Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day #31 Beautiful Month

So...we made it. 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 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 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 they matter a little bit 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'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 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 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'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 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 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 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...


BBQ Pork


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 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'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 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 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 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 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)





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'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's up to Him. As we do Bible study at home, go to church, sing in the car, discipline'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'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'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...

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 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



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, 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 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'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 bear fruit. Fresh and green vegetation is healthy and life giving. It hasn't rotted off the vine or'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 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 41...while I pluck and cover gray hairs every six's my turn. And if you're doing the same'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 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 learn from him.

It's God's grace when He allows the weakest of these to be the wisest of them 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 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 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'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 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 might just be better.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day #5 Beautiful Women

It's completely understandable that the world's women are consumed with being beautiful. The health and beauty industry booms with profits and nail and hair salons are one of the few industries that are readily moving into new buildings and taking over the world. For a mere $60-$100 a month your toes and fingers can be beautifully soaked and buffed and filed and painted. But no amount of buffing and painting and dieting and hair color makes a woman beautiful. No amount of pretty pinterest clothing or Mary Kay make-up does a beautiful woman make.

Proverbs 11:22 says:

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.

The Message Paraphrased Bible says it like this:

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful face on an empty head.

Yep, you got it, without good old fashioned good sense --discretion, a woman is less than fact, she looks rather a pig...with a gold ring in it's nose. Good sense tells a woman what's appropriate. It filters things before she says them, she contemplates and ponders before she acts, she thinks about the repercussions of her actions, she's wise. She knows what she's talking about, she's confident..yet humble. Her good looks aren't wasted...she balances beauty and brains.

On the contrary, think about the pig...the one with the gold ring in it's nose. It looks hilarious or foolish. You gotta wonder what the owner must have been thinking to waste such a valuable possession on a pig. And yet, God has given women the ability to have good sense, discretion, the ability to make reasonable, wise choices and it doesn't take very many minutes in the local Walmart (or anywhere else) to see that some of the outward beauty that God has given women has been wasted...discretion has taken a backseat to immodest clothing, loud voices, ungodly opinions, boisterous behavior and just plain old stupidity.

God's way to show women their real worth isn't through their outward appearance...although beauty is spoken of over and over in the Bible, it's primary purpose was to direct the reader to inward qualities of value. Proverbs 31 is a primary example of God's picture of a beautiful woman. Instead of great value being put on the woman's outward appearance, He places the value on how she serves her family, spends her money, uses her resources and respects her husband. These are the things that make her beautiful. Unpopular and rare in today's world???....Yes. Sure, she takes care of herself, but her real value is that she has discretion...she can make good decisions, weighty decisions that impact her family and others.

What a lesson to women a woman, wife and a mother of a young tween. Our beauty, while lovely to look at, should come second to being discreet, wise, and modest. Otherwise you look like a pig...with a ring in its nose...and last time I woman ever wanted to look like a pig.

What a challenge for us to be walking in this world full of beauty enhancing products. However, getting into God's word and finding out what He thinks is beautiful should take priority over beautification products and services this world offers. Popular opinion- No. But then again, I'm pretty sure when God works on the inside...the outside is changed. So you might just be surprised at what God's makeover looks like on you!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day #4 Beautiful Homes

About 4 months ago, we bought 2 acres of land...with hopes and dreams that we will be able to build a home on it within the next year or so. Before the ink was dry on the documents I started looking at house plans. Sorting through styles and how many bedrooms and detached garages and bonus rooms was fun, exciting, overwhelming and sometimes...too much. I've browsed through pinterest and more hours than I'm willing to admit looking for the plan that's just for us.

We've bought houses in the past but never built one. I've never had the chance to build exactly what I not messing this up is pretty important to me. Or is it? This hit me the other day...

It's not the four walls that will surround our house that will make it a home.

It's not whether I pick laminate or granite counter tops that will make it a home.

It's not hardwoods or carpet or brick or hardy plank that will make it a home.

It's not how big or how much money or what it looks like that will make it a home.

We've already got all the ingredients for a beautiful home. We've got our dream.

We have Jesus. Every member of our family. He's building this beautiful family. This home. It has nothing to do with supplies or decor or style. It's all about the builder.

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. - Psalm 127:1

So the pressure's off. The master builder is in charge. While I pick house plans and finishes to build this temporal housing, He is busy building a family...a real home...something not made by earthly hands. Something that's eternal in the hearts of our family.

The great thing is that anyone can have this kind of don't have to qualify for financing, have permits or anything else. You just have to have Jesus. In a world where homes are falling apart in discontentment, divorce, alternative lifestyles and selfishness, no one is immune to the dangers of a faulty foundation. Jesus doesn't build junk. Allow Him to build your home. You can't build what He can.

Invite Him in. Sound silly? It's not...Invite Him to be a part of your daily family life. Talk with Him in prayer at mealtimes and bedtimes and anytime you feel the need for His presence to be near and real. Tell him your struggles and your problems and your fears. He has a remedy. Get in the blueprint (God's Word) and find it. Soon you'll find your house becoming a home...because you moved....closer to the heart of God.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day #3 Beautiful Simplicity


 noun \sim-ˈpli-sə-tē, -ˈplis-tē\
: the quality of being easy to understand or use
: the state or quality of being plain or not fancy or complicated
: something that is simple or ordinary but enjoyable

There's something about the beauty of simplicity. The understated loveliness of something that just is. In a world full of itself...of obtaining and accomplishing and striving, it is a refreshing change of pace to enjoy the simple things. There is value to the rare, one of a kind, singular or unique possession. Whether it's a piece of jewelry, a flower, a well worn antique, a favorite scarf, a Bible verse or a schedule that isn't packed to the brim with engagements. Simple is sacred. My soul craves for the yesteryear's of "just enough, primitive, and bare essentials" while living in a world of non-stop, me-first, not enough. Simplicity makes way for the important, the irreplaceables. Family, friends, love, time, Jesus..and everything about Him. 

So as I make my own way in this hectic fast paced world, I have the responsibility to make room for the things that really matter. The scheduling is up to me, the stuff is up to me, the way we live....largely up to choices Bruce and I make. It's nice to enjoy the modern conveniences and luxuries that 2013 afford us, but as the values and morals of God's Word seem to be slipping away, those simple things that He lovingly instructed us to observe; kindness, sabbath rest, love, compassion, a word to the lost...those are the things I need more now that ever. I need to remember....

Simple is beautiful.

Possessions aren't bad. Schedules aren't bad. Stuff isn't bad. Unless we let it run our lives so that moments of simplicity are no where to be found. Simplicity calls for a lifestyle devoted to the most importants. The things that really matter getting the attention they deserve and then all the static voice in the background, well, it finds a place...but not THE place. Not The place reserved for the sacred and the beautiful and the simple.

Seem unrealistic? We're not talking about throwing your microwave out the window or going back to making everything from scratch..(unless you're in a foreign land and that's what your norm is). We're talking about an attitude and an effort made so that stuff and schedules and cash don't take the place of God's Word and your kids and your spouse..the big stuff. It's about breathing in the simple beauty around you...Taking time to smell the proverbial roses...and maybe the real live ones too!

What's that look like, you ask. It's different for everyone. It might look like soccer games and ice cream sundaes for one family and naptime and movies for another. It's only your job to figure out what works for your family. He's got a plan for graced with simplicity and beauty.

Matthew 6:33- Seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness...and all the other things will be added to you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day #2 Beautiful Mistakes

The most beautiful melodies started out by someone playing and humming notes until the progression of musical phrases sounded perfectly perfect to the composer's ear. I'm curious to know how many beautiful mistakes Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman or Kari Jobe have made before getting their songs on the radio. I like to imagine, that like me, they've made their share of beautiful mistakes.

Beautiful mistakes are the ones we make when we are in the throws of really trying...trying to write a new song, learn a new sport, parent a two year old. These are the ones that challenge us to keep stay the course. These mistakes are beautiful. They reflect the human spirit. The go-getter-done attitude. It's in the student and parent and author and athlete. And's in me.

You see, I don't really like messing up but one thing I know now is that it's worth working through the mistakes, the disappointments and the goof-ups. It's worth it to try hard and to persevere. In fact, it's completely Biblical. We're told to keep on keepin' on, in James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God's job is to worry about the end result...ours is to be faithful to the task that He's called us to. And if along the way, things get a little crazy and we hit some wrong notes or a foul ball or yell at the kids a time or two, just get back to the business you're called to do. We're not trying to earn anything by our fact our mistakes prove...we can't earn anything. Because it's in these mistakes that we find we need God the most..without Him we can do nothing. When we struggle and put forth our best effort God is watching. He sees our feeble attempts as we try to raise kids and work jobs and serve in church and coach soccer. Better than that, He sees our hearts. He sees our motives and He sees our beautiful mistakes. Each and every one. And He loves us enough to want to make us beautiful in HIS time

Our imperfections only show us how badly we need Him. As I sit here and type I look at the band aid that is covering an imperfection on my arm. Today I sat in the dermatologist office while the Dr. numbed my arm, removed a small growth off my arm, and gave me three stitches to patch my skin back together. Now I wait for a pathology report...which I trust will be fine. But this imperfection, this blemish, this mistake (according to the world) has drawn me closer to Jesus. Closer to trusting Him, closer to believing Him, closer to wanting His will. That's what makes it beautiful. It's what He's doing in you that makes your mistakes..your blemishes...your melody line... less disastrous. It's grace. 

I think of all the crafting that's done with repurposed furniture and supplies...even sweaters are unraveled and resold as yarn (I know this is true...I saw it on etsy). I think God is in the business of taking the scraps of our lives and making something incredibly beautiful from the brokenness. 

So, don't give up! Because persevering makes your messes beautiful. God's right there beside you putting the finishing touches on something better than you can imagine. He's drawing you closer to Himself. Don't resist. He wants to make your mistakes beautiful too. 

Think about what He did for:

Rahab....prostitute turned female line to Jesus Christ
Moses...stutterer turned leader of Israel
Paul...persecuted Christians turned great man of faith
Jonah....runaway preacher turned revival preacher

God uses broken, handicapped people all the time. He's ready for you persevere my friend. And when you stumble, trip, hit a wrong note or a foul ball....stay close to Him. You're His masterpiece...even in the midst of your mistakes. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day #1 Beautiful Feet

When I think about beauty, I'm gonna be honest and say I don't usually think about feet. I mean, even with the latest and greatest buffers and scrapers and files and soaks and polishes...mine still look wide...with a side of bunion. Truly, not my best feature. And of course add a case of a summertime flip flop addiction and you also add a side of plantar faciiatus...and maybe even a heel spur. It's ugly.

So, I always get a little tickled when I come across the verse in Isaiah 52:7 that says:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

and the one in Romans 10:15 that says:

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

But as I was thinking about all the things in the world that are beautiful...I thought about the people in my life that have taught me about the good news of Jesus Christ, the ministry personnel, both past and present that we have been honored to work with and the missionaries worldwide that are shouting these words to nations "Our God Reigns!" 

They're running the gospel to hospitals and schools and nursing homes and desserts and Sunday School classrooms and home groups. They're proclaiming to children and senior citizens and empty-nesters and newlyweds and homosexuals and cancer victims and liars and adulterers the Good News...the Gospel...the only hope. They are beautiful.

These are the feet of some of the many beautiful feet I know... They work more hours than they are paid for, they run on coffee and high speed internet....and they work inside our church body and outside, in our little community, to share the good news...the gospel...the greatest story ever told. They preach with their lives...they preach with their actions...and with the word of their testimonies.

Mitchell Nguyen- Mission's Director

Donnie South- Senior High Pastor

Cody Chester- Junior High Pastor

My hubby- Bruce Stinson- Pastor

Mike Hasten- Associate Pastor

Melinda Henderson- Children's Director

Loren Carter- Music Director

So, today...on day 1 of 31 Beautiful Things...I honor and thank those beautiful feet that keep our church running each week. Thanks for your endless hours of work, your good attitudes, your servant's hearts, your faith. Thank you for sharing your stories, your testimony, God's message each week. You are worth more than you will ever know. You're priceless...and your feet...well, they're beautiful.

Disclaimer: Beautiful feet belong to anyone who shares the gospel. You don't have to be called a minister or pastor or director of any church program to share your story of salvation...your testimony. If we all did that...there would be no need for spiritual pedicures, would there?