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!!!