Sunday, November 28, 2010

His, Mine, and Ours

This is a picture of me, Shep and the kids with his mama and daddy. His mother, Patricia (better known as Granny to my kids) grew up in south Georgia so everyone heads south for Thanksgiving.

To answer your question....yes, we cook the food ahead of time and heat it up once we all get is CRAZY!!

This is a picture of me, Shep, and the kids with my parents.

In an effort to accommodate other families traditions, my family waits to celebrate Thanksgiving til Saturday.

So, I love it when my parents come along to be with us on the road.

My mom and dad are a huge help and they provide endless laughs.

This is all of us.

(Well, minus Shep's sister and her family. That would add 8 more to the picture.
This was their year to be at their other grandparent's house.)

I hope you can see the house in the background.

It is an old sharecropper's cabin. It has 2 bedrooms, a tiny kitchen, a living area, and 1 bathroom.

This is the cabin the men go to when they hunt. It is a man's oasis. No phones. No paved roads. No matching furniture. No need to lock doors. Really. They still don't lock the doors.

Anyway, we all pile in at Thanksgiving and return thanks to the One who makes it possible for us to live. We hug necks, marvel at the growing young-uns and see how high we can load our plates. My favorite part of the day is listening for the stories that I know will be told. They are the good ones. Usually about a loved one who is gone on to glory or a family favorite about someone just being who they are. You know your family has those people in them.

That uncle, aunt, cousin, or grandparent who just says or does things you can't fathom.....

Anyway, it was 82 degrees on Thanksgiving day. We swatted flies and rode four-wheelers. We ate our fill and savored time. We caught up on every one's lives and planned ahead.

Now we are back home and already have our Christmas tree up.

It is a wonderful time of year.

It is a time of blessing, waiting, expecting, thanking, watching, giving, sharing, cooking, and loving.

I love it. All of it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Against sensible odds

a small group gathered last Wednesday to pray over some sweet friends.

We went before God and asked Him to do the impossible.

We needed Him to re-start the heart of an 8 week developing baby in it's mother's womb.

We asked in confidence.
We asked believing that He could do it.
We asked and demonstrated our faith.
We asked because He tells us to.
We asked because He creates life.
We asked because we need to see Him show up.

Today we got our answer and it wasn't what we wanted.

I won't lie and act like I am not slightly upset, discouraged, and sad.

The truth is that I wanted this desperately for my friends. But, I needed it for myself. I needed to see it with my own eyes.

As I went before God today and prayed I told Him exactly how I felt about the way things turned out. I found myself becoming cynical, distant, and even mad.

I sit here tonight and I still don't know all the answers.

I can't make sense of His ways and I know that I am not supposed to.

But I need a miracle. I need to know that He still does work miracles!!!

Everything in me wants to quit. I think....

"Why do this?"

"Why get your hopes up repeatedly?"

"Why do you think a miracle will still happen for your daughter?"

As I drove home tonight God met me in my disappointment.

He let me do what I love best. He let me sing out my frustration to him.

It was ugly.

My voice is all but gone. I had the volume up as loud as it would go and if it hadn't been so cold outside my hands (or at least the one not on the wheel) would have been up out of the sun roof and raised toward heaven.

I have written about it before but Martina McBride's song "Anyway" just answers a lot of questions for me....especially the one nagging at me today.

Would I have prayed last Wednesday if I had known this outcome???


Would I have gotten my hopes up last week if I had known that I was going to experience this heartache today??


Will I pray again and believe for God to do the impossible....???



What is the alternative if I don't?

Life without hope.

That.......I won't do!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Choosing Thankfulness

I am sure no one else's life is exactly the way they would want it to be!

We all have our "if only this" or "I would prefer that" that we would like to implement into our lives.

However, the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those around us is to choose thankfulness.

I often hear myself coming before God, my family, and friends with a mouth full of complaints.

Who wants to be around that kind of person??

I certainly don't.

Yet....that is the person I easily choose to be sometimes.

There are many things in my life that I wish were different.
There are things in the lives of those I love that I shed tears over and wish I could change.

But God has also blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. I am fulfilled in Him!

For every tear I have shed....I have laughed a thousand more times.
For every want I every need is cared for and met.
For every question that plagues my mind....I have a thousand promises to cling to in God's Word.
For every doubt that assaults my faith....there is strength and courage waiting for me when I need it.

Choosing thankfulness shows depth of character.

Griping constantly shows discontentment and complete selfishness.

I don't want to be that person....although I fall short constantly.

God help me choose thankfulness.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Strange Sunday

I didn't go to church today.

Zeke was running a fever so Shep and the girls went without us.

It was weird....

This girl has been in church since I was forming inside my mama's womb. Church is like a second home to me. I have always been so blessed to be a part of church families where I knew I was loved, challenged, supported and encouraged.

Zeke was feeling basically OK (with the help of Advil) so I loaded him up and we went to the grocery store.

I had a minimal list of things to get and I thought that I might as well utilize the time and get some things done.

Strange is the only word that describes it...being at the store...running errands...not being in God's house....not offering up my praise and thanksgiving with my church was just strange.

Don't mistake what I am saying.

I actually understand why a lot of people don't go to church. They've been jaded and judged one too many times.

A church is just a building for some people. A building where hypocritical people gather to check off their visit for the week. They go to say that they were there. They leave the same...unchallenged...bored...unmoved...and certainly untouched by the Presence of a Holy and Loving God. Church doesn't mean anything to a lot of people.

But to is so much more.
I can't imagine not wanting to go.

My church is so dear to me. It is the place where God is waiting to reign down upon us. Where He speaks through His Word. Where He challenges how I think, how I act, and convicts me of sin. A place where hugs abound from people who pray for you. An open altar to ask for help, repentance, and intercede for myself and so many others who are hurting. My church is an extension of my family. It is grace-filled and full of people who are at best pathetic without the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

Yea, today was weird for me.

I missed my church.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Couldn't stop the tears

Sometimes the bad news just piles up.

Sometimes you feel like you have been sucker punched and the wind is sufficiently knocked out of you.

This life offers endless opportunities for joy and pain...sweet moments and suffering.

I have had my fair share of both.
Surely you have too.

Being a believer in Jesus gives us the ultimate Comforter and Friend but still the moments come. He promises in His Word to never leave us, but we are not immune from feeling the fullness of pain.

Right now I am shouldering some pretty intense pain along with others I love and hold dear.

**There is a marriage in my extended family that is all but falling apart. There are children who are hurt and confused...people betrayed and scarred. Lives are forever changed...

**There is a friend who is watching and waiting as her little girl battles through surgical procedures that are life-threatening...

**There is another friend who went in for that ultrasound visit...only to find there was no heartbeat.

Yesterday....the tears just started and I seriously could not stop them. I cried and cried and cried some more.

I am praying, begging, interceding, asking, waiting, expecting, and hoping in my God to do some amazing things in each of these stories.

These are all just lives in process~ lives of people I love~ the outcomes have yet to be written but the time passing now seems to drag for us all.

I am so thankful for the honor to pray for these people. Their burdens somehow offer me a respite from my own....from always thinking about me and my problems.

Maybe that is a glimpse of God's goodness during all of this. To truly bear another's burdens so they don't have to for a while.

Anyway, I am just blogging about this because I needed to. I needed to put some words to all that I am feeling.

The tears were a good thing. I wasn't really expecting to react in that way but I think God knew I needed to release it.
The tears keep us real.
The tears keep us sane.
The tears keep us looking for better days ahead.

Father God...several people I know and love are hurting so bad right now. Many of them wonder where You are during all of this. They (we) are disappointed. Pain is abundant and peace seems distant. God help me carry their burdens to You and trust You to handle the details. I entrust each one of these separate situations into Your all-knowing hands. Speak loudly to their hearts, let them sense You in a real and tangible way. They feel alone, let down, and they are tired of fighting their battles. Give them courage and strength to face whatever comes their way. Keep me praying as I hold to Your promises and wait expectantly for You to come through. I love you Lord.

Continue to strengthen my own faith as it wavers regarding Caroline's healing. I know what You have said and I stand on Your promise. You know it is hard. Thank you for walking each step with me. Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010


(turn up your volume to share in this moment I had:)

I wish the people in my neighborhood really appreciated how I literally hold myself back from crazy worship when I exercise (uh...walk slowly but with passion) up and down our street.

God gave me the most beautiful day yesterday. After church, eating lunch, getting Zeke down to nap, settling Shep and the girls into a half-dozing/half-watching-tv state I took off for some down time and plugged in my earplugs. I don't get to listen to my i-pod shuffle very often but when I do I remember why I chose the songs that I downloaded.

They move me.
They point me toward my God.
They invite me into praise and thanksgiving.
They push me past my selfishness to focus on the only One who really matters.

I walked and silently sang along with each song. I took in the gorgeous blue sky and filled my lungs with fresh cool air. The moment was awesome!

Everything in my life is not awesome. I have personal struggles and things that plague me just like everyone else but no one can offer God the praise I have to offer...just like I can't offer Him anyone else's praise. I must choose to give Him my own.

I love the phrase, "I will not offer to my God that which cost me nothing."

In the midst of doubts, financial struggle, hardships, questions, and wanderings....I will still choose to praise Him.

As I began the last leg of my walk the perfect song came on to usher in some sweet moments of awe toward the Lord.

Phillips, Craig, and Dean sang these words...

My faithful father, enduring friend, your tender mercies like a river with no end. It overwhelms me, covers my sin. Each time I come into Your Presence I stand in wonder once again.
Your grace still amazes me. Your love is still a mystery. Each day I fall on my knees. Your grace still amazes me.
Oh patient Savior, you make me whole. You are the author and the healer of my soul. What can I give you? Lord, what can I say? I know there's no way to repay you only to offer you my praise.
Your grace still amazes me. Your love is still a mystery. Each day I fall on my knees. Your grace still amazes me.
It's deeper.
It's wider.
It's stronger.
It's higher. Than anything my eyes can see.

I just wanted to hold my hands up to the sky so that God knew how grateful I am for every gift He has bestowed on me. At the same time I wanted to fall face down before Him and show Him that I acknowledge His holiness and trust His omnipotent hand in my life....especially His unseen hand.

Oh, how I love my God!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween~~~~Helton Style

Fun was on the agenda this past Halloween weekend!

We traveled to our yearly destination and enjoyed some fall time cider, candied apples, and apple pies.

Shep loves these particular photos of us eating hot boiled peanuts right out of the brown bag...they were delicious:).

The sunshine and cool air made for a picture perfect fall day.

Caroline's head is finally almost all healed up from her fall.
Now her little brother battles the same fate. Somehow he always has a bump or bruise somewhere on his noggin.

Our little man dressed up as Superman...

Caroline was a little farm girl....

And Ava rounded things off as Minnie Mouse....
We got more than our share of candy and made great memories as a family!
I can't believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner....wasn't it just summertime????