Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Christmas!

This is our tree at night time. My favorite time...there is just something about white twinkling lights that is somehow inspiring to me. It is best enjoyed with complete quiet and maybe some coffee or hot cocoa.
What a difference, huh? This was our pretty tree early on in December. These were the first of the gifts that I wrapped...we took a picture because the kids were so excited to finally see presents.
Me and him....yummy. He still melts me after almost 14 years.
It was not proper in my family to get all dolled up on Christmas morning. So we took pictures as we were....complete with morning eyes and breath (coffee) and pajamas.
The trampoline was Santa's big gift this year. The story will have to wait for another time but it was a monumental hit with the our kids. Unfortunately the rain has kept them off of it way more than they want to be.
Ava is usually the first one in the room to see Santa's surprises...I love capturing her surprised face.
Shep giving his big girl a squeeze! Caroline is so eat up with her daddy...it is ridiculous!
Ava strumming her guitar from Ms. Linda. She provided our background music while Shep read "Twas the Night before Christmas".
My handsome Zeke. He is 3 and a half...and finally got Christmas half-way figured out this year!
Me and my momma

Me and my daddy
Uncle Paul (my brother) letting his nephews and niece call Santa!
Homemade Christmas candy...the peanut butter balls are my absolute favorite! My grandmother passed away several years ago and I can't pop one of the delights in my mouth without transporting myself back to her kitchen.
My mother-in-law always gets into the festive decorating...I love her taste!
Real mistletoe shot out of a tree on the farm...
Real apples in that centerpiece...
Can you say carb fest?? My mom and dad always do homemade apple and chocolate fried pies.
Shep graced us with a batch of his delicious biscuits!

Christmas 2011 was a memorable one. Shep's dad is still recovering from his heart surgery...but doing well. There were ups and downs to this season. But Christ told us that would always be the case. The constant through it all was our reason for rejoicing...Him. Our Immanuel that came and lives this chaotic life with us day after day. I don't think I could even lift my head from the pillow each morning if I didn't have the promise of His Word to always be with me. He is the only reason we live and have breath. We give gifts to honor the greatest gift we have ever received...salvation. I pray your Christmas was a good one! Hope you enjoyed a sneak peek of ours...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Curveball

I have hesitated about writing this post for the past two days.

First of all I don't want to talk about it.

Second of all it makes me feel embarrassed.

But...this blog was started because God challenged me to be real and transparent with my faith. If you have followed this blog for any time at all then you know I really try not to hold back with my insecurities, failures, disappointments, victories, blunders and the like.

God is God over it all... the good, the bad, and the uncomfortable.

So, with that being said, I will continue.

Wednesday night we were all sitting at the table eating dinner and I leaned over to love on Ava. She sits directly to my left at the table. As I looked at her, something caught my eye. My eyes landed on what looked like dust in her hair. Upon closer inspection I realized this was not dust because dust doesn't move on its own. This was lice.

Ahhhhhhhh! Even typing it makes me want to throw up and scratch my own head at the same time.

Well I wish I could tell you that the godly self-controlled part of me reacted to what I saw. Unfortunately that did not happen. The crazy lady with control issues took over and I began to slightly freak out.

Thankfully Shep is always as steadfast and calm as an oak tree and he took charge of the situation.

The night progressed with getting a lice kit for Ava and then washing and vacuuming anything she had been in contact with for the past few days. It was a mess. I felt chaotic, unsettled, and frustrated. I could see my control issues rising to the surface and I hated what it revealed about me.

In order for me to be happy I need to feel a sense of control.

Nice, huh?

But true.

Now that we are three days into this I can tell you that I am better. Yes, because three days have passed. But also because I have seriously been talking to God about it. You may laugh that I am taking my requests about lice to God but you don't how bad I would be if I weren't.

And I firmly believe that God wants us to take the real stuff to him....right now, lice and nits are very real to me and I want them gone. But until they are I want to be a godly momma for my children.

This isn't what I wanted for Christmas but it is what I have been given to deal with so I might as well get all I can from the experience, right?

There are positives too. No one else has it in our family. We have checked Zeke and Caroline multiple times and Shep and I have checked each other. (Actually I have made Shep check me over and over because somehow I feel like I can feel them crawling on me. But so far....so good.)

And...we caught it quickly and the lice are gone.

Pray for us now to get rid of all the nits. These are the eggs that the lice laid. There are many of them. They are stubborn and hard to get out. Ava has to sit patiently while Shep and I nit-pick for an hour at a time.

Ava has been a great sport. She is not nearly as bothered as I am and I am thankful for that as well.

Another positive is that I have awesome friends who have offered wonderful support, encouragement, and tricks of their own from dealing with this not-so-desired pest. They have empathized and laughed with me! Seriously, if I don't laugh I will cry.

Ok so I am signing off for now. HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LICE-FREE CHRISTMAS!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Helping a momma out...

Yesterday Ava and I went to a production of "The Nativity" put on by Steps of Faith Dance Studio. Ava takes ballet from there and we knew several girls who would be dancing. We wanted to show our support and see the show.

Well it did NOT disappoint!

The entire production glorified Jesus Christ and his miraculous birth. Nothing else.

It was a chill-bump kind of thing.

These girls were not professional ballerinas. They ranged in age from 7 to 22. But the message that they delivered through dance was profound. I believe any time the story of Jesus' birth is told that it carries magnificent weight, power and significance.

During the second act of the performance they showed Jesus as a man. They showed him teaching, caring, loving, healing, and dying on the cross.

Ava leaned back into my chest and whispered in my ear, "Mom I hope Caroline will be healed when we get home."

I was speechless and a lump made its way to the bottom of my throat.

My little six year old got the message.

This baby Jesus came to change the world. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He brought hope into the world and his message of hope has been thriving ever since.


Because we live in a fallen world. We are surrounded on all sides by problems, grief, fatigue, worries, questions, doubts, sickness, and defeat.

Because we know these things all too well, we long to hope.

We are desperate for hope.

Without hope...Ava could not have whispered her heart's desire to me.

Without Jesus....there would be no hope.

That is Christmas in a nutshell.

Today I sat down in the floor and opened my Bible to several different passages. I read in Isaiah of the prophecy concerning Jesus birth. I flipped over to the gospels and browsed through some other familiar scripture. Something in Luke's gospel spoke of hope without mentioning it exactly.

Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she is highly favored of God. That God is with her and that she is not to be afraid because she is going to give birth to the Messiah. He goes on to describe how great her son will be and that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her.

None of this is new to me....but Gabriel's last words to Mary offer the reader hope beyond description.


I am sure Mary needed these parting words to help carry her through the next nine months and beyond.

But guess what?

Those powerful words weren't meant for Mary alone. They were sealed in scripture for all to read and apply to their own lives.

Just like my Ava did as she watched the Nativity and hoped for the seemingly impossible healing of her sister.

Nothing is impossible with God really means what it says.


I know that God is not our genie in the sky for us to ask for any and every thing we desire. But he is our intimate Father and he knows our needs. He knows every secret we keep. He knows every dream we have. I firmly believe we walk through most of our lives without being filled with hope to believe Him for great and mighty things.

I'll leave you with this sweet picture in your mind. Zeke saw me sitting in the floor reading my bible today. I heard his little feet running on the hardwoods. He came back holding his little bible and joined me. He and I didn't speak. He would just mimic me. As I flipped back and forth he would do the same. Then I heard him start mumbling to himself. I couldn't understand everything in his 3 year old garble but he seemed to be talking about "the Lord, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus".

Then he began to hum and sing. The tune was very familiar although Zeke's version didn't use all the right words.

"He knows my name.
He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls,
And he hears me when I call."

This was his little diddy and he even added hand motions for me too. I loved it. Somehow his little 3 year old mind knew that as he and mommy were looking through the Word of God his song would be the perfect accompaniment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


A basic fundamental of the faith. Confession. Admitting our faults and agreeing with God that they are wrong.

We run head long in the opposite direction of this very thing. This act that holds a mirror up to our faces so we can see the reflection of our hearts. Why?

Because in confession our sin is revealed. Out there. Seen. Exposed.

This week I have been both the recipient of confession and the confessor myself.

I felt like God was prompting me to blog about this one.

So here goes.

A couple of mornings ago a scripture caught my eye. It was James 5:16 which says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

I meditated briefly on this verse and then went about my day.

Until lunchtime.

I had the pleasure of eating with a friend who began to talk with me about certain areas in her life that she wanted me to pray for her. The more I listened and heard her heart the more I realized that this was exactly what James 5:16 was talking about. Confession.

We need other people to know our struggles and to pray for our freedom in these areas.


God knew that once we confess our sins and weaknesses openly with someone else that accountability would naturally follow.

After lunch and into the afternoon I thought more and more about this concept of confession and why I hate doing it. My dislike for it results in my doing it less and less. God slowly opened my eyes to see that my lack of confession was creating distance between me and Him.

By the time bedtime rolled around I was primed and ready.

I went to the person who has vowed to love me always, my man. Bless his heart he didn't see this one coming.

He was sitting there enjoying his late dinner in front of the television set.

I barged in and flopped down on the couch.

I said, "Shep, I am just eat up with jealousy. It isn't just one person or one thing....it is many people and many things. I hate it. I am embarrassed. I don't want to feel this way."

And there it was....confession.

Out there. Seen. Heard. Exposed.

We went on to talk about what I had said. Never once did Shep condemn or preach to me. He simply said he understood and that he hated it too. He knows that I know I am wrong. But confessing it was a step toward right. He said he would pray for me...and his word is his bond. He would pray. And so would I.

So here are the benefits of confession from what I can see.

There is accountability. There is humility. There is unity. And ultimately...there is MORE prayer. It isn't just you fighting the fight. You've now got others praying on your behalf.

So why do we fight it so?

Pride is the culprit I am sure.

I've often teased that I wish we could all walk around with our sins and weaknesses written on our foreheads for everyone else to see. I don't really want this of course. But wouldn't there be a lot less pride and a lot more grace to go around?!?

I'm just saying....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pepto & Immodium...my BFFs

Sorry to have been out of the cyber world for so long. A lot has happened but unfortunately I was hit by a violent tummy bug this past Saturday. It is Tuesday and I am feeling better....FINALLY!

All I can say is that the toilet and I fought many rounds and it won every time. Yuck!

My last blog post was completely dedicated to my mentor, Marjorie Rothschild. We celebrated her home going on Saturday. It was truly a pleasure to gather with other believers and praise God for her life and her legacy. Most of us feel truly overwhelmed to try to walk in her shoes....but we must. There is no calling more noble than to live radically for the One who died for us.

As I mentioned before...I felt the tummy bug beginning to hit me at the funeral. I just didn't feel quite like myself. The thought of food made my stomach turn. By the end of the night I had already begun my treks to the bathroom.

In the early hours of Sunday morning I decided I would not be going to church. I knew I was terribly dehydrated and weak. Shep gave me meds, tucked me back in and took the kids on to church. I slept until lunchtime.

Then a realization hit me.

I was supposed to sing in our Christmas program that evening.

It would have been one thing for me to sing with the choir but I had a pretty big solo.

And I felt horrible.

I began to pray.

All I can say is God completely tagged team with the Immodium and helped me make it through the night.

Our choir did a fantastic job! I hated not singing with them but honestly I thought I might just faint. Instead I sat in the back and only walked out to sing my song. God showed up....sang right through me and I went and sat back down.

Glory to His Name!

When we got home Sunday night I could feel the fatigue and stomach churns starting again. It basically stayed that way until this morning.

Oh.....it feels so good to feel better!

I know we are supposed to praise God in all things. So my biggest praise from all this sickness is that God showed great kindness to me through Pepto and Immodium. I am truly grateful for these wonderful over the counter aids. I do hope that I am done with these though and that I can get on to praising Him for other things soon AND that none of my other family members get to praise Him for these medicines too!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

89 Strong

Today my mentor in the Lord went home to be with the lover of her soul...Jesus.

Fifty-five years my senior, Marjorie Rothschild exuded nothing less than joy, passion, strength, hope, and steadfast BIG faith for anyone who had the honor of knowing her.

I sit here crying not because she has left this world but because this world will never be the same without her. She has left her mark on anyone she ever encountered.

I hesitate to even try to describe her and her amazing attributes for I feel I will utterly fall short of all that God displayed through her life. But I will try because I got to be a recipient of much encouragement, hope, and grace throughout the years.

We all knew her by this enigmatic smile that lit up her entire face and a steady walk that seemed unshakable. I have never known anyone who loved her Lord more. She delighted in Him every second of every day. She seemed giddy and excited at any and every opportunity to come before Him in prayer.

I can just picture her lifting her wrinkled face upwards as she would go into her prayer closet (ringing her bells) completely confident in the One who she called Savior.

Anyone who met her would be appalled to learn her age because she acted and lived like she was 25 to 30 years younger than what she really was. She had a cell phone, e-mailed her friends and family, and even joined Facebook. The vibrancy with which she lived her days was nothing short of mind blowing. It was as if each step she took had purpose and meaning. People were drawn to her like bees to a hive of honey. She oozed kindness, joy, and compassion. But my favorite of all of her traits was her FAITH.

It was her life.

She prayed like it would move mountains. Because she believed it would.

She is one of the very few people who has believed with me about Caroline's healing since her birth. I still treasure a card she sent me when Caroline was just months old. She was claiming and believing then just as she was as she drew her last breath. She was fierce about it. She would rally to my side any time she saw the slightest change in my demeanor. She could tell if I was struggling and she would immediately speak hope and faith to me. More than that....she would pray on my behalf. There is no telling the hours that she has spent interceding on my behalf.

I remember giving her an ultra sound picture of Zeke when he was in my womb. The doctors were concerned that he possibly had Downs Syndrome because he showed some strong indicators. She immediately wanted to add him to her daily prayer time and she wanted a picture as a reminder. She put it to her heart (most likely pinned to her bra strap) and kept it there until he was born. I remember when she gave it back to me after he was born....it was soft, faded and worn away from being inside her shirt all those months. Wow. What a woman!

Just a month and a half ago she got to come see Caroline get baptized. It was such a joyous occasion. Marje was so thrilled to see her girl. She would always say that she and Caroline had their own secret language. I had no clue that Sunday morning that the next time I saw her would be in a hospital bed...and it would be my last.

In early November I got a call from her daughter telling me that Marje had cracked several vertebrae and was in immense pain. They were gonna do an outpatient procedure to fix the problem. However, that never came to pass because during the procedure the doctors found cancer. She was already in stage 4 and the cancer had spread.

I knew I needed to go see her in the hospital and I am so glad I went when I did. My dearest friend, Deana, went with me. She too has been so blessed by knowing Marje. We entered her hospital room and her daughter told me that she may not be awake or know me.

I went as close as I could and grabbed her hand. She looked so frail. I hated it. I hate death. I wanted her to be the Marje I knew. She was always completely fixed up. Her hair would be done...make-up exact....and matching jewelry would be dangling. But this was real life and it was her life drawing to a close.

I leaned down and whispered her name. She jolted a bit when she heard my voice and then she said, "Oh, Andrea!"

I told her that Deana and I were there and we loved her and we wanted to pray for her. Her next phrase makes it very clear as to why she was my mentor. She said, "Please pray that the Holy Spirit would help me make it through this season and that I would glorify Him!"

Of course I began to cry and cry. Oh what faith and resolve.

Deana and I prayed over her through our tears and sniffles. We asked God to give her strength and special delights during her last days. She wanted to stay strong until God took her home. She desired to honor him even in the midst of her unending pain. She had complete confidence in her best friend, the Holy Spirit. She knew that He would be with her every single step of the way.

That is dying well ya'll.

That is the way we should all strive to live and die.

Knowing that the Holy Spirit is our guide and trusting Him in the most vulnerable moments of our lives.

Her legacy will live on in me and countless others I am sure. I pray that I can touch others and infuse them with the same hope, passion, and faith that she has affirmed in me. Isn't that our calling, after all???

A couple of verses that I memorized this year seem very fitting to end this post about my mentor, Marjorie Rothschild. She embodied this piece of scripture to the very end.

May I do the same...

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:11-12

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flowers or a Crown

If you are anything like me then December has barely begun and we are feverishly planning, purchasing, and preparing for Christmas.

Last week was a complete bust for my family. We were gone every single night of the week for some occasion or another.
(Shep's dad is recovering from his heart surgery and doing well!)

This week has been a little better but only marginally.

There are still events to go to and practices to attend.

I climbed in bed last night lamenting our hectic and sometimes hard schedules.

Then I opened my "Streams in the Desert" devotion book.

My mistake.

Kidding....God had something to say to my heart.

I just wanted it to be an encouraging word of peace and rest.

Instead it was a very moving poem written by George MacDonald...

I said, "Let me walk in the field";
God said, "No, walk in the town";
I said, "There are no flowers there";
He said, "No flowers, but a crown."

I said, "But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din";
But He wept as He sent me back,
"There is more," He said, "there is sin."

I said, "But the air is thick,
And smog is veiling the sun";
He answered, "Yet souls are sick,
And your work is undone."

I said, "I will miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say";
He answered me, "Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they."

I pleaded for time to be given;
He said, "Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide."

I cast one look at the field,
Then set my face to the town;
He said, "My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?"

Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see.

Somehow I want Christmas to not be hard. For me.

But the essence of Christmas is all about God the Father sending His one and only Son to die.

If that isn't hard then what is?!?

We get to enjoy the benefits of Christmas. We got the ultimate gift.

But here I am complaining and griping because I get inconvenienced in some way or another.

Too much to do...
Too many places to go...
Too many practices...
Too many scheduling conflicts...

Big deal. Really.

Just like the person in the poem I feel like I am saying to God...."Let me just chill and smell the flowers."

He has a different purpose for me.

I am to go into the busy, dark, noisy, and sinful world. I am to let my Light so shine before men that they may see my good works and glorify my Father who is in Heaven.

It isn't smelling flowers but I pray that in the midst of my hustling I would humbly accept His invitation to shine my Light this Christmas.

Lord help me to smile and be filled with joy. Give me kindness in my attitude and actions. Help me to go out of my way for people and sacrifice willingly. Others will see You when I yield to what You would have me do instead of focusing on myself. I need Your help to do these things because I am selfish. Give me more and more grace so that I would in turn be gracious to others. Thank you for the ultimate gift of eternal life through Jesus. He alone is the reason for this and every season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It will find you...

Because this week has been crazy and assaulting for my family I couldn't wait to sit with my awesome group of friends at Thursday morning's Bible study time. We are currently NOT doing any written work of a study but instead we are watching videos from various studies we have done in the past.

(We will start Beth Moore's new "James" study in January so come join us!)

It is so fun to revisit these topics and God never fails to show up and speak something fresh and new to us!

This past Thursday we re-watched the first video on Esther. Beth was teaching on the PROVIDENCE of God. Sometimes His ways and His presence are very obvious in our lives and other times we feel like we can't find Him at all. However because we can't see Him or feel Him doesn't mean He isn't very much present with us.

Anyway she said something that God used to speak loudly to my heart. She said, "If you are seeking God....His will for your life will find you."

BAM! Good word.

I wonder so often if anything I do really matters in the grand scheme of things?
Do my prayers really matter?
Does my sacrifice mean anything when others don't seem to notice?
Does God see the daily heartaches, questions, and concerns?

Of course the answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES!

But, in the quiet, we still ask them.

I was so thankful to hear confirmation that my job in this life is to simply seek Him.

Seek Christ. Do what he tells me to do.

And if I do that........His will is gonna find me.

I also saw a parallel in God's word.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them..."
Luke 2:8-9

This is such a familiar Christmas passage. But do you see the confirmation? These shepherds were just doing what they do. They were going about their lives. I am sure they had kept watch many nights before but this night was about to rock their worlds. This night God's will was gonna find them right smack in the middle of their mundane, sheep-watching lives.

I can relate to this. I feel like I am "keeping watch" so to speak.

I am "keeping watch" over my marriage, my children, my obligations, my friends, my walk with God....and I bet you are too.

As they were keeping watch God was about to swoop down and scatter some crazy glory.

Can you even imagine?

A field full of sheep and shepherds became an audience for a holy showdown of heavenly hosts singing songs of praise that couldn't be contained.

Remember...HE is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If He would do this for some shepherds keeping watch...why not for you or me?

As you seek to do what He has for you right now He might just show up and scatter some crazy glory and turn your dull day into a divine encounter!

Glory to God in the Highest!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The only sound anywhere in my home (other than this keyboard) is complete quiet.

I must tell you that I welcome it after the day I have had.

Today Shep's dad underwent triple by-pass surgery. This was NOT a scheduled procedure but a necessary one. It has caught everyone off guard. The surgery was scheduled for 9:00 am. Then it got pushed back to noon....then 2:00...and ultimately they started somewhere around 5:00 this afternoon.

Long day.

I also learned some sad news that my uncle passed away today. He had been sick for a while...but still...dead doesn't quite seem right.

This week is packed to the gills with activities, practices, appointments, deadlines, commitments and such. Every single night there is something already planned...who knew we could adjust even more for an impromptu surgery and out-of-state funeral?

I passed by the television tonight and heard a quote that made me shiver in my soul. "People aren't made in the crises of life but they are revealed there."

Ugh. Sigh.

Mirror held up to me.

I am seriously about to lose my mind because I am feeling completely overwhelmed by my circumstances.


Overwhelmed is NOT at all who I am supposed to be in the midst of trouble or hardships.

So why do I revert to that behavior?!?

After the kids went to bed I decided I needed a serious dose of truth poured over my freaking out overwhelmed mind.

2 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness...".

I either believe that or I don't.

It could not be more simple.

His divine power lives inside of me AND He has given me everything I need for my crazy, busy, overwhelming life.

I stopped short a bit but the verse goes on to say that He has given me everything I need to be godly as well.

I can tell you with every bit of confidence in me that the last thing I feel right now is godly.

This is why His Word must be my life and breath.

My own feelings will constantly cloud my judgement.

I must trust His Word and rely upon it.

Easier said than done....but at least I am taking a step in that direction this evening.

It is way better than how I started off the night.

Progress is something right...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Treasures at Thanksgiving

Sometimes life gives you some awesome opportunities to make lemonade out of a hand full of lemons. This was the case with our Thanksgiving this year on both sides. Shep's dad has been having some heart issues so his extended family wanted to stay close by. My family has been dealing with a wayward loved one and so our plans were a little different as well. But....despite the changes...it was a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Like most other families we had mounds of delicious food. The day itself was clear, sunny and perfect for rolling around in the yard, climbing trees, or napping in a swing.
My kids made some pretty fabulous memories. They were jumping in hay bales before 8:00 a.m. They got to sleep in sleeping bags piled on the floor with their cousins. They nuzzled cows and climbed on tractors. They played Battleship, Monopoly, card games, and dress up. They watched ELF a half dozen times and ate enough sugar to last them until Christmas!
It is funny how the role changes in our lives. It seems like it was no time at all when it was me doing all those crazy things....now I just watch and smile as they do them. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon each and every blessing that we enjoy and then to also return thanks for those blessings. There is a little verse tucked into the book of Luke that gives us insight into the mother of Jesus and I feel like it is appropriate for how I took it all in at Thanksgiving...

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

I pray that I will continue to treasure these times with those I love and cherish. May the pondering of my heart provoke me to prayer and faith in the One who has given me so much!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As Morning Dawns..

This morning didn't begin as I would have liked.

Ava is spending a couple of nights with her grandparents and Caroline isn't one bit happy about not having her sister and room-mate around. So~ she decided that she needed to grace my bed at 5:30 this morning. Shep was slipping out early for bible study and heard her rousing so he brought her to me. Needless to say, the next hour was fitful.

Although 5:30 is early, it wouldn't have normally been that bad. But I didn't get to bed until after 12:30 a.m. My three best childhood friends and I went out to dinner and shopping last night. We only see each other 2-3 times a year so we usually squeeze every ounce of time we can get out of one of our meetings.

Last night was nothing new. We hit a delicious restaurant, then visited Belk, the Avenues, Starbucks, and Target. Whew. By 11:00 I was being the party pooper but I did have the farthest to drive home.

Our time was too short but well worth the childcare and effort to be together!! I would do it again in a minute.

But all of that resulted in a short sleep for me.

So after endless kicking and squirming on Caroline's part, I finally got us both up.

I started the bed-making process and doing the morning routine until I felt completely pulled again to the bed to open God's Word.

I don't know what today holds but He does and He knew I needed a minute of refreshing for my weary soul.

I do know that I am planning to go visit my mentor and dear friend who is in the hospital. She is 88 years old and her faith rivals that of any biblical giant. She has spurred me to believe God since the day Caroline was born! She prays like no one I know. My heart is sad and truthfully I don't know quite how to deal with seeing someone who is "larger than life" in my mind look so weak and depleted in reality.

There are other things too. People I know of and see who are walking dangerous paths in their lives. Paths that have long since parted the way of truth, honor, and righteousness. They are suffering and others will as well. All because the path of pleasure is easier than the narrow way that demands sacrifice, self-control and obedience.

Then there are those who I know are leaning on God for provision, miracles, direction, children, and blessing. These folks pour out their lives in pursuit of Him but the answers seem to delay in coming....

Shep and I are among these people. The hope that must be renewed each day is crucial just to make it to the next sunrise.

I don't say that to sound spiritual....I say exactly what it is. Truth.

God's Word grants me the hope I need to make it through this day and every day. Some days I don't make it an hour or two before running back to it or my scripture cards.

It is life and breathe to me.

It sustains me.

It offers again and again what this world tries to steal.....HOPE!!!

I am inspired to praise Him yet again today for His Word and this blessed HOPE that I know only comes from Him!

I will leave you with my last quote from my morning devotion....a breathe of fresh air...

"We have a God who delights in impossibilities and who asks, 'Is anything too hard for me?'"
Andrew Murray taken from "Streams in the Desert"

Friday, November 18, 2011

With Me

I don't know about you but I like being with people I love.

Texting is fine. E-mail is ok. A phone call is nice. A real card or letter is awesome. But enjoying the actual presence of someone I love is very high on my list.

As I muse over some of my favorite people to be around I can't help but laugh because God so made me this way. I want to see the facial expressions behind the voice. I want to smell the cologne of my husband or my daddy. I want to hug my momma's neck or see Deana laugh. I so enjoy watching Tess light up as she talks about her Lord.

These are just a few examples of why I like the WITH part of being around my loved ones.

In our culture we have completely neglected this part of our lives. I am guilty myself.

We keep things simple, brief, and for heaven's sake, practical.

But I would really argue the point that being WITH those we need to be WITH is none of those things.

It is almost never simple or brief or practical.

The best things never are....but they are still the best things.

I think God took this particular topic pretty seriously.

He became GOD WITH US.


It wasn't enough to be on His throne.

He needed closer. He needed to see, taste, feel, touch, hear, and experience all we endure to really be with us.

As the festive time of year rolls around I always get nostalgic. I reminisce of days gone by and people I wish I could spend time WITH right now.

But the truth is I have a whole host of people who have been placed in my life. Some are long standing....some are new....some need my help...others help me.

As believers in Christ we are to do just as He did.

We are to be WITH people.

Believe with them.
Stand with them.
Hope with them.
Walk with them.
Break bread with them.
Open the Word of God with them.

I am filled with thanksgiving over the countless people who have invested time, energy, prayers, and support WITH me.

I want God to constantly remind me of the kind of person I would have been without those folks who were WITH me...I promise you the picture isn't pretty.

Lord more than anything else I want to enjoy Your Presence with me. It is only after I am filled with you that I can pour any goodness into anyone else. Give me time, patience, gentleness and understanding to be WITH people. So many times I am tempted to judge and condemn in my heart. I don't want to be that critical person, but so many times I am. I confess that to you and ask Your forgiveness. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a WITH-US God! Help us follow Your lead...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There was a dance in town today for all of the special needs students in our local schools...here are a few pictures of the people who hold up my girl on a daily basis....

This first picture shows Caroline resting in the arms of her favorite man...her daddy. They had just finished a slow dance when I snapped this shot.

The other fella pictured in the second shot just happens to be THE BEST substitute teacher around. My girls lights up when she knows she gets "Mr. Papaw Wes" for the day.
Look at the strong arms on Mrs. Barbara. Oh if I could go back and show you pictures of this sweet lady working with my girl when she was just months old. We have had the awesome privilege of having Barbara as Caroline' s therapist her entire life. I think Mrs. Barbara may have been the first person to ever put Caroline in time-out. And, believe me, that was the first of many fights that were won between Caroline and Barbara.

Here is our latest love....Mrs. Deidre. She has come in our lives this year and works with Caroline every day at school. She is basically Caroline's hands and feet. She feeds her, changes her, teaches her, talks to her, pushes her, and for today's purposes.....she danced with her.

After I gave Shep the camera I threw Caroline over my shoulder and we commenced to doing "The Electric Slide." It wasn't pretty but it was fun.
People ask me all the time how I hold Caroline. Well, I don't know. I just hold her. I don't know any other way. I hold her now just as I did when she was a baby....now she is just my bigger, longer, and lankier baby.
How we look to the day when You fulfill Your healing in our girl...but until then Lord...we thank You for strengthening our arms to handle this load. It is heavy but humbling. You have taught us things that we never would have looked twice to learn. I truly understand heartache and hope in breathtaking new ways! You are so good to us Lord and she is such a blessing. We also thank You for the many others who help us HOLD her in their arms. She isn't a bother to them. She is a joy and delight. She teaches others truths that could never be learned in a book. Bless them Father for they are such blessings to us!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Same Song....Second Saturday

I couldn't wait to blog last Saturday. Truth be told~ I was about to burst with joy, thanksgiving, and gladness over the wedding of my friends.

This Saturday was quite different....and only 7 days had passed.

Last Saturday I got to sing for a bride to walk down the aisle and meet her groom.
This Saturday I got to sing for a weeping family saying goodbye to a wife, mother, and grandmother.

The weird part was that it was the exact same song.

I have mentioned before that I sing on our vocal team at church. But, in addition to that, I get to sing with two friends of mine that I met through church. We have kind of formed a little trio.

We have no name...we can't seem to agree on one that we all like. Isn't that just like three women!?!
Our trio gets asked to sing for funerals, weddings, banquets, and civic functions. It is such fun and an honor to think that other folks would even want to listen to us.

On Saturday two -thirds of our trio got to minister to the other.

You see it was our friend's mother-in-law who had passed away. She wanted us to sing the song "Under His Wings". She knew that she would need to sit with her husband and their family during this tender time so another awesome friend and vocalist stepped in to do our friend's part in the song.

It was a bit surreal.

We had just done this song a week before.

Last Saturday we did it with such flair, jubilance, and gusto. The tempo was upbeat and the passion was heard in our voices.

This Saturday was every bit as passionate but the tempo was slowed and the ache was real. Our hearts were hurting for this family but we knew that the words of our song were like balm to the broken places.

God is sovereign....in good and in bad.
God will hold us close in joy and in sorrow.

These back to back Saturdays showed me that. One was a day of rejoicing and the other was a bittersweet farewell. However, both days were seen and very felt by our Father who is ever-present and crazy about us.

I will leave you with the words to this powerful song that both proclaimed the entrance of a bride and the exit of a saint....

Under His wings
I am safely abiding
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild
Still I can trust Him
I know He will keep me
He has redeemed me and I am His child.

Under His wings
Under His wings
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings
O what precious enjoyment.
There I will hide til this life's trials are o'er
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me
Resting in Jesus I'm safe evermore.

Under His wings
Under His wings
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide
Safely abide forever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Seranaded by songs...

My day was a little bit different for me.

I don't know about you but I like a little diversity sometimes.

The older I get the more I like routine. But occasionally I like the jolt of spontaneity.

After a planned morning of helping some friends prepare their home for three new adopted children, (in addition to their own 3 children) I had some spare time to kill.

What a concept.

Spare time....to do as I please....I didn't want to waste a moment of it.

I headed down to take lunch to my mom and eat with her.

It was a really sweet time. We ate our McDonald's salads, caught up on life, laughed at funny things, and cried a bit over some heartaches hitting our family at this present time.

As I left her company and headed home I decided to listen to some music.

Immediately one of my kid's music cds began to play.


Not today.

I did not have a single child in the car with me so....I hit the cd changer for some grown-up girl time.

The sound of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood filled my car. Ahhh.......

It was the cd my handsome hubby had made for me.

I listened for most of the ride back to Cartersville.

It was really sweet.

Shep was not with me....but it was like he was.

He had burned this cd especially for me. He had put songs on it that remind him of me....
-When A Man Loves a Woman
-She's Got a Way
-The Way You Look Tonight

You get the picture.

For the majority of my car ride it was like my man was serenading me with songs.

It was immediately comforting to me.

I love music. But when the music has been carefully chosen just for me.....that takes it to a whole new level.

Then God spoke.

I don't know about you but He will speak to me when I least expect it.

He said, "I sing over you too."

I turned off the music and just thought about that for a moment.

How true.

My Lord does sing over me....he sings songs of deliverance, peace, and hope.

Just this week I experienced this. But I don't even think I noticed it at the time...but God is a great reminder.

Earlier in the week I had battled against some real fear and doubt in my life. I petitioned God for help because I felt sapped of strength and I just wanted to quit. I asked God to strengthen me and to give me unbelievable joy because mine was gone.

As I went about my day doing the things I had to do I noticed a subtle change in myself. Nothing had changed about my circumstance. But something on the inside seemed lighter....stronger....even, dare I say, joyful.

That was him.....answering my prayer...singing over me.

Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favorite verses and it sheds light on this very awesome phenomenon that took place between me and my awesome Lord God...

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Profound Moments

I had to get permission to write this blog post because it centers on someone other than me or my family.

It eventually gets around to me because this person's life has affected me.

Her name is Heather O'Dell Jordan. Today it became official. She married the second man of her dreams.

Today was a "full-circle" kind of day.

Don't you love those?

When the wait is finally over and you get to see God work something out to completion.

I am jumping ahead but my heart is so incredibly full and I can hardly stand it.

But I need to back up for you to understand why today was what it was.

I only know Heather and her precious kids through church. I first met her years ago when she had two young boys and was married to Chris. They were a vibrant couple. I would see them in the halls and during the worship service. Before long we learned that Chris had been diagnosed with cancer. He would go on to battle this for a long time.

As this disease ravaged his body, a group of people in our church and in the community began to cry out for healing on his behalf. We would meet daily and pray asking God to heal him. By this time Heather and Chris had added two more children to their family. We couldn't fathom or face the fact that God would potentially take this husband and father to heaven at such a young age.

As anyone reading this blog knows...I am believing God to heal my daughter. So believing God to heal Chris was not a big jump for me. Chris also believed with us. Anytime we would gather to pray over him for healing he would say, "Where is Caroline. Let's pray for her too."

My girl has sat in his lap. She has been in her wheelchair beside him....and in the last days of his life...she was laid next to him on his bed.

It was what he wanted us to do. Pray for his healing and hers too.

It was in this last week of his life that I got the awesome privilege of watching Heather live out her faith and do it well.

Each day she did what she vowed to do on her wedding day....she loved and cherished Chris in "sickness and in health". A friend of mine who is very close to Heather asked me to come and just stay with them during the day. Little did I know this would be his last day.

We spent most of the day sitting on top of the bed that Chris was lying in. Heather would attend his every need. We sang to him. We read the bible to him. We prayed over him every single hour.

I won't go into the final details but I was honored to witness my brother in Christ leave this earth for good. The moments that I remember and the faces that are forever imprinted in my mind are almost too sacred to talk about. The moments were truly sad but precious at the same time.

I will NEVER FORGET what happened next.

Just minutes after losing her husband and best friend, Heather grabs my hands in hers and says, "Don't you stop believing God to heal Caroline. Just because He didn't heal Chris here does not mean that He is not going to heal her."

I almost couldn't breathe.

How could she say these words to me?

How is she not consumed with anger and hurt?

The funeral was like a worship service. It was tender, sweet, and God honoring. During one of the songs Heather even lifted her hands toward heaven in praise to the very God who had not answered her prayer.

Wow. If that isn't a picture of the grace that He gives us when we need it most then I don't know what is...

(Fast forward a few years. Heather and the kids have kept going. They have lived life day after day. I don't want to minimize this time because I am sure there were more nights of tears in her pillow that we can imagine but ..... she has stayed faithful and committed to her God, her family, her friends, and her church.)

Several months ago I was sitting at my computer looking at Facebook. I just happened to see Heather's latest status. It was a picture of her and a handsome fella that I knew had to be something special. Her smile was telling on her. It was as if her whole face was screaming...."I am in love!!!"

Sure enough God had brought Heather another man.

Anyone could look at them and just tell that they were completely over the moon for one another. He proposed; and the date was set.

Saturday, November 5th, 2011.

It was a very intimate wedding. Family and family-like friends were the only ones invited. The only reason I even got to be there was because the trio I sing with was asked to provide a song.

And sing we did.

Somehow our voices got to provide the crescendo to this bride and groom meeting at their altar.

I honestly don't know how we got through it. There was not a dry eye in the room.

We were crying tears of absolute joy and redemption!

God had done what we love to see Him do! Heal...Rebuild....Restore....

I didn't get to stay for the entire reception but I did get to catch their first dance as husband and wife. Andy is over 6'5 and Heather is only about 5'4....so his frame protectively towers over hers. As they danced I could see how firm and steady he was holding her. All Heather had to do was relax in his embrace. He was leading her....holding her....guiding her.... safe in his arms.

Isaiah 61:3

"...and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh yes I did!!

Cute as a button....even if she is a Candy Corn Witch..
Can you even believe that I dressed up for Halloween at 34 years old? Such a sad little ensemble...my kids loved it though!
Ava asked to be a witch this year. This was a huge departure from princesses and fairies from past Halloweens.

Caroline was a throw back to peace, love and happiness with her momma...
I don't think this peace sign lasted for much of the night. She was quite a hippie chick!
Check out my strong little Iron Man...
There is that sweet smile behind the mask. The mask didn't last long either....it kept getting in the way of delicious treats going into the mouth!
Hippie girl in the arms of her grand-daddy...one of her favorite places to be!
The whole family cuddled in for a hay ride. It was a happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A little something extra

We were watching a re-run of "Little House on the Prairie" and one of the characters used the word~ extraordinary.

Ava piped up and asked what extraordinary meant.

As I thought on it...I explained that it meant that something or someone was ordinary plus a little something extra.

I like to think in terms of food. French fries are ordinary; but french fries topped with cheese, bacon and ranch dressing for dipping makes them extraordinary.

We're talking a whole new level.

God used this to speak to me again last night at prayer time. We were watching a video by Jim Cymbala describing the work of the Holy Spirit in churches and in the lives of believers.

He explained that our entire belief system is supernatural. Not just natural...SUPER natural. Kind of like extraordinary, huh?

The virgin birth....supernatural.
The resurrection...supernatural.
The salvation experience....supernatural.

Yet we try to live and operate our everyday lives naturally.

Can you say frustrating????

You can't scrape cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing off of fries once they have been topped. It just doesn't work that way.

So why do we try to live like everyone else?

The deal is we are to be Holy Spirit filled...equipped with every spiritual blessing, ready and willing to be used mightily in the hands of a holy, creative, and powerful God.

So, as badly as we want to fit in and assimilate into neat little ordinary lives.....we weren't meant to.

We are extraordinary!

We are ordinary people but with a little (or how about a HUGE) something extra.

When I look at people that I deeply respect and admire I see this extraordinary quality at work in their lives.

They are completely ordinary people. There is nothing unique about them.

Life deals them heartaches, hardships, rejection, turmoil, and suffering just like everyone else...but something emerges above all else.

A fierce, passionate, determined joy and peace that blows anyone who bothers to look away.


Let it be me!!!

Acts 19:11-12 "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even the handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Forget Not

A piece of scripture tenderly assaulted my heart this week as I worked through my bible study.

It comes from Psalm 103.

It says, "Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Do we forget?

Do we go on with our days, nights, and weekends and let the benefits of being God's child escape our present state of mind?

I think we were challenged not "to forget"because God knew that between the craziness of life and the blows of the enemy we would be tempted to do just that....forget.

Not intentionally mind you...we would never forget awesome things on purpose.

We just let the issues at hand (money, work, health, kids, etc...) become bigger than the benefits we are so blessed to have.

I don't know about you but I don't want to forget anymore. I want to intentionally remember!

I'm forgiven!
I'm healed!
I'm redeemed!
I'm crowned!
I'm satisfied!
I'm renewed!

As if that isn't enough to get your motor running for JESUS I'll leave you with more great benefits. Psalm 103 goes on to say...

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finally Fall...

We hit the road on Saturday and made tracks to one of our favorite Fall places...the Apple Barn. Fall has finally arrived in North Georgia. We have had our first frost and I actually left the house in a sweater.
The view was spectacular. We were about a week before the peak of leaf turning but we still got an eye full of God's beauty on display...
We purposely take the long route so that we can go past this....
I have to tease my big girl because she gets her beautiful big buck teeth from me....thank you God for the orthodontist who will eventually correct this. But, until then, she is gifted at holding on to an apple!!
Ava had worn a sweater too. But it was shed quickly after running and playing in the sunshine.
Two peas in a pod. These boys (my boys) are a mess. They played hard all day.
When I saw this pic I was amazed at how similar Zeke and Ava's features are...check out their eyes and noses in particular. Crazy!
Boiled peanuts, fried apple pies, cider, and apples....HERE WE COME!!
I think we only had to threaten a spanking a few times to get these smiles. What is it with kids not wanting to pause to capture photo ops??
This is us...just being us. It was one fine fall day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yesterday afternoon Ava was in the middle of telling me all about her day at school when she stopped and gasped, "Mom, ______ doesn't go to church, or know Jesus, or have a Bible!"

I told her that she would meet many more who did not go to church or know Jesus or have a bible and that was a BIG reason that Jesus wants us to tell them.

She said, "I have an extra bible for ______."

I said "Great!"

Then our day went on and the discussion was a thing of the past in my mind.

Until this morning....

I walked Ava to her classroom to talk to her teacher about something. As I was talking I could see Ava out of the corner of my eye. She wasn't unloading her book bag like she was supposed to be doing. She has dropped her book bag and is walking over to ________ with the bible in her hands.

Of course, my attention was diverted. But not wanting to be a full on spying nosy mom...I pretended to still be talking to the teacher.

But, oh....my heart was bursting with pride and unfortunately a touch of apprehension.


Because of what I saw next.

________ did not want was Ava was offering.

Not being deterred, she held the bible out again.

Still ___________ did not want it.

Finally Ava walked back toward her book bag.

I finished up my discussion and walked over to my zealous little 6 year old girl.

I knelt down and said (trying to be completely casual), "Hey whatcha doin with that bible?"

She replied (with confidence) "Just putting it in __________'s cubby."

For those of you who don't know what a "cubby" is.....it is the first grade equivalent to a locker.

_______ may not have wanted it but Ava was making sure that _________ got it.


We could learn a lot.

Lord, flame this ember that is burning in my baby's heart. I pray that she, Caroline, and Zeke will passionately follow You. I know they will experience rejection but help them to plant many seeds in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

O' Happy Day!

Is it mean that we buckled Zeke in his car seat and quickly got to the deck to snap some pictures of the girls on their special day? Nah...
Shep and his girls.....Ava was so pumped for baptism day. Caroline was nervous, but trying to be a trooper.
It was officially time. The white robes gave the whole event some flair and made it feel quite ceremonious.
I could just eat them up....such a special day for sisters to share!
Because Caroline cannot sit up on her own, Shep also adorned a white robe to hold her in the baptismal. So...daddy got to really be a part of the experience.
This is Mr. Doug. He serves on staff at our church. Everyone loves Mr. Doug....especially the kids. He is more than willing to make a complete fool of himself for the sake of Christ...and he usually does during VBS every year. What kid doesn't love that?!? Ava and Caroline requested him to do the dunking.
This is Mrs. Lisa. She is the engine that propels our flourishing children's ministry. We are so blessed to have servants that passionately proclaim Christ and make Him come alive to our kids. She is always smiling and shows our kids that Jesus created fun!! (Can you see the fear in Caroline's eyes? She is looking at the water and isn't quite sure what to make of it yet.)
O' Happy Day, Happy Day! You washed my sins away....
O' Happy Day, Happy Day! I'll never be the same!!