Thursday, April 30, 2009

Virtual vs. In Real Life

I've been giving a lot of thought to my "virtual friends" lately. As technology continues to advance it seems many of us have just about as many "virtual" friends as we do "IRL." (In Real Life for those of us who are still trying to figure out all of the abbreviations! I may or may not have taken almost an hr one night trying to figure one out recently! ;)

So I was wondering what you all thought about it. Have you met people IRL that you had gotten to know through the blog world?

Has it been absolutely wonderful? Soul sisters finally united in an actual hug?

Has it been sort of like reading a book and then watching the movie? Where you had imagined how they might look, how their voice may sound, how tall they were, etc. only to be completely shocked with who they actually are IRL?

I never would have imagined just how connected I would feel to some of you all back when I began this blogging venture. I'm sure pen pals of the past often felt the same.

So, what are your thoughts (or experiences) about meeting virtual friends IRL????



Thank you so much for praying for our friends. These next few days are going to be difficult as they come back home without a child. (Especially just days away from Mother's Day.) Praise God that He never leaves or forsakes us...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Broken Heart

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Some precious friends of ours adopted a baby 4 months ago. What a joyous moment when they brought her home from the hospital! But today they are required to return her...the birth mother has changed her mind. (Seemingly because of outside pressures.) I can say without a doubt that they are brokenhearted and crushed right now. Confused, and probably still a bit in shock. This child that they have prayed for, rejoiced over, loved, fed and cared for will suddenly no longer be their own.

Would you join me in prayer for them today? I am intentionally not sharing their names; but God is close to them right now and will surely know for whom you are praying.

For my friends: I ask that you pray for God's peace that passes understanding. That bitterness and hopelessness would not be allowed to take root in their hearts. That as they walk this path that God would allow them sweet glimpses of His purposes and that they would be drawn closer to God and each other as they begin this grieving and healing process.

For their sweet baby girl: That God would be watching out for her; protecting her. That He would fully equip the birth mom or other family members who will be raising her and give them a genuine love for her. That He would heal the past hurts present within this family and that they would be drawn to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Thank you. It encourages my heart to know that others will care and pray. Everything in me wants to make the hurt and pain of this day go away; I know that He who holds them is in control and can do exceedingly above all that we ask or think.

If you have children, hold them a little closer today; none of us are guaranteed another tomorrow. What a gift today is.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

I am dedicating this post to one of my roommates in life before marriage~Diane.

Diane was from Kentucky and her family roots ran deep. She had this wonderful way of using several small lamps to create a warm atmosphere. She was dating her husband to be at the time that we lived together and she would dash around turning on lamps and turning off overhead lights just before he arrived. There would be this soft glow awaiting his presence. Even after they were married when I would stop by their house; she had several well placed antique lamps glowing. This girl knew how to make you want to come on in and stay awhile.

I have adapted her antique charm into my own style of decorating (I am not nearly so gifted when it comes to finding great antiques) with several small/medium lamps around the house. I have also discovered how awesome dimmer switches for overhead lights can be! I try to create this warm atmosphere when it is already dark when my husband comes home from work. My children even seem to calm and want to snuggle by the fireplace and read books.

There is one additional thing that I have to share about Diane and her wonderful Kentucky family. When she was preparing to get married, her family made her wedding dress! I believe her mom was the master seamstress behind the scenes and the one who either assembled the pieces or coordinated the person who did it. Her Grandmothers, Aunts, and I believe even her cousins each took a piece (arms, bodice, etc.) and they hand sequined (and I believe mini-pearled) each area. It was beautifully symbolic of her family coming alongside of her and demonstrating their love and support for her and her husband to be. Her dress was gorgeous. Truly heirloom quality. I wish I had a digital picture to share.

She also taught me how to line dance; but that is another story!!

Diane, I honor your influence upon my life! Thanks girl!

*Re-post from December. Working on getting everyone healthy at our house!*

What have you learned from another Christ following woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Art of Listening

Listening, truly listening, is becoming somewhat of a lost art in our fast paced, electronics-filled world. Just yesterday I was in the car with my daughter and while she was talking I found myself contemplating what I was going to accomplish next; when I heard a few key words that snapped me back into the "here and now."

"And then I was sad..." she said.

(Trying to catch up on the missed conversation without her noticing) I said, "Why did that make you sad?

"I don't really know; why do you think it made me sad?" she said.

Busted. I had NO IDEA what she had even been talking about. My response:

"Sweetheart, I am sorry; I got distracted by where we are going and I missed part of your story. Could you start over for me so I can make sure I really understand what you were trying to explain?"

"O.K., ......" and off with the story she went AGAIN; this time you can bet my "listening ears" were open.

Children can be so forgiving. But if I don't learn this myself now, eventually she will just stop talking to me-stop sharing her hurts-if she believes I don't care enough to listen the first time.

Clearly, this applies to our marriages too doesn't it?

My husband's job involves A LOT of acronyms. When he slips into some of the "technical" terms of something he is learning about or a training course he is taking or wanting to do; I have to be on the guard to stay with him; to try to understand what he is talking about and to encourage him to continue to share what he is excited about with me. If he sees me "glaze over;" he stops talking.

Adults are a bit less willing to repeat an entire story that wasn't "interesting enough" the first time around aren't we?

My heart has been prompted to work on this area of listening. To try to put into action some basic principles:

1. To make eye contact (when possible) while speaking/listening to others.

2. To allow the other person to share fully without interruption.

3. To NOT be formulating my own responses in my mind instead of listening to what they are saying.

4. To, in general, slow life down intentionally so I can be able to be more focused on what really matters/who really matters.

5. To take the initiative to draw those I love out further by asking questions about what they are sharing.

God has also been speaking to my heart about my walk with Him. True walking with God takes time. It is not something that can be "multi-tasked" into a busy schedule. Although I can be praying all throughout the day; I also need to be taking time to listen to Him.

Just as God's voice is not always spoken loudly in the fires and winds of life; often our families hearts are not going to open up in the midst of the blowing winds of our daily activities. We need to seek them out and take the time to listen for their "still small voices." We all have things that we will only share when someone is taking the time to be still with us and invite us to open up. Things that we say much quieter than we would share a funny story or something that has upset us.

"The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." I Kings 19:11-12

Grace and peace you to you~


Friday, April 24, 2009

Play Ball!

My son decided to take a "break" from baseball this spring. I admit; I was bummed. He had such a great season this past fall and I didn't want him to lose his momentum. (Plus it's still all just so darned cute to me! ) A friend was talking about going to games with her son and and it reminded me of a previous post that I had written awhile back and being that it is baseball season once again; I thought I would share it...
My oldest son began playing t-ball two years ago. I remember that first season of knowing that he had a real knack for the sport but getting SO frustrated that all he seemed to do was gather dirt in his glove and then gloriously, and completely unaware that there was a game going on around him, throw it up in the air. Thank goodness he has an amazing coach who also "coached" us as parents that when the kids were on the field, that only he and those who were base coaches would do the correction and instruction. We were allowed only to toss out positive words of encouragement. Wow, was that difficult! I so wanted to scream, "Pay attention to the ball!" or "Stop kicking the dirt!" I admit, the occasional, "Baseball Ready!" escaped my lips. I knew my son would know my voice and snap to it if I said something and what truly positive thing can you say to a 5 year old kicking and throwing the dust of the earth into the faces of his teammates?

Then there was the issue of the coveted "game ball." At the end of each game, the coach would present one player with the ball used during the game (or a very dirty used one if that particular ball was not able to be located in the moment) with the coach's signature and a written comment about how they had played the game. You could see the eager anticipation of the kids as they gathered in a circle and peered hopefully at the coach's face. The ball signified that you had what it took. You were good at this. You had something to offer the team. My son was the last player to receive the game ball that first season. It was sort of a "mercy game ball" if you will - the concept that every child is a winner. But although we could see that, our son was thrilled! He had what it took! The next season, he came alive and although there were still irresistible moments of dirt kicking and throwing, he got the game ball mid season. It began to dawn on him that the earlier in the season you get the ball, the better you are doing. The following season, he received TWO game balls which was quite a feat being that there were more players than games.

So this year as he moved up to "real" baseball - machine pitch baseball; my husband and I have been encouraging him. It is much more difficult to hit a moving ball than one that is sitting right in front of you. They actually make you sit down if you strike out and what a bummer that is! But he has tasted success and he is determined to be a baseball player. The players have also been progressively learning how to encourage one another. What began as, "Let's go Ironbirds, let's go" (over and over and OVER again...)has gradually progressed into, "Hey Kevin, great play!" and "Wow Max! Awesome hit!" It is awesome to hear how excited they get over each others successes!

Tonight, our son got the game ball! Not at the end of the season, but still toward the beginning of the season and he knows what that means! He really does have what it takes. He is able to be good at this and he does have something to offer his teammates. He has also learned how to give encouragement to his teammates and to be truly excited for them when they have earned the game ball. We can learn so much from children!

Why is it that we think positive things about others but rarely go out of our way to tell them? When we see others who possess talent why do we sometimes resent that they do instead of being excited with them? Especially when they are on OUR TEAM? We had another gifted speaker at MOPS this past Friday and she talked a bit about this concept of how we compete with one another and try to be self sufficient instead of encouraging and supporting one another and drawing from the body of Christ working together. God didn't intend for us to live life on our own. He created and gifted each of us uniquely and perfectly to allow the body to work as a whole. It might be time for you to speak life into the sister or brother who represents the hands or feet of your body. Maybe the eyes are a little dry or irritated and could use some cool refreshment. How about the person who represents the pinky toe and offers balance unable to be achieved without what they contribute? Let's agree together to speak the positive words that come to mind the next time something pops into our heads. We need to encourage one another to live fully the purposes that God is calling them to. Let's not just impersonally chant, "Let's go...," But rather encourage each other in specific ways.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (The Message)
"So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching."

Many blessings! (Littlest One loves watching his big brother play ball!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We All Need To Know

"What do you do when your spouse is NOT a Christ follower?"
I have been wanting to have someone guest post on this topic almost since the beginning of my blog. I could write about my own thoughts on it; but I believe it is so much more powerful from someone who is living it. (And doing it amazingly I might add!)

This is something WE ALL need to read; even if we are blessed to attend church with our spouses every Sunday. Why? Because Gretchen was transparent enough to allow us to see how "the church" impacts these relationships on so many levels.

Please take a minute to read this post! (Gretchen is actually guest posting for Amber at "His Girl's Blog" today.)

I would love to hear your thoughts after you read!



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Angels Among Us

My in-laws blessed us with a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas this past New Years. It was wonderful and I'd do it again in a heartbeat! (Just in case they are reading and thinking of making it an annual thing! ;)) Our "port" day in the Bahamas was beautiful; but storms were brewing out to sea, so it was windy.

We had opted not to sign up for a scheduled "excursion" (and pay twice the price we would have to on shore); so we ventured off the ship on our own and eventually located some cab drivers vying for our money attention. We settled on a fun guy named, "Elvis."

We asked him to take us to a beautiful beach where the kids could play and we could relax for a few hours. He dropped us off on a small trail that he said would lead us to a perfect beach. Hmmm...

The trail ended up being quite rocky and precarious. It finally opened up onto the beach. Which was equally filled with jagged shells and rocks. Comments like, "I guess Elvis won't be getting a big tip." were muttered along the way. (We had worked a "round trip" deal with him.) We walked and walked down the beach certain that it had to eventually get better. After walking about a mile (slight exaggeration) we ended up in a nicer area.

The swells were HUGE and crashed heavily upon the shore. Our kids immediately began chasing the water back out to the sea; but when the next swell broke, it had an intense current pulling back out to sea. My daughter began to get pulled and fell; the water dragging her in a bit. She was sufficiently scared and began to tell everyone that she "almost drowned." Which, in fact, could easily have been the case had my husband not been right there to pull her back up.

Out of no where a lifeguard appeared. He stood a short distance away from our family. There were others on the beach; but few were close to our spot. Our daughter and littlest one both crashed out; one from sudden respect for the sea and the other from exhaustion. Our Gentle Strength (middle child) chased the water in and out (not going in; just following the edge) for over an hour. The life guard stood; body pointing in the direction of our family, occasionally blowing his whistle at those passing by on the beach who were going into the water, but it was as if he were an angel specifically positioned to watch over us.

I couldn't help but see the lifeguard as God's visual reminder to us that He was watching over our family. As we were packing up to leave, another lifeguard came onto the beach to relieve our lifeguard. Ours stayed until we were completely packed and then slipped away as quickly as he came. The other wandered down the beach not giving us a second glance.

Just last week during Spring break; I drove with the kids (by myself) down to FL to visit the grandparents. Things were smooth on the way down and we had a wonderful time there. The night before we were to leave; I had a bad dream. I couldn't remember specifics; but I was filled with fear when I awoke about driving back hundreds of miles. I prayed against the fear and recalled Scripture.

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isaiah 41:10)

"Whoso hearkens unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil." (Proverbs 1:33)

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of the power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day." (Psalm 91:4-5)

Peace flooded my soul and we packed and left as planned. Traffic was slow; but we made it to our stopping place and went up to our hotel room. We normally stay at a place with a pool so we can let the kids get some energy out; so down to the pool we went. I noticed a security guard in the hall of the hotel near the lobby (we were in pool gear). I noted it because it surprised me. We don't stay at really expensive hotels who would normally have security guards and I don't recall ever having seen a security guard there before.

We played in the pool for awhile. Occasionally, I would see the security guard pass by the door of the pool glancing in to make sure we were o.k. He must have passed 5 or 6 times in the 40 minutes that we were there. I didn't give it much thought until that night after I got the kids tucked in. It was as if the Lord was whispering to my heart...

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you..." Isaiah 43:2

Did God send angels in the form of a lifeguard and a security guard or were they just men doing their "jobs?" I believe He allowed me just a small glimpse of His ever present love and care.

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Fill Your Lamp AND Bring Extra Oil


What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

The parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 took on new meaning for me awhile back when I was reflecting on why five of them were wise and five were foolish. Were the wise ones innately wise or was it because they were willing to listen to those who offered them council? Most of the wisest women I know are seekers of wisdom and are willing to be taught. They spend time in the Word of God, in the company of other women who they can learn from, and they apply the knowledge gained. I've heard it said before that wisdom is applied knowledge.

Today I wanted to honor a few women who have been examples of wise women in my own life. Some I have honored before; others I will spend more time honoring in other posts. But I am compelled to share a few today:

Elizabeth~ This wonderfully loving woman listens well. I enjoy watching her as we talk. She does not plan out her responses while I am speaking. She is willing to allow a quiet pause. I can actually see her processing what I've said, considering it alongside of her own experiences, and then separating herself from the situation and drawing from Scriptural wisdom. The wisdom and insight she offers is like a cool drink on a hot day. Not rushed or a pat answer; she draws from her own wells of life experience and applies Biblical wisdom.

Kathryn~ This sweet sister knows the Word of God. Her wells are pure and deep. Her love and knowledge of Scripture inspires me to want to know the Word in deeper ways myself.

Cheryl~I've honored Cheryl a couple of times before; but when I reflect on the parable in Matthew she leaps to mind. She is always helping me to consider "my oil" with gardening tips, home improvements, and investments into my children.

Melissa~I can always count on Melissa to generously offer wisdom she has gleaned along the paths of life. She shares generously to all who seek. She does not forcefully tell you what you need to believe or do; she sweetly offers wisdom and leaves it up to those hearing to receive.

In case you have not read the parable in Matthew 25 (or you would like to refresh your memory) here it is (NIV):

1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

7"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

9" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'

10"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

May we all "fill our lamps and bring along extra oil..."

What have you learned from another Christ following woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 31 - Do Not Let the Sun Go Down...

Have you ever read a verse that said exactly what you were feeling? So much so that you almost didn't want to read further so your immediate meaning was not lost? If that doesn't make any sense to you at all; keep reading, I will explain.

I have mentioned before that my husband and I often have the same end goals in mind but we end up taking completely different paths to our end goals. Those differing paths can occasionally drive each other crazy and cause friction between us. Not so much the good "iron sharpens iron" friction or pressure mentioned in Proverbs 27:17...the other kind.

This is the verse that I read and I wanted to park on this weekend: Ephesians 4:26 "Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry-" (The Message)

Now I know there is so much more to this verse than the meaning those few words seem to be sending; but I admit, I foolishly camped out right there for a while this weekend. Who hasn't? Even the very first couple in the Bible (the ones who had the privilege of walking in the presence of God) did not walk in complete harmony: "Then the man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate'” (Genesis 3:12) I'm sure had God not been in their midst and addressing Eve's sin at that moment we may have seen a bit of friction between the two of them.

Not many of us (humans) take direct accusation well; even if we are in the wrong. It is our fleshly instinct to lash back and satan is right there jumping at the chance to tell us that we have been wronged; the situation wasn't handled correctly; or that we are justified for our anger.

But take a moment to read the verse in context:

Ephesians 4:26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Let's face it; the T.V. images of the Cleaver family from "Leave It To Beaver" are the exception (if they exist at all.) When I think of the most Godly people that I know here on earth I can recall a few moments of their humanness showing through here and there. I dare say that all marriages go through conflict or friction in one way or another from time to time. But as you can see from the above verses; it's not that you will never get angry or have tension with your spouse (or others for that matter), but what you do after the initial anger.

I chose to include The Message translation of these verses because I believe it captures the meaning of the verses beautifully. When we find ourselves angry, we need to take hold of the anger. Confess any part of it that is sinful, and move forward from that anger - if we choose not to; we are choosing to allow satan a foothold in our lives and in our marriages.

Further in the same passage in Ephesians it says, " Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." (4:32 The Message)

We did not go to bed angry (either night); yes, Cleaver family here...but we have recognized it all for the foolishness that it was and are committed to "being gentle with one another, sensitive, and to forgive each other."

The irony...I am leading a workshop this coming weekend on "Authentic Conflict Resolution." ;) Oh, God does make sure I have an understanding of the messages that He is asking me to deliver and He ensures that I am equipped with fresh grace as well!

Many blessings to you!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Second Mothers


Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

Today I wanted to share someone who was deeply impactful during my growing up years, Jan. She was the mother of my best friend (Heather) and our families were close. They welcomed me over at their house day or night and I often celebrated holidays (like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.) with their family. As I reflect though, two things stand out in my memory.

1. I knew Jan loved me (through the ups and downs of those formative years)

2. She used her kitchen amazingly during our teen years.

What teen doesn't want to cook fun things over at someone elses house? :) While canning vegetables was hated in my own home; I was happy to freeze blueberries over at Jan's house! (Gotta love teenagers!)

She was a wonderful cook and our families cooked many things differently so I enjoyed making dinners, desserts, the renowned family rolls, etc. Not only did I learn a lot about cooking (and enjoyed eating!); but Jan made the most of those late night talks. We discussed many things over the years: Spiritual issues, home and family, boys, life dreams and goals. She invited me to put my views and ideas on the table. She may not always agree with me (and said so), but I knew she spoke in love and wanted the best for my life. Many a night ended after midnight with the sink full of dishes. Those times were invaluable to me in the formation of my own beliefs, thoughts and life desires. While I am sure her main desire was conversing and engaging her own two daughers, she opened her home and heart to me and I will be forever grateful.

Now, as a mother myself, it is my desire to invite my children's friends over with open heart (and refrigerator!) I beleive it begins even now in these younger years as I open my kitchen to my own children and invite them to cook with me.

Thank you Jan. God used you and your family mightily in my life. Thank you for loving me and opening your home to me. I don't believe I will ever forget the Friday nights eating pizza and chips while watching, "The Princess Bride;" making Cream Puff Dessert, chicken with broccoli, and enjoying your laughter as we played games and talked while waiting for many a delicious morsel to cook in the oven. I love you.

What have you learned from another Christ following woman? ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts!
**Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 30 - Of Phone Calls and Sticky Notes

I was going to begin this post with an "Ode to a Traveling Spouse," but sadly, poetry still escapes me. I will however, attempt to paint a picture for you with words so you can understand where I am as I begin this post.

Night has surrounded the house. All is quiet and still. I hear the serenity of rhythmic breathing and an occasional hint of snoring from my oldest son's room. The pendulum of our grandfather clock that resides in our entry way has paused; hoping silently that someone might wind it back to life again. My home, that was so orderly just a few short days ago, has managed to experience some sort of sunami in the past 48 hours between the tides of life rushing in and out. I am worn, ready to retire myself, but am still desiring to create a welcoming atmosphere for my equally fatigued spouse who has been on a journey.

A trying, emotionally exhausting venture where he transformed from a mere child to the encouraging adult that his parents desperately needed. He is coming home; where it is my desire that he can be restored, filled, and rest. If only for a few short hours before he will depart again into the throws of this life.

I turn on two lamps and an overhead light on the dimmest settings. The downstairs, which had formerly been completely dark except for the glow of my laptop, now seems warmer, inviting. It is a beginning.

My cell phone rings, "Thank you, thank you.." the sweet recording of our littlest one's voice captured and now featured as a ring tone. Although it is rarely loud enough for me to hear when a call is coming in, I would miss a thousand calls before erasing it. It is him, my beloved, and he is delayed. I am encouraged to close my eyes in rest. However, I want my spouse to be greeted upon his arrival.

Fatigue is beginning to win. I resort to greeting my spouse with words. Many a meaningful word has found it's way onto sticky notes around our house. Timely Scriptures or encouragements, expressions of love, gratitude. This time however, all I seem to be able to write is, "I am aware...and I am sorry." The physical disorder of my home and a sticky note aren't going to cut it. I cannot seem to allow myself not to address the state of our home and it is not communicating the warmth that I desire.

So I stay awake, offering myself instead of a mess and I pray that although I fear I don't have much to offer at this late hour that it will be enough. Enough to show that he is loved, that he has a home to return to that is more than a physical structure, that although there are toys and shoes strewn about the floor, that his life has order, structure and meaning. "Bless my spouse Lord, please fill him up...I don't have much to offer him right now, but I pray that you will multiply my Jesus Name, Amen."

(This is a re-run of Marital Moments Issue 7; we are traveling this week and there hasn't been much time for posting.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scrapbooking Hope

I would really love to be an amazing scrapbook-er (if there is such a word!). It seems so many of you all are. I have all the "gear." I actually completed one of the small books for my daughter the year after we had moved here to VA; but it never seems I have enough time or space to get it all organized and done. Shutterfly has become my version of photo books for now.

But there is just something about the handmade isn't there? My daughter adores her album that I hand made for her. Just last night we were looking through it together. I am not one of those people who can just whip a page together. I agonize over which photos should be used, where they should go and how to lay it all out on the page. When I look through her album now I can remember painstakingly putting it together. One of the photos that I went back and forth on to include:

This is from the burial of my father. (I am the brunette holding my son's hand & my sister is kneeling. My daughter had just placed her rose petals on the casket. I'm not even really sure who took this picture, but I believe it was my best friend from growing up.) As you can see, it was an emotional time for all of us - even my children clearly understood that Grandpa was no longer with us. I debated back and forth about adding this picture; but it was a big part of our life. He was a big part of our lives. And it was a photo book of that year of her life so in the end, I included it. I left the page simple. The dates of his birth and death and his favorite Scripture.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

You see, my dad was a factory worker who had gone through a bitter divorce (after having two children) when he met my mom (who was 16). They got married and had my sister and I. Life had not been easy. My parents marriage was rocky. Then someone at his "shop," as he called it, showed him a video and shared the hope of Salvation through Jesus Christ with him. And he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. His heart was changed. His mind renewed. His life forever altered. 2 Corinthians 5:17 became his life verse - his testimony.

Growing up, I remember how he would tear up (this is a man's man mind you) singing songs like, "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Amazing Grace" at church. He knew this grace first hand. He had experienced the love, forgiveness, and he believed that his Redeemer lived.

He died close to Easter. But the joy in that is the immediate reminder of the hope that this season brings. Jesus died on the cross as payment for each of our sins. What separates Jesus from other "wonderful men," is the fact that not only was He the Son of God, but that He rose from the dead 3 days later. He (through the power of God) defeated death and made a way for us to one day be in the presence of the almighty and holy God.

If you are interested in reading my personal testimony of Salvation through Jesus Christ, click here. If you have questions or would like for me to pray for or with you, please e-mail me at

(As a side note, I am not interested in debating issues of faith. I understand that not everyone will believe as I do and that matters of faith can stir up strong emotion. If you have sincere questions they are welcome here.)

Rejoicing in the Hope of Easter!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday - Be Real


What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)

Write your own "Titus 2 Post" (linking back here somewhere within the body of your post) and enter your link below!

Today I will be sharing my friend, Kristen, with you. She is one of those naturally likable, cool, and real people that just make you want to spend more time with her. I met Kristen in MOPS. (Mothers of Preschoolers) She is a nurse by trade and just has the gift of holding any baby and having them be completely content to have her hold them. After I gave birth to my last son, it was almost a closure moment for me to bring him to MOPS and to have her hold him.

The thing that I learned from Kristen was the power of being real. She is one of those people who is attractive enough to make you slightly intimidated until you see her interact with someone else or she speaks to you. She diffuses that "female competition" thing that often happens by being humble, genuinely caring, and real. She could easily pull off the "I have it all together look;" but she chooses instead to be relatable, real and open.

She has spoken to our MOPS group a couple of times. The first time I remember her sharing with us, she said, "Going to marriage counseling is o.k.." The second time she shared about Post Partum Depression. While I wasn't struggling with either of those things in those moments; the mere fact that she was willing to stand up and be open about deeper topics resonated deep within me because I knew that was something God was speaking to my heart about and it was so refreshing to see someone doing it with beauty and grace. Being real doesn't mean that you have to share every, in depth, and ugly detail. It just simply means that you are willing to admit that you aren't perfect. You've walked paths of darkness and struggle, and you have embraced the fact that none of us are perfect; it is only by God's grace that we are walking at all.

She is easy to get to know and be around because you don't feel like you have to pretend to have it all together yourself. It is easy to open up and you feel safe asking questions that you may not have even asked your sister or mother about before because you know she's not going to judge you.

I absolutely LOVE the group VOTA's song, "Honestly." Here are a few of the lyrics...

"If you don't see the real me, you won't see what mercy's done

If you don't see my weakness you won't see what love has won.

If you don't see the distance from the darkness to the Son, you won't see. Honestly...

Let the light escape from these holes inside my soul,

When I start to break, then grace begins to flow

Let the light escape from this wounded place inside my soul... Honestly."

God has used Kristen in my life; along this path of mine to allow others to see my weaknesses. To allow them to see God's mercy, grace, and love through the holes inside of my own soul. It is my prayer today that she will inspire you to be a little more "real" today too...

I love you girl.

What have you learned from another Christ following woman? It can be something practical and simple that we can all use in our day to day lives or something deeper - ALL of us can learn something from one another. Join in and then go read these posts! **Please write your "Titus 2 Post" linking back to this post first and then enter your link below.**

Monday, April 6, 2009

Do you know the Secret?

Today my blog is being featured with an on-line blog group, The Secret Is In The Sauce! If you have never heard of them before, click here to learn more. It is a fun way to get connected with fellow bloggers of diverse backgrounds. SITS was created by the fabulous duo: Heather and Tiffany - who truly do an amazing job connecting us all and getting the word out about wonderful give aways and new products.

Regardless of how you came upon my blog today, Welcome! Make yourself at home. Grab your favorite beverage and feel free to stay awhile! Like most of us who blog, I enjoy comments and feedback and I will do my absolute best (even with Spring Break less than a week away!) to visit each of you who take the time to read and comment.

Some posts that you may enjoy...

If you have a daughter - Butterfly Struggles

If you have a son - Soul Stitches

If you are looking for some practical "tips" - Never Return an Empty Dish, The Traveling Spouse, & Giving and Receiving

Faith posts: God Provides the Worms, Becoming Golden, That's Where the Power Is

Thank you so much for stopping in!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dear Designer of Low Rise Jeans,

I have a confession to make. I have been harboring evil thoughts about you. So, in the spirit of making things right and letting go of my frustrations, I write. I really did try to see who you were.,, none of the .coms seem to know exactly who the mastermind behind the low rise actually is. If I were a betting person, I think I'd bet that you were male...or maybe a female with a cool tatoo that you wanted to be able to expose without looking too obvious; but I digress.

While I understand that you must be thrilled with your successes (and financial gains); many (MANY!) of us struggle with covering our backsides appropriately. It seems that your design is quite popular and it is getting more and more difficult to find a pair of jeans with a more standard "rise."

You see, I have a two year old. A very active little guy that I bend over often to pick up (occasionally it looks a bit more like a wrestling match) and when I am trying to take care of a bruised knee or get on his level to correct him (as it really needs to be done), I have difficulty bending or squatting without flashing the world. In my younger years I probably would not have minded quite so much, but I am a mother of three now still working on getting a few extra pounds off. I understand that you may not have children so this may just be an oversight in the design process. Surely your "target consumer" was a tad younger and possibly a bit more in shape.

To add a bit of insult to injury, the last time I went to try on jeans and asked for a slightly higher "rise," the sales girl (a mere child who is less than 1/2 of my age), smiled and put her hand on my arm and said, "Sweetheart, you just need to go on down a few stores to V.S. and pick up some low rise or thong underwear. They are very comfortable!"

I'm also having some difficulty finding shirts that are long enough to compensate for the space difference between shirt and jeans. I know I am on the tall side, but now I'm also having to buy additional "undershirts" to wear under my normal shirts. (Thus, ultimately cutting into your profits...)

So I implore you to go back to the drawing board and try sketching a line of jeans with even a half of an inch or so more of a "rise." I do *heart* the "whiskered" look and also the flared bottoms that add height and slenderize the look of the thighs (well done there!!). Thank you for your time and considerations.

Very Sincerely,


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything

I wanted to share a few really great posts that I have read in the past week or so that have touched me and I believe will bless you. I also have a couple of blog awards to thank people for and pass on...

Angie wrote this post titled "Canvas." It touched me on a lot of different levels.

Kathryn wrote this post on "The Power of Prayer"that is timely and thought provoking.

Pam wrote this post today titled, "Flying in the Dark" (as a part of "Word Filled Wednesdays") that was so simple and yet profound that I wanted to share it.

There are so many more that I have greatly enjoyed along the way, but I hope that you will take time now (or later on) to spend some time reading them.

Onto the AWARDS!

Shannon over at "Focused on the Center" blessed (surprised!) me with this award last week during our Titus 2 Tuesday posts. She is authentic, inspiring, and someone who I'd love to meet face to face one day.

For this award, you are supposed to:

1. Confess 5 things you are addicted to.
2. Pass the award on to 5 deserving bloggers.

My Second award was given to me (a long time ago - sorry for the delay!!!) from Dana over at "From Chaos to Grace." (Thank you Dana!!) I am so excited about what God is doing in Dana's life - He has BIG things planned for her photography I am sure! This award is for honesty and in Dana's words..."Not quite sure how the picture goes with the award, and if you are the one that made the award, my apologies, but again, the award is for honesty." ;)

For this award you are supposed to list 7 random facts about yourself and pass it on to 7 other people.

I have decided to combine the two I will list 7 random addictions and award 7 people BOTH AWARDS!! (How fun is that?!?)

So in no particular are my "7 things."

1. Kisses and hugs from my Littlest One.

2. Green & Blacks Organic Chocolate with Caramel

3. Hearing Gentle Strength (middle child) & Beauty (daughter) giggle uncontrollably.

4. Bible Study (especially with Beth Moore - LOVE how God has blessed her with insight!)

5. Photography (although I am horrible at uploading my photos)

6. Time with my husband

7. Sweet Tea

The Seven people I am passing these awards on to:

1. Gretchen from "Jewels in My Crown Someday." I lurve me some Gretchen! She is real, open, witty, & my week just wouldn't seem complete anymore without reading one of her posts, comments or e-mails.

2. Lisa from "Soaked to my Soul." I've always loved the title of her blog, her love of life & Jesus, her authenticity, AND she is a gifted writer! To read the story that prompted the title of her blog, click here!

3. Rachel & Mr. Daddy from "Once Upon a Miracle." I am just getting to know Rachel & her husband. I love the dialogue between the two of them (often found in the comments!) Rachel has depth and beauty as she shares and both have wonderful senses of humor. Check out their "True Story Tuesday" meme.

4. Lora from "Take Me The Way I Am." I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Lora over the past couple of months. She is creative (check out her etsy shop!), she values true friendship, and I appreciate her ability to embrace fully who she is in Christ.

5. Kelly from "Joan Of All Trades." I enjoy the Q & A she does with those who leave comments, her ability to laugh at herself (and her husband), and the strength and passion this woman embodies.

6. Jeneil from "Autism in a Word." Jeneil is one of those people that you can instantly become friends with. She shares her heart for her children, her love for her Savior, and she also has a great sense of humor!

7. Shelley from "I'm Changing My Name to Ouisa." Shelley shares my love of worship music, she loves being a mom, and her profile picture just makes me smile every time I see it.

*The down side of passing on awards is that there are SO MANY more people that I greatly enjoy and would love to keep on "passing" to...please know that I greatly appreciate all of you who comment on my blog and make this experience all the more meaningful to me. *