Friday, December 30, 2011

One Word Resolution

As 2011 draws to a close and 2012 begins, I want to share a blog post written by our friend Brad Dunlap. He posted this last year and it was a life-changer for me.

Brad suggested picking one word and commit to that word for the year. That actually seemed like something I could do. So, I decided to give it a try in 2011. I sat down to contemplate what my one word should be and the word REFRESH came to mind. And, let me tell you I quickly dismissed it because that didn't seem cool enough.

And as quickly as the word rattled around in my brain, some Bible verses came to my mind. (Trust me...this doesn't usually happen to me!!)

Acts 3:19 - Repent, then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing my come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ, who had been appointed for you--even Jesus.
Proverbs 11:25 - A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Little did I know at the beginning of January how the Lord was leading. I may have initially thought that refresh would mean that I would relax/rest and be refreshed. No way!! Nothing could have farther from the truth.

Here's what I have been up to in 2011 and I am so thankful for every moment!!! And, I'm wondering what the Lord has in store for 2012.

What about you? Will you set resolutions for 2012?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All I Want For Christmas...

Technology amazes me!! When I was growing up we didn't have cell phones, Facebook, the internet, instant streaming videos, digital cameras, laptops, Ipods, Kindles etc. I remember having a handheld computer football game with different colored dashes that you could move with arrows and I thought that was sooo cool. I remember getting up on Saturday morning to watch cartoons, the highlight of my week. There were three channels to choose from. (No, I didn't walk to school 3 miles both ways uphill in the snow).

Since I grew up in the dark ages, I'm a pretty huge fan of technology. I have fully embraced technology. Well maybe not fully, we don't own a flat screen TV, have an Ipad or a Mac, so I'm an still old school in many ways.

However as I type this, I am on my laptop in my bed with my coffee sitting beside me, cozy and comfortable. My youngest daughter attends a virtual school. I work at a non-profit and the staff all works out their homes. I communicate with 50+ volunteers on a weekly basis via email. Facebook keeps me connected to friends and family near and far. Pinterest...what more can I say?

I rely on technology on a daily basis.

But I am realizing technology has a dark side, a really dark side. Sometimes I wonder if so many choices and the ability to do what we want to do when we want is feeding the monster of selfishness. I wonder if technology has really complicated the teenage years, as if they were not complicated enough. I wonder if technology fractures families. I wonder if technology becomes a substitute for relationship. I wonder...

As we head into the Christmas holidays, I want to ponder all these things that I wonder. I'm thinking it is time for me to control technology, not allow technology to control me. What does that mean?

I don't know.

Of course if someone gave me an Ipad, I wouldn't complain :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blog Hog No More!!!

This morning I spent some time looking back at this blog and realize that I'm really glad I blog because it gives me perspective. It helps me quickly look back and glance at my life. For me, I didn't start a blog to make money or become an accomplished writer or even develop a following. Which is a good thing because I haven't done any of those things :-)

Why did we start the blog? Because we live far away from our families and are terrible about sending pictures. We decided to use technology to our advantage and eliminate guilt from our life (well maybe not eliminate, but at least reduce it).

Actually David started the blog in 2005 and I hijacked it in 2006. Crazy that I have been blogging for six years. This blog does tell our story over the past six years. I am thankful for every moment!!

As 2011 draws to a close, I realize that my time as the primary author on this blog is drawing to a close. It is time for me to turn the reigns over to my family and allow this blog to be a reflection of our family. It is time for me to quit being a blog hog.

We'll see how that goes!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story!

We were looking for a couch. We really needed a couch. Really!! When people sat on our love seat we would have to say..."Watch out for the nine inch nail that is sticking out below the cushion" or "I know it's really low on the ground and you may have to roll yourself off the loveseat".

Last week we found a leather couch and it was really cheap. The rest of the story is that the while we really needed A couch, we really wanted either a sectional or two couches. After all we do have six people in our family. At the same warehouse sale where we found our couch we also found the couch part of this sectional. It did have a tiny little tear on it and it is obviously meant to be part of a sectional, but we were able to get this for $150.

We were a bit nervous about this purchase. When we got it home we realized that our living room really is smaller than it appears. It took us 24 hours to figure out how to arrange these two LARGE sofas! But, we are very happy with the results.

So, God provided more than we imagined and we are so very thankful!!! Two leather couches for $350.

I'm also thankful to my parents and my aunt for their Christmas gift last year and their patience as we took 11 months to buy the couches.

And...we still have some $$ to finish out the room. Hopefully it won't take us 11 months to finish it out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Extravagance of God!!

Meet our new couch!! Well this is actually not our couch, it is a picture of our couch. This couch represents months of waiting, agonizing and praying. Last Christmas we were given $$ to purchase a new couch by my parents and my aunt. We went shopping in January, but the choices were overwhelming so we couldn't make up our minds.

Plus, David and I aren't the best furniture shoppers on the planet. Once we bought a chair that was cheap, really cheap. When we got it home, we realized it was largest chair know to mankind ..although it sure is comfortable. The mammoth chair made our living room look like a fairy tale. This loveseat is too small. This chair is too big. This chair is just right.

Also, about the same time we started shopping for furniture, I began to work at Habitat for Hope and admittedly got a little distracted, well maybe a lot distracted. There was so much to learn and so many people to get to know!!

In addition, David and I also decided to freeze any extra spending. Why? Because this dream job is a support raising position (in case you don't know what that means, it means my paycheck comes from the generosity of others). If I had $20 for every time I've told someone that it is my responsibility to raise support and their response was "I could never do that" then my salary would probably be fully funded :-)

Honestly....It has been hard, really hard to raise support. And it's stressful.

Looking ahead to 2012, I'm thankful to have people who have committed to partner with Habitat for Hope and provide salary support. This support enables me to do my job to recruit, encourage and mobilize volunteers to serve families with critically ill children.

The difficult thing is the support I have raised is only a fraction of my salary. Imagine getting 10% of your paycheck....that's where I am right now. This week David and I have had some time to really pray through and talk through this reality. We have decided to continue to walk forward in faith, trusting the Lord to provide for our needs. We've decided to be thankful for the 10% and trust God to provide the 90%.

At this point you might be wondering what in the world this has to do with this gorgeous leather couch? I'm glad you asked. Tuesday I started in earnest shopping for a leather couch and went to several stores and picked out a few couches. On Wednesday I was on my way downtown to visit with a family from Uganda whose son was having brain surgery and I decided to stop by the Ashley Furniture Outlet (thanks Shelley for the recommendation).

A bright light shone upon one couch in particular (not really!!). This couch was very similar to a couch I had been looking at the day before which cost $700 in the Ashley showroom. I decided to ask a guy who was unloading the truck how much the couch cost. He comes over and starts looking at the couch and said $299. (I'm thinking yippee!!). Then, he looks a little closer at the couch and said, No, make that $199 and I fainted on the spot (not really).

I said...we'll take it and called David to get his hiney down to the warehouse immediately. It took him forever to get there because his truck kept overheating. (And now we're praying for God's provision for our truck)

There's more to the story...but here's the bottom line. I'm sitting here on this brand new, all leather, incredibly comfortable sofa that my whole family can sit on, overwhelmed by the extravagance of God. He cares about the details and as we move into 2012, I choose to rely on Him and trust His generosity and His provision!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ugandan Friends

I thought you would like to meet the dear family from Uganda that we searched for at the airport Friday night!! Please pray for them today as their son, Omega is in surgery to remove a brain tumor. He is a delightful little boy!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lesson from The Pantry

Note (This is NOT my pantry!!)

This morning I decided to skip church (gasp) and stay home to clean my house. I know, I know that seems crazy and wrong, but my house seriously needed some help. It's starting to look like an episode of hoarders!! My family is awesome about helping to keep things picked up, but organizing and throwing things out are a foreign concept to them.

So, I gleefully scooted my sweet family out the door, tuned Pandora to JJ Heller and got to work. First up on my list....The Pantry. Which did not really look like this pantry pictured. It was messy for sure, but really didn't have a ton of food.

So I start throwing out old stuff and clearing everything out. It was going fine until I got to the bottom of the pantry, which by the way is where we store our paper bags from Aldi and plastic bags from Kroger. Rather than being neatly stored in the bins I have designated for bags, there was plethora (one of my favorite words that you just can't work into conversation that often) of bags shoved in the bottom. I decide to throw out said bags (double gasp...I know I paid for the Aldi bags and I should recycle the plastic bags).

As I was working, one the nastiest smells known to mankind hits my nose with the force of a mack truck. A couple of orphan potatoes in a bag were buried underneath the mountain of bags. I'm not sure how long they had been there, but I do know that it was YUCKINESS of epic proportions. Think liquified potatoes!!

Foul!!! Seriously FOUL!!

As I am scrubbing the floor about to vomit, it hit me that my sin is like that. I try to bury it. I try to fool myself into thinking it's not there. I might be able to cover it up for a while, but eventually something is going to happen and it will be revealed for what it is Foul, seriously foul!!

The verse in Psalm that says "Create in me a clean heart, O God" came to my mind as I am on the floor cleaning up nasty potato rot. I need God to flood my heart with his Living Water, to get rid of all the rot. I want a clean heart even more than I want a clean pantry.

So, I may have "skipped" church, but the pantry became a place of worship for me this morning.

Spirit of the Living God....fall fresh on me!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Trip to the Airport

When word came that Habitat for Hope would be serving a family from Uganda, there was a flutter of excitement inside of me. You see about two years ago I fell in love with Uganda and the people of Uganda from reading the Kisses from Katie blog. I read the entire blog in two sittings, much like a great novel that I just couldn't put down. It's an incredible story of a young woman following Christ with reckless abandon. When I read her story I remember thinking that I didn't want to go to Uganda necessarily, but I did want to follow Christ and be who He made me to be and do what He wanted me to do. She seriously inspired me!!

Fast forward two years and here I am trying my best to live as Christ would have me live my life. I'm serving families whose children are chronically or critically ill. My heart has been opened wide to the silent suffering of so many families who are walking down a really dark and difficult path. My job at Habitat for Hope is to equip, empower, encourage and mobilize volunteers to move into the lives of these love them, serve them, hang out with them and become friends. These families come from all over the country and the world and often they don't know anyone here.

Back to the family from Uganda. When we received word they were coming, I knew that I wanted to be part of the team to serve them because even though I don't know them, I already love them. So, the first thing they needed was someone to pick them up at the airport. David and I decided we could definitely go pick them up. Our 16 year old daughter begged to go with us because she said, how often do you get to meet a family from Uganda?

So we head to the airport with very little information....a name and an arrival time. That's all the information we were given. We tried to get more but that's all we had. Memphis is a small airport, right?

We spent the evening searching the airport for a family from Uganda. I'm sure people thought we were a bit stalker-ish. The security guys probably were wondering why these three people were pacing to and fro....who am I kidding, Hannah and David quit wandering after about thirty minutes. My husband is quite smart and parked himself right by the arrival area. He and Hannah played a mean game of Lie to Me and trying to figure out people's stories according to their body language. Hannah might have discovered that when you hang out at the airport, you see lots of cute boys. Her favorites were the Navy guys. We're in trouble!!!

Meanwhile I continued to beloved friends that I hadn't met yet from Uganda were nowhere to be found. After a while we received word that they had been delayed in customs in Dallas and wouldn't be arriving until 11:30....which if you know me is way past my bedtime. So, we called in reinforcements, went ahead and delivered some groceries to the HFH apartment where they will be staying and went home.

I must tell you that I loved, loved, loved my daughter's response to this crazy evening. She laughed and had a grand time. She said even though we didn't pick up the family, we had an adventure.

Sometimes things don't turn out like we expect, but we just have say.."It's okay!!" (which by the way is Hannah's favorite expression) and keep going.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pure Joy

This morning I woke up with this running through my mind. "Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds". And my first thought was Oh crud, what trial is going to come my way today. It kind of made me want to roll back over and go to sleep.

My second thought was this does not describe me. According to my life it should say, "Whine and complain when you face trials of many kinds. Pitch a royal fit when you face trials of many kinds. Or, give people the silent treatment when you face trials of many kinds of many kinds. Eat chocolate when you face trials of many kinds."

I'm wondering what my life would look like if I really considered it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds.

And I'm really wondering what pure joy looks like. It's definitely not that Pollyana happy, happy platitude filled attitude.

Why should I consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds?

Here's what the next verse says "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything "

No trials = no testing of faith which leads to perserverance.

Trials help me quit being a big fat spiritual baby.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Valuable Lesson

Recently I learned a very valuable lesson. It is important to back-up information on your computer. You never know when you are going to suddenly lose all sense of motor control and drop your precious laptop on the floor with a loud crash.

A friend is working on trying to fix it, but I am choosing to be a skeptic and assume that all will be lost. Good grief, when did I become an Eeyore?

Maybe it's because I know that six months of my life is stored on that laptop. It's crazy but in those six months I put so much of my life in that computer. I started to journal on my computer. I fell in love with One Note and found it was a great way to organize my journal. I started working with Habitat for Hope and all of my training notes are on the laptop. I took a bazillion pictures and those pictures on that laptop.

Typing those words is a punch in the gut.

And yet, life goes on.

I'm still hanging out with Jesus and seeking His direction in my life.
I'm still impacted by months of reading through the book of Matthew and trying to follow the footsteps of Jesus as he loved people, brought healing wherever he went, spoke truth and balked against the power plays of the religious leaders.
I'm still working at Habitat for Hope and getting to know some AMAZING volunteers and people who are enduring real difficulty.

In the scheme of life this is truly a lesser loss and I will choose to count it all joy!!

I feel better now!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Worship at Shelby Farms!!

Yesterday morning Nations Church led a worship service at Shelby Farms as a part of LUVMUD. It was pretty awesome to be outside praising God looking out at the lake. The pastor talked about these verses from Matthew which is a great reminder of what we are to be about as followers of Christ!!

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.

Let's do it!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Never Walk Alone

Last week my youngest daughter broke her collar bone playing soccer. She typically has a pretty high pain tolerance but it broke my heart to watch her endure such pain while she waited to get an X-Ray. Then, a really cool thing happened. Her teammates started texting her and three of her teammates showed up to be with her while she waited. Even though I knew she was in some serious pain, she was able to smile and laugh because her friends were there for her.

About ten weeks ago I started training to walk a half-marathon to raise money for Habitat for Hope. For the record, unlike my daughter, I am not an athlete. And training to walk a half-marathon has been a challenge for my non-athlete self. However a really cool thing happened during my training. Friends have walked with me several times to keep me going. And, when I walk the half-marathon in Ohio this weekend, several friends are going to walk with me so I don't have to walk alone.

We all need friends to walk with us, especially when we are enduring pain or hardship!! So many of our Habitat for Hope families are in Memphis without the physical support of family and friends. Our volunteers are friends that show up so these families don't have to walk alone.

Online fundraising for Diane Smith - Walk With Purpose

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elijah's Writing

This past week Elijah had to brainstorm about a topic and pick three words from his list to come up with a telling sentence. He decided to write two sentences. What an overachiever!! Today's my mom's birthday, so here's a little birthday writing from Elijah.

Grandmommy makes popcorn with snacks and plays dominoes with us.

Grandaddy lets us play in the fort and skips rocks with us at the railroad tracks.

Well written Elijah!!
And, Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Live with Purpose!!

The past several months I've been reading through the book of Matthew, a biography of the Life of Jesus. The past couple of days I went through and summarized each chapter. Then chapter by chapter I used different colors to highlight what he was up to and here's what I came up with as a result. A disclaimer--this is not scientific or exhaustive or perfect, it's just my summary and I am by no means a Bible scholar!!!

When Jesus was born, he was headed to the Cross!! The cross was His primary purpose in Life. On His way to the cross He also...

  • Talked about the Kingdom of God - 10x
  • Modeled the Kingdom of God - healing the sick, raising the dead and meeting people where they were and meeting their needs - 17x
  • Hung out with the disciples and trained them - 18x
  • Opposed the religious leaders who were trying to trap him and trick him - 7x

My first thought is Jesus invited the disciples to follow Him and he poured out His life into them. They hung out together, not just one day a week for an hour. They lived life together. In our culture it's so easy to relegate our religious activities to a couple of hours a week, but this is NOT what Christ modeled. He modeled relationship NOT religion. As a matter of fact he had some pretty harsh things to say to the religious leaders!!

Parents, we follow this model, often without even realizing it. We hang out with our kids. We live with them. We eat with them. We work with them. We play with them. We vacation with them. In the process of living with them, what are we teaching them about the things of God?
So many times we think it's the church's job to train our kids in spiritual matters. Let me pause and say that I value the church's role in spiritually training my kids. My kids have awesome children's leaders and awesome youth leaders. However, they don't live with church leaders, they live with me.

Which leads me to my next thought. Sure, Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, but He spent more time living out the kingdom of God. My actions speak louder than words with people. My actions speak louder than words with my kids.

Final Thought--If a biographer were write a biography of my life, what would he write? Chapter by chapter what would fill the pages? Am I living with purpose or aimlessly going from day to day?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

That's Impossible!!

A couple of days ago I was about to head out for an 8 mile walk. Before my walk I was chatting with my 13 year old daughter. We were having a great conversation so I was procrastinating a little to delay my walk.

Out of the blue Clara asked me a question. Lately she's asking a ton of great questions. It's actually been fun to see her brain developing. She's a bit of a skeptic and questions everything (wonder where she gets that from). But this question, this seemingly innocent question, sent me on a mental journey.

The back April I began to work for a local non-profit, Habitat for Hope, that is a committed group of volunteers and staff who work to form community around families who have traveled to the mid-south to receive medical care for their children. It is a joy to work with this team of people and I've met some incredible families who face incomprehensible difficulty on a daily basis. As an organization, Habitat for Hope, offers services at no cost to families and is reliant on the generosity of others to cover the cost of these services. Also each staff person is responsible to individually raise support for his or her salary.

Which brings us to the conversation with Clara. The reason I'm about to head out to walk 8 miles is that I'm training for and walking a half-marathon to raise $$ for Habitat for Hope. I'm very excited about the race I'm walking because it happens to be in Ohio where our family lived for 12 years. A few friends are joining me walking/running this race to help raise $$ for Habitat for Hope. How cool is that?

Clara and I were talking about the half-marathon and she asked me the question, the dreaded question. "How much are you trying to raise?" I hesitated in answering her question. When I told her the amount. She asked a follow-up question. "How much have you raised?" (She might make a great reporter or lawyer one day). When I gave her the answer, she exclaimed..."THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!"

You know...she's right. It is impossible.

Of course this conversation happened right before I walked out the door to walk 8 miles. So, for over two+ hours I had a chance to think about and wrestle with these words, "that's impossible". However, I'm so thankful that earlier that morning I had read this post by a friend.

Because here is the bottom line as stated by my friend, Brad, "when we walk with Jesus – NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!"

Am I tempted to give up? YES
Am I tempted to get discouraged? YES
Am I tempted to worry and fret? YES
Is my faith as small as a mustard seed? YES

How desperately I want Clara and the rest of my children to know that following Jesus doesn't mean that we live a safe, comfortable, secure, pew-sitting, have-it-all figured out life. It means that we follow Jesus!!! Wherever He leads!!! And more often than not, where He leads us is impossible.

So for the next few weeks...I'm walking!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Laying Down the Law

Yesterday I was driving to work when my son told me there are three things you shouldn't do when driving a car.

# 1 - Eat a sandwich
#2 - Feed your animal
#3 - Put on your make-up

He said this to me while I was at a stoplight putting on my make-up. I thought it was pretty funny!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And she spews...

As I start to type I wonder where I am heading. Can I be honest? Will I be honest? Or, will I simply settle for typing a few words designed to fill the screen and continue this blog on its merry little way. A better question might be, "Is it possible for me to even convey what is in my heart and in my mind?"

They say that it's easier to say things to a computer than to a real person. For me that isn't true. I usually can share what I'm thinking pretty easily face to face. Also, I have spent the vast majority of my life with a phone growing out of my ear. Sometimes it's harder for me to type because I want to be eloquent. And, when you type something it's in black and white. It's more difficult to say that I didn't say that.

See...I'm dragging my feet to even begin. Here goes...

Today has just been a tough day. When I woke up I felt anxious and tense. Having coffee with my daughter Hannah did nothing to ease that tension. If anything it might have added to the mountain of dread that seemed to be weighing heavily on me. That might have had something to do with her trying to print an essay she spent hours working on and realizing her computer was dead AND her charger suddenly wasn't working. For the love of Pete and it wasn't even 6:15 am. That should be illegal!!

Finally she left, thanking the good Lord that my laptop cord works on her laptop. (Crazy thing is her laptop cord doesn't work on my laptop...strange).

After she left I sat in my sun room staring mindlessly out the window, lots of coffee. Like that's going to settle my rattled nerves.

My amazing, wonderful, hunky husband came into the sun room around 7:30 to say he was heading out the door for work. Truthfully I cannot even remember what he said, but I can remember the deer in the headlights look as all the tension mounting up inside of me spewed forth into a stream of emotion and verbiage.

Yuck. I hate spewing!! Really I do.

And as I'm spewing I'm wondering, "What in the world is wrong with me?" My husband had said, nor done anything to deserve such spewage. Handsome hubby with his backpack on ready to walk out the door looked quite confused. Gotta love him though...he put the backpack on the floor and pulled up a chair.

Truth is buried behind the bravado of faith and trust lurks the ugliness of fear and inadequacy. And doubt and discouragement knock on my door on a daily basis. Sometimes the knock is quiet and I ignore it. Sometimes it is more persistent and I open the door just so I can peek out to see who it is. When I try to close the door, they stick their foot in the door.

Today, these unwelcome guests broke down the door, came in, sat down and made themselves at home. They settled in. Evidently they were planning to stay a while.

Why today?

Who knows.

What I do know is is just a part of the journey. When you commit to follow Jesus it will not be easy. Period.

More on this later...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Walk in the Woods Beside a Lake - Part Two

Part 1 of this story in case you haven't read it.

After changing my mind about which trail to walk, I realized I had to go back as far as I had come. It was getting hotter by the minute and I was getting more and more tired. As I was walking I began to have a mental whining session. "I'm tired". "I'm hot!!". "Who am I to think I can walk a half marathon?" "I can't do this!!" and so on and so on.

Then, I came upon a young girl stopped on the trail taking a picture of a deer. And I thought to myself "YEAH..a photo op. An excuse to stop and take a picture". So I pulled out my phone and started taking pictures. Which is really stupid because my phone takes terrible pictures and I don't even know how to get them onto the internet.

But still it was a chance to take a break. I spoke briefly with the young woman and she went on about her walk. And after a few moments I followed her, still fatigued and tired. Then, an idea came to me to ask her if she would be willing to share her pictures from her camera with me. I began to walk more quickly to catch up with her.

After getting her attention I explained that I am training to walk a half-marathon in the fall in Ohio to raise $$ for Habitat for Hope. Since this walk was a part of my training I wanted to write a blog about it and I asked her if she would be willing to send me a few of the pictures she took for my blog.

As I was giving her my email address....a crazy thing happened. We were chatting about the half-marathon and she told me she too is doing a half marathon with her sorority in Sept to raise $$ for Make a Wish. Turns out....

Wait for it....

She goes to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The half-marathon I'm training for is in Oxford, Ohio.

Turns out in the middle of a wildlife preserve in Nashville, TN, I just "happen" to run into a wonderful young lady who is walking in the same half-marathon as I am walking. What are the odds?

There is no way on God's green earth that was a coincidence. As I walked away from her the "whining session" turned into songs of praise. Praise for a God who cares so much for me that He would orchestrate a seemingly chance encounter to encourage me to PRESS ON, a chance encounter to remind me that NOTHING is impossible with God.

What's impossible in your life?
What's got you discouraged?
What are you whining about?

Remember PRESS into Christ and PRESS on. He's got it covered!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Walk in the Woods Beside a Lake!!

A walk alone in the woods beside a lake seemed like a good way to get in a decent walk and soak in the beauty of God's creation. I'm training to walk a half marathon and I have been trying to walk in different places to keep it interesting. Little did I know when I began to walk what would happen to me. Little did I know where my steps were leading me. After all it was just a walk in the woods in a suburb south of Nashville.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I chose to walk the 1.37 mile Lake trail that went down one side of the lake and planned to take the .89 mile trail on the other side of the lake. A simple walk really. After all I've been training for a half marathon and this should be easy, right? Along the way I saw some deer and was really amazed that they did not run away. Being a wildlife preserve, they felt perfectly safe. The lake view was gorgeous with the sun sparkling on the water.

I really was enjoying my walk, but it was seeming to take a little longer than I expected. Even now I am convinced that 1.37 in trail miles is way longer than 1.37 in my neighborhood. Finally, I came to the place where I should turn to go on the trail that would lead me back to my car. However, what I could see of the new trail was in the sun. Since I had never been there before I stood there and debated. Walk in the sun in the scorching afternoon heat or turn around and go back the way I had come under a canopy of trees.

And, I confess, I was feeling a little tired at this point. After a little debate with myself and some thinking, I decided to walk back the way I had come. It was a little longer therefore my walk would be a little longer. When you are training for a half marathon, that's always a good idea. The cool part of the story is what happened next...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love doesn't strut!!

I've been reflecting on the words in 1 Corinthians 13 that describe love. It has been a while since I have written a blog post about love. Maybe I have writers block. Or, maybe, just maybe I really do not want to write about or even think about the next three words.

Love doesn't strut!!

Strut!! By the way that word looks funny when you type it.

Show off
Walk in such a way to call attention to yourself.
To behave or perform in an ostentatious manner (I think ostentatious is a cool word. I remember learning it as a vocabulary word as a teen. In the 80's we did ostentatious well!!)

Living with teenagers I see them strut all the time. Sometimes I have to smile when I see my daughters strutting. Sometimes they are subtle. Sometimes not so subtle. They want to be noticed. And usually it involves a cute boy in the near vicinity. I, of course, never engaged in such activities when I was a teenager :-)

See, I get distracted when I think of the word strut.

Love doesn't strut..
doesn't show off
doesn't swagger
doesn't call attention to oneself

Gut I strut? Well of course.

To love more I must strut less.
When I think of the word strut, I think of walking.
Maybe it's not so much how I walk, but how I talk.
I think I'll be quiet now!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Places!!

Our family moved to Memphis about eight years ago. At the time we had 3 kids with the youngest being one. Then within a couple of years we had our 4th child. I remember people would ask us if we were going to do this or that and I would way!! The thought of taking 4 kids anywhere new caused me to break out into hives. Shoot, the thought of taking 4 kids out to dinner caused my blood pressure to rise.

So, for a season my world got really small. My life was oriented around my home and my family and the area of town where we lived and the area of town where I worked. The past 6 years truly have been wonderful. Time spent with my family and in relationship with friends has been sweet. And I would not trade those years for anything.

However, today I'm realizing that my world is expanding...and I'm pretty pumped. By nature I like to try new things and go new places and explore.

Recently I've started working for a ministry in Memphis called Habitat for Hope. Little did I know when I started working with these folks just how much fun I would have. Here are some of my new hang outs.

Le Bonheur - (This is a post by a friend) I'll be here on a regular basis hanging out with families. Recently I was able to take Clara with me when we served lunch to the staff of one of the floors. We had a blast serving together.

Habitat for Hope Apartments
- The first week of summer vacation my daughter Hannah and her friend Erin went with me to clean the apartments to prep for new families moving into the apartment. These apartments are provided to families at no cost.

Habitat for Hope - Last week I had a meeting with Mylissa on the front porch of the 48 acre property. It was lovely and relaxing. The boys were able to go with me and had a blast playing with several boys. They started by playing Legos and then they moved outside for a duel under a canopy of trees. Working while hanging out with my boys is pretty sweet.

We've also had staff meetings at a couple of local places Republic Coffee and Cheffies Cafe.

Little did I know that I would be able to take my family along with me while I worked. For that I'm very grateful. Next week I'm going to treat my kids to a Paleta just because well I think they are awesome!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

But I want...

This image is great!! It was a picture taken by my friend Lana. She took a picture of my daughter Clara writing the word love. I LOVE it!! So cool and creative. Lately I've been thinking about love, what it really means. I say the word all the time and yet how often do I mean it and live it.

I'm taking the time to think about the famous love chapter. So far I've looked at two phrases, Love never gives up and Love cares more for others than self. Truthfully I could probably camp out on the "Love cares more for others than self" for the rest of the year, maybe even the rest of my life.

The next phrase is
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Well crud...another phrase that I will be working on for the rest of my life. The reality is that in our culture this is tough to live out. Watch one set of commercials and you realize that advertising strives to get you to want what you do not have.

And, I'm thinking that wanting what we don't have just might come quite naturally. If you've ever been around small children, you will notice fairly quickly that a toy does not hold much allure unless someone else has it.

All too often we are green with envy.
All too often we are bitten by the green-eyed monster.
All too often we want what we do not have.

IF it is natural for us to want what we don't have. IF culture screams at us to want what we don't have. Then, we must replace that with something else.

For this week I'm going to watch my words and thoughts. I'm going to notice how many times I say I wish. I wish I had ____. I wish I was more like_____ I wish I could _____. Because really when I say or think those words I'm wanting what I don't have.

What would my life look like if instead I choose to be thankful for who I am and what I have. There is a great book that I have started reading called One Thousand Gifts. This book asserts that when we give thanks, we find ourselves wildly loved by God. In expressing gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted---a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others

I want to live fully right where I am in this moment!!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Still I will Praise Him!!

In this post last week I reflected on how Christ is hope in the midst of darkness. The image was taken in Joplin, MO. Many lives were lost in Joplin. Many people were injured. Many homes were destroyed.

Within just a few days several of my friends went to help. Our pastor and his wife, Scott and Suzanne, have family in Joplin and were the first to go. Shortly after them a group of guys from our church went.

Within minutes of finding out about needs, people generously responded. Personally I posted a need for 4 car seats on Facebook. Within 20 minutes that need was met. Donations flooded into our church and were delivered to The Bridge. in Joplin.

Here's a note from Suzanne's Facebook.

"Sunday in Joplin, one week after the storm, I stood crying in church as people sang "there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes, still I will PRAISE YOU!" with hands raised to God, tears streaming down their faces! These same people met each other in the halls, hugging and exclaiming things like, "You lived! I'm so glad you're okay!" And many of them were exhausted from working hard all week, helping their neighbors and strangers. After church I watched the amazing New Hope guys doing an awesome job, clearing fallen trees under a hot sun. They were sunburned, sweating, and I love their servant hearts. Singing to God, sweating for Jesus, both of these are worship -- and my eyes are filling again"

Devastation. Loss. Heartache. Hurt. Pain.
Hope. Love. Praise. Service. Worship.

Troubles will come.
We see the devastation on the news.
We feel compassion.

This week the devastation moved closer to home.
My heart hurts.
Tears well up in my eyes just to think it.

This week...
A wife lost her husband in a tragic accident.
A couple lost their son a month before he is born.
A couple learned that the chemo won't cure the cancer in their baby, it will simply slow it down until she is old enough for radiation.

For these friends, these aren't stories.
This is reality.
This is life.
Their hearts are broken.

Yet they Still Praise Jesus.
He is their Hope.
They choose to put their faith in Him.

Please pray for these families this week and in the weeks to come.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

What Does Love Really Mean?

Lately I've been pondering what love really means. Let's face it, we all want to be loved. Period.

A song released by the Beatles right after I was born sums it up in the chorus. According to Wikipedia "The Beatles were asked to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalitites." This song was first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first live global television link.

All you need is love.
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

What was true in 1967 is still true today. We all need and want love. That I can agree with. But...I am wondering what the world would look like if we shifted our focus. I wonder what would happen in this world if we stopped needing love and started giving love.

It's easy to receive love, but harder to give love.
It's easy to say the words "I love you", but it is much harder to live the words "I love you".

Love cares more for others than self!!
These words from 1 Cor. 13 sum up what I am trying to say. Today....let's care for others more than we care for ourselves. Now that would make the world a better place.

Okay so that wasn't intentional...but leads to some lyrics from Michael Jackson.

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

or from "Heal The World"

Heal the World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why
There's A Love That
Cannot Lie
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving

What if today I really loved my neighbor as myself?
What if today I really considered others better than myself?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hope in the Midst of Pain!!

This photo speaks volumes to me this morning!!

The devastation
The darkness
The loss
The barrenness
The storm clouds gathering overhead

And yet the cross stands.
Hope in the midst of pain.
Light in the midst of darkness.
Life in the midst of death

It's easy to see this visually when a tornado comes and rips apart a town.
It's more difficult to see when tragedy comes and rips apart a heart.

Oh that God would give us eyes to see
Hearts to feel
Ears to listen
Hands to serve
and feet to go

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love Never Gives Up!!

In my post yesterday I came to a tough realization. So many times I say the words "I Love You" without truly living out the words. What does it really mean to love someone? The first phrase mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 (The Message) is "Love never gives up"!!! What does it mean to give up? Well I did a handy, dandy search on the internet and found this answer

"To give up means to simply stop trying at something."


How many times relationally do I simply stop trying? More times than I would care to admit. Why do I do that? Busyness, Apathy, Hurt, Anger, Frustration, Boredom, Selfishness and a myriad of other reasons.

So, LOVE ALWAYS TRIES!! When I say "I love you" to someone that means I will try. That means I will put in the effort, even when I don't want to or I don't feel like it.

What would my relationships look like if I actually put this into practice?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Do I love or do I lie?

How many times have I said "I love you" to the people in my life? To use a phrase my oldest daughter says....a gazillion. This morning I read 1 Corinthians 13 in the Message. Even if you don't read the Bible much, you may have heard these verses spoken at a wedding. Shoot, these verses may have been spoken at your own wedding. My wedding was so long ago, I can't honestly remember.

Here's the words I read this morning...

Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than self
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have
Love doesn't strut
Doesn't have a swelled head
Doesn't force itself on others
Isn't always me first
Doesn't fly off the handle
Doesn't keep score of sins of others
Doesn't revel when others grovel
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best
Never looks back
But keeps going to the end
Love never dies

Truth is when I read these words I realize that I often lie when I say I love you!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

22 x 2

This past week was my birthday. I turned 44. It seems like just yesterday I was 22 and about to marry my prince charming, full of dreams, full of ideals, full of excitement, and full of energy.

Fast forward 22 more years and here I am, still married to my prince charming, though he often leaves the toilet lid up which is less than charming. Many of my dreams have come true, though from time to time they might have felt nightmarish. Most of my ideals turned out to be a tad bit unrealistic. I am still full of excitement, but sometimes my greatest excitement of the day is when my head hits the pillow. And somewhere along the way I seemed to have misplaced my energy. That could have something to do with the four rambunctious children who have been added to the mix.

Only God knows what the next 22 years will hold. My hope is to follow Christ with reckless abandon wherever He leads day by day. My desire is to serve Him wholeheartedly hour by hour. My passion is to be who God made me to be moment by moment. I’ve spent many of the past 22 years comparing myself to others and trying to be someone I am not. I’m done with that. If only it were that easy!!!

I want to be who God made to be and do what He made me to do. (Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do).