Monday, May 31, 2010

Celebrating and remembering...

12 years ago this weekend Shep and I said our vows.

We laughed that some days we feel as if we have just always been together and other days we feel like we were just married a short while ago. I guess that is a good thing. We have talked all weekend about what we were probably doing at that exact time 12 years earlier.

-the rehearsal dinner
-the morning of the wedding
-the jitters right before the wedding
-the reception
-the honeymoon :>)

I am happy to say that marriage done God's way just gets better. I am so thankful for the strong man God gave me. He is the easiest person in the world to get along with and God knew I would need that....remember I am moody. He steadies my faith and builds me up.

We get to share our anniversary with Memorial Day. We got to ride on the motorcycle for a little while and we made a stop at the Georgia National cemetery.

Every single grave had an American flag in front of it. The sight was truly powerful. I felt like I was on sacred was like big bass drums should have been sounding off in the distance. I watched as parents and siblings of fallen loved ones placed flowers on graves and wiped tears of sorrow and sacrifice. I almost felt like I was intruding on their private moments. There were people talking, babies crying, and the hum of car engines. I wondered if these families wanted to scream out...."Do you know what they gave for you? Do you know what we lost for you?"

I felt such a fresh and renewed sense of gratitude, patriotism, and sacrifice.

These people lived and died so that I could enjoy this day of freedom riding around on a motorcycle with my husband.

I praise my God for creating such people that would lay down their own lives for those of us they will never meet. Help us to rise to the occasion and live out such courage in our daily lives. This was such an excellent reminder that "freedom isn't free."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Week 1 of summer

I've made it to Thursday.

So good.

I share openly how nervous I get with summer's arrival. Being trapped inside is a terrible feeling for me and my kids. However, I have worked really hard to make things better and get out as much as possible.

I won't lie. Monday was rough.

I bet I looked at the clock twice every hour. You guessed it. The day dragged on and on.

Since then we have made some trips and had some play dates with friends who bend over backwards to help me. (What would I ever do without them?)

As Friday approaches I gotta tell you that God has graciously provided a great start to our summer. Each day has held it own struggle and sweetness so far.

I am not so bold to say that I am cured of this anxiety. Just trying to take it a day at a time....

2 Timothy 1:7 "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My birthday boy

God graced our home with Zeke two years ago and we have never been the same. Our home that stayed filled with princess stuff and pink girly decor was invaded by a boy. A wonderful boy. He is a miniature version of his daddy....gorgeous.

He calls me "Amma" instead of Momma and I love it!
We celebrated his birthday from morning til night and enjoyed his favorite things.
He had pancakes for breakfast (made by Shep).
He had pizza for lunch (made by me).
He had chicken nuggets for dinner (made by Chik-fil-A). He calls is wicken.:>)

He opened his gifts: a play gun (his favorite), a movie, some toy cars, and a sand box full of sand.

The day flew by but we tried to cram in all of Zeke's favorites. It was a two year old's dream day of eating, sleeping, swimming, wrestling, and throwing sand in his new sandbox.
Thank you God for entrusting Shep and I with this little man. I pray that he would grow in Your favor and be a man of strong character. I love seeing the little facets of his personality each day. Thank you for creating him. Help him to make a difference for Your Kingdom in this world and give us the wisdom to guide him in the path You have set out for him. He is a delight to our family and we humbly thank You these past two years. We want to see many many more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is He precious to me?

I have one of those flip Bible verse things in my bathroom that I read in the mornings doing my make-up, hair, brushing my teeth, or whatever else...

This morning God used it to speak ever so softly to my soul.

This verse was out of James and it talks about counting it joy when we face trials...(James 1:2,3)

I promise you as someone who has faced and is facing hard times, people love to tell me this verse as encouragement.

I don't mean to sound rude in any way but when you are facing the trials (or have been in the midst of a hard trial for years) it can get really old.

You think to yourself, "How do I find joy in this?"
What does "count it all joy..." even mean?

Well, it has taken me a while to understand what I believe God has said to me through this verse.

I haven't necessarily found "joy" as in happiness.

However, I HAVE found more of Him.

He brings me the midst of these still very hard days.
He helps me to count my blessings in the midst of sorrow and hardship.
I will even count my blessings and call them out loud....isn't that counting my joy?

I have rambled past what I really wanted to post...sorry I tend to do that.

Anyway this was the quote that was under my scripture this morning and I loved it for those of us who are still waiting for God's "yes" to be visible to our eyes.

"Sometimes God says, 'Wait'. When He does, His intent is always that He would become more precious to you during the waiting than if He had said 'Yes' immediately."

So many days I have wished that God's "yes" would just hurry up and happen. So many days I wish that we didn't have to endure and persevere and hold on through seemingly impossible odds.

However this quote has proven quite true in my life....just as He knew it would.

As I have had to wait....I have had to also learn to trust Him blindly.
As I have had to wait...I have given myself more to Him.
As I have had to wait....He has become more precious indeed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life snapshots and hitting the campaign trail...

These are a few photos that were taken on the day of Caroline's Special Olympics.

My friend took this one of me andCaroline holding moves me to tears because the picture says something that words simply cannot.

My dad (one of Caroline's favorite people)came to cheer her on...

Each participate won a medal for their hard work. Here is Caroline receiving one of her medals for the ball toss.
Notice my daddy making sure she would stand on the platform to get her medal...

Look at my pre-k graduate!
How stinkin cute is she???

Ava is her own little person. She is my little pleaser but she can also be very very moody.
Case in point...she is my daughter....I can be very very moody.

After a few pictures...she was done. I wanted more pictures of her big day. She wasn't cooperating. Anyway, these are some of the ones where she was offering good smiles.

Here we are hitting the campaign trail!
Shep and I are like two little kids off on a grand and wild adventure.
We are mostly clueless about all the details of where to put signs but we are loving to learn as we go.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

These May Days

Lots of sunshine....

Outside my window I see trees swaying from a gentle breeze...

This is May in Georgia. I love it!

The hazy lazy days of summer are coming and with them comes more change.

Ava graduated from Sam Jones Pre-K today....can I tell you that I still clearly remember dropping her off when she was 18 months old? She and I loved taking the elevator because she loved pressing the buttons. We did it at 2, then at 3, steady on at 4, and today at 5 years old we did it one last time. I cried when she pressed the button. She just looked at me like I was crazy.

Caroline's last day of school is fast approaching. The time flies by....she has made tremendous progress and shown such an interest in learning on her grade level. Caroline is physically handicapped but very mentally capable. She loves reading comprehension and craft projects. Her desire to eat hasn't slowed down one bit. I just hope I can keep her stimulated and challenged....

My little Zeke will turn 2 on May 22nd. He brings such joy to our home. We ALL adore him and let him get away with way too much! He won't know what to do when we don't all go pile into the car in the morning and begin school drop-offs.
He loves any and everything to do with summertime is going to be a huge hit with him.

Shep and I both have birthdays coming up.

I will turn 33. That sounds so old. I desperately cling to the notion that the thirties are the "new 20's".

My man will turn the BIG 40! That is all I will say about that....except he still has such a baby face to me. Actually many people think we are the same age. Um, that doesn't speak too well of me does it??

Our anniversary is May 30 and we will celebrate 12 years of marriage.

So...there is a lot of prepare for and plan in the upcoming days.

Lord help me with the changes that are ahead. You know how feel. You know what makes me scared. You know what excites me. I ask You for wisdom and joy at the coming days. Help me not to look at others and compare myself, my family, or anything else. Give me strength and joy when mine gives way to fear and frustration. Would You be my portion, my rock, my hiding place? I love you Lord. Make our paths straight. Make our loads a little lighter and the days ahead a bit brighter. I am clinging to You as my Help in time of need. Forgive me for ever doubting Your plan for my life. In my weakness You are strong....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For me and for them...

It has been a wonderful Mother's day.

I woke up to my good looking and devoted man and my three cherished children.

I am blessed indeed.

I just want to thank God for what He has done through my own mother. She is some kind of woman.

Strong willed, tenacious, courageous, solid, funny, and ever seeking her God are just a few of the ways I would describe my mom.

During my teenage years my friends would seek my mom's counsel because she seems to exude wisdom and discernment.

I have always known her to love and seek after God. But, something changed with her when my daughter Caroline was born. It shook all of us to the core. The trauma and changes were so heavy to our family. We were all so heart broken and stunned.

But mom.....stepped it up.

She began running toward God in a way we never had.
She cried out to Him like never before.
She realized that she needed more of Him to live each day.
She prayed more.
She studied more.
She memorized more.
She believed more.

She did this because she was compelled to do so. But she also did this for me.

Only God knew how heavily I would need her faith to feed my own.

Only God knew that I would want for myself what I saw in her.

Only God knew that a mother's love could hold her grown daughter's hand through some terrible days that would lie ahead.

Only God knew that my love for Bible study would be learned and caught from hers.

Only God knew that her total surrender to Him would make me pursue her legacy.

As I watch my mom now.....almost 8 years after Caroline's birth....I see God all over her life.

She has written a Bible study, designed, written and led a women's mentoring program, and is now working on her second Bible study. She is not content to retire and become a church lady. She works tirelessly to see other women grow in their walk with God.

I have benefitted so much from her example.

I want to do the same for them...for my children.

I don't want them to know and remember me for :

my cooking skills
my shopping skills
my teaching skills
my playing skills
my singing skills
my reading skills

I want them to crave what I have.

I want them to see me love Jesus more than anything else.

I want them to see me turn the other check when someone wrongs me...
I want them to see me forgive someone who has hurt me even when that person doesn't ask to be forgiven...
I want them to see me giving grace and withholding judgement...
I want them to see me on my knees in prayer...
I want them to see me carrying around my scripture cards....
I want them to see me lay my hands on someone and pray for someone in need...
I want them to see me giving to those in need...

I want to leave them a legacy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A "flare" up

This past week has been physically taxing on me.

For those of you familiar with the terms of arthritis, I have had a "flare" up. Basically, all that really means is that I have been in some extreme acute pain.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis almost 8 years ago. Its effect was immediate. I went from normal daily activities to not being able to get out of bed in a matter of a week. The specialist put me on several medications known to help manage pain and prevent joint damage. Over the years this disease has become more manageable and I have been able to back off of all but 2 medications.

Well, that came to a screeching halt this week. Driving, dressing my children, and anything else that involved my hands became all but impossible. Tears would just roll down my face as I tried to push through the pain and force my hands to do things that they just wouldn't do.

I knew that this was coming. My body had not felt good in a few weeks. But you just think that it will get better. It has to.

But it didn't.

This pain just lingered and almost intensified every day.

I have shared before how Shep and I have been hit hard by the financial crisis. I often share my struggles in caring for a handicapped child and the toll it can take on you physically and emotionally. I have shared that we feel like God has opened wide the doors for Shep to step into the political world and run for state representative.

None of that has changed....but the constant PAIN was added in.

It was too much.

I realized that I had not only had a "flare" up with my arthritis, but I had developed a temper "flare" toward my God.

I was angry.

I felt betrayed.

"Wasn't this enough?"

"Aren't we due some easy days?"

"Can't things quit being so hard?"

These were my thoughts toward God...except I said them through clenched teeth and closed fists.

In the Lord's loving way He tended to me.

He worked my entire situation on Tuesday so that I got in to see the specialist on short notice. I had new medicine in my body in no time. He used friends and family to help with transportation, children and food so that I could rest. Then He lead me to His Word to speak truth to my soul.

My enemy has attacked me for so long with mental bombardment.
His tactic had changed but I had not caught he was wearing me down physically.

The Lord showed me.

However, I had to repent of my anger and sin toward Him.

He lead me to Proverbs.

My daughter, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds victory in store for those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Prov. 2:1-8

Sunday, May 2, 2010

While Zeke sleeps...

I just had to sneak in the house and take a quick pic of Zeke sleeping the day away.

Unfortunately...he is my only napper left (as far as kids go).

So, when he lays down....we head out to play for a bit.

Caroline practiced her push-up skills.

Shep and Ava got busy planting our flower seeds.

Caroline also got to have some "lounge" time on the swing.

Ava got some worms and then snuggled with her sister for a bit.

How do you like those rain boots with her Sunday dress???