Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Living Word

Isn't it amazing how you can read the same Bible verses throughout the years but they mean different things to you in different seasons in your life?  This morning as I opened my Bible God gave me the words I needed to hear.  This morning I turned to Galatians 6:
"1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

It isn't that I hadn't read these verses before, but they took on new meaning as I read them this morning.  Do you ever find that you compare yourself with other people?  Me neither.  Just checking to see if you do.  Do you ever get tired of trying to do the right thing and feel like you don't see the results you'd hoped for?  Me neither.  Not that I needed these words or anything. 
OK, so maybe I have been feeling a little weary lately and wondering if I make any difference with some of the things I'm involved in.  But here's the thing: it doesn't really matter if I see the results because I don't really know what God is doing behind the scenes.  God has a plan for everyone and there are things at work that I can't see or know about.  Do you ever wish you could look into other people's hearts and see what they really think and feel?  It might be more gratifying for us, but we might also get puffed up with pride and think that we ourselves are the ones doing the work and not God doing a good work through His people. 
And perhaps I just might look at other people and compare myself with them...good, bad or indifferent.  I just might wish that I could be more like them, abandoning the call God has placed on my own life because at times it seems difficult or perhaps I don't see the point in what I'm doing.
I may not always know the how or why of God's plan, but I do know something.  God is faithful and He gives us what we need, when we need it.  His love and mercy extend farther than we can imagine, much more than we could ever deserve and He keeps His promises.  I am so blessed to serve such a good God.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Hodge Podge ~ Long Hot Summer Edition

It's Hodgepodge Wednesday ~ Go see Joyce and Link Up!  You know you want's fun!

1. July is National Ice Cream month...your favorite flavor? Soft served, hand dipped, or frozen yogurt...which do you prefer? And technically yogurt is not ice cream but its hot outside so I'll let that slide for today.

I have been on an ice-cream kick this summer ~ my waist line does not thank for me this, but it has been so hot!  My classic favorite is mint chocolate chip.  However, I have discovered Ben and Jerry's Late Night is so yummy!

2. When you travel do you tend to pack too much or too little?
I tend to pack too know, just in case I need this, that or the other.  I have found though, that the older the kiddos get, the more I think we can live without and I pack a lot lighter than we once did.  When the twins were babies we had to pack 2 of just about everything and we went through double the diapers, double the formula, baby food, clothes, etc. 

3. What's your favorite cleaning product?
Clorox or Lysol wipes.  I love those things for quick wipe-downs of counter tops, the bathrooms, etc. 

4. Which is the greater tragedy-an innocent person imprisoned or a guilty person set free? Explain.

I had to really think about this one but I think the greater tragedy is an innocent person imprisoned.  If a guilty person is set free, God will still deal with that person and their transgressions.  He is the ultimate judge.  I had to be reminded of this a few weeks ago when what I thought was a very unfair verdict was delivered and a young lady was acquitted and walked free.

5. What's the longest trip you've taken by car?

One summer we went to Washington DC in our family van.  It was a 14 hour trip and my dad only wanted to stop for gas with limited potty stops.  My dad put a 5 gallon bucket with lysol in it in the back of the van for emergencies...YUCK!  If I remember correctly, the air condition broke on the way home and we were roasting in the back of that van.  My sister and I still talk about that trip and how we didn't want to use that bucket. 
The good things that happened on that trip:
  • We spent Independence Day at our Nation's Capital and were so close to the fireworks that ashes were falling on us.
  • We saw President and Mrs. Reagan drive by in a motorcade, waving.
  • We visited the Smithsonian, toured the White House, Capitol, and all of the other usual exhibits.
  • We visited with friends that lived in Virginia.
  • Despite the bucket and lack of AC, we still have great memories of the vacation and can laugh about it now!
6. tennis-golf-canoeing-biking...pick one.

It's been so hot this summer that it's hard for me to think about picking one of these but I'd say biking. 

7. What sound drives you crazy?
Anything high-pitched...fingernails on a chalkboard is probably the biggest.  It sends chills down my spine.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I can't believe that summer is almost over!  School starts back on August 10th and I have so much to do between now and then.  This week has been spent getting everyone in my house nursed back to health.  Hubby has had a sinus infection and the kiddos have had strep and ear infections.  It's been a fun week ~ NOT.  At least everyone is feeling better and will be back up to par before school starts. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bittersweet Day

This morning I was awakened quite early by a big "BOOM BOOM!"  It was the sonic boom from Space Shuttle Atlantis returning home.  I turned to Hubby and said in my half asleep state, "Shuttle's home."  He said, "Yep, for the last time." 
We have known for quite some time that the space shuttle program was coming to an end.  Today was officially the last day.  There will be no more shuttle launches and no more booms announcing her safe return.  The end of an era and this booster brat is quite sad.  I barely remember my life before the shuttle program began and having grown up as a part of the Kennedy Space Center family, there is an emptiness thinking that there will be no more.
Here she is after bringing our astronauts safely home today.
Perhaps there will be another vehicle to come along in my lifetime.  I hope that the powers that be will realize sooner rather than later the importance of our space program and place a priority on getting us back up there.  We can't just sit here and wait and watch while other countries pass us by. 

Hubby made this video last year after we went to see Atlantis Roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad.  In it, you can hear Prince talk to the crew of that mission.

There are many people who have invested their lives in the Space Shuttle Program, for science, for national security, for innovation, for America.  I am blessed to be a part of a space family.  From my Grandaddy to my parents, uncles, aunts, and brother-in-law they have all been a part of a team that has been "Doing What Others Dream."  This afternoon my Dad came by with presents for us.  He brought us t-shirts, but he also brought a medallion commemorating the end of the space shuttle program.  The metal that the coin is made from flew on in space on the shuttle.  It's a nice remembrance of many good years.

It's been a nice ride and I hope I'm alive to see what comes next. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Hodge Podge

It's Wednesday hodgepodge time again.  Go see Joyce and link up....but first read mine.

1. July 20th marks the anniversary of the first time man stood on the moon. Flash forward 42 years to July 8, 2011 which marked the start of the final Space Shuttle mission. Should we continue to explore space? Should nations devote more or fewer of their resources to exploring space? Would you want to go into space if the opportunity arose?
Yes, we should definitely continue to explore space.  However, we are talking about more than exploring space, we are talking about manned space flight which resulted in many scientific discoveries and products that have benefitted all of us.  NASA calls them Spinoffs and among the discoveries are memory foam, freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, Dustbusters, cochlear implants, improved radial tires, and over 1600 more.  You can visit to see more. 

The other major problem with not having manned space flight are the national security issues we will face.  I think anyone who reads my blog knows that I am definitely in favor of useing more resources for space.  People downplay the importance of the United States remaining in and staying ahead of the Space Industry but they don't realize what is at stake.  Would I want to go into space?  I have contemplated that question for many years.  I don't think I do.  I am perfectly content to watch from the ground with pride. 

There is nothing like feeling and hearing the rumble and watching one of these babies launch in person!

I do however know of a certain little boy that wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.  Here Prince and Princess are standing with Chris Ferguson, who is the Commander of the last space shuttle flight that launched on July 8th.  He was great with the kids and talked to Prince about being an astronaut.  This was taken at Kennedy Space Center's Family Day last year.
2. What are three things in your freezer?
Waffles, Ice Cream, Frozen veggies

3. If you could see any band/artist perform live tonite who would it be? It has to be someone Beatles, Elvis, etc.
I think it would be Matt Maher or Casting Crowns.  They seem to be who I listen to most on my i-pod these days, although this was really a hard decision for me to make because there are so many musicians that I just love.

4. Ice-cubed or crushed? Or are you one of those people who don't like ice?
I really like crushed ice, but will take it either way.  My favorite ice?  Sonic.  They have great ice.

5. The owner of a small restaurant outside of Pittsburgh recently announced he was banning children under six, saying they regularly disrupted other customer's meals. You can read the story in more detail here but isn't this a perfect topic to discuss in our Wednesday Hodgepodge? Have at it friends...what are your thoughts?
We used to have a restaurant in our area that strongly discourage you to bring children to the point that they would charge much more for children that adults.  I understand that it is frustrating to go into a restaurant and want a relaxing dining experience and have children screaming and carrying on, but don't punish those of us who make our children behave and have taught them how to eat with good manners.

6. What was your first car? How did it come to be yours?
It was a 1979 Buick Regal.  My parents bought the car new and then my aunt bought it from them.  My cousin drove it and when I was 14, my dad bought it back from my aunt.  That became my car.  I loved that car and drove it all of 2 or 3 weeks before I had my first accident (not my fault) and it was totalled.  I had a bad habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and had 3 car accidents within 2 years, none of which were my fault.

7. If I had a nickle for every time I _________________ I'd be rich.
If I had a nickle for every time I asked my children to pick up their toys/dirty clothes/insert any item here, I'd be rich.  I feel like a broken record and I'm so old and irrelevant these days that my kids don't even get that reference.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
I am finally feeling like I am recovering from birthday overload.  We partied and partied and partied some more.  I want to try to post pictures of the cakes I made but I haven't figured out yet how to photoshop out the Prince and Princess' names.  We had a bowling party and it was a great celebration.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Great Mogul Diamond ~ A Book Review

I was excited to receive and read "The Great Mogul Diamond" by G.P. Taylor.  It is a part of the Dopple Ganger Chronicles, although the story stands on its own and I haven't read the other books.  It is part graphic novel, part young adult action novel and is the first book of this kind that I have read.  I think this book would appeal especially to young adult readers who have difficulty maintaining interest in traditional books and provides great motivation to read.

Twins Saskia and Sadie have been adopted by their friend, Muzz Elliott.  They overhear a phone conversation where they determine that someone is trying to blackmail Muzz.  They involve their friend Eric as they try to figure out who is blackmailing Muzz to steal the Great Mogul Diamond.  This book is full of action and holds interest. 

This book is recommended for children ages 9-12, but I think adults and children alike would enjoy this read.  I can see myself reading this aloud to my own 7 year-old twins.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

It's Not About Me ~ A Book Review

Max Lucado continues to be one of my all-time favorite authors.  In true Lucado style, he hooked me in so that I didn't want to put the book down until I finished it.  Most of us think our lives are about us.  This is a common misconception, as life is not all about us.  Our lives are about God and what He wants to in our lives.  We were created for His purposes, to praise Him, to reflect His glory.  It is difficult to do, but we must move out of the way, so that others see not what we are doing, but what God is doing through us. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would encourage anyone who wants to grow in their walk with God to read this.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Birthday Poem

Seven years ago today
You surprised your daddy and me.
When you came into our lives
Seven weeks early.

What God had planned,
We never could have guessed
That we'd have twin babies,
We are doubly blessed.

You made your appearance
So tiny and small
Who would have thought
You would grow to be so tall?

A precious princess girl
And a handsome, strong boy
God's miracle babies,
You bring us such joy!

The strong bond you both share
We just don't understand
Your secret little language
How you take each other's hand

You comfort one another
In ways that we cannot
A look, a word, just holding hands
It's special what you've got.

At night when you are sleeping
We love to peek at you
To try to guess what you are dreaming
And to steal a kiss or two.

We want you to know
You're so special to us
We are proud to be your parents
Even when we fuss.

We pray that as you grow up
You will grow in wisdom too,
With hearts full of love for Jesus
And know how much He loves you!

Happy Birthday to Princess and Prince!
Love you Forever,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Hodgepodge

1. How has your hometown changed since you were a kid? What has changed most about the neighborhood you grew up in?
In many ways my hometown has not changed, although it has grown considerably since I was a kid.  I am not looking forward to the changes that the end of the Space Shuttle program is bringing.  We have many people who are out of or about to be out of jobs and many businesses are struggling. 

2. What song makes you laugh?
"You Never Even Call Me By My Name" by David Allan Coe.  That song brings back great memories of fun times with great friends. 

3. Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Read the books? Seen any/all of the movies? Will you be standing in line somewhere close to midnight later this week? For those of you playing along today who live outside the US or UK is Harry Potter a phenomenon in your part of the world?

I have not read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies.  Somehow I missed the craze with all of this and at times wonder what I'm missing.  I have many friends who are into it, I just never got into it. 
4. If the truth hurts, will you tell a lie? Are we better off as a society in a world that allows no form of deception whatsoever?
I try to speak the truth in love.  There are ways to say something that are more tactful, although sometimes there is no getting around hurting someone you love.  I would really rather just avoid the conversation if it isn't something that is really important and I know it will hurt the other person.  However, if it is really important, I would rather talk to my friend or loved one and have them hear it from me rather than someone else.  There may be hurt immediately, but in the long run I would hope that we could overcome the hurt feelings and come to an understanding.

5. What is your favorite 'sauteed in garlic and butter' food? Or garlic and olive oil if that makes you feel better.
Green beans sauteed in garlic and EVOO.  Love them!

6. Attending any reunions this summer/year? High school? family? Other? Do these events stir up excitement or dread?
I get excited about family reunions.  I love spending time with family...especially the extended family that I don't see often. 

7. Lilac, hydrangea, peony...pick one.

Hydrangeas...I love them!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

We are in full birthday mode around here and I've got to get busy making the kids' cakes.  Tonight Hubby pulled out the home videos from our time in the NICU and when we first brought the babies home.  We decided they were old enough to see what it was all about.  This is probably only the 2nd time in 7 years that Hubby and I have watched these movies and I have to say that watching them with the kids was therapeutic.  It was so great to be able to sit with them and let them see how much we loved and wanted them and how we cared for them. 

They got to see video from their first baths in the little dishpans from the hospital and how their preemie outfits swallowed them up as we dressed them to go home from the hospital.  Looking back I can see how sleep deprived we were and how we were in survival mode but also how much we wanted to just love on these sweet babies.
Here they are just 5 weeks old!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Hope is Built

As I mentioned yesterday, this week my precious Prince and Princess are having a birthday.  This is a big week for them and they are so excited about all of the festivities.  Hubby and I on the otherhand, have mixed feelings about this week.  We are so blessed to have these precious miracles in our lives but the circumstances of their birth were not what we would have chosen.  The day they were born and the month that followed was the hardest thing I have ever been through and those memories are not so pleasant.  You can read what happened HERE.
 I usually work really hard to make their birthday and party such a huge deal that I don't have time to stop and deal with my emotions until the night after their party and then I collapse into an emotional meltdown.  It is exhausting to say the least and every year I think it will be different, that I will be able to deal differently, to be thankful instead of sorrowful and having my own little pity party.  This year feels different.  This year I feel as if God has been preparing my heart for weeks.  God has been sending scriptures across my path dealing with hope.  I thought it odd at first, why do I need words about hope?  I'm fine.  Aren't I?

The past few days I have had Jeremiah 29:11 rolling around in my head:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Then yesterday in worship, our new pastor preached about finding hope in despair.  When I read the title of his sermon I thought, "This isn't going to pertain to me.  I'm not in despar.  I'm fine."  He read from Hebrews about our hope being an anchor for the soul.  He then went on to tell a story about when his son was born and the complications his wife had with eclampsia...a story that was different yet very similar to my own.  Odd that he would tell this story this week.  God reminded me of the hope we had for our babies that were so tiny and sick and of the hope that I had that I would live through my illness to see my babies grow up. 

Our closing hymn, "My Hope is Built," just about did me in.  "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."  I was reminded of a story I read of a young seminarian who had been through a lot and was having a faith crisis.  He told his mentor that he felt like he was standing on the shore at the beach and the sand was washing out from underneath him.  I'll never forget his mentor's response.  The mentor said, "When you feel as if the sand underneath you is washing away, stand firm because under that sand there is a solid rock." 
I really wish I could remember the title and author of that book.  I just happened to pick it up at a book store and read that one excerpt before putting it back on the shelf.  At the time I read it, I wasn't ready to receive the message it offered, yet somehow it stayed with me.

All of this to say that I am listening to God's voice and relying on His Holy Spirit to get me through  guide me through this week.  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

Monday, July 11, 2011

Being Still

I am back from a most wonderful vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We went to Siesta Key and spent a week on the beach with my extended family.  We have been doing this for many years and even my mom went with her parents as a child.  The Sunday before we left for our trip, God spoke to me through the children's message at church.  Ms. Nancy used a verse that God has used in my life many times throughout the years.  I tend to be a very busy person, always doing something and God says, "Be still and know that I am God."  As Nancy pointed out to the children, if we are constantly doing and going and talking, how will we ever hear God?  God needs for us to take time out and to just be still.  So that's why I haven't been blogging, I've been trying to be still in the presence of God and soak up His words and bask in His presence.  It's been amazing.  For the first time in I can't tell you how long, I am not stressed.  I feel relaxed and I am at peace.  God really showed off while we were at the beach.

Sunset at the beach is my favorite time of the day.

That same night of that beautiful sunset, God gave us a rainbow too!

As I walked on the beach, played in the waves, laughed with my kids, and reconnected with Hubby, my batteries were recharged.  I laughed A LOT.  When the adults gathered in our condo for a Wii party, we had such fun.  Rock Band was a hoot ~ my sister especially rocked the microphone at 1 a.m.  I realized how truly blessed I am and how much I appreciate the closeness of my wonderfully supportive family. 

It's good to be back and getting into the swing of things again.  God is good.  I had my time away and now it's time time get back to it.  This is a big week at our house...Prince and Princess will turn 7 on Thursday!