Thursday, April 30, 2009


I enjoyed Bible study today. I always do...there is nothing unusual about that. Some people pay therapists to listen...I just spill out my guts to those precious women.

If you know me I tend to be an open book. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. My friends ALWAYS know if something is OFF with me.
These women and I have gone through so many studies together over the last 5 plus years...

They have heard my cries, frustrations, appeals, questions, answers, victories, moments of defeat, crippled faith, expectations, and hopefully some faith explosions.

I guess it is only appropriate that I get another "freeing" moment in the midst of these women again.

We are still studying Esther. We are in our 7th week. I never could have imagined the tremendous insights I have gotten from this study.
Today she (Beth) was ending the video session and she was encouraging those who are waiting. Waiting for whatever they believe God has told them He is going to do.

(ding. ding. ding. Caroline's healing)

Of course, my ears perked right up...she went on to explain there is always a longing during a wait. If there weren't a longing then it would not be a wait.
Without a longing for something there would be no faith, trust, or hope exhibited at all. The wait would simply be a passing of time.
It was incredibly freeing to me! So many times the enemy has lied to me and told me that my faith was weak because I longed for her healing.

During this wait for Caroline's healing....I long....oh, how I long for it!!

Beth also went on to admonish us about fretting and doubting. Lord knows I do my fair share of that. There is a difference.

Fretting and doubting shows lack of trust.
Longing shows strength and assurance of God's promise.

I need to hear that. I believe many Christians do. It is o.k. to pray and ask God for BIG things. He wants to be BIG and present in our lives. That doesn't mean He will bend to our every whim...He knows better.
We need to understand it is o.k. to have a longing for something...

Ps. 38:9 " All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you." NIV

Prov. 13:19 "A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil." NIV

Job 6:8 "Oh that my request might come to pass, and that God would grant my longing." NAS

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So Gross! I am not writing anything heavy or super spiritual today.

I just wanted to share a meal that Ava has decided she likes to eat. I cannot fathom putting these two things together...but she loves it.

She will ask for a hot dog in the bun with peanut butter spread on as the topping.

I wish I had a picture to show you.

My stomach churns just thinking about how that must taste. She insists that it is delicious.

Isn't that crazy? I am sure this too will pass because after all Ava is only 4. I know there will be other weird concoctions that she will think up and want to try.

Speaking of that...I would have NEVER fixed this for her. But, my hubby, allowing Ava to branch out and try new things absolutely fixed it. He said, "Well, she asked for it"!

Every mom knows that kids ask for all kinds of things but we certainly don't give them their every desire.

Oh well, maybe I would have been wrong in this case. She sure does love her frank and peanut butter.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday in the South

A picture of our pergola. It is such a fun place to hang out and visit with friends. The jasmine has just now taken off and is starting to really cover the top. I was amazed at how much shade it provided today. Isn't it pretty??

My Georgia boys...

If you want to know if Caroline is having fun...check out her mouth! Open wide with a smile. How sweet is Ava?? She is the younger of the two...but she is basically holding her big sister. I could just cry!! Precious!!

There is a country song by Craig Morgan called, "That's What I Love About Sundays". If you can listen to ought to. I smile every time I hear it because it is very reminiscent of my life growing up in the South.

I have included a few pictures from today. Shep got home and we hung out on our pergola. It is one of my favorite places. We have a porch swing (complete with springs) and a hammock swing.

As you can see, the girls love to pile up in that swing together. They want to be pushed high and spin in circles until their eyes are crossed.

A picture display of what I loved this Sunday...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life and Death

The older I get the more I am aware of the sadness in this world around me.

Miscarriages, loved ones dying, betrayals, abuse, addictions, selfishness, and sickness. I have been around or read about many broken hearts this week. I have to be careful not to wear this stuff.

If you allow your mind to stay on the sadness instead of the Savior and the strength He will be a crying, miserable, pessimistic mess.

I firmly believe that being in this environment only makes me long for home. My eternal home...where I will be united with my Jesus. I can't wait to look into the eyes that formed me in my mother's womb. The One who will wipe away every tear. The Friend that has made a place for me to live with Him forever.
I think our limited and pitiful view of heaven makes us think that it will somehow be less than living here. The truth is that our limited and pitiful little minds can't possibly fathom a place so incredible that there are colors and foods that we have never seen or tasted. I think He has saved the BEST for us. I think we will still experience living our lives...only we will not be tainted by anything bad or fear at all. Our lives there will be too much fun to tell...adventures, excitement, surprises,endless joy, uncontrolled laughter, praise and worship that would make Travis Cottrell look like a mere amateur....and the best part is still Jesus. I think we (and I) sell Him way short.
I believe He has a blast waiting for us.

We must remember...Fun was God's idea.

So....back to my week. Yesterday Shep and I attended a funeral. A family member's mother had passed away. I hate funerals. I hate death. I wasn't created with "death" in mind. Death only entered the scene when man fell. We were created for "life".

Thankfully, God thought ahead for me and gave me an inkling to bring my little man, Zeke, with me.

What is it about babies??

My dad always says that babies represent new life....they make people smile. They help us focus on what we were created for

Zeke charmed, cooed, laughed, and babbled his way around many laps and into many arms. I loved it! It was a little bit like aloe on a sunburn. This otherwise gloomy setting was changed by one little new life.

During the funeral I kept Zeke out with me.

As cute as he is...he is NOT aware of manners just yet. He would have thought that interrupting this funeral by loud "MAMAMA"and "DADADA" sounds was really fun.

So...he and I sat in an atrium. He loved it because his voice carried. My little man was a hoot. I just took him in...staring at him for as long as I wanted...letting him be silly....and loud. I just loved being his momma and watching him reach for me.

I thought about God creating us just because He wanted to. As a proud Father he just wanted to take us in....stare at us...let us be silly and loud. Zeke was such a great picture of how God intended us to live. Zeke was completely unaware that death was down the hall.

That was God's original plan too.

I am so grateful that He made sure that death was not the end.
We were created to live.................and live we will!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My ideal me

Anyone else wish they were the ideal version of themselves??

It is too funny. I will be sitting in Sunday school, Bible study, or our Sunday worship service and I will begin planning grand plans for how godly I plan to be that day or that week. Can anyone say A.D.D.?

I will picture myself with my scripture memory cards...tattered from constant use.
I will picture myself elbow deep in intense Bible study with commentaries to boot.
I will picture myself on my face in the kind of prayer that would make any Christian proud.
I will picture myself as the sweet, strong, submissive, and silly wife.
I will picture myself as the perfect mom....never having an impatent tone or wishing I could ship my children off to the nearest set of grandparents.
I will picture myself full of wisdom for my friends.
I will picture myself being the ever-humble servant.

Then I leave that Sunday school class or Bible study and I am suddenly hit with too little time and too much Andrea.

Oh how I want to be THAT version of me.

Today in our Esther study, Beth told us that we were fired. Completely fired and free from taking on God's responsibility.

God has called each and every one of us to something. Being typical messed-up people we go the step further and begin worrying (which is a SIN...we just don't call it that) about how we are going to do that calling and we feel responsible for making sure it turns out just right.

What gall?!?

I am only called to obedience. The ending is left up to my Jesus.

I have been so encouraged in this study of Esther. It is all about TIMING. We (or I) tend to think that God isn't aware of the time crunch we are in. That somehow the God who created TIME doesn't get it.

We can rest assured HE does. His timing is amazing. I am counting on it.

I will speak from experience and tell you that there have been many times over these last 6 years that I have told God that He has missed out on the best opportunity to heal Caroline.
-at church during a song about healing
-at healing services
-at family functions
-at friends homes
-at school

I feel like God would have the perfect stage at any one of these places to perform His miracle. So many people would be many would have to testify to God's miraculous many would possibly be saved.

He evidently hasn't agreed with me so far.

But, what I took from today is that I am FIRED from worrying over it. I don't need to try to create the perfect atmosphere to somehow manipulate God to act.

He knows when He will act. He knows where. He knows who will see and be amazed. He knows what will happen as a result.

I am just called to daily, hourly, minute by minute obedience. Jesus-help me!!
Sometimes the worrying (although sinful) seems easier.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Perfectly Timed Treasure

A lot of life has happened since my last blog.

I made Shep read that last one. He liked the words, but hated the picture...of himself. Anyway, we had a good weekend.

Our Sunday school class got together on Saturday evening for a social. It was such a great time. We got to just sit around, talk, eat, and then....we got our "game" on.

Seriously...we brought board games and cards and just had a ball. You forget how much you enjoy playing games...and how competitive you are. I loved watching people have fun and just laugh. It seems like living in this wretched world we laugh less. Laughter is so good for the soul...

I love the scene in "Steel Magnolias" when all of the women are at the burial site. It was such a sad moment. But right smack in the middle of the sorrow...someone busted out with something too funny to contain. I think that is such a gift from our Father. To simply laugh.

Back to the point of my blog: I wanted to share something cool with you. If you have read my story regarding Caroline then you know that God has chosen many wonderful ways to let me see and believe Him. Dreams...visions...prophetic words...perfectly timed billboards saying something too peculiar...random people praying over Caroline in public...these are some of the ways...not to mention prayer and meditation in His Word.

I say that on purpose. He puts the "out-of-the-box" things right in front of me...I have to choose to believe that they are from Him.

So, after my wonderful date with Shep on Thursday, we devised a prayer plan. Shep and I agreed to go before God with three requests for ourselves and three requests for others. We made these requests very specific because we want specific direction and understanding. As you may of the three of our requests was about Caroline.

So, Thursday night I began my praying.

Friday morning I continued praying.

Friday night I went to the church. Several women were gathered to do some scrapbooking. There I was complete with a drawer out of my chest (yes, a drawer...I brought the entire drawer) full of pictures to be organized.

I set out for this project completely focused. I would stop occasionally and show-off different pictures. It was fun...such a girl thing to do.

But (here is the cool part...remember I have been praying specifically about Caroline among other things) tucked in among the pictures was a folded sheet of paper. I opened the paper and read the entire highlighted piece. It was an e-mail from my mom repeating a prophetic word that she had received from a friend regarding us. As the woman stated the prophetic mom had taken notes. It was dated back to 2005. She had written me this e-mail so that I would always have hope.

Here is what it said as spoken to my mom:

"Behold I am going to do a new thing. You will soon begin to see improvement in Caroline-in progression (like in your dream when she spoke...and counted...and walked). That is why I allowed you to dream about her. It will be a mighty wonder. I will do a work such as the parting of the Red Sea. There will be mighty warfare requiring much of you. There will be times in this progression of Caroline's healing that seem hopeless and that things are digressing, yet I will prove the words spoken by my prophet are true. Regardless of the circumstances-I will do what I said I would spoken through my prophet. This word is for you to know and believe. Things are going to shift. The days to come will be like a roller coaster ride with many highs and lows. Get ready and hold on. I will bring glory for my name alone. I will also bring healing to you, Andrea, and Shep."

That was written in 2005. I can't tell you how it affects me now in ways it could not have back then. I have lived this...anyone around me knows. They have lived it too.

So...coincidence or providence.

We know the answer. God answers prayer. This treasure was in a drawer stuffed with pictures and cards. My Almighty God knew that on Friday the 17th of April I would need to find it. His timing is priceless.

Thank you Lord for wanting to talk to us. Thank you for keeping it interesting...for using methods that are unusual. You know how to stretch our faith. We are still....awaiting our miracle.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Almost 11 years ago, Shep and I had our first dance as husband and wife to Nat King Cole's version of "Unforgettable". Of course that is a day I will never forget...all the details are etched in my memory. I can't wait to tell my girls about the day that their mom got to be a princess and marry her prince charming.

Well, last night marked another unforgettable night for me and my man.

For us...some of our lowest times have been some of our best.

Shep tells a story about us during our 2nd year of marriage. We were broke, had no friends, and things were not looking promising in Shep's career. We sat in the bed of his truck for hours and he talked, cried, hashed out his frustrations. All I had to do was listen. He didn't want my opinion or a solution...just a willing ear.

That spoke love to him. He has never forgotten that night...neither have I.

We are almost 11 years into this marriage and we have come a long way. God has blessed us with friends that we can't say enough about...Shep is a partner is a good business...BUT things don't look promising in this economy.

His job deals primarily with home closings so things pretty much stink right now.

We feel like we are WAITING for things to get better...WAITING on Caroline's healing...WAITING ON GOD....WAITING ON ANSWERS...

We are exhausted from WAITING...

Last night I got the chance to just be my man's best friend and partner in this fight. I listened to his fears, his frustrations, and his heart.

Isn't this what marriage is at its best? When things don't look good or feel good...hunker down and press harder and better...listen longer and talk less.

It was my pleasure to have some team-building time with my man. This world is hard. We were blessed to slip away and hide at a restaurant and reboot our minds for a bit. We could just focus on each other and how we are really dealing with things.

It was good.

It was real.

These are the unforgettable moments in my marriage. The hard times that lead to sweet retreat. These are the times where I see just how "in love" with him that I am.

Despite his questions, longings, fears, frustrations, and the many unknowns surrounding him...he won't quit.

He is my strong man. But for a few hours last night...I got to be strong for him.

It was truly unforgettable...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Easter Edition

Here are my beautiful kids in their Easter attire. I had to be at church at 7:30 a.m. so Shep had to do all of the dressing, hair brushing, bow placing, the whole thing. I think he did a remarkable job. Ava's eyes were piercing in her blue dress and Caroline wore a gorgeous purple two piece outfit....Shep even chose her purple wheelchair/stroller to match her dress. (For those of you that don't know her other chair is a hideously bright orange looking thing)
Zeke just looked like a classic little man. Nothing fancy but boy did he love his first egg hunt. I think you can see that he was perfectly content to just sit in the grass and bite and shake the eggs.
Too cute!!
Jesus, thank you for entrusting this little people to me. I feel like I mess up with them all the time. Grant me your wisdom, faith, and discipline as a mother. I want to please you above all else and fulfill the role you have given me as their mom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sweet ending

Easter came and went.

The eggs were abundant and the candy was flowing. (I would always get my Easter basket at my grandmother's house when I was growing up...I loved it!)

It was fun to be around our families. We ate great food, shared funny stories, hid eggs and found them, and held babies.

Our service was so good at church yesterday. The theme of the service was "Easter changes everything". Yes, it does! Our redemption.....our freedom....our righteousness...our victory...our salvation...our hope...our healing...our power...all of it came from Easter.


You can't think of Easter and the image of the cross not attack your mind. If you have seen "The Passion" then the image of THAT cross flashes before you. I was able to attend a concert Friday night and sing with thousands of other believers many of Chris Tomlin's songs. Chris was leading us in worship through some of my favorites...How Great is our God, Jesus Messiah, and Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone...

Somehow in the midst of this insane worship there was a still sadness. This was Good Friday. The day our Lord took our place. The day our sin was displayed on a perfect man so that His perfection could be displayed on and in us.

I still can't fathom it.

Maybe because I know myself all too well. I feel like I stay bound up in so many things of this world. I feel like I cheapen the cross.

Anyway, the sweet ending to this Easter weekend actually came this morning...

Ava and I were talking in the car. She began asking me questions about Jesus.

"Can we see Jesus, mama?"
"Why did Jesus die?"
"Do I have Jesus in my heart?"

So sweet and intentional...all of her own volition.

See how He makes Himself known...even in the heart of my 4 year old. She is drawn to Him. She wants to know more about Him.

I was delighted to share with her things that were probably way over her little head. But she listened and I know that He is steadily cultivating the seed that is being planted.

That is why Easter was His draw win save us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Girl in the mirror

Yesterday I witnessed a scene in Wal-Mart that I wished I had never seen. It sent me reeling into an angry fit....not really...just in my head anyway.

I watched a mother (well-dressed, seemingly educated, and middle to upper class) speak to her 4-5 year old daughter in a way that I would not have spoken to a dog. She used my Lord's name in an inappropriate way and used profanities no child should ever have to hear.

I was mortified. I wanted to confront this woman...I don't know if that would have done my witness any good because I think I was mad enough to fight.

I thought about this for the rest of the day.

I hurt over it.

I wondered how many people speak to innocent kids this way.

I wondered if this was a PUBLIC spectacle....what went on in PRIVATE?

I apologized to God on this woman's behalf...and I wondered how HE holds back His wrath. This incident (although heart-breaking) doesn't even scratch the surface to all the injustices and pain that He witnesses.

Then it hit me.

He wants none to perish....not even her.
No druggie, child molester, porn star, murderer, thief, terrorist or anyone.

When He looks at this woman...he just sees sin.

Isn't that just how he found me??

Sinful, pathetic, self-centered, vain, and prideful...that is how He found me.

So----she is me. Sin is sin.
I think I grieved over her sin more than my own sin this past week?

What??? Isn't that what we Christians are good at doing? Judging a lost and sinful world for being just that...lost and sinful.

Today, on Good Friday I want to thank and praise Him who became sin for me and gave all of Himself to save me.
I love you my sweet Jesus. Help me to keep your sacrifice ever before me and to see those around me who are lost as children you want to welcome into your kingdom. Use me to that end......

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

East to West

(I have changed the opening song on my playlist....turn up your speaker to is very appropriate)

It is the mid-point of Spring Break week. I don' t know if I am more excited that half of it is behind me or I only have half of it left.

I haven't written in a few days because nothing that I have had to say would merit being memorialized on this has been a rough few days.

Certain events make me come face-to-face with my reality.

Spring Break is one of those events as well as Christmas break and summer break. It isn't being at home with my children. They are the delight of my life and they are pretty easy kids. It is the stark realization that I am trapped here. I can't physically go out and DO things with my kids....Zeke and Caroline require major hands-on attention. There is no possible way I can (with sanity) do outings while carrying a 10 month old, watching a 4 year old, and steering the wheelchair of my almost 7 year old.

Now.....(before my friends start calling me) I can most definitely do this with help.

I have said before that my close friends are like no one I know. They tend to me and take care of me. If I called any one of them and said I want to go to Chik-fil-A...they would really try to make that happen. They help me all the time.

But....there is that stark reality again....I don't want to have to depend on someone else to do typical "mom" things.

So, I just stay in. I barricade myself behind closed doors. I cry out to God and usually end up in the fetal position crying.

These are those times when I think..."Am I in the right line, Lord?" "Is the healing really coming?" Will it always be this way?"

The answer is "of course not!" I know this! But our reality can smother us and press in so close that anything other than what we see and feel right now is just an oh-so-distant fairy tale.

See...this is why I haven't written in a few days. Don't think for a second that because my fingers haven't been typing that I haven't been praying and seeking....
I have done much of that. Some of it has been during various home projects or folding laundry or just pitching BIG FITS with God.

So, enough of all that.

This Sunday, Easter, I have been asked to sing back-up for one of our guys in the Casting Crown's song "East to West".(It will be the offertory song at our church) As I have practiced all soul has been tended to by the words of this powerful song.

I just wanted to post a few of the lyrics that have tended to my soul:

"The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest

Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again

I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in

I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth your Word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me"

I am so grateful that there are songs available that so accurately say what we wish we could pray. This is mine for now...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

You might be a redneck...

If you live in Georgia and you step outside and think to yourself, "My goodness...I don't see any flies outside". That----my friends----is because they are all INSIDE my house.

We had some company over for dinner Saturday night and we grilled out. During this time we came in and out of the house doing various preparatory things. I saw quickly that tons of flies were coming into my house. We tried to do our best of keeping the door closed but many got in.

Well, if you know me and my O.C.D. tendencies....this drove me crazy! We were trying to entertain our guests and have a good time...meanwhile we got to swat at flies all night.

Just to let you know..I think we killed at least 25 or so Saturday night.

So on Sunday morning as we went about our getting-ready-for-church routine we found many more flies to kill. Let me just say that I am seriously dangerous with a fly swatter. The taste of victory was ever so sweet when I got to kill one....and kill them I did. Even Ava was walking around saying, "I wanna kill the next one!! Let me do it!" We really must have made it look fun!

The rest of the day on Sunday was spent at Shep's parents house. It was fun as always. We got to visit and play and eat...what more could you want??

We returned home around 7:30 or so and to our dismay...the flies that had been hiding...came out to play. Well------------we were ready.

Once we got the kids in bed we took serious action. I was armed with my deadly swatter while my husband was armed with an air rifle.

YES!! You read that AIR RIFLE!! Shep taught me just how much damage an air rifle can have on house flies. It literally vaporizes them....pretty cool!

(There were no b-b's or was just AIR in the rifle.) Shep was enjoying himself entirely too much singing Willie Nelson's "Turn out the lights" as he killed the flies.

We actually got tickled at ourselves. We went from room to room looking for the slightest motion or dark specks. If the fly made its presence was over.

Anyway....if you've ever kept a tally of who killed more or your might be a redneck.

If you use an air rifle to do it, or sing Willie while you do simply ARE a redneck!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A nice life

Shep and I have been enduring a whirlwind these past few weeks. Well, let me back way up....Shep's business depends heavily on the housing market. As you know, that market has seen better days and Shep's business has taken quite a hit.

We are facing the days ahead with some uncertainty. Can I just tell you...that is not comfortable at all??

So this brings me to some recent thoughts.

We assume the right of a nice little life.
We assume the right to be financially stable.
We assume the right to be healthy all the time.
We assume the right to have a life free of trouble and inconvenience.

Why? Because we belong to God......

Well, that doesn't cut it. God had some different standards.

He told us in His Word to simply follow Him. When I look through his Word at those who are my heroes in the faith....they didn't have "nice little lives".

Abraham-go to where I will lead you...sacrifice your only son
Noah-build a boat and be made fun of...even though you don't know what rain is
Moses- go before a Pharaoh and make demands for ME
Daniel- Will you go suffer a death eaten by lions? Will you interpret dreams that will upset the king?
Joseph-have your family try to kill sold as a wrong-fully accused and go to prison
David-stare in the face of a giant prepared to kill from a maniac king and live in caves
Ezekiel-declare my truth even though others will hate what you say and hate you for saying it
Jonah-live in the belly of a whale until you can obey me...
Esther-go before a kind to plead for your people although the penalty is surely death

Just a few...and we haven't tapped into the New Testament.

This idea of a "nice little life" is just that: a nice idea.

Our lives were meant for purpose and destiny.

I don't know of anyone that I respect or look up to just because they lived a "nice little life". Instead I want to imitate those who have stared difficulty in the face and overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want to cheer for those people. I want to see God bless them. I want to tell others about them and their stories.

Most Holy God...I want to do great things for the kingdom of God. Help me to trust You above all else. Make me blind and numb to the things of this world that pull for my attention. Fuel my faith and diminish my fear...