Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good News, Bad News

I've been itching to write but haven't had the time.  I honestly don't know where all of my time goes.  I do know that if I don't get enough sleep I am extremely cranky.

Good news: Thanksgiving was truly a season of giving thanks for our family.

Bad news: I spend Monday through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week in the hospital with a bowel obstruction.

Good news: I didn't have to have surgery.

Bad news: I had an NG tube ~ I hate those things.

Good news: The doctors finally sprung me the night before Thanksgiving.

Bad news: I didn't get to eat very much turkey dinner as I was supposed to be on a mostly liquid with some soft foods diet.

Good news: Our family was together.

More good news: We had yummy mashed potatoes that I got to eat.

Even more good news: I got a jump start on my diet and I won't have to worry about gaining weight over the holidays.

Better news than that: Hubby has been by my side the entire time, cheering me on, kicking me in the tail when I overdo, and holding my hand.  I love that man of mine!!

The Best News:  I am getting my energy and stamina back AND have had some great quality family time.  I say this every year, but I love the age my kids are at.  Hubby chose our advent devotionals this year, they are written by Billy Graham.  Princess and Prince are truly getting their little hearts ready for Christmas and pondering what the birth of baby Jesus means for their lives. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Walking on Water Book Review

"Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning: Finding Hope in Life's Darkest Moments" by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt
Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning: Finding Hope in Life's Darkest Moments  -     
        By: Tommy Nelson, Steve Leavitt

We have all had times in our lives when we have felt as if we were drowning.  At least, I know I have.  The title of this book interested me and so I chose to review it.  This book offers hope for people who suffer with symptoms from anxiety, obsessions, fear and depression.  The book is divided into three parts:
Part One ~ The Dark Descent, Part Two ~ Questions from the Depths of Despair, and Part Three ~ Keys to Recovery.  Nelson and Leavitt use personal experiences with anxiety disorder, panic attacks and depression to discuss symptoms, causes and how to recover.  They also use examples from counseling sessions with others. 
The authors offer hope and answers for how to overcome these symptoms and truly debilitating conditions.  "Remember this: Anything that feels like the end of the world is not what it appears to be.  Have hope.  God is the God of hope.  He is not a God of fear, worry, and stress.  Grab onto His hope like a lifeline, and cling to it."  They use many passages of scripture to show God's hope and that He is in control and has plans for His people.  One of the things I thought would be helpful for people struggling is the list of Lies and Truths: Lies the world tells us and Biblical Truths, a listing of Scriptures, which can help alleviate our belief in those lies. 
As someone who suffered from anxiety attacks in college, I could relate to those feelings of fear and panic as well as the greatest fear being, when might I have another one?  While I haven't had issues with this for many years, I remembered those feelings of helplesness as I read this book.  I also recognize these issues in other people that are in my life.  "We also know that God desires to use our trials for His glory and for others.  We should be willing to see how our suffering prepares us to minister to others who suffer."  Because of the experiences I have had in my own life, I can use those times to empathize with and help others who need it. 
This book is a good resource for anyone.  People who suffer from anxiety, depression and symptoms of stress will find comfort in the fact that they aren't going through this alone, as well as ways to cope with those symptoms.  If you do not suffer from it, you could still benefit from being able to support and help and understand others who are going through what is a terrible and debilitating time in their lives. 
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Word In Due Season

It's been a discouraging day.  Actually one event this morning set the tone and I've been in a funk since.  The kids and I walked out to get in the car this morning to find that I apparently left it unlocked last night and someone went all through it.  They emptied out the glovebox and went through everything that was in the car.  They didn't take the change and few dollars I had in my ashtray, but they did take my i-pod.  With the discovery that my tunes were gone, the song disappeared from my heart too.  I'm mad at myself for leaving the car unlocked and even madder that someone violated my space and stuff.  It's only stuff and it's only an i-pod, but it didn't belong to them, it belonged to me.  I let that one thing cloud my day and I'm not happy about it because now, not only did they steal my tunes, they stole my joy. 

I took a breath, closed my office door for a minute, pulled out my trusty friend, "Jesus Calling" and read today's Word.  It's as if it were written just for me:
     "People tend to think their circumstances determine the quality of their lives.  So they pour their energy into trying to control those situations.  Thy feel happy when things are going well, and sad or frustrated when things don't turn out as they had hoped.  They rarely question this correlation between circumstances and feelings.  Yet it is possible to be content in any and every situation." 


Then the next part, "Put more energy into trusting Me and enjoying My Presence.  Don't let your well-being depend on your circumstances.  Instead, connect your joy to My precious promises: I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.  I will meet all your needs according to My glorious riches.  Nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from My Love."

A Word of encouragement when I needed it.  Thank you, God for the encouragement and Sarah Young, for being His instrument.

Friday, November 2, 2012

We're Christians So Deal With It

God reveals so much about my own heart through the things my kids say.  I love that they are honest about what is going on in their little heads and hearts and there isn't a filter there yet to try to be politically correct or spiritually righteous. 

This morning Princess was telling me about a girl in her grade that rubs her the wrong way.  "She just thinks she's better than everyone else, Mom.  I want to get along with her, but I just don't want to be around her."  I told Princess that she should pray about it.  "OK but I'm gonna pray that God will make her not act that way."  I chuckled, thinking of the number of times I've prayed for people to act a certain way and the realization that I should be praying for my own attitudes and heart.  I explained to Princess that she needed to pray for this girl, but mostly she needed to pray for her own heart, that God would help her to love this girl like He loves her and that God would change her heart.  "But Mom, that's hard.  I don't want to change, she's the one who is acting that way."  How many times have I thought the same thing and uttered those words to God? 

In the car on the way to school, I asked Princess to pray, as we all take turns praying on the way to school in the mornings.  After we all prayed, Princess said, "I didn't want to pray for her but I did and it better work.  If she doesn't change I'll know my prayers didn't work and I wasted those words on her."  Before I could respond, Prince says, "Look, we're Christians so deal with it." 

That wasn't as eloquent as what I was going to say, but it was to the point.  We are called to pray for others and to love others unconditionally.  I went on the explain that lifting someone up to God is never a waste of words and as many words as Princess uses in a day, I doubt she'll miss those few.  I also told her that she may not see the difference right away, that she needed to keep praying until.  Pray until something happens. 

Princess sighed.  I know she wasn't happy with that answer.  I know the right answer and I'm not always happy with it.  There are people and relationships in my own life that I pray about and I don't want to be the one to have to change.  It seems to me that if they are the problem, they should be the ones to have to make the change.  That's not how God sees it. 

Prince and Princess's memory verse this week is: This I command you to love one another.  John 15:17

And then I came across this verse, 1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

He is the Vine, We are the Branches

Earlier this summer I mentioned that I had been traveling on church business quite a bit.  What I didn't say was that I have accepted a new role in our Florida United Methodist Conference.  I am the Associate Lay Leader for Reaching Next Generations.  When I said I would do this, I wasn't sure what exactly it involved, and I didn't feel equipped, but I prayed about it and felt God had led me to this place and was asking for me to serve.  I still don't necessarily feel equipped, but I do know that if God calls you to something, He will equip you for it so I depend on Him for words, plans, ideas and guidance. 

Monday morning I attended a meeting with pastors from a district in our Conference.  Our new Bishop is meeting with each district and I have been invited to attend as I can.  Our Lay Leader spoke, I said a few words and then our Bishop told about his life, preached, and answered questions.  At the end our our time together, I was asked to help the Bishop serve communion to this group of pastors.  Among them were two pastors that were once at my home church.  What an honor it was to serve communion alongside our Bishop to those who serve their congregations. 

Bishop Carter preached from John 15, which has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now.  It's amazing how God can bring a passage to your mind, you meditate on it, and then a while later, you hear someone speak to it.  These are the pieces I've been thinking about:

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." 

Apart from me you can do nothing.  How many times do I try to rely on my own strength, my own capabilities.  God tells me right here that without Him, I can't do it. 

Then v. 16-17  "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other."

What a thought that God would choose me...that He would appoint me to anything, let alone to Kingdom work.  To work that really matters.  That's exactly what He did.  He appointed me so that I might go and bear fruit that will last.  This isn't some little menial task He is appointing me to, this is important work to bear good fruit that will last.  I'm not qualified for this.  I don't know what to say or how to say it.  I don't know what to do or how to do it.  This is where the Apart from me you can do nothing comes in.  If God is the power and brains behind all of it, and I am an empty vessel, waiting and willing for Him to use me, it can be done. 

Then that command to Love each other.  Some people are easy to love.  I have a feeling that isn't who God is talking about.  If it were, He wouldn't have to say it 'cause I already love them.  It's those people who get under my skin, those people who rub me the wrong way, those are the people God was talking about.  Ouch!  Do I really have to?  See v. 16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you..."  That's not the easy answer, but God says that with Him all things are possible.  So I'm praying that God will help me to see others through His eyes, help me to love those that are hard to love and that I will remain in Him, because apart from Him I can't do anything. 

I don't know what is in store for me, but I do know that because God has led me to this place in this time, I will trust in Him to equip me to do His work.  My prayer is that together God and I will bear fruit that will last. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Grace: More Than We Deserve Greater Than We Imagine

What is grace?  We sing about it in the hymn Amazing Grace.  We talk about it in our churches, but do we understand it?  Describing Grace in a way only Lucado can, "This book asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace?  Shaped by grace?  Strengthened by grace?  Emboldened by grace?  Softened by grace?  Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?  God's grace has a drenching about it.  A wildness about it.  A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downess about it.  Grace comes after you.  It rewires you.  From insecure to God secure.  From regret-riddles to better-because-of-it.  From afraid-to-do to ready-to-fly.  Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.  When grace happens, we receive not a nice compliment from God but a new heart...You might call it a spiritual heart transplant."

I always come away from Max Lucado's books wanting more.  Grace was no different.  I sat down to read this book and didn't want to put it down.  Lucado gives example after example of ways God has showered His grace upon people from the harlot who would be stoned to modern day ordinary people just like you and me.  He uses examples from his own life, brave confessions of his weaknesses, and his need for grace.  We all need God's grace.  If we didn't, Jesus wouldn't have borne our sin and taken our place on the cross.  Ephesians 2:8 "You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God."

"This is a gift that God gives.  A grace that grants us first the power to receive love and then the power to give it.  A grace that changes us, shapes us, and leads us to a life that is eternally altered." (Lucado page 150)

This book was a blessing to me and I highly recommend it as I know it will bless your life as well.  We all stand in need of God's life changing, life saving grace.  May we be open to accept that grace and ask for God to use us as an instrument to show others grace as well.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Today began as an ordinary day.  It was a hectic day.  It was also a wonderful day.  Today a man approached me after preschool chapel and told me that he is on a spiritual journey.  He told me he felt empty inside and that he needed to find his way back to Jesus.  Today I was able to share Jesus.  I told him all about what Jesus has done in my life and how I wished the same for him.  Today I opened myself up and allowed God to use me as His instrument.  In those precious moments, it wasn't about me or anything I could have done or said.  Today it was about Jesus and what He has done in my life.  Today I saw a hunger for Jesus.  Today I prayed that Jesus would do the same for this man and his family.  Today was about Jesus softening and preparing the heart of one of his children and I was privileged to be a part of it.  Today was a special day.  It was an amazing day.  I pray that God will give me more days like today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Twelve Unlikely Heroes ~ A Review

Twelve Unlikely Heroes, How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You, by John MacArthur is well-written and deeply researched study.  MacArthur has a way of bringing these people to life for the reader and showing how God used ordinary people for His extraordinary purpose.  He illustrates how God equips those He calls and that He can use anyone to serve Him.  In this book, MacArthur highlights the lives of Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. 

I learned a lot while reading this book.  I haven't read MacArthur's other books in this series, but now I want to get those as well.   The word "hero" has become over-used to describe pop culture icons instead of people who change the course of history.  THe men and women in this book were broken, ordinary people, who changed the world by giving up their lives and wants for obedience to God.  While reading about these men and women, I thought about how God can use anyone to further His kingdom and how He calls each of us in different ways.  We must be open to serve Him and get out of the way so that God can work through us.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about God's plans for ordinary men and women, including how He can use each of us and equip each of us for Kingdom work.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://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

What Veruca Salt and I Have In Common

Look at me on a blogging roll!  God has really been stirring things up in my heart and I feel the need to share.  Do you ever have times in your life when you ask God for something, knowing you probably won't get it, but you ask anyway?  That one thing can consume you if you aren't careful.  I have been through peaks and valleys with this, asking God and handing it over to Him, but then taking it back and worrying over it.  I'm not really trusting in His perfect plan in this one area of my life. 

As I was reading from "Jesus Calling," here was His answer to me once again:
"Though I have brought many pleasures into your life, not one of them is essential.  Receive My blessings with open hands.  Enjoy My good gifts, but do not cling to them.  Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things, and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in Me.  The one thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose: My Presence with you."

It can be easy for me to lose sight of how incredibly blessed I am.  I am not entitled to those blessings.  God could take them away at any time.  Sometimes I realize that I am acting like a spoiled brat, pouting when I don't get my way. "But I want an Oompa Loompa Now!" (in my whiniest Veruca Salt voice). If you aren't familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

Doesn't God tell us "Ask and ye shall receive?"  I'm so glad God isn't like Veruca's indulgent father, giving in to her every ridiculous whim.  I want what I want, but I also want for things to fall in line with His plan so here I am caught in what I want vs. what God knows is best for me.  The control freak in me just wants to handle things all on my own.  The growing Christian part of me wants for God to align my heart with His. 
That's when I have to step back and pray. "God, please help me to love you more each day.  Help me to have a heart for You and Your people and to love what You love.  Help me to want only what you want for my life and to walk in obedience to Your will."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

The other morning as I walked into Prince's room I found his Lego Man Lantern still on in his bed.  It had apparently been on all night and the batteries were running low.  He was lit, but the light was dim.  I immediately started thinking about Bible verses with the word "light" in them.  There are a lot of them.  According to Google, the word "light" appears 272 times in the King James Bible.  These are the verses I've been pondering though:

Psalm 4:6 "Many are asking, 'Who can show us any good?'  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord."
Psalm 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?"
Psalm 119:105 "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
John 1:4 "In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"

My thought has been that sometimes my light seems to go dim.  I'm tired, I've got a lot going on, sometimes I just feel blah.  How do I get out of that rut?  I turn to the source of the light ~ Jesus.  There have been times in my life when I felt like I couldn't fit one more thing in my day.  I'd fall asleep reading my Bible or praying and I didn't know how else to "fit God in."  My priorities were backward.  It isn't about fitting God into my day, it's about making time for Him so that I can make it through the rest of my day.  If I will start with devotions or meditating on Scripture and prayer I am energized to start the day.  Some days this is harder than others, but I'm not talking about a long time commitment.  There are days when I am up and dressed earlier and I can sit for 30 minutes or more and that's great.  However, most days I begin with a devotion for busy moms or just opening my Bible to find a morsel for meditation ~ something from God that I can think about as I get dressed and put my face on.  I pray over my children as I make their lunches, pray for Hubby as he travels an hour up the road to work, pray over those pictures of special friends on my fridge, pray for those I know have needs.  Sometimes I write Bible verses on sticky notes and post them on my mirror or somewhere I am going to see them as a help for memorizing Scripture. 

When I began to do this, I noticed something.  This little bit of time felt so good, that it made me hunger for more.  I carry a Bible in my car so that if I am waiting somewhere and I have a few minutes, I can open it up and read more.  I have Bibles by my desk at work and several devotional books so when I need encouragement I can open them right up.  When I am in the car by myself, sometimes I listen to praise and worship music, but sometimes I feel God nudging me to just be still and quiet and enjoy time with Him.  It took a while for me to get out of the habit of immediately turning on the radio, but it's a nice quiet to my otherwise noisy day. 

I am by no means an expert, nor am I perfect.  I just know how busy and crazy my life can get, and I feel like there might be other moms who get as overwhelmed as me.  Know that you aren't alone and that it is possible to keep your light shining brightly if you spend time with the source of that light.  The more you do it, the more time you will find to spend in His presence and others will see the light of Christ radiate through you.

I want to leave you with one last verse about light.  Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Cute Kids

Things have been a bit busy lately.  I have been traveling a lot with church responsibilities which, when added to my other responsibilities has been a little busier than I like to be.  I've met a lot of wonderful people and learned so much ~ that part of it has been good.  What I haven't done though is get any rest on the weekends due to the travel.

God knows my heart and He knows I'm a little weary this week.  I think He also knows I need to laugh a little more.  This is why he gave me two adorable children who say funny things.  So please indulge me while I share a little about the kiddos...

Saturday morning, while I was away at a training, Hubby got up and decided to order bagels for breakfast.  He asked Prince what he wanted and he said a sausage, egg and cheese bagel.  Upon asking Princess what she wanted, she said the same thing.  So Hubby, knowing that Prince is a big eater asked Prince, "Can you share half of the bagel with your sister?"  Prince says yes that will be fine.  Hubby thought "Wow, that was easier than I thought it would be." Prince then says, "Dad, I'll eat half of a bagel but I want 2 halves."  Hubby says, "So you want a whole bagel."  Prince says, "Yes, 2 halves please.  I don't mind sharing with my sister, but I want 2 halves." 

Prince is on the countdown.  He's counting the number of days until Halloween, the number of days until Angry Birds Star Wars comes out, the number of days until fall is over and winter begins, the number of days until our trip to the mountains.  He is keeping track and reminds me each day.  I wish those were the biggest things on my mind.  I love that they are the big things on his mind. 

Princess is sweet and funny and wants to grow up too quickly.  She is taking on more responsibility in trying to help me with chores around the house and I so appreciate her willingness to help.  She wants to spend time with me and I love laying in her bed and listening to her read Little House in the Big Woods to me.  We are almost finished with this book and I am enjoying re-living my favorite childhood stories through her eyes. 

This morning on the way to school Prince and Princess were talking about our extended family, more specifically we were talking about how my Mema and their Great-Granny are the matriarchs of each side of the family.  Prince was trying to figure out how it all fit together and Princess asked me what her Papa's middle name is. (Papa is Hubby's dad)  So I told Princess that Papa's middle name is Rutland.  I explained that this was Great-Granny's last name before she got married.  Princess then says, "Mommy, can you believe I have been in this family for 8 years and I never knew that?!  Daddy didn't tell me that."  I couldn't help but laugh.  I said, "No Princess, I can't believe you never knew that."  In all of her 8 years of life she feels like she should just know everything. 

I love these sweet kids and they are just growing up too fast! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Be-Tween You and God Review

The One Year Be-Tween You & God Devotions for Girls   -     
        By: Sandra Byrd

It isn't often that I am as excited to write a review as I am about this one.  Be-Tween You & God, Devotions for Girls has a cheerful teal cover with embossed words and flowers.  My Princess was super excited that I got this book for the two of us to read together.  Sandra Byrd did a fantastic job putting together devotions that are relevant for tween girls. 

The book is designed to do one devotion a day for a year.  Each devotion has a date, so Princess and I just dove right in on the current date and will continue to follow for the year.  Each day begins with a note to God from a tween's perspective.  Below that, the bulk of the devotional is done in a section called "Consider this."  This is the meat of the message and further explains the answer to the note.  At the bottom of the page is a scripture related to the topic and a question to help girls discuss how they feel about the topic. 

Questions in the book include:
Dear God, I worry that something bad might happen to me...
Dear God, I'd really like to trust you more.  How can I do that?
Dear God, How do I know you exist?  I mean, I can't see you.
Dear God, If angels are here to guide and protect us, does this mean I have a guardian angel?

I am looking forward to spending this special time with Princess each night as we go through this book and discover together what God wants her to learn about Himself and about her relationship with Him.  While many of the topics are geared for girls, Prince was involved in tonight's devotional and shared from his heart as well. 

I received Be-Tween You & God compliments of Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  I am in no way obligated to give a high rating, but I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  I highly recommend you get this book for the special tween girl in your life. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Wellspring of Life

This is a look at what has been on my heart for the last several days. It's taken me about a week to process it all and put it into words, but I think I'm finally ready. 
Picture Credit
"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.  Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk from your lips.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."  Proverbs 4:23-27

As I picked up my Bible, I just opened it and asked God to show me what He wanted to tell me.  This is where I landed and I felt convicted.  My heart is the wellspring of life!  That really struck me!  What am I doing to this wellspring of life, but polluting it?  The verse even tells me how I'm polluting it:

The Message says, "Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts.  Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.  Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.  Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.  Neither look right nor left; leave evil in the dust." 

If I am allowing thoughts, language, actions, things I watch... into my life that aren't glorifying God, I am not guarding my heart.  It doesn't matter if the corrupt talk is coming from my lips, if I listen to it, it has gone to my heart.  If I listen to that piece of gossip someone is just dying to share with me, I have taken it into my heart.  That snide comment I made about someone?  It's there too.  I am struck by the thought that anything that our minds take in, we also process through our hearts.  As women especially, everything is processed by emotions and feelings.  Those come from the heart.  The saying "Garbage in, garbage out" came to mind.  I thought about how Jesus wants my heart to be pure for him.  If I am constantly littering it with things that aren't of him, I am getting distracted and my eyes aren't able to focus on Him. 

I love the thought of leaving evil in the dust.  How hard would it be to stop someone who wants to share a juicy piece of gossip?  Probably initially pretty hard, but if we all committed to change the subject when someone starts, or share honestly from our hearts about wanting to focus on Jesus, or even just to walk away, we would not have to burden our hearts with it.  I admit I like to watch the occasional reality show.  I know they aren't really reality, they are pumped up with drama for ratings, but especially those Real Housewives shows to see other people's drama.  It's been a way for me to relax in front of the television and get caught up in someone else's storyline for a bit.  It also soils my heart.  I am committing right now on this blog to erase them off of my DVR and find other ways to detox that are not distractions from how Jesus wants me to live.  I want to fill my heart and mind with good things, things of God.  I don't need the burdens of other people's drama ~ real, perceived or made up.  But isn't it so easy to be distracted and get caught up in it all?

What are things in your life that distract you from focusing on Jesus?  I am inviting you to take inventory with me and leave those things behind.  It isn't easy, part of me is dying to find out what will happen on the show this week, but I won't be tuning in.  So if we know what not to do, what do we do?  A few thoughts come to mind.
1.  Replace old habits and behaviors with things you enjoy.  Instead of watching television, I think I'll bake some pumpkin muffins or catch up on scrap booking.  Perhaps I'll pick up a book I've been wanting to read and make a cup of chai tea.
2. I'll seek out people in my life who don't engage in gossip or coarse language.  I want to surround myself with encouragers and people who are in the Word. 
3. We all mess up and get off track.  God used this verse to put me back in check.  I'm thinking of asking a friend to be my accountability partner.  I certainly have people in my life who would be willing to do this, but it requires opening myself up and putting my faults out there. 
4.  Consistent Quiet Time with God.  This is the most important step!  I admit that while I try to do this, there are periods in my life where I am busy and just do not make the time.  That extra 30 minutes of sleep sounds better than getting up while the house is quiet.  As the mom of two children, there is a lot of noise in my life.  I wouldn't trade where I am for anything in the world, but I don't get quiet time when the kids are up.  However, when I make the time and I am in quiet communion with God, I am more in tune with His nudgings throughout the day. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunrise on the Battery Book Review

Mary Lynn has anything she could ever want ~ at least material things.  When she joins a ladies' Bible study, she realizes that something is missing from her life.  As she finds joy in her relationship with the Lord, she discovers that material wealth isn't everything and that nothing can fill the void in your heart except for God.  Her husband is resistant to this change.  Will she have to give up everything she has to be faithful to God?

I have always been enchanted with stories that take place in the South.  I was born in Charleston and love to visit, so I was especially interested in reading "Sunrise on the Battery," which is set in Charleston, SC.  While I enjoyed the story, it had a slow start and I had difficulty maintaining interest in the beginning.  However, once I got into it, I liked it very much.  It was an entertaining read and I enjoyed reading about happenings around landmarks with which I am familiar.  This book really stops to make you think about what is important in your own life and how material possessions aren't everything.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Thomas Nelson via Booksneeze) in exchange for a quality review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I did not guarantee a positive review.

It's Your Kid Not a Gerbil book Review

I enjoy reading and listening to Kevin Leman.  He has a no nonsense approach to parenting, but he is also extremely funny, which I appreciate. When given the opportunity to read and review his book "It's Your Kid Not a Gerbil," I was excited to see what he had to say. 

In this book, Leman has a way of taking the pressure off of parents who feel like we will cause damage to our children if we don't have them involved in every activity under the sun.  Do you ever feel like you are a gerbil running on the wheel and you just want off? There have been times in my own life where I have said, "Stop the world! I want to get off!"  While I want my children to be well-rounded, I don't want to extend our activities to the point of putting undue pressure to perform on my children. 

Leman reminds parents that our job is to raise children that will adopt the values they learned at home and become productive members of society.  He gives tips and advice on how to create a less stressful environment at home ~ who wouldn't want that?!  If you are a parent, you need to read this book!   

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and 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.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Come Unto Me

This poem is a work in progress, just as I am.  God started speaking to my heart about this very issue during Lent.  I am making imperfect progress, but I am reminded in Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Thank you God for never giving up on me and loving me through my hard headedness and imperfections.

I hear Him calling me, "Come to me child.
I've been waiting here for you!
Come sit at my feet and talk to me now. 
Can't you spare just a minute or two?
It's been such a long time since our last chat ~ when you poured out your heart and cried.
Won't you come to Me now?
Share your sorrows and fears,
It's time to swallow your pride.

I know you like to be in control,
Think you can handle it all on your own.
So I sit back and watch, trying not to intrude
But you are never alone.
For I am with you all the time,
Every second of every day
Bidding you to come unto Me
Take some time out to pray."

So here I am, Lord, sitting right at your feet
I've made such a mess of things now.
I shouldn't have tried to do it all by myself
I should have trusted you to show me how.
I'm sorry I'm stubborn and I don't listen well
I didn't want to bring it to You
I thought I could fix it all on my own
Now I'm not sure what to do.

As I try to explain the trouble I'm in
He quiets and calms my fears,
"But now you are here, give it up to Me now,
Come, let Me dry your tears."
I surrender it all to Him yet once again
My heart feels oh such a peace
What once was a burden I carried so heavy
I feel a freedom from the release.

Thank you, God, for not giving up
On me, your obstinate child.
It must seem at times I'll never learn,
My ways are disobedient and wild.
You are always here to pick me up
When I have failed to trust in Your ways,
Now once again I commit my life
To follow you all of my days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Beginning of the Birthday Week

My birthday is this week.  I stopped counting more than a few years ago.  Princess however wants to know how old I am going to be.  She guessed 24 and I told her that was a pretty good guess.  Hubby laughed and said, "Yeah, the 13th anniversary of her 24th birthday."  Thanks a lot, Hubby.  I think 24 is a good number.  Anywho, Princess has been doing all of these secret things around the house lately in preparation for my birthday.  She just can't wait and keeps asking if I want my present.  The actual day isn't until Thursday, so I still have a little bit of time before I add another number to my age. 

This morning Princess decided she couldn't wait another day.  She just had to throw me a birthday breakfast.  Hubby and I could hear whispers this morning about breakfast as we laid in bed, pretending to be asleep.  I expected Princess and Prince to do their usual toast and/or cereal with milk or sometimes even Diet Coke to drink.  Princess came to get us and I was quite surprised with what I found in the dining room.
Prince and Princess decided that we would eat Ben and Jerry's ice cream for breakfast. 
I think they were really thinking about how I would never let them have ice cream for breakfast so it would be a cool way to get away with it.  As you can see, they mostly ate the ice cream and Hubby and I watched.
Confession: I don't give my kids Ben and Jerry's. When I do let them have the ocassional ice cream treat, I usually don't give them the "good stuff."  It is rare that we even have "the good stuff" in the house, but it was BOGO at the grocery store this week so I splurged. 
When I got to my chair I found this:
A bowl full of water for me to "relax my feet."  The water was quite chilly, but I took one for the team.  Princess has the right idea, bless her heart.
Sweet Princess gave me a present.
Excuse my crude photo editing of blacking her name out.  I have not mastered Photo Shop.

I recognize these two babies! 
This was written on the back of the picture.
She started this plant in school and has been hiding it in her room, watering it and caring for it without my knowing.
Last but not least, a foot massage with her Vanilla Cupcake scented lotion. 
What a sweet start to a Sunday morning and a wonderful start to my birthday week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Holding on to Family Memories

Today would have been my Grandaddy's 89th birthday.  I have so many fond memories of times spent with him.  It's on days like today I especially find myself missing him and wishing that my kids could have known him.
This is 4 generations: My Great-Granny, My Grandaddy, My Mom and Me
 Grandaddy used to sit out on their front porch swing and listen to me talk and tell him stories. I remember how he used to take my sister and me to the drug store to buy his cigars and ask, "Do you girls need anything?" by "need" he really meant want and we always wanted candy.  He would get in line and let us pick out whatever we wanted.  My favorite was to get the Brach's candies out of the bins, which was a special treat.  Grandaddy always felt the need to sit out by the pool to watch me swim, even far beyond the age of my needing supervision in the pool.  My Grandaddy was a quiet presence, but if you got him riled up, he'd argue a blue streak ~ my dad and uncles loved to get him going.  My Grandaddy who always ordered the same things at the same restaurants.  Any given Saturday at Wendy's he'd order a "BLT with may-o-naise" for lunch.  He would let my sister and I eat his Little Debbie snacks that Mema had bought for him to take to work in his lunch (we called them Grandaddy's lunchies) and after he'd give them to us say, "Don't tell your Mema."  My Grandaddy who always supported the things I was interested in and would be there any time, all I had to do was ask.
Easter 1979 ~ Dad, Mom, Mema, Me (in front), Granddady and my Sister

To this day I still smoke the ocassional cigar in his honor (shhhhh! Don't tell my kids!) and the smell keeps him close to my heart.  I wear one of his flannel shirts on cold days and feel him with me.  I watch the Space Shuttle movies "Hail Columbia" and "The Dream Is Alive" and see him in the VAB working.  My kids love watching the movies with him in them.  These are all ways I keep him close.

Me (left), showing Grandaddy my new Strawberry Shortcake watch with my sister.

Several years ago I found an idea in a magazine that I really liked.  A lady wrote in and talked about continuing to celebrate those in your family who are no longer with you.  She continued to have "birthday" dinners where she would pull out pictures of their special loved one and share her special memories with her children.  I liked it so much that I have used it each year on special days to celebrate our family.  Tonight at dinner we will talk about my Grandaddy and how special he was to me.  He may have gone on to be with Jesus, but his memory lives on and my kids will know their Great-Grandaddy, just as they will know their other great grands.
One last pic of Mema and Grandaddy with my uncle.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The B-I-B-L-E

This morning in worship we gave Bibles to our rising second graders. I told them that I hoped they would wear these Bibles out from reading them so much. I hope they grow to love their Bibles as much as I love and enjoy mine. Prince and Princess received their Bibles today as well. They have a Beginner's Bible and a Bible they use at school, but this is their Bible for use at home.  When we got home from church, Princess got to talking about different Bibles and she asked me about the Bibles I have.  I dug around and found my first Bibles to show her, from when I was her age and also the story Bible I received when I was 4 years old.    

As things have gotten busy with the beginning of school,  I've tried to continue to with my daily quiet time with God.  Sometimes it's those last few minutes before bed at night or a quick read first thing in the morning and usually on my Kindle.  I have several books that I have downloaded, as well as a Bible on there, so it makes it easy to access whatever I want to read.  Sometimes it doesn't happen until after the preschool building has emptied for the day and I pull out one of the Bibles by my desk.  You see, I have several Bibles...different versions, different thicknesses and covers, different reference and study aids.  I use them all at different times, depending on what I am trying to study.

Yesterday morning as I was cleaning up around my side of the bed, I pulled out an old friend.  It was my favorite Bible ~ the leather study Bible that Hubby gave me the first Christmas we were married.  I hadn't realized how much I missed it until I held it in my hands.  It felt right and as I turned the worn pages, it was like reuniting with an old friend.  There are old bulletins and notes from church services past, pictures my sweet Prince and Princess have drawn on scraps of offering envelopes, Bible verses that have been given to me for various stages of my adult life.  There's a laminated newspaper copy of my wedding announcement from 10 years ago.  The bulletin from Hubby's Granny's funeral.  So many memories from joyful and difficult times in my past, and this Bible has been used for all of those.  In sickness, I clung to God's promises, looking to Him with hope.  In joy, I have sung His praises and thanked Him for my blessings.  Even now as I think about it, I have the song in my head "The B-I-B-L-E yes that's the book for me!  I stand alone on the Word of God.  The B-I-B-L-E."

Do you have a favorite Bible?  Why is it your favorite?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

This afternoon Princess was sitting on my lap, telling me about her day at school.  She was talking to me about a conversation that she had with a girl in her class. They are both strong personalities and they just kind of clash.  Today when Princess was talking to this girl she came across perhaps a little stronger than she should have.  I wouldn't say that she was mean or inappropriate even, but she was definitely strong in what she said. 

I asked Princess if she thought this is how Jesus would have handled this situation.  We've been working on WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?  Princess took a minute to truly think about this.  Her eyes were looking up like she was searching for some sort of answer and then I said, "Well?  What do you think?  How would Jesus have handled this?"

In a very thoughtful way she said, "Mom, I don't want to think about what Jesus would have done because then I would have to act that way too.  I just don't want to think about it."

It was one of those life lessons where I saw myself in her shoes.  How many times have I said to myself, "I don't want to think about what Jesus would have done in this situation!"  She really hit the nail on the head.  Don't we all at some time or another think it would be easier to ignore those nudgings from the Holy Spirit that tell us to think about what Jesus would do?  Of course we do!  We would rather not think about it because if we are truly living out our faith and walking the walk, we must change our thoughts, behavior and words to be in line with what Jesus wants for us.  Jesus lived as an example for how we are to treat others.  Ouch! 

This afternoon I have been in prayer about this issue in my own life:

Dear Lord, please help to always ask myself what You would do before I speak or act.  Help me to always keep in mind that I am to be a witness of Your love and kindness to others.  Please help me not to turn a blind eye because I don't want to deal with my flaws, but help me to see myself as You see me so that I may be working toward the perfection that You call me to strive for.  Thank You for giving me this example in my sweet Princess so that I can see how You see me.  And God, please help me to love and forgive others the way You love and forgive me.
In Jesus' Name,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Child-Like Faith

One of the ways God has been growing me and stretching me over the last couple of years is that while it is easy to talk about my faith with people that I know their beliefs, it is often difficult for me to discuss with strangers.  God has been giving me opportunities to share with others, not in some shove it down their throats kind of way, but to just talk with people about my walk.  I think so many times people are afraid to share their vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  I have gotten better, although sometimes I still come away from talking with someone wishing that I had said this, that or the other. 

The other thing God has been showing me is the importance of not just telling someone that I am praying for them, but to stop and actually pray with them in that moment.  Honestly I don't always think of it.  The other week Prince taught me a real lesson when it comes to this.  We were in the grocery store at the check out and I asked the cashier how she was doing.  In a strained voice she explained that she had laryngitis.  Prince then turned his attention to her and said, "I'm sorry you are sick.  Is there anything I can do for you ma'am?"  She said no and I could tell Prince really wanted to do something to help her feel better.  I told Prince he could tell her that he would pray for her.  Prince said, "I'm going to pray for you to get better."  He then closed his eyes and began to pray for her out loud.  I could tell by her reaction that she didn't quite know what to make of this.  I just stopped and put my hands on Prince's shoulders as he prayed.  This wasn't my intention in telling him to pray for her, but he sure did model for me what we should all do.  He wasn't at all concerned with how this lady would react, he just did what came naturally to him, he went to God.  It was kind of an awkward feeling as I was trying to read her reaction and she didn't really say anything about it and while the moment came and went for Prince and perhaps for the cashier, I have been reflecting upon this precious moment since it happened.  What if she didn't know what to say because no one had ever bothered to stop and pray for her like that?  What if that prayer touched her deeper than we could know?  We never know how the Holy Spirit is going to work and who He will use.   I want to have the courage to share Jesus with everyone I meet in that natural way and not worry about embarrassment or rejection. I want to follow those nudges of the Holy Spirit and know that it isn't about me, but about God in me and how He wants to use me.  When I grow up I want to have child like faith and be just like my kids.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Yo-Yo

I haven't posted much in the last several months.  I try to post, but I'm not sure where to start or what to say.  It isn't that I don't have anything to say, I have lots going on in my head.  I think it is that I have been trying to process it all and while I'm typically pretty public about my thoughts and need to talk about things to work through them.  However, the last few months I've been feeling more like there are things I need to deal with internally before I talk about them.  I'm not really sure why or exactly when this change occurred, but that's where I am.  So many times I have a thought and then say to myself, "I should blog about that," but when I try to compose my thoughts they are a jumbled mess.  I'm the girl who is always trying to get it together, to make sense of things that maybe you can't make sense of.  I want to know the whys and I try to figure it out on my own.  Guess what?  I can't do it on my own. 

I feel like the little kid who is learning how to yo-yo.  Princess and Prince are trying to learn how to work a yo-yo.   It looks so easy to make it go up and down, up and down.  I hand off the yo-yo to them and explain how it's all in the wrist and it takes practice.  They take the yo-yo and the more they try to do it on their own, in their own way, the more tangled up they get in the string.  That's me.  I want to do it on my own, but I'm not really sure how to do it.  So I try it on my own, but the more I try, the more the string gets tangled in knots but then I think I can fix those knots.  So I try some more the but knots just get bigger.  So here I am with this yo-yo of thoughts and they're all tangled up and confusing and I have to do what I should have done in the first place.  I take it all to my Abba, my Daddy God and ask Him to untangle me and help me to learn what to do.  So that's where I am right now, waiting not so patiently for God to help me to learn what to do with these thoughts and how to untangle the mess.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

His Sufficient Grace

 I have a friend that is very sick.  I received word that she has had multiple strokes and is in Seattle in a hospital, miles away from her family and friends.  I've been putting it in God's hands again and again.  I take it back and worry over her a little and then give it back to God, committing to trust His perfect will.  This afternoon as I was sitting at my desk and feeling overwhelmed and worried, I prayed, I sat looking through the Bible, hoping that God would give me a verse, a word...anything.  I was looking for the peace that I know only He can give, wanting so much to be calmed by His presence.  In those quiet and sad moments, God did speak to me.  He gave me back a verse I read earlier this morning:
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

God says His grace is sufficient.  Sufficient means adequate, enough to meet a need or purpose.  What God promises to give me is enough for the moment.  If He were to do things my way, I would have enough with some extra left over so that I would have insurance that it would all turn out the way I hope.  God doesn't work that way.  He gives us just what we need for the moment and we must depend on Him and trust that He will be there in the next moment and the next, offering sufficient grace.  It isn't up to me.  In fact, it isn't about me at all.  It's about God and the gift of His grace. It's about His power that is made perfect in my weakness.  It isn't about my comfort, although I sometimes wish it were.

God then brought to mind the times I was so sick and in the hospital.  I'm not very good at being on this side of things, but I have lots of experience in being the patient.  I remembered those times and how the one thing thing that really kept me going was the thought that I had to be here for my kids.  I fought with all that was within me to live because I wanted to see my kids grow up.  My friend has 4 small children and she has a lot of fight in her too.  It was then that I realized that it's all gonna be OK.  She's gonna fight with all she's got for her babies. 

Please pray for my friend Kendra.  Things are starting to look better but she still has a long road ahead of her. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Privilege of Prayer

 Lately I have found myself awake and praying early in the morning.  It begins with this inner wrestling match at about 5 a.m.  I try my hardest to get back to sleep, but God's not having it.  There are people who come to mind that I know need prayer and I lay there, thinking about them and praying for their situations.  Once that begins, I'm up for the day. 
This morning I was thinking about a friend who will be having pre-op today for shoulder replacement surgery tomorrow.  I began to think about this special friend and all of the people God has placed in my life who have prayed me through a great deal of health issues. 
After I had the twins I was in ICU for 6 days.  I had acute renal failure and my body was shutting down.  I remember one morning after my mom had spent the night with me in ICU, Hubby came early to see me and he was so exhausted that he took a wrong turn in the hospital and ended up in a different wing.  As he began to realize he was in the wrong place, there was a lady mopping the floor who asked if she could help him.  He explained that he was looking for ICU and she said, "Hey, are you the man whose wife just had the twins?"  He said yes.  She said, "Please tell your wife we are praying for her and for those babies too."  I didn't know this woman, never met her, yet somehow throughout the hospital, people had heard about us and were praying.  God put people in our path throughout this incredibly hard journey who let us know they were praying.  Once I was released from the hospital and could go to where the twins were in the NICU (an hour and a half away) it was the same thing.  The receptionist at the hospital there would ask me every time entered or left.   "How are those babies?  I've been praying for y'all."
When I had my first surgery in 2006, our church in Georgia had Prayer Pagers.  The number of the pager was published to our church community as well as friends and family.  The idea behind it was that whenever someone was praying for me, they would call the pager and I would know that someone was praying for me.  I never dreamed that pager would go off so much!  It was such a comfort to know there were people praying for me,  I didn't know who, just someone who had thought of me at that time.  At night I would awaken to the vibration of my pager on the table, and it would amaze me that when my side of the world should be asleep, someone was up praying for me. 
This morning I was thinking of all of the countless prayers prayed on my behalf and it changed my heart.  I have always known the importance of praying for others and have felt privileged that God would give me such a heart for people, I just thought that praying at a more awake hour would be nice.  This morning God brought to mind all of those times in the middle of the night that my prayer pager went off and how good it felt to have people I didn't even know cover me in prayer.  It is my privileged to pray any time of the day or night and especially at those times when most of my side of the world is asleep.  Perhaps when it is dark and quiet, those are the times when others need those prayers the most. 
Today I thank God for the privilege of prayer.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That Little Voice Inside of You

I had a different post planned for today, but Princess trumped it with this story:

This morning on the way to school, Princess was talking to me about whether or not she should be in her school talent show.  She really wants to sing, but she isn't sure if she should or not or if the song she has picked (from the movie "Tangled") is going to be considered "baby."  She gets her indecisiveness from my mother and it is painful for both of them to make decisions.  We have had this same conversation for the last 5 days and she has until Friday when the permission slip must be turned in.  So we are in the car on the way to school and Princess says, "Mommy, I think I want to sing in the talent show.  There's this little voice inside of me that keeps telling me I need to do it."
Me: Oh?
Princess: Yes, this voice in me wants me to sing and to praise God no matter what anyone else says because people need to know about God.
Me: That's called the Holy Spirit
Princess: Well it's just something that I feel called to do.  God doesn't talk in my head like I can't hear him or anything but I know in my heart that I am just supposed to sing.  God is calling me to sing and I just want to sing for Him and to sing about Him so that other people can know about Him. (Yes, she really talks in run-on sentences like that)
Me:  That's great darlin'.  So your gonna sing in the talent show?
Princess: I don't know.  I know I should obey what God wants me to do and I feel called to sing for Him and not worry about what everyone thinks about it because I have to make Him happy, you know?

So many times the Holy Spirit tells me what He wants me to do but I let my fears get in the way.  It amazes me that at 7 years old, Princess is starting that discernment process and trying to sift through what she feels is God's calling on her life.  I am so glad that God is using my kids to teach me more about Him every day.   

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wow!  It has been quite a while since my last post.  I don't know where the time has gone.  We have been so busy since Christmas and it has been hard for me to get back in the groove of blogging.  Here I am 2 months later, finally getting down to it.  One of my resolutions for this year is to spend less time on my computer and more time with my kiddos.  They are growing up so quickly and I want to savor every moment I have to spend with these little people.

What have we been up to?

We rode elephants and zebras in Tampa at the zoo.

We have been to Atlanta to the aquarium for an amazing mini-vacay. (More about that in another post!)

We have not been home many weekends this year so far.  We have been to Georgia and back several times as well as Tampa twice (I had meetings) and have been pretty booked up. 

However, I am looking forward to getting back to it soon.  I have missed all of you in blog land.  I haven't written and I haven't read either, but I am back.  Thanks for hanging in there and for still reading!