Holy Spirit
Died on a cross to pay for his workmanship's failures
That if we believe in Him we do not perish but are re-created by nail-scarred hands
Emerging as from a cocoon
Raptured souls finding rest beyond the river
Glorifying the triune Creator forever and ever!

--Jack L. Griffin


God's Country - revamped

Details are beautiful. And sometimes we need to take a closer look so we can understand better what God is up to. Looking at the details cause us to stop, think and sit in wonderment of the extreme creativity and detail that God spent on us. The human body, nature, space...it all screams of God's amazing attention to details.

And..since we were created in His image, He's given us all a spirit of creativity. Maybe it's crafting or music or computer design or gardening...if you look hard enough, you'll find an area of creativity, an area of detail that He's given you too. Honor Him with that. The details scream of God's majesty. I want to be a part of that..don't you?

Leave a comment: What's your area of creativity or attention to detail?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day #10 Beautiful Antiques


My home is full of hand-me-down furniture. As I look around the house, memories of sweet loved ones are associated with just about every piece of antique furniture I possess. I have a library table that my father-in-law picked up off the side of the road when he and my mother in law were newly married. I have Bruce's grandparents small china hutch. I have a pie safe that my mom haggled to get at Georgia flea market when I was a kid and a blue hunt board that my dad made from scratch...and many more. In fact I have more stories than I do store bought furniture.

Each piece has some wear and tear on it. The stain may be faded, a handle might be loose, it might be a little rickety but each piece is functional. It plays a part in the function of our home. In fact, without these pieces my home would be less appealing...almost boring. There would be no stories, no memories of days gone by, no comparison of age or marks.

The Bible says in Psalm 71:17-18, 

Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.


As I was thinking about my church and the plethora of ages that make up the body of Christ, I'm reminded that the elderly...the seniors...the old and gray...have a responsibility to the younger generation...to pass down the marvelous deeds of the Lord to the next generation. And as I start plucking my own gray hairs, I realize that there is no better time than now to start talking to the younger generation about how good God has been.

There is a trust in an older generation...you've been there, done that and although the younger generation may not do things just like we did them 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago, they still need to hear about what God did in our lives. And even if you don't think they want to hear it...they do! I personally love hearing stories about God's provision, protection and amazing grace  from years gone by!

Psalm 92:14a says:

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green

The older generation still has a reason to share their story...to bear fruit. Fresh and green vegetation is healthy and life giving. It hasn't rotted off the vine or branch...it's lush and flavor-full and beautiful. It's sweet to the taste buds. The same should be these stories of faith and freedom in Christ. Words of sweetness about a relationship with a Savior, His love, His forgiveness. There's no room to let the enemy in to steal the show. At a time in life that complaining about aches and pains and social security or the lack thereof, may be tempting...the Godly gray and old...talk about the goodness of God. The godly old and gray know who has written their story and they're stickin' to it! 

Old things (antiques) have a function and place in the home...and in the body of Christ. I'm thankful for the beautiful older people who have told me the stories of Jesus through the years...Mrs. Olgesby, Ms. Bell, Mr. Young, Mr. Stewart, my grandmother. These shared their words about Jesus with me and passed on a legacy of the goodness of the Lord. I may not have even known it at the time, but they were preserving their God story in me.

And now...at 41...while I pluck and cover gray hairs every six weeks...it's my turn. And if you're doing the same thing...it's your turn too. We must share God's story...the world is speaking loudly about it's story...and it's a pack of lies. Christians should be shouting from the mountaintops so that this generation hears and knows and has the opportunity to accept the goodness of the Lord. 

I'm committed...Are you?



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day #9 Beautiful Loved One

I was raised in a family of three kids, two parents and one uncle. One down syndrome uncle. He moved in with my family when I was just 2 years old. He's the youngest and only son in a line of 5 daughters born to my grandparents in the 1940's and 1950's. For the next 20 years or so he resided as one of the Anderson's.

To say Steve was special is an understatement. No doubt special needs children are very special but Steve was a rare gem. He was smart and funny and a bit of a prankster. He knew how to cover for himself and he knew how to work hard. I remember on many occasions him pretending he couldn't remember a current boyfriend's name so he would call him by the last boyfriend's name. Then he would wink at me and chuckle as he walked away.

Our church started a Sunday School class for special needs people while I was in high school. My parents brought Steve with us to church and he would go to class and then sit with the family during the service. I remember in those formative teenage years being slightly embarrassed when he'd do something inappropriate...like sing to loud...or shake hands to tightly...God forbid. But as a teen trying to find my place in the world, it was somewhat awkward. I look back now and thank God for all those times. What a gift I had...to learn from him.

It's God's grace when He allows the weakest of these to be the wisest of them all....to teach those of us who think we are smart because we have all our chromosomes. It was in those 20 years of sharing a home that Steve taught me valuable, precious lessons. Lessons on loving unconditionally, lessons on living out loud, lessons on laughing and singing in the shower. Lessons on taking life less seriously. Lessons on hugging and saying grace even when no one was sitting at the table with you.

Today Steve had surgery. He's 60 years old. I'm pretty sure I've never seen another Down's that old. He lives in Texas with my aunt now and I wanted to be there to see him today before surgery. I knew it would help my mom if I was there, I hoped it would help my aunt that I was there, but mostly I wanted to go for me. I wanted to say "I love you" one more time. I wanted to look into those almond shaped blue eyes and silently whisper "thank you for teaching me so many life lessons"..."thank you for blessing me with your life"..."thank you for the way you gave love so easily and for your kind heart".

The surgery went fine...and who knows...maybe Steve will outlive us all. One thing I know... the life lessons he passed on to me sure will.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day #8 Beautiful Babies



There's nothing quite like the face of a newborn baby. It really doesn't matter if the baby is adorable or not, when we look into those eyes we can't help but be just a little breathless over something delivered so recently from heaven. Truly it's a miracle. Everything about it. It makes me a little teary-eyed just thinking about my own babies and my first glance at them.

I kinda get the same way thinking about baby Christians. You know..those that are so freshly saved from the grip of their sin and the enemy? They have this beautiful look about them. One of awe...one of newness....hungry for the milk of the word...ready for whatever God has for them. It's exciting..and yes, very much a miracle. How Christ can breath new life into a human and change them forever is something I won't ever fully understand, but I can certainly appreciate.

But a newborn baby needs lots of love, tender care, diaper changing, bottle feeding and burping. Left to themselves...well can we just say a collective "gross". And in today's society, if a baby is left alone for any amount of time it is deemed "neglect"...and momma's have lost their babies for that mistake. I wonder if the same isn't true with spiritual babies. When a child of God is newly born they can be messy....think about it. God saves us from all sorts of stuff and a baby Christian who struggles with drug addictions, homosexuality, alcoholism, cutting, over-eating, anger issues, abuse, lying, cheating...or fill in the blank sin.....when we become a Christian...it can be messy if no one comes along side us and walks the road of infancy with us. And if older, mature Christians don't do this...it's neglect. Yep...spiritual neglect. We are called to discipleship. We are called to walk alongside the weaker brother or sister...the younger ones and make a difference by sharing what God has said in His Word. That's really loving a baby...that's discipleship.

That's when babies start growing...into cute little toddlers...then boys and girls and tweens and teens and then as maturing, continuously growing believers who in turn can disciple...reproduce...nurture...with God's power and grace, more beautiful babes in Christ.

The process is beautiful...the cheering on of a baby Christian as they take their first steps, speak their first words of testimony, try their first taste of solid food of the Word. It's invigorating. Rewarding. Just like a parent watching their own child grow. We as a community of believers need to be busy being involved in the discipleship...the maturing of others. This isn't some job to be left undone. This isn't the time for neglect.

Matthew 28:19 - Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


Monday, October 7, 2013

Day #7 Beautiful Seasons


We just happen to be in my favorite season of all...Autumn. I'm thankful Texas is experiencing temps in the 80's right now and for us...that is the equivalent of a cold front--- and that at least justifies long sleeves and boots. I know we must look ridiculous to the rest of America.

Soon enough the 80's will slip down to the 70's and nighttime temps will drop into the 40's. Then after the last leaf has dropped off the tree..wintertime will settle in. And just when we think we can't take another day of cold weather...spring buds will appear on the trees and if we're lucky, summer break will start sooner rather than later. Seems we're never quite satisfied with the season we're in for very long.

It's true in my own life...I remember being single and wondering if I'd EVER get married. Then I wondered if I would EVER be able to have kids....and after 10 years of waiting...I wondered if my firstborn would EVER leave the NICU. Next I wondered if she would EVER talk...walk...feed herself.  A few years later I wondered if we'd EVER finish remodeling our farmhouse....then I wondered if we'd EVER have another baby. When we did...I wondered if we'd EVER move. Then I thought we'd never EVER sell our farmhouse. When we moved I doubted we would EVER make new friends...and when we did, I wondered if we would stay there forEVER. When we didn't, I thought we would nEVER be in ministry again...but God had other plans and now I'm thankful that His was are always higher and better than I could EVER imagine. I look back and can be thankful for EVERy journey and the time and the seasons of life He's brought us through. But it doesn't mean it's been easy.

He's been faithful. When I haven't been, when I've doubted, when I've lost hope, when I've been discontent, when I've wondered. He's been faithful. That's the most important lesson I've learned in 20 years of married life, mom life and ministry life. He's faithful in every season.

In the dry times of summer when the heat and pressure of life is too much. When I feel tired from the burdens and the hardships...He's faithful.

In the cool temps of autumn, when beauty and bounty surround me and I feel and see His presence in creation as leaves turn and thanks are given...He's faithful.

When the harsh winds of winter stir up feelings of resentment and bitterness and hurt and my limbs have nothing to give except a dried up effort ...He's faithful.

And in the spring...when hope is at its best. When new life surrounds me and the promises of a brighter day are before me...He's faithful.

In every season... He's right there. He's known the struggles I would face and the joys I'd experience. Nothing is a surprise to Him. He's orchestrated these events. His faithful steady hand is just as good in the bad times as the good and He's still every reason that we have to live and breathe and sing and worship.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: He has made everything beautiful in its time. So when you're doubting Him and wondering what He's doing during a certain season of your life...remind yourself, that in His time...at just the right moment this will be a beautiful season. In life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, in good times and bad, He takes those seasons of winter and creates beautiful springtime flowers and trees in shades of colors we can barely describe. It may not be what we thought, or anticipated or imagined...no...it might just be better.