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, 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 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!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The past couple of weeks my Bible study has focused on the abundance we have in Christ.

I have already blogged about it a little but I think the topic begs to be revisited.

We have more than we can imagine at our disposal through Jesus Christ.

He is the First and Last and Everything in between.

He is the I AM. He needs nothing and is in charge of everything.

I look at my own life and I see things that I want more, time, patience, wisdom, grace, and faith. The list goes on and on...take my word for it.

As I studied people in God's Word who encountered Him....they walked away with so much more than they bargained for or imagined.

-The widow of Nain met Him at her son's funeral and walked away with her son who was made alive.

-Mary and Martha met him with tears of sorrow and left Him rejoicing with tears of gladness as their brother had been raised to life again.

-The woman at the well met Him thirsty for water from the well and left Him with Living Water that would never run dry.

-The leper met Him covered in putrid, life-draining lesions and left Him glowing with the newness of flesh and life.

-The lame met him from down low and left Him raised up and jumping for joy.

-The woman caught in adultery met Him with shame and sorrow and left Him with dignity, love, and hope for a new day.

There are so many others...but you get my point.

The way we meet Him is NOT how He plans to leave us.

He has an abundance of MORE!!!!

I am NOT saying that Christ always heals physically but He does always heal.

Something struck me as I studied the woman at the well. Her story tells that she left Him and went and told everyone she could find about Him.

See she couldn't keep quiet.

Her abundance was spilling out. It couldn't be contained.

More led to more.....

I want to be greedy that way. I want more of God. I want more people to want more of God.

Did you notice that the people I mentioned were not in ideal situations when they met Christ? They were hurting in some way or another.

And there He was....with the midst of the pain.

Hurt produces the hunger.

Lord I will thank you again for the trials of this life. Each tear has been seen and kept by You. These trials help me tirelessly pursue You....and You don't disappoint. I love you so much, Lord.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Then sings my soul....

This new week did not greet me with great news.

It just seems like there is no end to financial stress.....we are feeling it hard.... as are so many others we know and love.

But still.

It is here and it is ours to deal with.

Hard stuff.

This afternoon I am fighting off the self-pity stuff.

On top of the junk swirling around in my head, I have now had to put Caroline in time-out for the first of probably many times.

I don't know what it is about coming home after school. She will cry and pitch fits for seemingly no reason. This is the time when I wish she could talk to me. But she can't so she resorts to kicking furniture or other things to get my attention. Time-out has to come into play when she deliberately disobeys me. People give me mixed reactions when I discuss behavior issues concerning my handicapped little girl. There is a lot in her life that constitutes treating her differently but we don't coddle rude behavior in this house....even if you are disabled. Believe you me....Caroline's body can't work correctly but her mind is fierce and sharp.

It seems that the only thing that works with her is to be isolated.

But, seriously. I hate doing it.

And it seems like we do it every single day.


Also, Ava is not feeling too great from having her flu vaccine. She is burrowed down in our big chair with a blanket. She is a bit hoarse and continues to rattle off with an occasional cough.

Thankfully one Helton child is enjoying a nap....and I'm sure he and I both will be the better for it when he wakes up.

Anyway I wanted to blog and thank the Lord for an awesome opportunity yesterday.

Isn't that what we are supposed to do when we are tempted to jump head first into a huge pool of "poor pitiful me"??

Be thankful.

So that is what I am going to choose to do.

Yesterday I got to go and sing with two other ladies who I love to pieces. We went to a church about an hour away and put on a little mini-concert. We had the privilege of singing 5 songs in their 11:00 service. I just loved it. There is something pretty awesome about singing praise to the one and only Jesus Christ; but it is even more spectacular when you are singing and you get to see the evidence of blessing on the faces of those listening.


Not because we are that good.


But because of who we are singing about....our amazing God!

Let me tell you....I know these girls I was singing with. I have known them for well over 10 years and I have personally seen God do extraordinary things in their lives. I believe that they would say the same thing about me. I have watched Him rescue, heal, restore, rebuild, protect, expose, uplift, bless, equip, change, provide, establish, and renew them...and me. Gratitude pours from each of us and we want others to know it. Singing gives us that avenue.

Sometimes I can sing it better than I can say it.

It's like singing gives my soul a voice.

"Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee.
How great Thou art
How great Thou art
Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee.
How great Thou art.
How great Thou art."

Colossians 2:6-7 "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

By the light of the moon..

I have been a little off this week in my bible study. I can tell too.

Andrea without the Word of God permeating her life is not a good thing.

It is fall break here and our ladies Bible study group (which I have the awesome privilege of leading) decided to take a week off from meeting.

Time off is a good thing but I tend to fall behind when I don't have something holding my feet to the fire.

When I know that I have to stand in front of those women, look them in the eye and give them biblical instruction....I better be prepared.

Anyway I have been lagging. It has been a good week. But I can feel the pull of my flesh. My thoughts wander. My heart gives way. My doubts and fears begin their incessant whisperings. I knew that I could not stand one more second away from the Presence of my Lord.

His pull on my heart was overwhelming.

Funny too. It wasn't a pull of a parent getting on to a child.

It was more like the pull I feel when Shep has been out of town and I am dying to see him, hug him, and hear his voice.

That was more like it.

Isn't it cool that God wants us to yearn for Him that way?

So...I slipped out into the night and planted myself on our sidewalk. The air was perfect. The sky was full of stars and the moon was shining bright. Then I opened His Word.

My study was focusing on John chapter 15. Jesus is talking about God the Father being the master Gardener and how He is the vine. We, believers in Christ, are the branches of that vine. The Word talks about His love toward us and how we are to remain and abide in His love.

When we do....these branches called our lives will produce fruit.

I thought about the fruit in my life.

Am I producing any??

Do others want more of Jesus because they see Him in me??

Yikes. I'm not sure and I don't think good intentions count.

There are many days spent in fruitless efforts.

Days when I try to make things happen instead of just abiding in Him.

Maybe tonight was fruitful. Not that anyone saw me but I knew I was missing something...Someone. The day is over and done but my heart couldn't rest until I had met with Him. Maybe learning to abide is first understanding when you aren't.

Lord, Your love for me is just indescribable. Thank you for tonight. I loved our meeting under the stars. Your Word spoke to my always does. I know You want to produce fruit in my life. Sometimes I really don't enjoy that process. It usually hurts and requires sacrifice on my part. Still, I trust You and I know You are worth it. Once I have begun to produce some fruit I usually become satisfied and I want to coast for a while. Because of your great love for aren't. You want to produce even more fruit....much fruit. Help me to be a compliant child. Increase my faith. Forgive my failures. Gain some glory!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Walking the walk

These are Shep's favorite boots.
This is Shep's favorite little boy in them....notice they are on the wrong feet.
I love the thought of him wanting to be like his daddy so badly. So why shouldn't he get out his dad's big ol' shoes and go through the motions of walking in them??
Well, maybe this is why. These cumbersome and heavy boots prove to be too much for his little 3 year old frame. It is inevitable that he will collide the floor in short time...
But usually he gets back up and gives it another go....even if he knows he will fall. Just attempting to walk in his daddy's shoes is worth it!

This is exactly how I want to attempt walking by faith.

Of course I am going to fall sometimes.

My feet are going to seem unsteady. I may even think I am unable to walk the path that has been set before me.

After all God gives us some pretty big shoes to fill.

But progress is worth something.

Each day I grow and mature in my faith. At first the task seems bigger than I can bear. Until one day I put on the shoes and they seem to fit better. I seem to know how to maneuver better. They don't seem as heavy or cumbersome.

Growth has happened. All that practicing has paid off!

Oh Lord how I want to walk in a manner that is pleasing to You! Give me persistence for the days that I seem to fall over and over again. Just as our hearts swell at Zeke trying to be like Shep, I pray that You gush over your kids trying to be like You too!