Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Biblical Beauty- we have a guest tonight

Every Friday night, we have 11 or 12 preteen girls in our home for a bible study on biblical beauty. The lessons are all centered around what God's word says is beautiful versus what our culture says. The emphasis is that apart from Christ we cannot attain these beautiful characteristics like, Beauty Through Forgiveness, Beauty Through Service, Beauty Through Humility, etc." I am planning on writing a longer post at the end of our 12-week study to summarize what these lessons have shown me and I'll give a recap of each lesson with the correlating scripture and outward care session (the girlie part).

It's been a blessing and a challenge, both at the same time. The majority of the girls are unchurched and most likely come for the fellowship. In the past I wouldn't have found this to be too unsettling but through the past 12-18 months the Lord has brought me to a place of greater understanding when it comes to teaching and studying his Word. It is not casual and it should not be treated as such. It does not require gimmicks or tricks to entice those that he calls & converts.

It has been difficult at times to assert myself enough to gain control, yet be gentle and soft because I have spent years with some of these girls and I know I have earned a place of trust with them. We have a pizza-fellowship time when they first arrive and while this is such an important part for them it has become a real source of anxiety for me. It was *my* Hannah who encouraged me and pleaded for more order and less chaos.

A few weeks ago I just had to lay it all out on the table for these gals. I said, "look, you guys are precious to me. I am so so glad you are coming here and it blesses me to spend time with you........*but* we are here tonight for the purpose of learning what God has to say about the biblical beauty that He desires for those who love Him and how it should be fruit in their lives for others to see. Studying the bible might not be your *thang* (giggles here). You might be thinking, --geez, this part is booooorrreeeeeennngg-- (giggles here). I know you have your cell phones buzzing and I see the glances you girls are shooting sideways to each other. The talk about what boy likes what girl and who is *going with* who and what so-and-so said to whats-her-name is on the top of your list. Here's the deal. If learning God's word is not on the top of your list then this is not the place you need to be spending your Friday nights. (look to Hannah- eyeballs wide open, mouth gaped) I continue.... If coming together with like-minded sisters who love Jesus and want to honor Him with their words, actions, and thoughts sounds downright weird, then you should probably call your mom's right about now. I won't be mad. I totally understand. But you guys need to understand this: (and the preaching goes on)

1)Leave your cell phones at home- I have a phone and it works great.

2)Talk about boys at the sleepover that you are headed to- we are here to honor God and being appropriate with our speech is non-negotiable.

3)Save the eye-rollin' for your momma - I come from a long line of eye-rollers and I even had an eye-roller that lived here at one time but she now has full control of her eyeballs and I expect you girls to do the same.

4)I love you - but my love for the Lord is greater. I will not misuse this time or opportunity that He has laid before me. I am obligated to hold you girls accountable. (ahem... step-down off soapbox)

Well, so far I have had no takers. They show up with bells on every Friday night. When we get our workbooks out and our bibles, I do notice that probably 1/3 of the girls start to get the glazed over look, but they remain respectful and our time together is sweet.

On a lighter note, Chris was not able to be home in time for our meeting last Friday so we had a younger chap on hand to liven things up. Here are some pic's for you to enjoy. Can you find the oddball in the group shot?

Hiding out in the kitchen-sneakin' a piece of pizza...

Can you spot the trend?

The damage...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Days gone by....

After reading Shannon's blog this morning, Rocks in my Dryer, I thought of the many momma's out there who feel like they are drowning in the mustard diapers, midnight feedings, and the smell of spit-up! Her words are a sweet encouragement to those mothers whose vehicles are still wall-wall with carseats! Hang in there girls :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Did she really just say that????

EMMA SAYS: "Momma, is that tissue in your skirt?"

MOMMA SAYS: "What are you talkin' about Emma?"

EMMA SAYS: "Right there Momma... (pointing to the area that is no longer waist but not quite hip) right there where it gets kinda sort of looks like you have tissues stuck in your skirt." (what did I ever do to you?)

HANNAH SAYS: "Oh Emma, that is where Mom's shirt is tucked in......Right Mom?" (sweet child, loves me most)

MOM SAYS: "Yeah Hannah, sure, that's it, uh-huh, grumble, mumble, huff, puff, snort."

...While thinking to myself how I would like to blame these inquisitive children for the *poofyness* of my skirt, since they each took up residence there for about 40 weeks of their lives and left me with the aftermath of a poofy belly and the relentless urge to eat things that are sweet. But I resist the urge to place blame and shuffle upstairs to change into my Sunday afternoon uniform (fleece pants that have plenty of "tissue" room) and then set fire to the non-flattering skirt in question (not really) and resign myself to this here fact: I have officially gained weight and even though I am running consistently I must concede to some form of diet in order to take this wretched weight off! I am not looking forward to this because I am a much more pleasant person when I have free reign of the pantry and fillin' my coffee cup with creamer until it turns a lovely shade of beige.

So I bid a fond farewell (for now) to my beloved snacks. I am also training for the 10K that will take place on March 31st. My runs are usually very early in the morning when it is as dark as death and cold. Cold, cold, cold- like frozen hair, chapped skin, and frequent yelps of "whoo-wee it is cold out here" kind of cold!!!

Am I alone in this quest? If you share my woes and feel like encouraging a fellow *poofy* mother then just send the love my way.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday- Togetherness

For more *Wordless Wednesday* participants click here!

Monday, January 22, 2007

January 22, 1973

On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion in this country.

On that same day, one year prior, I was being carefully knitted in the womb of my 17 year old mother. If my calculations are correct she would have been close to her 2nd trimester and I would have been growing itty bitty fingernails! I guess I was looking something like this:

Had her choices been different in the fall of 1971 when I was conceived, I most certainly would not be here today. If she had been given the option to abort her pregnancy and save her family the embarrassment and expense of a baby then without question the decision would have been swift and firm and most likely out of her hands. She would have been considered "unfit" and my grandparents were in no position to care for another child. In the eyes of the world, to end this pregnancy would be "best"......for everyone.

By grace alone I am here. Through that same grace I came to surrender my life to the Lord and acknowledge the complete sinful nature that sets me apart. I am grateful and humbled for the gift; the grace gift of forgiveness and reconciliation. How grateful could I be if I failed to acknowledge the reality of what "could have been" and what sadly has come to be for so many unborn babies?

The bible is so very clear about where God considers *life* to begin.

Jeremiah stated, Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

King David, in one of his Messianic Psalms, states "But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God." (Psalm 22:9-10).

King David also praised God’s perfect knowledge of Man when he sang "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being unformed. And in Your book they all were written. The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them."(Psalm 139:13-16).

Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. "Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”

I could write pages about the graphic facts on abortion but it shouldn't be necessary. Do people need to witness a murder with it's vile images to determine that it is wrong? I could also write pages about the misconceptions that most people have in regard to what is *legal* in this country. Again, it shouldn't be necessary. Conception is life- enough said. Still, there are those who will argue about when conception begins and so I'm sure they would be stunned with disbelief to learn that there are small percentages of abortions performed each year on babies who are close to full-term and yes- it is legal.

On Sunday, January 21st the President of the United States has again made the proclamation for the National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2007 . While he is a president that stands amid great controversy and public ridicule I am grateful to live in a time where our nation's leader has spoken up for the unborn.

My goal for this year is to regularly volunteer at our local Crisis Pregnancy Center and to include my girls in that. They are a beautiful legacy that speaks of His grace, His perfect plan, and his love for the unborn. They exist because in the fall of 1972, Roe vs. Wade did not.

On July 20, 1972, two days after my mother turned 18 years old she gave birth to me:

What a porker!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dreaming of snow....

Wordless Wednesday (a day late)

by: Emma

Things I did as a child.....

There are so many things that I grew up doing that my children won't!!!!!

Here is my very first Thursday 13!

1.) I walked from school through town to the dance studio (probably close to two miles). We would stop at a convenient store and oogle the ice cream sandwiches behind the sliding glass. I usually had enough money for some cherry sours but ice cream sandwiches were a splurge :)
My kids walk.......hmm......let's see.......*nowhere*.

2.) I "pumped" my friends on my bike (in front) with another daredevil sharing the banana seat behind me. Yep, that's three girls on one bike. My 12-year old is still riding the same size bike she got when she was about 8! I don't even think the concept of "pumping" exists in their mind!!! Good thing they don't read my blog.....yet.

3.) I listened to some really vulgar music! At age 10 or 11, my absolute favorite songs were "Super Freak" by Rick James and "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band. After hearing the lyrics as an adult I was tempted to charge my parents with child abuse. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

4.) I had my own BB gun. I used it whenever I wanted. The thought of my children with a BB gun makes me shake....all over.....and want to vomit.

I don't want to incriminate myself but I'll tell you this. There was a day when my target practice wasn't going too well and..........there was this little dog..........he was the neighbor's dog.........and.......Let's just say that after that day you could never really tell which direction he was looking - if you catch my drift.

5.) On many a Sunday morning we would pick up donuts and head to the tennis courts. This tradition is one that my kids will not be partaking in. While our family still has donuts, we head to church instead.

6.) I went to daycare. From the time I was a baby until I was preschool age I went to daycare while my grandmother worked. My mother was really young when I was born and so for that part of my life my Mamaw was my caregiver. I have a couple of really vivid memories and they include having an *accident* involving my underpants while wearing patent leather mary janes. I guess I remember the mary janes because I had my head down, looking at my feet for most of the afternoon trying to ignore the persistent question of, "what's that smell?" The other memory involves spinach and I believe that the two are somehow very closely related....but I have no proof. No daycare for my kiddos.

7.) I drove at age 14. I didn't drive far, but still I drove. Usually to get donuts. We don't even let our kids drive the mower.

8.) I went to camp when I was about 11 or 12. My kids won't be doing that and if you went to camp when you were 11 or 12, then I probably don't need to elaborate.

9.) I stayed gone all day without any clear knowledge of my whereabouts. I would leave mid-morning on my Shetland pony named Sugar (aka: beast) and pack up for an adventure. I was probably never more than a couple miles from home but heaven only knows what could have happened to me. I was almost always alone because we lived in the country and also because none of my friends could ever figure out the rules of my imaginary world nor would they surrender to my assignments of what role they should play there. Sounds pretty weird, but at the time it was so very normal.

10.) I rode on a butane tank to pass the time. Of course my kids *could* do this if
A) there was a butane tank belonging to anyone we knew -AND-
B) they had absolutely nothing else to do, which was the case in my visits to Granny Daniel's house (great-grandmother).
I can't remember a whole bunch about her house except these few things:

*she chewed tobacco

*Grandaddy's room was locked after he died and I always thought she was keeping his body in there (weird childhood fears) and

*I made her nervous so I had to stay outside when we visited and all there was out there was a butane tank. So I made the best of the situation by using my bizarre imagination and riding that tank all the way to land of "make believe".

11.) I spent countless weekends with my grandparents because they lived close by. My memories of those weekends are very sweet and I count them as some of my favorite. I watched Fantasy Island and The Love Boat every Saturday night on my Mamaw's bed. I ate cherries from the jar in her fridge until I was sick. I stood behind her as she sat on the couch and took the pink plastic pins from her hair rollers and then I ran my little fingers through her curls. Oh yea, and I got away with murder. I could seriously do *no wrong*.

Since our kids' grandparents live in Texas their memories are a bit more spread out but I know they are no less sweet. They won't be able to spend every weekend with them but when we are together we sure do know how to make the time count!

12.) I grew up never seeing anyone in my entire family read the bible. Not once. I also never attended church with either of my parents.
Praise God that His provision for my children included the reconciliation of their parents to their Savior and the precious memory of our family united in worship and a love for God's word.

13.) I (along with countless others) have ridden in the front seat of a pick-up truck..... standing up no less! I have also ridden in the bed of the truck......down the highway......going 60+ mph.....with my hand hanging over the side so I could feel the wind whipping my palm.

Oh (sigh) the good ol' days!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A glimpse of the weekend.....Part I

Aerial's Invitational Meet

It is so wonderful to be able to keep our family and friends involved in our life through the blog! I'll do my best to get the weekend posted in the next couple of days. Blessings :)

Can't use a flash, so the pic's aren't so great. That's our girl there on the floor!

2nd Place-Vault

When you tie for 2nd with two other girls you gotta fight for the "salute". Bless her heart, she was so tickled to be up on the podium that she didn't even mind grinnin' into their elbows!

Passing the time......

Monday, January 15, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes

Emma made a confession this morning as we tidied her room and unpacked from our weekend trip. She has always been painfully honest, even to her own demise. It is a trait that is both endearing and troublesome. Endearing for the obvious reasons, but troublesome when she asks your best friend if her tooth is yellow because she doesn't brush it enough? (age 6)

I could literally write pages of *Emma tales* but I'll just spare you with one today.

Her confession this morning went something like this:

Mom, you know what I used to do when I was little? When I was little I would say my prayers to God and then I would pretend to hear his real voice. I couldn't *really* hear his voice, but I would pretend that I could, so that I could make Him say what I wanted.

We both giggled about the silliness of her imagination and talked about how much she had grown, both physically and spiritually. Of course, the irony is that her confession is not so different from my own. Certainly I have found myself in the position of wanting God to say what I wanted and even *pretended* on some level that He did.

Don't you just love the lessons that sneak up on ya?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Run....Do Not Walk

We are headed out the door this morning, but I had to share some really important information to all my blogging friends who want to be good stewards and good shoppers (goes together, right?)

We stumbled upon the greatest sale that Old Navy has ever had (in my presence) yesterday afternoon. It runs through the weekend. All clearance stuff is 1/2 off the *clearance* price! We (me, two friends who stumbled with me) bought the same $75.00 coat for like $12.50!!!!! Lot's of fleece for $2-3. Christmas fleece pj bottoms for the girls were .97 !!!! Wonderfully soft women's robe that was regularly $40.00 for only $10.00. People, this is like free clothes with tax!!!!!

There was lot's of whooping and squealing and carrying on. So much so that the store manager had to get in the action when we were checking out because we would hold our item up to our girlfriend in the next line and yell out how much we had paid for it. For example:

Friend 1 says: Who'd ya get tha for?

Me says: I got this for Chris...... It was regularly $25.00.......I paid $3.00!!!!!

Manager says loudly to the entire store at the top of his lungs: SHE GOT IT FOR CHRIS AND SHE PAID THREE DOLLARS

This sort of banter went on until we managed to haul our loot out of the store before security realized that there had to be some sort of thievery going on!

I paid less for my entire TWO HUGE BAG purchase than the original price of the coat. Ladies and gentleMAN (husband, I know you are proud of the "gathering" that I did) here is the $12.50 coat.....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Book Meme

Thanks Wendy for the tag! This fun and really original book meme says:

1) Grab the book closest to you
2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence
3) Post the text of the following 3 sentences
4) Name the author and book title
5) Tag three people to do the same

I do all my reading (just about) upstairs so most of the books down here belong to the kids or to Chris. From where I sit at the computer, the children's books and Chris' pile of life are about the same distance. I'll go for the grown-up stack :)

I think he has finished this one (but he's asleep, so I won't ask). The book is John MacArthur's, The Book on Leadership. Here are the sentences:

By the end of chapter 7, he seemed to have thoroughly unburdened himself. He closed that section with these words: "Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything" (2 Corinthians 7:16). It reads like a great, sweeping, comprehensive sigh of relief.

I really wanted to use one of my books and I had to keep myself from cheating and going upstairs!

I am excited to start 'More Love to Thee'. With Leslie , as our resident book reviewer and Girl Talk hosting the *book club* this is a great way to be disciplined in my reading and focused on ONE book at a time!


Oh- and I tag, Jenn, Tiff, and Amy :)

Play-Doh......enough said

It goes a little something like this:

Samuel is playing with Play-Doh responsibly.
He finishes playing with the Play-Doh and heads to the couch.
I begin to clean up the Play-Doh.

Samuel comes to me with very watery eyes.
His nose is running (only one nostril - this is important to note)
He says with distress, "momma, I need a tissue"!
While I am turned getting the tissue, he sneezes.
I think to myself, "hmmm...., that must be why his eyes were watering"

Wrong. I was wrong... wrong... wrong...
I turn to see a blob of orangeness poking out of my boys nose like a circus peanut.

Samuel (sensing my anxiety) says: "Its jus-a-boodder, Momma."

Lesson #3375- Play-Doh does not hurt going in the nose, but it causes some discomfort coming out.

Lesson #3376- When you blow you nose several hours after inserting Play-Doh into it, you still may find a remnant.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Come Again?

Samuel had his adenoids removed and tubes inserted into his ears in the summer of 05'. It resulted in a marked improvement for both of the areas that we had hoped for; less ear infections and less open-mouthed breathing/borderline apnea symptoms at night. The boy was snoring, mouth gaped, flies comin' and going. He was prone to infections and lots of goopy noses. Emma had the same procedure when she was a wee little 1-year old and it made the same incredible difference. I can't make a medical claim to understand it, but both kids ended up healthier than they had ever been and the chronic runny noses were history.

O.K., Enough of the boring medical history. Here's the funny for the day:

His ENT doctor checked him out today to see if the tubes were working their way out (they were and that's good) He suggested a hearing test because we had not yet done one. I was pleased because as his speech develops, he still struggles with words like, "two-tee" (cookie), "tracher" (cracker), and the one with the best *cringe* factor (I'll give you the correct pronunciation) "firetruck". The woman that gave the hearing test was a lovely grandmother-type with loads of patience and a very quiet voice, which had me questioning whether I should hop in that chair and check my own hearing!

She placed Sam in chair and gave him instructions:

Lady: You will repeat the words that I say, okay?

Sam: Otay.

She closed the door to the big freezer-style, sound-proof room and sat across from him on the other side where they could see one another through this little window. As soon as that door was shut I began to dream about building one of these rooms in our house. Can you imagine? A room that was void of all sound? This was worth pondering....

She began the test...."sidewalk" ........."help"........."hot dog"........

It's funny because after all the words she used (probably 50-75) the one that he remembers and has talked about is "hot dog".

He laughs and says, "Mom, she say, HOT DOG! Dat lady say, *HOT DOG*!!!" and then just cackle and laugh his head off. It doesn't take much.

Then she tells him that she will switch the headphones and he will begin to hear noises or beeps. He is informed to let her know when he hears these "noises". The rest of the test goes something like this:

Lady: OK Sam, if you hear a beep then just raise your hand or tell me, okay?

Sam: Otay

Lady: (after a brief pause, she raises her eyebrows) Did you hear anything, Sam?

Sam: nods yes

Lady: OK Sam, if you hear a beep then I want you to say, "I heard that"

Sam: I heard dat.

Lady: Very good, Sam- but wait until you hear the beep to say, "I heard that"

Sam: I heard dat.

Lady: This time, wait until you hear the beep, OK?

Sam: Otay

Lady: (after 2nd brief pause) Did you hear that?

Sam: I heard dat.

Lady: Can you say, "I heard that" right after you hear the beep?

Sam: I heard dat.

I am, at this point trying not to wet my pants because I know this boy so well. First of all, I know his hearing is impeccable because I have gone stealth-like in his dark room before, while he is sleeping and have him rise up and say, "momma, whatcha doing?" I'm sure this is not funny to her, but it's about the funniest thing I've seen all week!

The lady mentions that he is on the *verge* of being the right age to properly administer this test and I'm thinking that she's probably on the *verge* of pulling her hair out.

Thankfully, by the end of the visit, she has enough information to conclude that his hearing is fine and I think to myself (so is his sense of humor!)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mud Croissants

OK, so it's not a *Monday Menu* item, but hey you never know if someones got a hankering for some baked mud.

Beyond our little fence there is a small wooded area that backs up to about 10 acres of open field where some horses live. When we first moved here, we had several discussions about the difference between "pretending" and "lying" in regard to the horses. You see, my girls desperately wanted people to believe that the horses belonged to us, because in their minds....they did. After much deliberation, they now understand that while they have named the horses and fed them carrots and scream hysterically if one of them gives a snort; that doesn't make them "their" horses.

The little wooded area has been a place where the kids have made many memories. It seems that a common theme to their "pretend play" is that they are orphans and that their mother is dead. This disturbs me, but I will not read into that. They have even named it "Terabithia" after a book that they read in 4th grade. While I am not thrilled to be ousted from their backyard world, it does bless me to see them out there...together.....loving each other......without a mom.

It also helps to foster my love for the country because I just look out my backdoor and pretend that we are living in the boonies and my kids are lost in their imagination playing on our sprawling mass of land-(mom's can pretend, too)

I thought you might enjoy the ingredients for one of the many delicacies that are prepared back in the Land of Terabithia. Here is the recipe for Mud Croissants that I found handwritten by my oldest:

Materials Needed:

Mud (duh)
Minerals (do you get these at Wal-mart?)


Make mud in bowl & stir
Add minerals & mix
Spoon more mud and piece to brick (not sure how to "piece")
Cut off leftovers & flatten out
Place each on tray
Leave in sunlight for about a day or more

Here is a picture of some of the necessary tools:
(the dump truck is often used as a mixing bowl----resourceful, huh?)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The means to the end-

Tim Challies posted this a few weeks ago but it is worth reading and resonates with me on so many levels. He says:

"What I came to see is that there are many areas of my life where I am more wholly committed to an end than to the means of achieving that end."

There are so many areas of my life that I find this to be true and probably none greater than in the area of parenting. I am passionately committed to the end results of bringing up our children in a holy home, teaching them God's word and submitting to His authority over their lives. This grows to be an increasing challenge as they get older because the means become so much more difficult. We must be ready and willing to provide them with the means necessary, despite the rising adversity that has and will come our way.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Fresh Start

hosted by: Laurel Wreath

I love a fresh start. When we would break at school for Christmas or Easter, I would always clean out my notebook (remember the good ol' Trapper Keepers?) and "resolve" to be more organized, more prepared, more like *Kelly Blank-itty-Blank_* who was a straight "A" student, had an "Add-A-Bead" necklace and Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans with swans of every color (so she was basically perfect). The problem was that despite all my good intentions, I never was committed to true change. An organized notebook was not going to be enough to transform me into a disciplined student.

So we find ourselves with somewhat of a fresh start! Thankfully, as a child of God I am given a fresh start each and every morning, which I need because I am still prone to sin and in desperate need of a Savior. I am grateful that I am not dependant on my own ability to change, but rather His beautiful grace that changes me.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your
faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Our pastor has been and continues to guide us through the book of Romans. The emphasis will be, as we start the new year, "The Distinguishing Marks of an Authentic Church". As we closely examine God's word he will expose the Godly characteristics of the church that he purposed and set apart through the counsel and teaching of Paul.

My first aspiration/goal/resolution/desire must be for God to reveal in me the "distinguishing marks" of a Christ-follower who proclaims the gospel and lives a radically different life because of my love for Him. I am both fearful and prayerful as I seek the Lord in this part of my life. I am always one to make the claim of how different my life should be, but I am challenged when it comes to truly setting myself "apart". The movement in church growth today depends greatly on the congregation being willing to "reach out" and "share Christ" which most often means, invite your friends to church.

I have no problem with inviting someone to church- that's actually pretty easy. But, I am under a strong conviction that while Mark 16:15, says: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation", I cannot rest on that by giving out open-ended church invitations. Sharing the gospel is so much greater a task. In order for my witness to be valid and my testimony to reflect Him, I pray that I shall be under constant scrutiny for selfish ambition, pride, self-preservation, and other sins that would hinder me in that process. I pray that God will build relationships where I "earn" my position of favor with them because of the revelation of Christ through me and *nothing* else. My assignment is to share the gospel and that should challenge me to the core every single day. I am anxious as I watch carefully for the opportunities in which I should be faithful in proclamation.

My next "nearly impossible" task would be in the direction of reading and devotion to God's Word. This should actually come first, as it would be the most direct way for God to reveal all the planks in my eye(s) and also present me as "prepared".

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." 1Peter 3:15-16

I call this task "nearly impossible" because it is the one that I fail at most often. Surely, it is because I find so many other *very important* things to do (for the Lord).

I could type a jillion laundry list's of more "to-do's" in regard to parenting, mothering, sistering, gardening :) etc. etc. etc. But in the end, with God's word as my foundation and obedience to that, I can't fathom that the other necessaries would end up being too difficult! I am prayerful that these desires will bear good fruit.

Let's proclaim His goodness & grace in 2007!

What we learned in 2006...

We learned a lot of things this year! We made a lot of memories and shared love and laughter with so many friends and family. What a blessing! These are some things that we learned during the year 2006:


When Gigi jumps on the trampoline it makes everybody laugh!

The 4Him farewell concert was wonderful and brought back so many memories for Chris and I and the early days when we began to follow Christ.

Giving your 11-year old a "Spa" Birthday party is a whole lot of work.....

and a whole lotta fun! Yep, that's Sam giving the manicure!!!! Don't you know those pre-teenies loved that?

Don't mess with Vader when he's barefoot.

If you put your hand through a cake when it falls out of the fridge it is still salvageable. That is, after you have a serious crying jag and use about two tubs of icing.

It makes a 9-year old cry when she sees her momma crying (even if it is over a birthday cake) Lucky for me, she said it still looked "just like Molly's" (American Girl) and smoothed my ruffled feathers.

When you are a mom or dad, you could find your kid in a sea of 1,000's even if they are all dressed exactly alike. You bet, I can find that girl. She's the one with the glowing eyes, down front, to the right, yellow t-shirt, holding one arm. Love you Hannah!

When Samuel was chosen to star in Hannah's "made-for-the-VCR" movie based on the book, Yellow Fever; he was reluctant to play the part when he found out he was to lay motionless, and pretend he was asleep (code for dying). I think he was hoping for a part with more lines, more action, more.....light sabers.

Don't ever underestimate a younger sister when she's out for a little friendly competition. Look out Hannah, cause she's gaining on ya! The girls had their first ever 1-mile kids run in May and came back for seconds in the fall.

No matter how fast you think you are, your husband will outrun you or die trying. Thanks for not dying honey.

When your kids get braces, they automatically look 2 years older. Emma you look mavalous!

We love having Gigi come to visit! A special lunch at school is a must :)

Watching Hannah pitch has been one of the most awesome yet difficult things I've done as her mother. It was thrilling to see her grow in confidence and courage and at times it was gut-wrenching to watch the pressure mount and see her disappointment when she didn't throw the strike. After 3+ years of softball, she has taken an early retirement and is dedicating herself to cross-country and will be trying field hockey for the first time this spring! I learned that I don't like my kids being under so much pressure. It makes my tummy hurt.

My husband is the greatest coach- hands down. He will be missed and I will miss watching him (for now). I learned that when Chris is coaching a game that I really shouldn't try to give him advice. It isn't good for the ride home.

Hannah does a mean impression of her Daddy.

When just a few mom's gather together with all of their children it can be an intimidating sight.

There is an unbridled joy in the first days of summer.

There is a special sweetness among friend's who you have grown up with. We are blessed beyond measure for God to continue to provide a way for our families to fellowship despite the miles between us.

Even if you have tractor-trailer mirrors and a backup sensor you still have a blind spot.

I learned (am learning) that when boys play with their Dad's, it sometimes looks like child abuse, but the boy really is having fun.

After all the miles (over 3,000) and after all the days in the car (around 9 days out of an 18 day trip) and the many places that we spent the night (8 different places- I think) and the states we covered (10 states) we still love each other very much. We learned that we not only love each other, but we actually love being together. What a great vacation.

I learned that the camera can't really capture the sheer terror that is gripping my children while they stand (very still) in this chicken coup at Papa's house.

I learned that it's disturbing to see the children that were just preschoolers the last time you saw them. Now they are in middle-school and the girls and boys won't talk to each other. "Hey, you guys used to watch Barney together!!!"

I learned that there are still street preachers in San Antonio and my son could easily be swayed by one, if we aren't careful because he wouldn't take his eyes off of this one (out of the shot). It's hot at the Alamo but I didn't learn that. I knew that already.

Family vacations are an absolute *must*

We learned that Tex is a cocker spaniel, not a cockapoo. We love him anyway. We have also learned that cocker's are prone to "submissive wetting". This would have been something good to learn beforehand.

The world's largest donut tasted as good as it looked.

I've learned that when your youngest has a birthday it seems like you skipped a couple. When did this boy turn 3? How on earth could he possibly be 4 already???

Time passes way too fast....