Monday, December 22, 2008

A Roach by Any Other Name...

David is always asking, "What's that smell?" I usually can't answer because I don't smell anything. He must have the most sensitive nose in the world.

Tonight as I was brushing his teeth, he said, "What's that smell?" I replied with my usual I don't know. He then told me it smelled like a roach. I told him that I was not aware that roaches had a smell. He said, "Well, dead ones do." I don't EVEN want to know how he knows that.

I really just blogged about this because I wanted to use the title! : )

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Be Still

Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

This year, I've been asking God to help me get past all the stuff of Christmas so that I could get to the heart of Christmas, which is His heart. When I started praying about this, the phrase that kept running through my mind is, "Be still" which led me to this verse. I looked up some of the words of this verse to see what it really means to be still.

The Hebrew word for "still" is "raphah". It means "to slacken: abate, cease, forsake, idle, leave, let alone, be still". Pretty self-explanatory, but what I found very interesting is that it is the exact same word for healing. That entry's definition is "to mend, to cure, to heal, make whole".

The Hebrew word for "know" is "yada". It means to acknowledge, discern, discover, the list of words for this word go on and on.

The word for "God" is "Elohiym", which means the Supreme God.

That is what God wants from us at Christmas, to acknowledge that He is the Supreme God. Because until we really get that, we cannot fully understand and appreciate the miraculous gift of Emmanuel - God with us. We cannot fathom the wonder of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men they felt when looking into the eyes of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in tiny human form. This Supreme God stepped out of the glory of Heaven, laid aside His privileges as God, and became a man so that He could be with us in every sense of the word, and ultimately to die for us. The Supreme God chose to suffer and die on the cross for all mankind, and because He is the Supreme God, He conquered sin and death once and for all. That is what God wants from us and wants for us this Christmas, to be still and know that He is God - and everything that implies. Hallelujah! Emmanuel!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Life of Worship

Last week I shared what God has been showing me about making my life an act of worship, and the sermon at my church last Sunday only reiterated all of that to me. Our worship pastor preached, and he talked about how worship is our response with all that we are - body, mind, will, and emotions - to all that God is, says, and does. So that got me thinking. What does a life that is lived out as an act of worship look like? I know it's a life that is living to love, but on a practical moment-by-moment basis, what does it look like? How can changing my baby's dirty diaper, or cleaning the kitchen be an act of worship? As I've pondered this, God has brought two verses to mind. The first one is Colossians 3:17 - "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." This sounds like just another abstract concept, but it has to do with my motivation and my attitude. Do I grumble about changing a diaper every time I turn around or because it seems I am the only one in my house who knows how to throw anything away? No, I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. I guess a good example of what I'm thinking this looks like is the way I am at church. I love SMIC, and I love this worship ministry. As a result, I do whatever I can to serve this ministry - from these prayer emails (and the praying), to helping set up chairs or file music. Therefore, how much more should I be willing to do in my home or out and about as an act of love and service to my Lord Jesus?
The other verse that came to mind is I Thessalonians 5:18 - "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." So the other part of it is not just doing things without grumbling or complaining, but also with thanksgiving and gratitude to God. So I can thank God for my sweet baby girl who will only be this little and in diapers for a short time, and for my family that I get to clean up after (as an act of love to them AND to God) and that I have a house that needs cleaning and the healthy body to get up and do it. In other words, it comes down to my attitude. Because, after all, God is not looking at the outward stuff of what I'm doing, He's looking at my heart. Like Kevin said Sunday, worship should start in the heart. Therefore, making my life an act of worship is all about making my heart a place of continual worship and thanksgiving to God.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

I am the intecessor team captain for the worship ministry leadership team at my church. That simply means I get the prayer requests from the worship pastor and those on his team and send them out to the rest of the prayer team. And of course, I pray for the requests, too. Something that God has led me to do with this emails, is to start them off with what I call the "devotional thought for the week". I just sent this one out this week and thought I would share it with my blog-friends.

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations." - Psalm 100 (NIV)

I know this is the traditional passage to hear at Thanksgiving. I have heard it so often that I have taken it for granted. That's pretty bad - taking a passage about giving thanks for granted - isn't it? However, lately God has been showing me some stuff about giving thanks to Him and when I read this passage in the NIV, some words jumped out at me that also changed my perspective.
I ask the Lord for a lot of things when I pray. From the "God-things" (like my dad being miraculously healed) to the "mundane" (like keep us safe and well today). What God is showing me though, is that He takes every request seriously. When I have had a good day and everyone is well, I am guilty of taking it for granted. But when I've had a bad day, or when one of us has gotten hurt or sick, I complain. God is convicting me that I need to be mindful of His hand orchestrating things in response to what I prayed for. Not because I'm all that great or because my prayers are all that great, but because it's what He does. He listens to the prayers of His people. So, when I pray for safety and we have an uneventful, safe day, I need to express my gratitude to Him for answering that prayer.(you would think that being a cop's wife I would never take our family's safety for granted.) And when we have a bad day dealing with sickness or injury - or the fender-bender yesterday, I need to trust that God was still listening when I prayed for safety/health and therefore He must have some greater reason for allowing us to deal with these incidents. And I still need to come before Him with gladness and thanksgiving, trusting that He will work all of it for our good.
All of that to say - what God is showing me is that we are the sheep of His pasture. Sheep who are totally dependent on their Shepherd for every little thing we receive, and we/I need to thank Him accordingly. My life should be a song of thanksgiving to God - for the good things, for the not-so-good things, and even for the down-right hard things; for the miraculous God things, and for the everyday mundane things.
The other thing I noticed when I read this in the NIV today, is the first word in verse 2 - "Worship the Lord with gladness". In the KJV, the word right there is "Serve the Lord with gladness". It goes back to what I was trying to say last week about making my life an act of worship. I looked up that word in the Strong's Concordance. It has a lot of words there to define this word. Some of them that jumped out at me were: to work, to serve, compel, do, keep, be wrought, worshipper. So to worship the Lord means to work, serve, do, keep, compel. That implies something that I am continuously doing, not just at church, but also when I am at home doing my "mundane" stay-at-home-mom things. My life must become a sacrifice of praise - of worship. And when I have the right perspective on my total dependence on God and thank Him for it accordingly, it's much easier for my life to become consumed with worship.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lessons Learned This Past Week

First of all, for those of you who took the time to tell me which photo I should submit for the contest from my previous post, thanks. As you may have noticed, I never got around to entering the contest. Life got busy. But it was fun hearing all of your comments about the 2 photos!

Last week was, stressful, exhausting, and enlightening. Saturday and Tuesday nights, I only got about 2 hours of sleep due to a sick, fussy baby. That just threw my week into complete disorder. However, I learned a few important lessons from the week, and I'd like to share them with you.

1) God's grace and strength really are sufficient. There is no other reason I made it through Wednesday in particular. I was beyond exhausted, and yet somehow I was able to do all the things I normally do on a Wednesday - getting Harris to school, going to Bible study, getting everyone to church that night, and going to orchestra rehearsal. And I did it in a sweet attitude, which is proof that it was God's supernatural strength in me because I am not a nice person when I don't get enough sleep.

2) You can really feel people's prayers lifting you up if you take the time to notice. I already knew this, but it's always a cool thing to have reinforced. I noticed that the times I should have felt the sleepiest - like when I was driving - is when I felt the best. Or just when I was really dragging and thinking I wasn't going to make it after all, I would suddenly be filled with energy. I wish I could stay in that mind set of feeling God's grace and strength and the prayers of friends and family like that all the time. Not only is it encouraging, but it also would give me the courage to live the life God has called me to live.

3) The joy of the Lord is my strength. When I focused on myself and how tired I was, I felt terrible. I had someone in the middle of the day email me and remind me of that verse about the joy of the Lord being our strength, and so I decided to focus on that for the rest of the day. It was amazing the difference it made in how I felt.

4) Harris need more one-on-one time with Preston and me. He had some time with each of us by himself this past week and he just soaked it up. I was reminded once again that his love language is quality time. And it doesn't have to be anything fancy, just driving to the store or picking him up from school while David and Amy Beth stay home with Preston is enough to light up his face. I need to plan more opportunities for him to have that quality time with us.

5) Amy Beth can fall asleep sitting up. Bless her heart, not only did she not sleep well those two nights, but also Wedneday, after not sleeping the night before, hardly slept at all that day either. So on Thursday, even though she slept much better Wednesday night, she was still very tired. That afternoon, the kids and I went to Wal-Mart. I noticed Amy Beth was very still and sedate in the seat of the grocery cart. Usually she is looking all around her in a place like that, making sure she doesn't miss a thing. I was letting the boys look through the toy section when I noticed Amy Beth was sound asleep in the grocery cart! I wish I had had my camera with me. She was so sweet and cute that I couldn't let her just sleep there. I picked her up and let her sleep on my shoulder.

6) It is very difficult to hold a sleeping baby on one shoulder, push a shopping cart with the other hand, and keep up with 2 little boys in Wal-Mart, but it IS possible. However, I do not advise trying it out. My arm was like a wet noodle by the time I got to the car and was able to put Amy Beth in her car seat.

7) David is a very compassionate little boy. I knew he was with us. If Harris gets hurt or is upset, David stops whatever he is doing and goes and gets Harris' blanky for him. When I had my cold and he realized I didn't feel good, he brought me a "blanky". However, Saturday he did something that blew me away. We were at his best friend's birthday party, and they had a pinata. When the candy came pouring out and the kids were scrambling for it, one of the boys there was a little overwhelmed by it all and got upset. When David saw him crying, he took some of his goodies out of his bag (and he hadn't gotten a lot) and put them in this little boy's bag and tried talking to him to help him calm down. It was SO sweet and one of my proudest moments as a mom. Of course, I don't take credit for him being like that. It's just the way God made him, and I have a responsibility as his parent to not crush that sensitive spirit in him, and to hone it so that it becomes a characteristic that honors God and brings people to Him instead of something that just enables people to sin.

So there are my lessons from the week. Seven lessons for seven days. Even though it was a hard week, I am glad I had the chance to see and learn from it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Which Photo Should I Choose?

5 Minutes for Mom is having a "Fun with Food" photo contest, and I need your help. Which of these 2 pictures should I enter for the contest?

Amy Beth tries a taste of graham cracker at Grandma's house. The face says it all.

David enjoys one of his first meals of spaghetti. I would need to try and edit this one a little bit. I just don't have a good photo-editing program on my computer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Eagle Dream

I believe in dreams. I believe God can speak to us through our dreams. Sometimes it can be very literal. Sometimes it is figurative and He will give you the interpretation for it (either to you personally or through someone else). Almost every time He speaks to us in a dream, though, it is to direct us in how or what to pray.

Below is a dream I had in November of 2005. I didn't think my blog would be the place where I would share these prophetic dreams, especially this one. I have shared it with a few people here and there as the Lord led me to, but I felt like I was supposed to keep it close to the chest, so-to-speak. However, I recently felt like God was telling me to put this dream on here - that it was time for it to be released to more than just a handful of people. I have been praying about it, to make sure it was really what God wanted me to do. He has confirmed it over and over again. So, in obedience to Him, here is my eagle dream.

I dreamed I was at a camp and saw people walking around with live eagles tethered to their arms - like trained falcons. I thought it was tragic that these magnificent creatures were being held captive.
I then entered a building and began talking with a mother and her son who had joined the military. As I was talking with them, I heard someone say the eagles were getting away. I rushed outside to see some of the eagles biting through their tethers and flying off. However, to keep them from escaping, someone released some hawks - one hawk per eagle. The hawks would fly up behind the eagle and bite at its feet or belly, which would kill the eagle. I was horrified and ran back into the building to find someone to help and stop the hawks. I saw a friend of mine talking on the phone. I told her what was happening and she said she would get some people to pray. I told her that was good, but we needed to also do something now. I went back outside and asked God to help me do something. When I did, one of the eagles flew down really low, with the hawk right behind it, so that I was able to reach out and grab it. I started to wring the hawk’s neck when I realized it was only a hot-air balloon device. It was easily popped. I started yelling for someone to come help me pop the hawks, but no one came. I was grabbing and popping the ones that I could reach as fast as I could, but there were too many hawks for me to handle by myself.
This was a dream about strategy. When the fight looks impossible, if we will look to our Commander-in-Chief (God), He will give us the strategy we need. But more people need to join the fight.
The Eagle = The Church in America
The Hawk = Demonic spirits - lying and fierce
Biting at the feet and stomach = The attacks were from behind and in the soft, vulnerable underbelly area. The eagles were not aware of it until it was too late. It represents - in part - backbiting among church members. It also represents "wolves in sheep’s clothing". Perhaps the reason the eagle didn’t perceive the threat is because all it saw was another bird and assumed it was one of them. There are people in our churches who - at first glance - look like us. They sound similar, look similar, and even move about like we do. But they are servants of the enemy who will come up and attack us when we least expect it and in our most vulnerable places.
Balloons popping = At first, the hawks looked fierce and intimidating, until I took action. In the flesh, it seemed like a foolish thing to do, but I didn’t take time to think about that. I just reacted to the first thing that came into my mind after asking God for help. We must be like that in the spiritual battles today. When we ask God for His strategy, we must trust and act on what He tell us to do without second-guessing or trying to figure out if it makes sense. Most of the time, it won’t make sense in our limited perspective.
Tethers: Obviously, a symbol of imprisonment. The tethered eagle is still a majestic, powerful eagle, but it is no longer able to soar as it was intended to do. In the long term, this is unhealthy and even potentially fatal to an eagle. And, in order to tether an eagle, it has to be willing to sit there long enough. It allowed itself to be tethered.
This is an analogy of the Church in America. We have dallied with the world and allowed the prince of this world to ensnare us. We still have the power and identity of Christ in us, but we cannot appropriate it to soar as God intended.
God is waking us (the Church) up, and some churches are breaking the tethers which never really had any power to hold us in the first place. This has enraged the enemy, and he is sending out his war-birds - his "birds of the air" - to attack the churches who are learning to soar again. The birds are the demonic spirits over the media, politics, and people’s voices. Through spiritual attacks, intimidation, and the court of public opinion, these hawks are seeking to destroy the churches that are remembering how to soar.
The body of Christ also needs to learn how to discern between true fellow believers and the ones who are there to attack us. There are those in the Body of Christ who are there on assignment from the enemy to disrupt, discredit, disorganize, and ultimately destroy. (And they may not even realize it.) Like Christ, we should love everyone who comes to us, but also use discernment to recognize who you are dealing with and be ready to call them out if it becomes necessary.
As individuals, it is our responsibility to stop the hawks. We cannot sit on our hands; we cannot just pray, even though that is a major part of the strategy, and we will not succeed without prayer. It must be our first priority. And we cannot be intimidated by these fierce-looking spirits. We must get out onto the field, ask God for His strategy, and reach out our hand (in faith) to whatever God tells us to do. When we do, we will realize the hawks are nothing but hot air and will easily be destroyed once they are within our grasp - as long as we are acting within the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, October 24, 2008

No Sweet Teeth Here!

We have been having a heck of a time trying to get Amy Beth to eat baby food. Her pediatrician said not to worry, some babies just skip over it and go to table food, but she hasn't wanted the table food I've tried to give her either. I was at my wits' end, especially lately when it was becoming obvious that her bottle was not satisfying her anymore. And since this is my third baby, I know most of the tried and true tricks.

So I did what I always do when I've tried all my options and failed - I prayed about it. (You would think that I would have thought of this first, since I am the prayer team coordinator for our worship ministry at church, wouldn't you? It is disappointing to see how often I still try to rely on myself to get things done. No wonder we are referred to as sheep in the Bible, for I am just as dumb as one sometimes when it comes to submitting and depending on Him for everything. But I digress.) I asked God to show me what I needed to do to get Amy Beth interested in eating.

Last night I was very tired, so instead of preparing supper when I should have, I sat and watched "America's Funniest Videos" with the boys. They showed a clip of a little boy (younger than 2 years) who would throw a fit if you tried to make him eat a cookie or piece of cake, but ate broccoli like most kids eat a cookie. He couldn't eat it fast enough. I thought to myself that maybe that was Amy Beth's problem - maybe this was God's way of showing me what to try. Maybe Amy Beth didn't like the fruit and cereal stuff, but would like the non-sweet vegetables and such. The thought had crossed my mind before, but I never seriously considered it because my 2 boys have major sweet tooths (they take after Preston). So this morning I gave her some zwieback toast, which she enjoyed far more than she ever did the sweeter-tasting biter biscuits. Then we tried a jar of peas - and she LOVED it! And after eating her fill, she laid down and went right to sleep - which she has not done in a couple of days, but fighting sleep and crying instead.

I guess she's going to take after me. When I was little I didn't like sweet stuff, either. Too bad I grew out it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday the Kindergarten classes went on a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch in Hargis. We had a great time, but I am still worn out. We went on a hike through the woods, took a hayride, watched the teachers roast hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire, ate the hotdogs and marshmallows (along with some other food), went through the actual pumpkin patch and saw the pumpkins that were growing on the vine - from little baby pumpkins to great humongous ones, visited the petting zoo, and sat in a tee-pee to listen to story, and then hiked back to where we started and picked out a pumpkin to take home with us. And all of it before noon! Here is our day in pictures.

Harris and his buddy Daniel. We rode up there with his mom and dad and another friend named Sam.

I'm sorry this one is so blurry. I was trying to keep up with everyone and take the picture at the same time. This was part of our hike.

Some of Harris' classmates: (from left to right) DJ, Riley, Daniel, Sam, and of course Harris

Daniel and Harris on the hayride.

Part of our group and the field where most of the activities took place. Look how blue the sky was. It was a gorgeous day!

Harris eating his lunch by the fire. He was not so sure about eating the hotdog since it was all blackened and shriveled from being cooked over an open flame, but he tried it and liked it.
The smoke kept getting in his eyes so he decided to sit in the grass with his back to the fire. Here he's eating the chocolate chip cookie for dessert.

The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Petting the pony/baby horse (depending on who was petting it.)

The real tee-pee they went in for a story time.
Harris' whole class.

A view of the lake through the trees on our hike back.

Beautiful butterfly on some beautiful flowers.
These flowers were so gorgeous!

And last but definitely not least - Harris and his pumpkin. When we got home, he was so excited to go put it out on the front porch. He has shown everybody who has been to our house his pumpkin and the spot he picked for it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amy Beth's Dress

Here are some pictures of Amy Beth in her dress - the "name-brand" dress. I took these after we came home from church and lunch, so she was very tired, and was more interested in chewing on that yellow thing than looking cute for the camera. Go figure.

This is the dress and hat without the dress-coat.

This is with the dress-coat, which I liked much better.

The boys said they didn't like the hat because it made her look like a chef, and she was a baby - not a chef.

So what do you think? Not bad for $25, but still way more than I usually pay for clothes at Kids' Market.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I have always said that I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in a Sovereign God who is in control of everything, and so if a seeming coincidence happens, it is probably God trying to get my attention about something. Recently I also learned that there is no Hebrew word for coincidence, which further supports my point of view.

So the other day, Monday, to be exact, I had 3 big coincidences. The first one actually started on Sunday night. I came home from "Adoration" at my church (which was SO good. They're always very worshipful, but the worship went to another level that night. Wow! But I digress.), and was fixing myself something to eat. For some reason, my mind started replaying a Christmas show that I had last seen as an older kid - Claymation Christmas was the name of it I think. I was remember one skit in particular where claymation bells were playing "Carol of the Bells" by hitting themselves upside the head with mallets. It was hilarious! The memory was playing so clearly in my head that I was smothering my laughter so that I wouldn't have to explain it to my husband, who would think I was nuts (and rightly so, probably). The next morning, my mom called me on my way to take Harris to school and asked if I could stop by Lowe's (where she works) on my way home and pick up Rusty, my brother, whose car is currently out of commission. He wanted to hang out with me for a while. So one of the first things he said once we got back to my house is, "Guess what I watched last night? Old home movies and things we recorded over the years. Do you remember Claymation Christmas?" !!!!! I was thinking about the show when he was watching it!!!! Now THAT is a seeming coincidence.

The second coincidence happened on my date with my husband that night. We were watching the movie, "Billy: the Early Years". (A great movie about Billy Graham - how he got saved and called to be an evangelist. It was so funny, moving, and convicting! I highly recommend seeing it! But, I digress again.) The actor playing young Billy was very easy on the eyes, and his mannerisms and the sense of humor that was written into the part made me think of Darrell, my other brother. I was wondering if maybe Darrell was meant to be an evangelist - or at least someone whose livelihood was in full-time ministry. In one scene, Billy is leading his first convert to the Lord and he asks the man's name. The man's name is Darrell! What a "coincidence"!

The third one happened at dinner after the movie. Our waiter (excuse me, I mean server) came up and at first I thought it was one of my step-father Hugh's, sons. (Yes, that would make him my step-brother, but I don't think of him like that. No hard feelings. It's just we were mostly grown when our parents got married, so we have never lived together like siblings.) Anyway, this guy had the same hair style, build, size, everything. He even sounded like him! All of this I take in within a couple of seconds. The server then introduces himself - his name is Brandon, which is Hugh's son's name!!!!! What are the odds, people?

So now I am prayerfully trying to figure out what God is trying to show me with these 3 big "coincidences" in one day? And all 3 had to do with either a brother or step-brother? Very weird. I almost wish I did believe in coincidences so that I could just chalk it up to that and forget about it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Template!

So you probably already noticed - I changed my template for my blog. I originally chose the sky because of the title of my blog "Of Heaven and Earth" - and the template was the sky, which made me think Heaven. However, I wasn't liking it because it seemed too pale. I noticed as I go around reading my friends' blogs, the ones whose layouts I really liked were those with a darker colored background. I also didn't like the way that background color washed out the pictures I would post. So I went template hunting, and this is the one I liked the most.

So tell me. Did you prefer the old layout, or do you like this best? Let me know!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's in a Name?

The other day while shopping at Kids' Market, I was trying to decide between 2 different dresses for Amy Beth. Both were a lot of money (for a Kids' Market item), but both were really cute. I asked a fellow KM crazie which one she would choose. Her first question was, "What brand names are they?" This took me aback. That had never entered my consideration. But then I remembered the post Rachel had written about some boots someone had given to her for Ali. They were a brand name and a couple of people commented on it to talk about how awesome it would be to have that brand of boots for their little girl. I'm sorry, but I do not understand the fascination with brand names/designer clothing.

So I have been considering it ever since. What is the deal with brand names? I once thought maybe the brand named clothing was a better quality, but Rachel changed my mind about that when she wrote about her experience buying designer jeans. I know for some people it's a status symbol thing, but is that really the only reason? Is it just a matter of status, or is it something more? I would love your input into this and help me understand. Not that it will change how I feel about brand name versus generic, but I would like to know what makes someone pay, say $200 for a pair of jeans when a $30 pair work just as well? Can someone enlighten me?

Oh and for those who hate a dangling story, I ended up choosing the brand name dress. Not because it was a brand name, but because Amy Beth didn't have a dress that color. She'll be wearing it to church Sunday.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It seems I have a running tradition now to blog about the birthdays of my family or dear friends. So far be it from me to discontinue that for my mom.
My mom's birthday was Sunday, Oct. 12. We celebrated with her at lunch at Cracker Barrell - her favorite restaurant. This birthday was special because a) all three of her children were there at the same time, which was pretty amazing considering everyone's different schedules and b) She now knew that all three children were walking with the Lord - also very amazing considering both of my brothers' pasts. God is so good and faithful. If you are a mom who is desperately praying for a wayward child, don't give up. God hears your prayers and will answer them in His perfect timing and His perfect way. Hallelujah!
My mom is one of the most wonderful people I know. She does not judge anyone, but looks for and expects the best out of them. As a result, she wins friends and influences people quite easily. This is especially true for her kids. We knew that no matter what we did, or what was going on in our lives, she loved us unconditionally and would be our biggest support, our biggest cheerleader, and our best shoulder to cry on. Today, there are people in her life that cling to her whenever they are around her, because her positive attitude towards them and about them are like a breath of fresh air.
Mom was the 4th child born in her family, but the first girl. Years later, another boy was born, so she grew up with 5 brothers. This made her a bit of a tom-boy growing up. Her family was also a poor family (her dad was a mechanic) and so her and her brothers had to create ways to keep themselves entertained. As a result, we had the best, most entertaining childhood. She always encouraged us to use our imaginations. She also knows how to fix just about anything. There is no problem too daunting for her to take on. She spent summers when we were kids cleaning out the area behind our house that was overgrown with a little bit of everything, so we could get to the creek and play in it. She and Dad built one of my first bikes from spare parts - the best bike I ever had.
Now she is just as good a grandmother as she was (and is) a mother. My boys LOVE seeing Grandma, because there is never a dull moment when she is around. Her house is a place of never-ending adventure for them. She still teaches me things through her example - through her way of handling them. Rarely does my mom correct my methods of parenting, but instead knows that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, when she does say something to me - about anything - I pay close attention to her words of advice or admonition.
I could go on, but instead, I will turn this post over to my brother, Rusty, who is a poet (well, he's a rapper whose stage name is Poet). I asked him to come up with a poem in honor of mom for her birthday - 5 minutes ago. Here is what he wrote:
Today is the greatest day cause its the day you came from Heaven, and anybody who gets to know you gets to know a true blessin'. Even though I caused some major stressin when I was headed in the wrong direction, you always prayed for my protection to keep me from God's rejection. If it wasn't for you, I' d still be lost and confused, still runnin through these streets, not knowin' what to do. Now its all right mamma, you can sleep tonight mamma, and allow me to apologize for all of the drama but Im'ma take everything I learned, and use it in turn, to help other people so their soul don't burn. I know my gift of creativity comes from your blood, so does my passion and so does my love. I put nothing above, my respect for my mother and until the end of time there will never be another, that could be so strong and so warm-hearted, but I'm gonna end this now, even though I'm just gettin' started. Happy B'day Momma.
Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you SO very much!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some More David Stories

At supper the other night, David kind of choked a little bit. Here is our conversation about it:

Me: Goodness, are you ok?

David: Yeah (we are still working on the "yes ma'am and yes sir" thing). It went down the wrong way.

Me: Oh, I'm sorry.

David: It turned left.

Me: It did what?

David: It turned left, but it was supposed to go right. That's where the food is supposed to go.

Me: Ohhh. So if the food is supposed to go to the right, what is supposed to go to the left? (I have a couple of ideas of what he'll say - i.e. my drink, my spit, etc. However, as usual, David comes up with something out of left field.)

David: My energy goes down that side!

My other David story for this week is when we were on our way home from shopping at Kids' Market - that's another story for another post. He was so good, though, that I let him pick out a toy while we were there. He picked out a bag of Hot Wheels cars, of course. They were in a ziploc bag that was also taped. On the way home, he managed to pull the tape off. Now when David has something that needs to be thrown away, he wants it thrown away now. I normally have a trash bag in the car for such things, but I took it out recently and have not replaced it yet. So David wanted me to take his tape right now! I told him I was busy driving. I suggested he stick it to his leg and when we got home, I would take it off and throw it away. He thinks this is a good idea. However, a few moments later, he starts telling me the tape is hurting his leg. Now if you have a 4 year old, you know that they sometimes say something is hurting just because they're not happy with something. I assumed this was the case. I explained that the tape could not possibly be hurting his leg and we would be home in a couple of minutes. David continues to complain, so once we stop at a traffic light, I turn around to take his tape from him - and see why it didn't feel so good. He had pulled up his pant leg and stuck the tape TO his leg! I guess I should have been more specific. It just struck me as hilarious that Mommy would make such a seemingly bizarre suggestion, and he happily (and literally) obeyed without question. I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. David did not see what was so funny about sticking tape to his leg, which made it even funnier to me. Although, it may be one of those, "You had to be there" moments. In which case, you should have been there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kids' Market

I LOVE Kids' Market - a huge consignment sale that is held every Spring and Fall. A friend encouraged me to go back in the Spring of 2003, when Harris was an infant, and I have been hooked ever since. After shopping that first sale, I then became a contributor, contributing my items to make some money and to be able to shop early at the contributor's sale. After doing that a few times, I decided to volunteer to work the sale. Volunteers only have to work 10 hours plus sorting/tear down night after the sale is over and we get to shop before even the contributors. So I did that for a few sales. However, I was not able to work this year's Spring or Fall sale. I couldn't work the Spring sale because I was on the tail end of my post-partum recovery after my C-section, and I can't work the Fall sale because I have a conflict with the sorting/tear down night which is a mandatory working night for volunteers (my conflict is the Steven Curtis Chapman/Michael W. Smith concert). I also did not contribute this year because I just didn't have the time and wherewithal to get my stuff together. So after being on all sides of Kids' Market, I've decided I like being a volunteer the best. Here are my top 10 reasons to be a Kids' Market volunteer: and besides number 1, these are in no deliberate order.

10) Much more time to shop. Workers' sale starts at 4pm and goes to Midnight. You might think you don't need that much time, but when you're shopping for clothes for 3 kids for the whole season, it takes a while.

9) You learn the "tricks of the trade" (i.e. - how to shop the sale). This is not like shopping at a department store. You gotta come prepared with a laundry basket or personal shopping cart, a blanket to spread on the floor to sort through all your grabs and decide on what you're actually going to buy, a drink (am I the only one who gets so dehydrated while shopping?), and a list of what you need and what sizes your kids are (if you're forgetful like me and can't remember - or accept the fact - that your oldest baby is wearing a size 5.)

8) You get to know the ladies who founded Kids' Market - Paige and Kim. They are 2 awesome women. They work harder than all of the volunteers put together and they genuinely appreciate and value their workers. Even though I haven't worked the sale in a year, they remember me and what was going on in my life when I last worked for them (my pregnancy). I just think that's remarkable for 2 women who are so busy and deal with so many people, and who only see me twice a year! They also have a personal relationship with Christ and begin every workers' sale event with prayer.

7) You get to know a bunch of other mothers in the community. I cannot tell you how many people I see around town that I think, "That lady looks so familiar to me." And then I realize it's because I worked with them at the sale. I can't say that I've developed bosom friends through the sale, but I have a large group of acquaintances that I run into all the time, and it's just fun seeing them again at every sale and catching up on each other's kids and things.

6) Did I mention you shop before everyone else? If you want to find the best deals, you have to get to the early workers' sale. You will find great stuff throughout the entire sale, but the best clothes at the best prices disappear fast. We're talking a boys' shirt and pants church outfit for $6 at the workers' sale versus the same type of thing for $12. Obviously, the steal deals go fast. I also hear of contributors who camp out in front of Kids' Market the Friday night before the first day of receiving sale items so they can get the first "priority numbers" and be the first people through the doors when the contributors' sale starts. Why go through all that when you can just volunteer to work for 1o hours (10 hours that are pretty much your choice to schedule) and go to the workers' sale, which is before the contributors' sale?

5) The interesting conversations you get to have or listen to while working. While helping a person get their tags pulled in order to check out, you can discuss everything from the weather, to sports, to kids, to achieving world peace. I love it.

4) Dinner is served. One way Kim and Paige show their appreciation to the workers is by feeding us at the workers' sale. Their husbands I think both work at Chick-fil-A (managers or owners or something) and so they bring in Chick-fil-A for us: chicken filet sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, chips, brownies, sodas, and nachos and cheese. They also keep bottled water on hand for us throughout the night - all at no cost to us. So we shop for a couple of hours, then they bring in the food, and we all sit around and eat dinner together. It's wonderful and so much fun!

3) NO kids at the workers' sale.

2) NO kids at the workers' sale.

And the number 1 reason I love volunteering for Kids' Market: No kids at the workers' sale!!!! Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I like yours, but to me it is sheer luxury to shop for their clothes without hearing mine or anyone else's asking when will it be time to go home. During the public sale, kids are running all over the place, babies are fussing or crying, and at times it feels as if pandmonium were about to break out at any moment It's usally not that bad, though. But like I said, shopping for clothes with no children in sight - ahhh bliss.

Kids' Market's Fall and Winter sale is going on right now. They will be open this week until Saturday, and again next week Monday through Saturday. Next Thursday, most things will be 25% off and next Friday and Saturday, most things will be 50% off. If you have any questions you can check out their
website or leave a comment here and I will try to answer it. Happy Shopping!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Milking the Soap?

So yesterday, my mom, sister-in-law, and I were headed to the Southern Women's Show. I picked up mom from work, and she wanted to go get something to eat because she had not had time for lunch that day. The only place she was hungry for was Subway. Now, everyone knows you cannot eat a Subway sandwich in the car - unless of course, you plan on wearing most of it on your clothes. So we stopped in to eat. I ordered my favorite - Meatball Marinara and ended up dropping some on my blouse - a brand new one that I had never worn before, of course. I head to the bathroom in the hopes that a little dab of soap and some water will do the trick. When I walk into the bathroom, I notice something on the sink. It's a bag of pink stuff with an odd-looking tube thing attached to it. After glancing around for the soap dispenser, I realize that this bag of pink goo with the tube IS is the soap. Let me profusely apologize for not having a picture of it. My camera was out in the car, but I cannot describe just how unappealing, and even suggestive-of-something-naughty-looking, this thing was. I was determined to get the sauce off of my shirt, so I try to get the soap out of the bag through the tube. I squeezed, pushed, twisted, to no avail. Only by employing a pull-squeeze manuever was I able to get the soap out. Fortunately, the sauce washed off of my shirt, and I had a funny little thing to post on my blog - about the day I learned how to milk the soap.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful that my youngest brother, Rusty, is now my brother in Christ! Last week, he met with Pastor Harry who led him to the Lord! Hallelujah! My family has been praying for this for such a long time. Now, with the exception of Amy Beth, all of my immediate family (parents, siblings, husband, children) know the Lord as their personal Savior! Hallelujah! What a blessing!

Now, on a shallow note. (That seems to be my theme for these Thankful Thursdays - a deep and a shallow one) I am thankful for the new bag I bought earlier this week. I'll have more on that later. Oh, I'm also thankful for being able to go to the Southern Women's Show with my mom and new sister-in-law later today! It will be so much fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Bit About Bags

I got a new bag this week. I love it. My old bag was practical. It was the black canvas tote from Books-a-Million that everyone else at church also has - well, maybe not EVERYone, but a bunch of 'em do. But I was beginning to have problems with it - namely, it wasn't big enough to hold the stuff I needed to put in it. I mean, it held it all, but only if you stuffed it. I do not like stuffed bags because inevitably, whatever you need to get out of the bag is always at the bottom. And since I have 3 kids and their stuff in tow as well, I am usually one-handed (at best) as I root through everything to find what I need. The other problem is that the only pockets were 3 on the outside - and they were small. I used one to hold my cell phone, one for my pens, which I learned the hard way is not an ideal place to keep pens (in an outside pocket). I broke my favorite one because I got bumped up against a wall, with my bag between me and the wall. RIP, favorite pen... But I digress, and one stayed empty because I didn't have anything else that small to fit in it. Here is a picture of my practical black bag.

And here it is stuffed with all my stuff that I would take to church or Bible study. I don't have it propped open, it gaps open like that because of all the stuff that is in it.

Well, I saw this new bag at Lifeway, and I had to bring it home. I used a gift card to buy it (along with an awesome CD - "Revival in Belfast"). The bag is bright red, which is not a color I normally choose, but something about this drew me. (And I'm told that red is the new black and can go with anything.) It has crosses on the outside of the bag, and a metal Christian-fish emblem hanging on the handle. It's beautiful!

Here is the new bag with all my stuff in it. There are two pockets on the inside. One is the perfect size for my pocket planner and pens, and one is the perfect size for my cell phone. It also has 2 big pockets on the outside - on each end. It's a great place to keep my keys. No more hunting in the bottom of the black bag to find them!

So, if you're in the market for a new bag, go by Lifeway. They had them in different sizes and another color (kind of a champagne/beige-ish color). My bag is the biggest one they had. Did I mention I love it?

My Sleeping Angel

5 Minutes for Mom is having another photo contest! This time the prize is a beautiful new bedroom set. I would love the Lily Rose set for my baby girl. This picture is of David, my middle child. We call him the Energizer Bunny, because he just keeps going and going and going. However, on this particular day, even the Energizer bunny ran out of steam while playing with his beloved Thomas the Tank engine set and sporting his beloved Pixar Cars shirt. It just captures exactly who he is - and it was taken exactly one year ago today!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Inside the Dreams of a 4-year-old

I love dreams. I love talking about them. I love listening to other people relate their dreams to me, and analyzing what they might mean. So naturally I encourage my kids to tell me their dreams if they remember them.

Today, David came to me and said he dreamed something a long time ago, which in a 4-year-old's chronology, could mean last night. In his dream, he said he was hungry, so he ate it. Here is the conversation after that point.

Me: "What is it you ate?"

David: "My dream."

Me: "You ate your dream?"

David: "Yep!"

Me: "What does a dream taste like?"

David: "Like chicken!" Of course it does. I should've known.

SMCS Homecoming

Last night my boys and I went to SMCS' Homecoming. I am an alumni, and Harris is now a student. I have been wanting to go for a few years now, but something always came up to prevent me from going. So I was really excited to be able to go this year. I was planning on going by myself, but the boys really wanted to go, and I'm glad they came with me, even though it kept me from getting up and mingling as much as I would have liked.

A lot of things have changed since my Homecoming days as a student there. Not the least of which is the fact that we now have a football team - AND a marching band! We've had a football team for 2 years now (or is it 3?), but this was the first year we had a marching band! When I was a student/band member, Homecoming occurred in February during basketball. The band would sit in the bleachers and deafen everyone in that small gym we played in. So it was a treat to see the band playing some songs on the field. I was expecting them to do a half-time show, but for some reason they didn't, which was a little bit of a bummer.

When we first got there, we were directed to the alumni tent. If you are reading this and are an SMCS alum, you should try and go to Homecoming next year. They treat you pretty good - free brownies, chips, drinks, and a gift. Then you all stand on the track and get introduced and welcomed back by Mr. Crump, the current headmaster.

Harris immediately found some class mates of his. It was funny but surreal to watch him hang out with his friends like some big kid. David, of course, wanted to do everything Harris was doing. I was afraid they would get bored during the game and Homecoming court. However, there were plenty of people and things to keep them occupied. For the first little while, they watched the game. Then Pastor Jeff (the member care pastor at our church) came along and they had fun playing with him. After that, Bob and Greta showed up with Sam. The boys enjoyed entertaining Sam - especially David. They also occupied themselves chasing each other up and down the stadium steps, making me a little nervous although they were good about holding on to the railing at all times.

As I got into the game and started cheering, Harris caught on. So everytime the players started a play, Harris started clapping, jumping, and cheering them on. Things like, "Go Eagles! Good job!" "Go Eagles! Get 'em!" and at one point I heard, "Good job Eagles! You're gettin' the hang of it!" David would holler whenever he heard Harris holler, but I'm not sure he knew why we were all hollering. David's main interest was the band. Whenever they started playing, David would stop wherever he was and start dancing. Harris didn't like the music as much. He thought it was too loud and would run and bury his head in my lap - until about the 4th quarter when he finally got used to it and started dancing with David.

I also saw JC and Lindsay show up with Eli. I never got a chance to get close enough to say hi - or more importantly, to hold Eli, but I watched him get passed around. At one point, Beverly and Phillip W. were holding him. They took a SMCS baseball cap and put it on him. It was so cute! That was the only time that night I regretted not having a camera with me. Fortunately, Rachel Jones was sitting nearby and had her camera - of course. So look for it on Facebook or her blog.

It was a great night. Topped off by the fact that the Eagles won!! Go Eagles!! This was their first win of the season. Maybe I'm a good luck charm and should go to all of their games - or mabye it's the boys. As we were leaving, both Harris and David asked when we could come to another game. Soon, I hope. And next time, I hope Preston and Amy Beth can come with us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wedding

My dad, brothers Rusty and Darrell, Cindy, me, Harris and David

Okay, sorry I've made you wait almost a week for a post about the wedding. I am usually just too brain-dead to blog at night anymore, and that's really the only time I have these days to do this.

The wedding was beautiful! Cindy, my sister-in-law :D, had no wedding planner, and yet what she pulled off on her own looked like something that could be featured in a Southern Bride magazine! Darrell and Cindy were married at a place called Capps Cove, in a little country church that looks like something you would see in Cades Cove up in the Smoky Mountains. It was a gorgeous location with woods all around - perfect for a Fall-themed wedding. Cindy was a gorgeous bride, too. She is naturally a pretty woman, and her sweet spirit makes her beautiful, but when I saw her just before the wedding, it literally took my breath away.

The boys did very well. They were excited to wear their suits once they saw Uncle Darrell was wearing one. They did get a little tired of all the pictures they had to pose for. They were getting pretty hyper with all the excitement and commotion going on, so just before the wedding started, I reminded them of what they were supposed to do and went and sat down. They did the walk down the aisle perfectly!!! I was SO proud of them! They went and stood exactly where they were supposed to as well. David got tired pretty quickly and decided to cop a squat right there on his spot. At one point he fell over backwards while squatting and hit his head on the floor. It made a loud thud on the wooden floor, and he would have started crying except that everyone giggled when it happened, and David LOVES to make people laugh, so he was quite pleased with himself over it. He did finally melt down and start to cry, so my mom just took him and held him on her lap and that made him happy.

Harris did great the whole time! He stood and held the ring box (David had the ring pillow) the whole time. He did keep turning around at me every few minutes to make sure he was doing the right thing. I made the mistake of giving him a thumbs-up one time, so then he would turn around and give me a thumbs-up every few minutes. When it came time for them to exchange rings, the preacher came and took the box from Harris, instead of just taking the rings like they had rehearsed the night before. Harris put his hands on his hips and was quite indignant for a minute, but he got over it and stood there tall and still until Darrell and Cindy were pronounced husband and wife, at which point Harris runs to me and says, "Mommy, I did it! I did it!"

Amy Beth sat in my lap the whole time. She was trying to get fussy a couple of times, but nothing too disturbing or distracting. She was very good considering she missed her afternoon nap all-together. She did spit up all over her pretty dress, but fortunately it was after everything was over and we were about to change the kids anyway for the trip home.

It was as perfect a wedding as you can hope to have, I think. God had His hands all over it. Everything came together like it was supposed to, the boys did great, as did the flower-girl (Cindy's neice). God even let the rain cooperate. Just as we were finished with the combined family pictures after the wedding and heading in to the reception area (up the hill a little bit from the church), it started to sprinkle. It apparently rained pretty good while everyone was inside eating at the reception It ended in time for Darrell and Cindy to get in their going-away clothes and have those pictures done and to drive away.

A couple of funnies from the weekend:

1) At the rehearsal, Darrell was standing at the front, along with the pastor who was walking them through the process, and Cindy and her dad came up to the front. As they were all standing there listening to the pastor's instructions, Harris turned to me and said, "Mommy, which one is she gonna marry?"

2) At the reception, the boys found some other kids to play with and took off. I wasn't too concerned because it was a small place. However, we couldn't find David. Someone said he was with Uncle Darrell who was changing clothes getting ready to leave. Preston and I went to the van to start putting things away and get ready to leave ourselves. Suddenly David comes running up as fast as he can go and said, "Mommy, Daddy! I knew where our car was! I found it, 'cause I was lost, you know." He said it so calmly that I thought he was just pretending or that someone had told him to find us before he got lost. However, the more he talked about it, the more I realized he really had been lost. After telling us all about it he said, "Being lost is no fun. I don't think I'll do that ever again."

Harris and David hanging out at the rehearsal

Cindy's neice, Annaka, who was the flower girl.

Annaka loved my boys. Harris was very sweet to her right away. It took David a little bit to warm up to her. Here they are all holding hands at the prayer bench.

Harris sitting in Aunt Cindy's lap. He LOVES her, so much so that he chose to sit by her instead of beside Grandma at the rehearsal dinner. That has never happened before.

My mom with my 3 children. They were just hanging out, but the colors were so pretty that I had to take a picture. Amy Beth thought the bow on her dress was very tasty.

Darrell, Harris and David are waiting for Cindy. Darrell is such a good uncle, I can't wait to see the kind of father he will be one day.

This is just one of the times that Harris looked back at me to make sure he was doing the right thing - and that I was paying attention to him. He was so proud of himself.

I love this picture of David. All dressed up in his little man suit, but just a-swinging those legs like the little boy that he is. At this point he was getting tired of having his picture taken.

Mother and daughter. Before I know it, it will be her wedding I am attending. **tear**

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day Over

So today was Darrell and Cindy's wedding. It was the sweetest, most beautiful wedding I have ever seen. Knowing all that my brother has been through, and how long Cindy has waited and prayed for God's choice to be her husband made it all the more special. Prayers were answered, and God was glorified. I think every family member - from both sides - got teary-eyed at least once. For Darrell, it was when he danced with our mom at the reception to the song, "Hello Mama" by the Kingdom Heirs. It's sung from the perspective of a man who is thanking his mom for all her prayers, and telling her that she doesn't have to worry any more because he has found Jesus and all her prayers were answered. Mom and Darrell both cried through the whole thing. (Now I'm crying.) How good God is to have answered all those prayers in such generous ways. As dark and hopeless as things looked sometimes in Darrell's life, God used ALL of it for Darrell's good, and for His glory. Mom, if you read this, thank you for praying and never giving up on him. Darrell, I am so proud of you and love you so very much. Cindy, thank you for being the answer to a lot of those prayers, and for making my brother the happiest man alive. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

I will post pics and funny moments later. But it has been a long day, and church is tomorrow, so I need to go to bed. My sweet David said it best as I was getting him ready for bed (and he couldn't hardly hold his eyes open), "Day Over."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Cups for Kids????

So today the kids and I had lunch with my father-in-law at one of those restaurants that's not exactly fast food, but it's not a nice, sit-down kind of place, either. I guess one could describe it as a type of small diner. I ordered our food, and then ordered 2 kids drinks. The lady taking our order apologetically told me that they don't really have kid-sized drinks, just the regular adult-size, but that it came with a lid. When she showed me the cups, I couldn't help but notice small, kid-sized cups next to the ones she was showing me. I asked her about them, and this is how the conversation went:

Lady: "We don't really have kid drinks here, just these regular-sized cups with lids. (holds one up)

Me: "Well, what about those little ones right beside the regular ones?"

Lady: "Those are for coffee"

Me: "Could you not let me have those for the kid drinks and charge the coffee or half the drink price?"

Lady: "No ma'am. But I can charge you for a regular size and just let you use these little ones!"

Me: "No thanks. If you're going to charge me full price, then I want the full-sized cups." (even though the boys will just waste half of what is put in there, I thought)

She then turns to my father-in-law after he orders a drink and says, "Sir, do you want a regular drink, or would you like our special senior-size. AND HOLDS UP THE SAME LITTLE CUP!!!! I'm very confused, why would they have a special size and price for seniors, but not for kids? Do they think that seniors suddenly lose the ability to handle a full-size drink? Personally, if I was a senior, I would be insulted. If you're trying to do the senior citizens a favor, then offer a special seniors' discount on the regular-sized drink!

After ordering, I noticed there was only one high chair, and it was being used. So I asked the same lady if they had any more high chairs somewhere. She said they didn't but they did have a booster seat that I could use. I thanked her, but explained that a baby is too small to use a booster seat. She said, "Oh, but you can turn it over, and it has a deeper seat on the other side!" Like that was the solution to keep a baby from falling out onto the floor. This woman obviously did not have kids.

I tell ya, it was a very good thing I remembered just in time that I was wearing a shirt advertising my church, or I would have probably become at least a little un-Christ-like.

Another Thankful Thursday

I have 3 things to be thankful for today. Well, actually I have TONS to be thankful for, but I will only blog about 3 of them today.

1) I am thankful for the VERY short line (only 2 people) when I went to get my driver's license renewed this afternoon. I had been procrastinating getting it done because I hate standing in the long lines, so it was a pleasant surprise when I walked in and saw just 2 people in line ahead of me! In related gratitude, I am also thankful for the sweet, smiling lady who was doing the renewals. I think it was the first time I have ever seen someone at that job who looked like they enjoyed it.

2) I am thankful that Rachel had an easy surgery today, and that her sweet husband posted a note on her blog to let her readers know as soon as he had talked to the doctor.

3) Last but definitely not least, I am SO thankful that my brother, Darrell, is getting married to Cindy this Saturday!!!! Darrell was actually married a couple of years ago, but his wife walked out after only a couple of months. He was so hurt and devastated, but he kept his eyes on God and trusted in Him no matter how dark things looked. God has rewarded Darrell's faithfulness by giving him the desires of his heart in Cindy. She is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful, and godliest women I know. She and I have so much in common, so it will be a lot of fun to have her for a sister-in-law. ---Wait, I don't mean we have all those superlative adjectives in common, I mean other things, like our love for "Anne of Green Gables" and for Japanese steakhouses.
Both of my boys are going to be in the wedding. We tried on their suits today and they looked SO cute! I will post pics as soon as I can.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thankful Thursdays

My friend, Rachel, has started a new weekly column called, you guessed it, Thankful Thursdays. She encouraged her fellow bloggers to play along. And since I need to be much better at focusing on my blessings in life, I thought this would be a great tool to help me with that.

Today just happens to be my birthday, and so today I am thankful for 31 years of life. It has been a full life, with great times, hard times, and in-between times; with love, laughter, and tears. The Bible says that God has written our days in His book, so the only reason I have had these 31 years, and all the blessings that came with them, is because He willed it. I am thankful that He thought I was worth creating, that He felt the world was missing something, and so He created me to fill that particular void. The Bible also tells us that He created us for "such a time as this." So, I am also thankful that He does have a purpose and a plan for me. I am thankful that I know I am walking in His will and have some idea as to what that purpose is - that's a great feeling!

I am thankful that I know I have eternal life - not in this world, but in one far, far better than anyone can imagine. I am extremely thankful that Jesus Christ died on the Cross - for ME - to give me that eternal life and a relationship with Him in this world. I am thankful that He loves me that much.

I am thankful for my mother, who is the best mom anyone could have. I am thankful that she had the faith to wait on me when it took her a while to get pregnant, and that she had the faith and boldness to ask God for a girl with red hair. I am thankful for how she raised me from the start to obey and love God. My mom was always my biggest supporter and encourager. She loved me when I was difficult to love, and she never stopped believing in God's best for me. She has always been quick to love and quick to speak the Truth in love. And even though she was always my mom first, she has also been my best friend. I am thankful for her and the awesome relationship we have.

And that is my thankful Thursday thought for this week!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lesson from the Hummingbird

I have always been fascinated with hummingbirds. I love how they flap their wings so fast, their cute little size, the pretty flowers they drink out of, etc. However, until recently it seemed that I rarely saw hummingbirds. My mom talked about seeing them all the time at her house, but she has a feeder for them. Yet when I would go to her house, I would always just miss them when one of them would come up to feed. A little over a year ago, Preston and I took a trip to the mountains. I was relaxing on the deck of our chalet when all of a sudden I heard this very loud buzzing noise. I was alarmed, thinking somewhere near me is a HUGE bug, but when I looked in the direction of the noise, instead of a bug, it was a pretty little hummingbird - not more than 4 feet from me!
The other day my mom gave us a hummingbird feeder and even hung it up for us, right outside our kitchen window by our table. I was skeptical. It seems very late in the season for hummingbirds to find new sources of food, and I never see them around here anyway, I thought. Imagine my surprise when that same afternoon we had our first hummingbird visit our feeder! Since then, we have one every several minutes come up to the feeder, even while we are all sitting right there at the window!
Now that I have had several days to get to know these amazing creatures a little better, I am much better at recognizing them. Before, I could be sitting at my kitchen table, see something dart past outside from the corner of my eye, and I assumed it was a large bug (a very fast bug, I often wondered just what kind of bug was it that could fly that fast.) I would also sometimes see a tree branch move suddenly, without any seeming reason. Now that I have gotten to know the hummingbirds better - how they move and fly, what they look like better than I did before, etc. - I can see them all over the place. I now know that thing I saw zooming past my window was a hummingbird, when that branch starts to move, I can now see the hummingbird that just landed on it. Because I spent time getting to know the hummingbird, I can see it more easily and enjoy its presence more often.
The same is true of our walk with God. There are so many times when we want to "see" God, to see Him working around us. If we are seeking His will for something, we keep an eye out, hoping to find the path He wants for us, and getting frustrated and confused when it seems that He isn't showing us that path or speaking to us. Maybe it's because we are not spending enough time with Him. He wants us to spend time at His window (the Bible), so that we can learn more about His character, and how He moves and acts. When we do, we will suddenly realize that it's much easier to see Him moving around us. We will recognize His movements and be able to discern what He is showing us. When "weird" things happen, things that don't seem to have an explanation, we will recognize that it was God orchestrating something. Before, some things looked ugly and undesirable (like the giant bugs I thought I was seeing), but after we sit at that Window, we will recognize that it is God moving - just in a way we weren't expecting. I know I need to spend more time at that Window, sitting and watching the way God moves throughout Scriptures. Because when I do, I will recognize Him more easily and enjoy His presence more often.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Gospel According to a Three-Year-Old

Today after picking Harris up from school, we went to get the boys' hair cut. They were way past needing it. I don't normally go with them, because my father-in-law always takes them. It's a treat the boys always look forward to. I was with them today because we went straight after picking Harris up from school and eating lunch.
David went first today. I could hear his sweet voice, but wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying until I heard, "But I'll miss my house when I get to Heaven." It cracked me up. I am so glad he couldn't see me, because I try hard not to laugh when they are saying something very serious to them but hilarious to me. I decided I should listen a little closer. The rest of what I heard went something like this. (I never heard Mr. Linn respond. He wasn't talking as loudly as David was.) "Do you know how to get to Heaven? You have to believe in the Cross that Jesus died on. I have Jesus in my heart." He was witnessing to this man cutting his hair!!!! How adorable and amazing!! I was so proud and so convicted. I am not nearly as quick to share the Gospel as I should be, but I was just like David when I was little. I witnessed to everyone I saw.

Lord, help not to be ashamed of the Gospel, "for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." Help me to see the divine appointments you set for me, and give me the courage to speak boldly of you. Just as I speak about my husband or kids to anyone and everyone who will listen, give me the same kind of passion when it comes to speaking about you. And please don't let David lose that boldness he had today when talking about You. To God be the Glory. Amen.

Kindergarten Orientation and the First Day of School!

So yesterday was Kindergarten orientation day! We have been SO excited about this day! Harris has been ready to start school since he was three. (Takes after his mommy. I was the nerdy kid who loved school - at least most of the time.) My mom came and stayed with the two little ones, so it was just Harris, daddy, and mommy. He rarely gets us all to himself, so that alone was a treat! At orientation, we learned who Harris' teacher would be - Mrs. Cvacho, who seems very sweet. Our first impressions of her are wonderful! She took the students and parents to her classroom (which happened to be the same classroom I had in Kindergarten!), where she gave instructions and helpful info to the parents while the kids had a snack and colored a picture. Then there were a lot of things to sign up for and forms to fill out. (Now, I'm kinda nerdy and LOVE filling out forms, but it was a bit much even for me. However, I was sitting in the back of a very crowded room filled with excited kids and anxious parents, which made it less than ideal.) Before we knew it, it was time to go home. Harris was a little disappointed that it was over so soon. I assured him that the next day would last longer.

One thing I was a little nervous about was the fact that we didn't know any of the kids or parents. I knew I would get to know them over the course of the year, but it would have been nice to have started out knowing at least one person. But God arranged a meeting that only He could have. After we left the school, we took Harris to Chik-Fil-A for lunch. Another vehicle pulled into the parking lot as we did, and out came two girls not just from Kindergarten, but from Harris' class! Both of the girls moms were with them. We sat next to them and over the course of the conversation, I found out that one of the moms grew up in Bessemer, like me, and now lives in McCalla, like my brother. The other mom uses the same doctor for her OB/GYN as I do! How cool is that?! Harris and the 2 girls had a little bit harder time hitting it off, but they warmed up to each other by the end of lunch.

Today was the potentially hard day. The day I would have to leave Harris at school. I wasn't worried about him, but I wasn't sure I would be able to just drop him off and drive away without getting emotional. Harris bounded out of the car, and into the capable care of the teachers who were working the carpool line, and I drove off. My heart was pounding, but I didn't break down. Instead of going home and dwelling on my baby being in school, I ran errands with David and Amy Beth. Did you know that there are no crowds at Wal-Mart at 8:30 in the morning, and none at the Galleria at 10 am? It was awesome! I could get used to that. Before I knew it, it was time to pick up Harris. He came bounding out of the building with a huge smile on his face. One of the carpool teachers said, "I think Harris had a GREAT first day today!" Over lunch, he told me all about the day. His favorite part was playing on the playground. His second favorite part was going on a tour of the whole school building - especially the library!! He made some new friends, enjoyed the snack I had packed for him, and he likes his teacher. You just can't ask for a better first day! Praise the Lord!