If life went according to my plans I would be writing this post from a luxurious condo in Florida.
Yes, this was supposed to be family vacation week but due to our "economic uncertainty" (have I mentioned my husband is in the mortgage business?) and the fact that a gallon of gasoline costs more than a movie ticket, we canceled our trip.
I know, I know, we are being good stewards with what God has entrusted us and I certainly don't want to do something foolish, like indulge in a week of fun that we will have to pay for over the next 2 years. Still though, "I want to be at the beach!!" (Could you hear the whine in that statement?)
The good news is that we are still finding ways to spend some wonderful quality time together as a family.....
Yesterday after church we all (minus the oldest) supported Cece at her basketball game and then took in a movie. Let me just say, KUNG FU PANDA rocks!! You can read Lysa TerKeurst's take on it here and here.
Someone asked me yesterday how we can afford to take all of our kids out to a movie. It is easy, just cancel the family vacation and suddenly we are feeling quite wealthy!
Monday, June 30, 2008
If life went according to my plans I would be writing this post from a luxurious condo in Florida.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
At the She Speaks conference last weekend we were led in worship by a girl named Lindsey Kane. She is not only beautiful, she also has an incredible voice!! Oh what I wouldn't give to be able to sing like that!!
Anyway I have chosen one of her songs to share on Then Sings My Soul Saturday. I have posted the lyrics below. I hope you enjoy the music and the pictures.
If you would like to order her CD or learn more about her visit here.
When I cannot stand
When I'm weak
You're the ground beneath my feet
When I'm down in my shame
When it's all the same
You're there to hold my hand
And help me then to stand
You take me as I am
As I am
Aren't You amazing Father
How You love me like Your only daughter
Hold me closer than even a brother
You're the only friend like there is no other
Aren't You amazing Father
How You give me everlasting water
I'm the clay and You're the potter
Aren't You amazing Father
When I'm falling out
When I sink beneath the ground
And the plans that I've made
They all get washed away
I feel You always near
Reminding me that You're here
A voice so strong and clear
Strong and clear
Father God You're amazing its true
Like a beacon in the darkness I can always find You
Every thought You know it
Every gift You show it
Every night every day Lord I pray that You bestow it
Word after word You make it so clear
Day after day I feel You so near
Thank You from a grateful daughter
Aren't You amazing Father
You're there to hold my hand
And help me then to stand
You take me as I am
As I am
Have an amazing weekend and be sure to visit Amy for more Saturday blessings.
Friday, June 27, 2008
How could something this absolutely precious be making my life so incredibly insane?
God knew what He was doing when He gave them to us as sweet babies we could fall in love with because had they dropped from heaven as teenagers we would have sent them back!
As I look at this picture everything in me wants to reach into it, pick them up and hold on to them. I want to pinch their chubby little cheeks & thighs and pat their diaper covered bottoms.
I want to envision their future as one in which they always make good choices that lead to prosperity and happiness.
Suddenly I realized~ this is exactly how God sees us! These are the things He wants for each and every one of His children.
Unfortunately these two darlings are not making such good choices right now. In fact, they have made some very poor ones recently that have led to discomfort and unhappiness for them and for the rest of our family.
Again, I realize this is exactly what happens when we make poor choices that result in sin. We have to endure consequences that are uncomfortable and difficult and sometimes painful. Often the results of those sins and their consequences effect others around us as well.
One of the most difficult lessons I have learned as a parent is that "it is their life". I can only provide, lead, love & encourage and when they make the wrong choices it is my job to discipline.
Being a disciplinarian is not my primary role and it is not one I enjoy but it is a necessary part of being a parent. I want my kids to make positive and healthy decisions because they want to, not because they are afraid or because "mom said so". But they are children and they need the guidance of adult parents who see the world from a more mature and experienced perspective.
It is so hard to be a parent. To watch the people we adore suffer and head down a destructive path. To have our hearts be broken over and over again by the people we love the most. And yet God is a parent to all mankind.
He doesn't give up and neither will I.
He is the perfect parent and it is in His strength, and with much prayer, that I will press on through the ups and downs of raising my kids. It isn't easy but then again, I haven't been an easy one either!
Meanwhile, our teenagers are spending much more "quality time" with the family.And as you can see, there are more teenagers headed our way!!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
For those of you who read Lelia and Missy I am afraid this post will be anti-climatic but I felt compelled to give you my version of the "ride of our lives".
As soon as I found out there was an outlet mall near the hotel I wanted to go. Y'all have to know by now that shopping is one of my favorite sports!!!
So Amy and Carol dropped us in front of the mall as they were fixin to drive home (a little southern slang I learned in NC). I had wanted to pick up an accent while in the South so that was my first acquisition. What do you think?
As it turns out Lelia and Missy and I have similar shopping styles~~'shop till you drop'! We searched out every bargain that mall had. We refueled at Chili's and then shopped some more. Finally our time was up and we had to call for a cab.
Just to set the record straight, it was Missy who made the call. Personally I just wanted to seek out some nice looking people and see if they'd give us a lift.
"OH NO" said Missy, "that would be dangerous!"
So she called for a cab and we waited. And waited. And waited. All we knew was that the cab driver was an "American Woman" driving a beige vehicle.
Do you have any idea how many beige vehicles cruise the mall parking lot? One after another they passed us by. It was like they were taunting us! We were hot, had sore feet and a plane to catch. Where was our American Woman???
Finally, Missy called her back and apparently there had been a misunderstanding about where she would meet us. She was on her way....Thank goodness!
For some reason I knew the minute I saw her that this was our ride. She pulled up to the curb and was waving wildly out the window. Oh yes, this was our ride alright......
And this was our driver, Ravonda.....
She offered one of us the front seat and when Lelia tried to let me take it I reminded her that her legs are much longer than mine so I graciously insisted she get to be in the front where there was more leg room.
Since the car had no air-conditioning Missy and I enjoyed the humid, North Carolina wind whipping through our hair in the backseat.
I wanted to share a few pictures of the "vintage vehicle" in which we were riding (I believe it was a late 70's/early 80's Crown Victoria LTD).........
Notice the dead roses in the unused air vent.....
The stereo was held in place by some kind of homemade contraption. And yes, she is driving barefoot......
We had to stop back by the hotel to pick up our luggage before heading to the airport and I can tell you that we got more than a few "looks" as we loaded our suitcases into the trunk.
At one point during our adventure Missy couldn't find her glasses. She emptied her purse in a state of panic and I was worried she was going to make us turn around and go look for them. I really didn't want to be in that "cab" any longer than necessary. Finally Missy remembered that her glasses were right where she had left them......ON HER FACE!!
It turned out Ravonda was quite talkative. She asked if we liked to cook and when we said yes she gave us a recipe to bring home and share with the rest of the blog world. By now you may have heard it but it is definitely worth hearing again.........
It was more than a cab ride, kind of like my Hurricane Vacation it was a bonding experience, a memory that will make us smile (and laugh out loud) for years to come.
I think more than anything it made me humble. I could have declined that ride and insisted on something nicer but how would that have looked as I came out of a Christian Women's conference. No, I needed to live out grace in this situation. So as the hotel guests and staff stared I held my head high and crawled into the back of that "cab".
On the back of the armrest there was a newspaper cartoon that kind of summed up the whole experience for me.........
Like it or not, it's not about me~~~~To God be the glory!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As I went to check my emails and write a blog post this morning my computer refused to connect. I tried just about everything but was met with the same "unable to connect" message.
Finally, about 3:00 I couldn't stand it any longer so I went to the public library in order to get a much needed computer fix. AHHH, what a relief! It wasn't my laptop or my favorite corner but it was just enough of an online "fix" to hold me over until my husband got home and got mine up and running again (man I wish I understood computers!).
So here is the post I would have posted this morning if I had been able (and yes, of course it is She Speaks Conference related):
By Saturday afternoon I was feeling raw and wrung out and I needed rest and renewal badly. Fortunately there was a prayer room where I spent some time connecting with God in between "workshop sessions". The names of the conference attendees were sprinkled over the "Names of God" placed on tables around the room. I found my name securely placed on Jehova Jireh (the Lord Provides).
I have told you how God provided for me to go to the conference but there were many ways He provided throughout it as well. Here are just a few of the divine provisions that come to mind:
1) As Lelia and I boarded the plane to leave Kansas City we noticed the name tag of the man taking our boarding pass said~~MATTHEW 1426
"When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified......(27) But Jesus spoke to them at once. "Don't be afraid....take courage, I am here."
I considered that great affirmation that as we stepped out of the boat to walk on water, Jesus was with us!!
2) Walking in to the "Bloggers Reception" and being recognized. I felt like such a celeb! LOL Of course I also felt like a groupie because I was squealing every time I recognized someone. God really knew what He was doing when He hooked so many of us up ahead of time through this forum!
3) My room mates Linda and Missy! When the Inn was full they graciously opened their room to me. Linda not only sacrificed a big, comfortable bed for a pull out that resulted in a headache, she also welcomed Missy and I with chocolates and a book in which she is published. And hearing about Missy's kids (1,2,3,4) brought back lots of fun memories of my own little ones.
4) My evaluation group. This was an amazing group of women who desperately want to glorify God, as He has freed them from the pain and brokenness of their past. I was blessed in some way by each one!
5) As I was having my melt down Sat. afternoon and there were no more coffee cups available, a beautiful angel of the Lord handed me hers and said, "you need it more than I do." (I wonder how bad I looked???)
6) My dear friend Joy from Canada gave me a darling new tote bag along with an encouraging card at a time I was feeling completely overwhelmed.
7) The ladies who took the time to encourage and calm my nerves when I was at my wits end. Carol, who helped me outline my talk, and Marybeth & Zoe who showed me jewelry.
8) At dinner Saturday I mentioned a book I wanted to get when I returned home and Laura offered to send me a copy of it that she had already read.
9) As I went to bed Saturday night my 19 yr. old called because she was having a bad day and needed to talk to her mom. I was able to listen and pray with her all the way from North Carolina.
10) Getting a ride to the Outlet mall from Amy and Carol after the conference was over (even if we did have to ride covered in the boxes from their shopping expedition the day before).
I am sure I am leaving out a lot but I wanted to post a few memories while they are still fresh in my mind. Overall God provided a fun and informative weekend and He is continuing to provide now that I am home.
I can honestly say it was everything I hoped it would be and then some (stay tuned for the "then some" in another post) ........
Monday, June 23, 2008
I have so much to process from the weekend I don't even know where to begin!
There were times I was set on fire and felt ready to take on the world, and other times I felt so small and out of my league, my thoughts became "What am I doing here? I don't belong!"
There is much to share and I am anxious to tell you all about it but right now I am trying to avoid mental indigestion and give my brain time to process it all.
I can tell you that the girls out there in blogland really do exist and meeting them in person is like spending time with an old friend! It's funny how people you may never have spoken to personally can feel like sisters so quickly!! And there is nothing like spending a weekend with a bunch of sisters!
Today I plan to spend some time recovering from a flight that ran 2 hours late (I didn't get home and in bed until 2:00am), blisters on my feet..
and the fact that while Mom's away Satan has a field day back at the ranch!
If you think of it, I could use prayer for my "prodigal daughter" who seems unable to stay off of the path that leads to trouble. No, this is not exactly what I wanted to come home to but this is where God has placed me so I have no choice but to "roll up my sleeves and parent this child...."
By the way, why was it God created teenagers????
Friday, June 20, 2008
Oh Yes, I have been pampered!! I never have nails that look like this! I feel like a princess!!
Best of all, that manicure was $7.00 at the nearby Beauty College and I used my gift certificate for the pedicure (or it would have cost more than ANY of the clothes I am taking with me).
Now, I am going to take these nails and board that plane to North Carolina in style. No one has to know that just yesterday my nails were pink with blue crosses and my hair was up in a ball cap. This weekend I am a sophisticated world traveler........
Yeah right, I don't think I am going to be fooling anybody (especially when I start crying as I say
goodbye to my babies at the airport). I miss them already!!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I know you all will find this hard to believe but I am a healthy 40+ year-old woman and I have never had a pedicure.
Actually, I don't think I knew what a pedicure was until I was in my mid-20's.
All 3 of my teenage girls have enjoyed getting their "tootsies" professionally pampered and my mother and grandmother have regularly been getting pedicures done for years. In fact, I may be the only female in the county over the age of 13 who has never gotten a pedicure.
Much of the time I haven't felt like my toes were in any condition to be touched, much less fancied up. When I am running a lot I tend to have blisters and calluses and I have even been known to lose a toenail or two. Now that would be a pleasant thing for the girl who is giving the pedicure. YUCK!
Then last year I discovered a perfect solution to a salon pedi. Are you ready for this? Press on toenails!! I know what you are thinking but they really did look great! I had more compliments than I could count. The only problem was that occasionally they would fall off ("has anyone seen Mommy's toenail?") and the "super glue" I used made my real nails weak and brittle. But boy they looked good while they lasted!
Now before you feel too sorry for me I have to tell you that I have had opportunities to indulge myself. I am still holding on to a gift card for a "day of pampering" at an Upscale Day Spa. I received it a couple of years ago for my birthday and just haven't found the right time to use it (I did check and it doesn't expire). Then this yearI got a pedicure gift certificate for Mother's Day.
I guess if there was ever an occasion for a pedicure (or manicure for that matter) it would be the She Speaks conference. I have invested in a plane ticket, new clothes and a haircut, why shouldn't all of me look the part? Besides it is too late to shed anymore pounds. I may not be able to fix my hips but I can treat my toes!
So with all of that said, last night I did get the "at home, 8 year-old version" of a pedicure. Unfortunately my pedicurist only had time to do one foot before her bedtime. She offered to do the "french look" but I kind of preferred the sassy pink/blue mix.
Since She Speaks requires "business casual" (and this is more along the lines of "casual casual") I may hit the salon for a "pro pedi" today, but I am definitely coming back to this salon when I return home!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It's time for Word-Filled Wednesday again and this has become one of my favorite "memes"!
The picture I am sharing this week came from the clematis that is growing in my backyard. It was planted by the previous owner and no matter how badly I treat it, it comes back faithfully year after year.
When I uploaded the photos onto my computer I realized how much the flowers resemble a cross. Isn't it just like God to put His stamp on everything?! All we have to do is look for it!!
In only 2 more days I will be looking for Him in North Carolina!! I know He will go with me and I thank each of you for all of your prayers. What an incredible blessing!!!
Make sure to look at more encouraging scripture and photography at Amydeanne's.
Monday, June 16, 2008
It is hard to believe how fast time has flown by and I am staring down the deadline of the She Speaks conference in North Carolina this weekend. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was agonizing over whether "to go or not go". You can read all about about that decision process here, here and here.
I really felt like God had given me the green light when He sent a traveling companion (Lelia) and room mates (Linda and Missy) but then something else happened that confirmed to me this really is God's plan for me, not just my own desire:
God sent the money! Or more accurately, He sent an angel who wanted to remain anonymous in sponsoring my registration fee. The Proverbs 31 office called me in March to let me know that the deposit I had already paid was being refunded and my entire registration was covered! When I went back and re-read my journal entries and the posts I had written, I was absolutely blown away that God would answer my prayers in such an obvious way!!
This made me wonder, how many prayers have I not prayed and therefore missed the blessings that God wanted to give me? OR How many prayers has God answered and I haven't recorded or remembered?
So as I prepare to head to North Carolina this Friday God continues to show up to enable and encourage me:
1) He has given me a bible teaching that is almost exactly the 5 minutes required for the Saturday evening presentation. (And many sweet, encouraging friends to practice it on!)
2) Also, I met another blogger who lives near me and is attending the conference as well. We met for lunch today at a lovely outdoor cafe! If you get a chance check out Krista's blog and encourage her as she prepares a book proposal on being a single Christian parent.
As it turns out, this is more than just a conference. It is a life lesson in God's provision and faithfulness, not only to me but also to my family and friends!
I would like to end this post the same way I closed my journal entry on Feb. 27th, with the following words and scripture:
"Fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit and use me in a powerful way. I promise to glorify You through this experience."
We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.~~~~Psalm 20:5
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thank you to all who have prayed for the family of our little friend. I know it was a long and hard day for them as they made arrangements they weren't prepared to make.
I did hear that 50 of her grandpa's organs have been donated (I didn't even know we had 50 organs?) so his death will bring the gift of hope to many others.
We were blessed to have the company of this little girl all day and evening. The kids had a fun day of walking to the park, giving the dog a bath, laying in the sun: *Those are their baby blankets they are using for pillows :) They only did this for about 1o minutes and while wearing Sunblock 30!!
Then we went to the annual VBS carnival at our church:
The Bake Walk:
We played over and over and over, and still couldn't win:
Even with my lovely friend Maryann drawing the numbers:
And then suddenly, we couldn't lose! We finally had to drag them away from the bake walk:
VBS had a rescue theme this year and so the highlight of the carnival was when a helicopter made a "special appearance in the parking lot:
And finally, to end the evening we enjoyed a late dinner at a gourmet hamburger place.......
By the time I finished my 5,000 calorie meal I was ready for bed!! We dropped off Sophie's friend and headed home.
We couldn't keep her from the reality of what was waiting for her forever but we could give her a Friday the 13th that was filled with memories of fun and laughter instead of death and sorrow.
I don't know what the spiritual condition of this man was (do we ever really know someone' s heart?) but I do know that his accident has once again reminded me of the brevity of this life and how I choose to live it matters for eternity!
Be sure to visit Amy and be blessed by more songs on this Saturday!
Friday, June 13, 2008
I really wanted to post something fun and clever today. Or maybe some deep and meaningful thoughts. But right now my heart is heavy and my stomach is clenched. Some days a person just has to cry out instead of speak out and this morning that is what I am doing.....
My 2 youngest daughter's each had a friend spend the night last night. We had big storms again so they were up late squealing and having fun. This morning I got a call from the mom of one of the girls. Her grandfather was killed in a car crash on the way to work. He was 50 years old....
I knew this man and his wife only through seeing them on the bleachers at ball games. But, as is always the case, there is so much more that makes up the lives of those around us.
He was the third husband of a wife who has known much tragedy. After being abandoned by the father of her children & widowed by her second husband, she had found love again with this man. Together they were planning a vacation next week & anticipating their first wedding anniversary.
He was the father of a 9 yr. old and 17 yr. old. The grandfather of my daughter's friend and her 2 brothers. He was at most all of the games this little girl played in or cheered at. In fact, she had spent the night at her grandparent's home on Wednesday and was supposed to stay over again last night but came to our house instead.
This morning, as her parents are grieving, she is eating donuts with my family. My heart aches to know the pain that awaits her. It is like one of those cartoons where you see the piano that is about to fall on the character's head but they have no idea what is coming. I want so badly to protect this sweet little girl from the pain and tears that are inevitable but the most I can do is give her a few more hours of "normal".
I guess in the end this is what life here on earth is. Just a few more hours, days, months.....We make plans and develop relationships but eventually that piano is going to fall. We don't always see it so clearly but that doesn't make it less real.
The good news for us as Christians is that, just like the cartoon character who bounces up from underneath that piano, we get a second life as well. A life that will be spent in the presence of Jesus Himself. A life where there is no more abandonment, pain, divorce, death, sorrow, grief........
Meanwhile, I am praying that Jesus will bring peace and comfort to this family and all others who call on Him today, tomorrow and until this world is no more.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I am so thankful today for the safety and well-being of my daughter who is away at college. She safely waited out the storm last night as a tornado ripped through the middle of the campus at the school she attends.
Fortunately it was only structures that were damaged and no one was killed in this particular tornado but there are areas all around that are mourning the loss of life this morning.
"Thank you Lord Jesus for covering my daughter with your loving arms of protection. While I love her dearly I know that you love her even more. And while I know that I can not be there throughout all of the storms she endures in her life, I know that you will never leave her.
I pray today God that you will surround those who are grieving with angels of mercy and that they will feel your very real presence comforting them. Give them the strength that comes only from your grace as they press on in the days ahead."
I also pray that you have many reasons to be thankful today and every day. To see more of what other's are praising God for visit Iris at Sting My Heart.