Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time To Grieve

The children were told Saturday morning and we cried with them and held them.

In SC, we met with the funeral home and made cremation arrangements.

The church has been secured for the memorial service in a week and a half.

The obituary has been written and delivered.

Now to deal with my heart that has to accept she is gone.

It has been the Lord's perfect blessing that, since Friday, I have been able to hold the image my Grandmother whole and in Heaven at the front of my mind- like a wall that blinds my view of anything else. This morning, my heart, in all it's aching and sadness, has pushed through that wall and revealed the reality that my Grandmother isn't HERE anymore and I miss her so, so much. The tears won't stop and, for now, I am not going to try to stop them.

Sweet comfort comes in the way of my 7 year old son's arms around my neck and head on my chest. He doesn't know what to say, but he is keeping watchful vigil over me this morning. It is his lack of words that makes his comfort even sweeter- no talking me out of it, no trying to understand it or reason it away, just providing comfort through it.

I'm in good hands.

Thank you for your kind words and prayers.

~Angela

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Grandmother


~Grace Louise Parker April 16, 1925- June 25, 2010~

Beloved wife of Martin, Devoted Mother of four children, Loving Grandmother of six, and Proud Great Grandmother to seven.

My Grandmother was graceful and beautiful. Some of my favorite memories with her are of me sitting on the floor of “Benalee's Coiffure” - the beauty parlor where she had her hair done every Saturday morning for over 25 years and watching her laugh and share stories with the other "usuals". She always seemed so sophisticated to me, even in the later years of her life when her body was failing. I always remember thinking that my Grandmother was so tall, but in hindsight I think it was just her strong character and dignity that gave her a few extra inches in everyone's mind.

Of all the things she modeled for me, and similar to Nathan's Gran who went to Heaven a few years ago, it was her love for her husband that I think has made the largest impact on my life. My Grandfather passed away years before I was born, but I knew him through her. I knew every detail about him through her stories and through her palpable love for that man. He died young and she lived the rest of her life in love with him and him only. She honored him through those stories and through her devotion to his memory all these years. Sometimes when I see his picture, I can almost imagine his voice saying something that she had told me he would say. Her eyes lit up when she would tell us a “Granddaddy” story and she would seem to physically get lighter.

Last night, Nathan called to pray with my Mom and while they prayed, my Grandmother met Jesus. I am blessed to have had her in my life. I am blessed that she knew my children and knew them well. I will always treasure that myoldest daughter carries her name and I pray she grows up to have even HALF of the strength that my G had. Our hearts hurt deeply over this loss, but I know that we will see her again. As we mourn her loss here, we are comforted by the knowledge that she is present with our Lord and Savior. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and through her belief that He died for her sins, she will no longer know pain, or tears, or death. She will only know the everlasting JOY that comes through the worship and praise of our Father in Heaven.

I love you G. I miss you very much, but I will see you whole and healed again one day.

*The photo above was taken on June 5th, when she shared a magical day with our family at the SC Aquarium. She was in her wheelchair, but we all had such a wonderful time celebrating Cooper's 7th birthday. It was a day that, as I watched her face and the faces of my children with her, I felt the Lord's favor on us. Those memories for my children are treasures that will serve as a reminder of just how much the Lord loves us and cares for us.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Silence Is Golden

I heard this song on the radio this morning and it spoke volumes to my heart.



Here are the words:
God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
better than a choir singin' loud
singin' loud

This is such a wonderful message. I think there are many messages in this actually, but the one I took this morning is humility. In our humility, God's might is shown to the world MUCH more loudly than when we stand on our chairs and bellow.

I am a visual person, so this is the picture God gave me this morning: I am much more encouraged and honored when I observe my child changing, maturing, making good choices over a period of time and without any attention seeking than I am when they say things like, "I am never going to ________ again." See, a momentary muster of courage to blurt out a wish is not nearly as evident of heart change as is the long-term girth that it takes to actually LIVE that change in your life. That is the evidence of growth and change. For all the loud AMENING we have the ability to do, I believe that the Lord is glorified MOST, when our very lives are in humble agreement with His word.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Does this sound familiar?

So, I am trying to be more accountable with my time. Part of my self-discipline training is that I need to get more done here at home- plain and simple. I need to do MORE laundry, MORE dishes, MORE of nearly everything. I do work in my home, really I do. However, I need to work MORE in order to live in the state of organization and cleanliness that I want and feel the Lord desires me to provide for my family. SO, I am working on it.

A friend and I decided to hold each other accountable for our time. GREAT IDEA, by the way. Each morning, we email each other a list of what we will be doing and around 8pm, we check in with each other via text. There is no judgment of lecture, no scrutinizing, just checking in. Yesterday was FANTASTIC. I accomplished most of my goals, but had a few I didn't get to. That's okay. My friend got 90% of hers completed also, so we were off to a great start. I promptly sent her my list for today and was ready to have another productive day.

Then, today happened.

By 7:30 am, a shelving unit that stores my entire set of "everyday" dishes and mugs TOPPLED OVER ON TOP OF MY 6 yr old SON!!! He was fine, but it scared us to death. I lost exactly HALF of all of my dishes, so now I technically don't have enough for our whole family to eat off of. HA! No big deal. Cooper was okay and that was truly all that mattered. I kept him home today just to make sure he was okay, because the case literally pinned him to the ground with his arms sticking out. It was absolutely frightening!

There went my morning.

Then, I got a phone call from some sweet friend of ours. Technically, I got the call from the husband of the pair and he was asking if I would watch their darling 9 month old, so he could have a "Mother's Day Redo". I literally said, "Uh-oh. Sure thing!" It was my joy to keep her and I am glad they got to have some time alone.

There went my afternoon.

Am I upset that I kept that sweet girl? No way. Did I finish my list? No way. Still, I ministered to my friends and I think there HAS to be time in our lives for that when the opportunity arises. Flexibility has long been a theme here and I think it is just oh-so-important! No matter how much you have to get done in a day, if you are so rigid that you can't overlook some of it to minister to someone who needs you, you are doing something wrong.

Now, I am getting off of this computer and going to clean the HORRENDOUSLY DIRTY bathrooms that I am COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED that my friends used while they were here. They are bad. I would post a picture, but I am afraid my blog would get an obscenity rating. Seriously folks, b-a-d. The funny thing is, I sent them to MY bathroom because I knew the children's bathroom was bad. THEN, I bathed the Littles in MY bathroom and saw how bad it was and nearly fell over that I had SENT them there. Sheesh. I am so happy that they are friends that love at all times.

(Sorry if that is TMI. You hear about all my good days. You should be able to hear about my scummy bathrooms too. Hehehe)

OH, and there is an ENTIRE BOX of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (Nathan ordered weeks ago from a neighbor who was raising money for a trip) sitting on my entertainment center that I have not touched and am planning to take to our staff at the church tomorrow morning. I don't even WANT one. Hows THAT for self-discipline?!?!?! word.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Practice what you preach

I cannot tell you how many times I will be in the middle of something and one of my children just walk up talking to me, as if I was just sitting there waiting for them to walk up and need something from me. It drives me BANANAS. Why? Because it is really selfish- as if the whole world is here waiting patiently for that child's next move. It says, "What I need/want is THE most important thing under Heaven, so I am going to force you to hear me RIGHT NOW while it is convenient for ME."

Today (during my Thursday walk with my Sista-friends), one of my sista-friends said, "We have to learn to not barge in on God." I immediately had a picture of God (bare with me) sitting at His big desk in the sky (stay with me) and me just barging in whenever it is convenient with whatever want/need/request/or affection I NEED to tell Him at whatever moment. How RUDE! It happens though.

Now, we can talk to God at any time and all day long, but OH what sweet time in prayer it is when we approach him with the respect and honor He so richly deserves. We need to come to God humbly, seeking His attention in His time and at His will. We should spend time in honor of him, praising Him, long before we give him our wish list of wants/needs. Our hearts should be bent towards the goal of leaving time with the Lord knowing that we honored Him during that time more than just completed a task.

I obviously cannot speak for the Lord, but I know when my children barge in on me I have a VERY difficult time even listening to them at all. Usually, they get sent back to where they came with instructions to try again later. YIKES!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lessons Learned Gettin' Dirty

Thursdays, I am blessed to get in a wonderful, nearly 3 mile, walk with two wonderful women. It is a blessing to my health and my spirit. Really, there isn't a time that I don't leave there inspired to be a better Jesus follower. It is a blessing!! Today our conversation was about making war against these sneaky sins that get a stronghold in our lives and make us act in ways that we don't WANT to act, but also in ways that make us ineffective witnesses to our family.

Today after our walk and after getting Nathan to class, I let the Littles play outside while I cleaned out some weeds from the flower beds out front and planted some seeds that I bought at the dollar store. The weeds have been growing for weeks, but I wasn't sure if they are weeds. Since we inherited those beds from the previous tenants, I have sometimes had to let something grow to see if it was purposed or indeed just a weed. Now that I was certain of some of the green sprouting up all around my beds, I set out to eliminate the unwanted growth today. As I did, I found two different kinds of weeds.

The first kind were these button-looking greenery that were sprouting up all over the beds in random spots, but ALL OVER. I knew that those had to go, so I pulled at each one and they came out easily. Their roots were weak and with a little effort, they were destroyed.

The other kind of weeds I pulled today were perfectly acceptable plants (Black-eyed Susans actually) that had reproduced and were beginning to creep into the soil that nourished other parts of my beds. I have HUGE patches of these same flowers purposed in the front corners of each of the flower beds. I can't WAIT until they bloom, but these that got pulled today were in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to go.

Isn't that how our life is? We most definitely have the first kind of weeds growing in our life and heart- the kind that imitates righteousness and may even alter itself to confuse you, but at it's heart is sin that needs to be weeded out. We also have the second kind of weed- the kind that may have, at one time or place, been purposed but has since overgrown or moved into an unwanted area of our heart. Just like the first weed, this weed must also go. Unlike the first kind of weed, this one may take a little more work because it's root system is authentic and mature, but it must go none the less. As pretty as the promised flower from this weed may be, it will also eventually choke out the life of the purposed flowers or fruit we have growing in our hearts.

It felt good to MAKE WAR against those weeds today and my flower beds look healthier and more beautiful because of it. Now for the work on my heart!

MAKE WAR!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thank you God.

Thank you God...

...that Ella did not have the "scary, dangerous, contagious bacterial infection" that they THOUGHT she had by the looks of her rash.

...that I didn't run over the mean lady in the parking lot of Target who called me a name- a mean name and for no reason.

...for providing this home with hardwood floors and beautiful light from the windows and for reminding me today that you are walking this road with us, preparing us to serve you in Chicago. I am honored and humbled, Lord.

...that I get to walk tomorrow with my sweet friends.

...that at the end of our impromptu family talent show after dinner, I got to do the fox trot with Nathan.

...that the children requested a family squeeze before bed.

...that Nathan loves me so much and that our family is his priority.

...tomorrow is a new day, filled with new light through my windows and new grace in my heart.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Self-Discipline

self- noun
Me, Myself, and I
(definition care of ME)

discipline- verb
10. to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
11. to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
12. to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.
(definition care of dictionary.com)


Those two words taste bitter coming out of my mouth- they have become so foreign to me over the past few years. With five children so young and a husband in seminary, I have become very good at routines and systems, which are wonderful tools in and of themselves. They promote order and order is truly a Godly pursuit. All through the Bible, God desires and creates order. By creating routines and systems for our family, I can alleviate some of the chaos, by applying patterns of behavior that bring everyone under one goal and purpose. The problem is that I have allowed these systems to appease the part of my heart that the Lord created to desire my OWN standard of behavior. (I hope that makes sens outside of my own head.)


Instead of continuing to interpret my own thoughts, which can sometimes get foggy even for ME, here are some of the areas of my life that I need "to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control".


1. My weight: No big explanation needed here. I need to lose some weight. period. Several of these following areas contribute to this one. For the last few weeks, I have added a lot of exercise and am upping it each week it seems, so I feel like I am off to a good start. The missing link for me here is long-haul accountability. Nathan knows my heart and my desire, but it isn't fair for me to ask him to hold me accountable in this area. He loves me too much and doesn't want to be the bad guy in this. Honestly, I don't want him to be either. I am praying for wisdom to find this accountability. In the past, I have done WONDERFULLY...for a season. Then I fail and undo everything I have done. I think gaining self-discipline in the area will mean seeking strength form the Lord to continue past the plateaus and stretches that normally cause me to jump ship.



So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27


2. Getting appropriate SLEEP : Ugh. this one SOUNDS simple. It sounds simple when I am sitting here at 4:35pm. At 10:00PM, however, when Nathan has just walked in the door from class and we haven't had 2 minutes to communicate all day OR (honesty alert!) one of "my shows" is coming on, I find it hard to tear myself away and head to bed. No matter how I attempt justify it, I am not getting enough sleep. I cannot support my body and the schedule that is needed to support my LIFE on so few hours of sleep. Because I stay up too late, I am sleepy during the day, my eating schedule is off (see above), I run out of energy before i run out of tasks, and I don't get to sleep well when I finally DO submit to rest. I feel like a toddler even struggling with this, but it is a struggle for me. Sheesh.



It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2


(for the record, this type of list-making is daunting, but I am excited about checking some of these things off in the future. Without a list, no checking off can happen!)

3. Accurate and Godly Priorities: Everything else can be summed up with this one heading. I need to do a better job of prioritizing my life- particularly where my energy is spent in any given day. Too many outside activities, too many "yes's", too many play dates, and (unfortunately) too much TV can make for a messy house, children that are lacking in their OWN discipline, and a husband who feels neglected all together. I feel this is something that I have always had a good eye on, thanks to Godly women in my life at times, but lately I have not been keeping a watchful eye on my schedule and Nathan and I have both realized our error. We are making some changes and moving towards the goal of eliminating a lot from our tasks list next year, while still serving the Lord sacrificially. It is a fine, fine line to find that balance. We are not called to sit back and let others serve exclusively. We are also not called to put our name on every blank line on a sign-up sheet that passes our lap. Furthermore, it is in the pursuit of those things that ARE NOT in accordance with what God has given me to do in direct competition with those that He DOES intend for me that I find the most frustration! (see above...and above again!) The beauty comes in discovering which blanks that Lord has already filled in with my name and then doing THOSE tasks to His Glory. With this area of my life, I can't just stop EVERYTHING right now, as I have commitments that need to be followed through. However, BIG changes are coming around August for us in this area. Until then, I am praying for wisdom to take things one day at a time, doing only what I am capable of and without guilt for those that I cannot.
According to the commandment of the Lord through Moses they were listed, each one with his task of serving or carrying. Numbers 4:49






My Homework-

Spiritually speaking:I don't intend to be able to change any of these areas of my life by my own power. I am not strong enough. I am DAILY asking the Lord to help me and I am exposing them to as much LIGHT as I can, so that I cannot shirk way from them when the going gets tough...and it WILL get tough.

Practically speaking: These things are being printed and listed on my fridge. I don't want to spend my days thinking about ME and how to change ME. That is a selfish path to take. Instead, I just want to reminder (on the fridge) that I will occasionally see and be reminded of this pursuit. I am making excercise and eating well a priority. I am going to go back to something I did when I had only two babies and FAR less on my schedule, which was to hang a sign on my computer and TV that reads "Have you finished you job? If not, you are chosing THIS over your family." (I have never been one for subtle.) Nathan and I are setting aside some time, weekly, for just us- not school, not church duties, not children- just. us. I think this will help me not feel like I have to wait up for him from class so many nights of the week.

Can you relate to any of these? How do YOU deal with them?

When you point your finger at someone else...



...there are always 3 pointing back at you (thumb doesn't count. it is a long-standing debate between my children. HA!)

I have been not nice to Nathan lately.


I seem to get ill with him over the slightest things these days (and not the RUN DMC kind of ill either, the really ugly, fight-pickin' kind of ill.)

I won't say that I haven't always had a reason, but even when I had a reason I didn't handle it appropriately. I go from calm to spastic in 2 seconds flat. I get all red-faced and anxious. THEN, I do the one thing that Nathan DREADS from his wife- the ONE thing that can make him want to run and hide until the smoke settles- the ONE thing that he has PLEADED with me not to do over the last 16 years we have been together.


I compile. (A hush fell over blogland.)


I compile every little insignificant, easy to get over, non-life threatening thing that has happened in the last little span of time and I heap it all up on top of itself until each of those teeny tiny little annoyances are now one HUGE, MASSIVE, GIGANTIC, SEEMINGLY UNMOVABLE obstacle standing in the way of the peace and happiness we enjoy, strive for, NEED to live in JOY. BY then, I am completely upset and all but spitting fire and Nathan is just dodging the cloud of debris and firebombs that are falling in my path.


It is unproductive and immature, but it is what I do and what I need to eliminate in my life.

This morning, I set about thinking about WHY I have been so ill to Nathan in the first place. Being COMPLETELY transparent here and at the risk of judgement, I have scrutinized Nathan's every move for the past couple of weeks- the way he talks to the children, the way he balances the checkbook, the way he organizes his studies, the way he WRITES HIS PAPERS- really, it has been THAT bad.

I started to think that maybe we were under some spiritual warfare. We are now on the path to make big waves in Chicago and bring with us the Truth of the Gospel. That is BOUND to shake up some of those pesky demons, right?

Sure. I am sure there is SOME of that going on, but ultimately it didn't sit well with me as the solution. SO what is it?

After my workout this morning at the gym (while I was standing in the lockeroom, blow drying my hair, STARING at one of my biggest issues-my weight- no pun intended) I began to think about the looooong list of things the Lord is showing ME that I need to change before we can go to Chicago. (Insert light bulb with long chord being pulled here)

That is it. This is why I am being horrible to my husband. It is easier to pick apart HIS life and HIS behavior than to face mine. My sinful flesh can rationalize that, surely, it isn't ME who is struggling with self-control or poor thought patterns, right? Ugh. The arrogance that one must swim in to make that statement. I am being refined for God's great work. It is OH-SO-PAINFUL.



The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)


In the pain of being chastised by the Lord myself, I think it soothes the sinful parts of my heart to lash out at Nathan and I justify it by call . (writing that makes my heart ACHE!) I love my husband so, SO much. I would never, ever want to hurt him and in fact, would do anything to help him- to support him. Yet, here I am tearing my house down with my own hands instead of taking my own convictions and applying them to my life.

So, without further ado, the next several posts will begin to explore the areas of my life the Lord is pressing on me to take a long, hard, look at currently. I want to begin the process of building the foundation for our home and ministry in Chicago. Hopefully, by coming out with my OWN list, I will lay off of my sweet husband a bit.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some repenting to do.

*Images courtesy of my nine year old, Graycen, and her reaction to being corrected. I told her these were going in her wedding slide show. Maaaaaaaaaybe I will show her some mercy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Respite

Have you ever used a word for a long time and then realized that maybe you didn't exactly know what it meant. Lately, I have been asking the Lord for respite- from financial struggle, from parenting frustration, from (insert any earthly toils here). In hindsight, I have been using the word A LOT and maybe (probably) in the same whiny sort of tone that I correct my children from using. I knew it meant something along the lines of relief, but this morning, I was composing an email to a sweet lady in our care group and I decided I needed to look it up before I used it with her. This is what I found on dictionary.com .

res·pite   /ˈrɛspɪt/ [res-pit] noun, verb,-pit·ed, -pit·ing. –noun

1.a delay or cessation for a time, esp. of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief: to toil without respite.

2.temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death; reprieve.

Read definition #1. OK. I was right. Then I read definition #2. It was then that I heard that still, small voice, "You, my child, are not condemned to death!" I repeated it out loud, "I am NOT condemned to DEATH!!" Although there are times when we find ourselves asking the Lord for much needed break from struggles, it was like icy cold water for a parched heart this morning to read that and realize that I do not need "temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death". My reprieve has been bought by the blood of my Savior on the cross and it will not be temporary it will be FOR ALL ETERNITY. Doesn't that make you want to dance?!?!?! Hallelujah!

video

*This video is from a couple of years ago, but oh, so precious.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Silly Israelites

I have been in a bit of a slump lately. Feelin' a bit blue. Part of it is that I allowed my thyroid meds to run out without a refill (Yikes!). Part of it is that I slipped into what I am calling, "Silly Israelite Syndrome". Let me Explain...

I had a wonderful week while Nathan was gone. I really did. As I said before , I came to some great realizations while Nathan was away. However, I has a couple of bad moments.


I watched the show Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver . It is a pretty good show. So, I'm sitting there, watching the show last week and it dawned on me that the show is being filmed in the very area of town in WV, where the church is located that is the ONLY job offer Nathan has gotten since he was laid off in Feb of 09. Interesting. Then, Jamie Oliver begins talking about this great pastor that is supporting him. Suddenly, across the screen flashes the very CHURCH. They proceeded to do a complete segment on THE church and THAT Pastor.

It is important to realize that, when that job was offered to Nathan, we both had sick-to-the-stomach feelings about taking it. It was so obvious to us, that every effort we made to get past it, failed miserably. When Nathan made the phone call, declining the offer, we felt weight lifted. It felt GOOD to turn that job down even though there was no job on the horizon.

Sitting there last week, my mind began to GO THERE. You know...go THERE. I began to wonder what if. What if Nathan had taken that job. Where would be now? I won't go into all that crossed my mind, but lets just say my mind wandered way too far into what if land. For the last two days of Nathan's trip I would find myself wondering (maybe wAndering would be a better term).


A few days after Nathan came home, we learned that we would, most likely, not be receiving the scholarship that we were expecting to cover Nathan's tuition next semester. For the last 13 months of unemployment, i have taken similar news in stride, dug in, waited for the Lord, and trusted that however it turned out was HIS plan. BUT, this time I had already been WANDERING in my mind for several days. When this new disappointment reared it's ugly head, I placed myself firmly in a pit and stayed there for a while- a pit of my own placing. I was in so much of a pit that I called Nathan yesterday while he was getting some much-needed studying done and just boo-hoo'd. As it turned out, he was feeling burdened also (maybe it was his sobbing wife? HA!), so he came home for lunch and we prayed together.


I began to feel better, but still was just wanting to find a cave to sulk in. A friend called and encouraged me to go on to discipleship class. I wasn't feelin' it. Nathan insisted I go. I am taking a class on the book, "How People Change". It was EXACTLY what I needed.

We read a lot in Numbers about how. many.times those silly Israelites cried out to the Lord. Basically (busymama summary here), "Why didn't you let us DIE in Egypt Lord?!?!?! We don't want to be hot! We don't want to eat stale manna! We were better off in Egypt." Sounds silly huh?

That is what I have been doing for the past couple of days, lamenting. Here is the kicker though.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Go. Back. To. Egypt.

Unlike the Israelites, I completely remember what the bondage in my life felt like when we were not following God's plan for us. I don't want those chains again. Realizing that left me feeling like I had failed a MAJOR test. We have lived in JOY over the last 13 months, knowing (not hoping, not wishing) that the Lord was guiding us and caring for us. Our every need has been met. Here we are, still basking in the glow of understanding what God has planned for us and I am presented with a test, a distraction. I took my eyes off of my sovereign, wise, and good Lord, even for a mere moment. That moment was all it took to make my steps insecure and my heart not convinced of His goodness. So, heat came into our lives and I buckled.


I repented. I am forgiven. I am moving on.

WhatEVER God has planned for the next two years before we move (AND AFTER) is INFINITELY greater than anything I could have wished for or dreamed up.

I am trusting and watching for God. period.
*temper tantrum courtesy of sweet Annagail this afternoon when I made her...wait for it...pull up her pants. Isn't she cute even when she pouts? The beautiful daydreamer that keeps me looking up is my MaryEvelyn.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Feet


You Capture (ssignment form last week...I think)

Sweet Feet.

Photobucket

Wordless Wednesday



(Head over to Wordless Wednesday for more great photos!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Morning SONshine




Sweet Shot Day



A wise friend stopped by for some coffee and catching up this week. Among other things, she encouraged me to remember that (summarizing) I am an artist and not just a commercial retailer. I think when you have a photography business that starts to expand rapdily, it is easy to forget your own creativity at times and to start catering too much to what the client *thinks* they want (think being the operative word). Before long, the product isn't at all what YOU wanted to create. Where is the satisfaction in THAT?!?!

Anywho, I decided to jump into this weekly link-party in effort to keep reminding myself that, no matter how many clients I get, my art is MY art. For me, it is an extension of my praise and glory to my Creator. I want to love it and for it to reflect MY joy over being His child.


Sweet Shot Day

Head over and see the other entries!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Planting We Will Go

The big announcement is that we are moving again!



Not now, but in the Spring of 2012!

We are going to be a part of a Church planting team in a city that has over 200 languages in just one of it's zipcodes alone.



It hosts over 4 colleges and university, in which a vast majority of students do not associate themselves with a church or specific faith.



The NAMB said this of urban church planting,

New multicultural churches are needed in the cities or sprawling metropolitan areas. In the late 1800s, D.L.Moody stated: “Reach the big cities and you reach the nation." Today, Moody’s statement could be adapted, “Reach the big cities and you reach the world." In A Theology As Big As the City, Ray Bakke and Raymond Bakke comment about the incredible urban growth in the past 100 years: “The spectacular growth of large cities on this planet represents an awesome challenge to the church of Jesus Christ on all six continents. In 1900, 8 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. By the year 2000, that number will be nearly 50 percent.” As believers, the “go” part of the Great Commission command is still in force. However, we are now also responsible before God on another level. The very people to whom we once had to “go” many miles to reach have come to us. This is changing the face of urban America.



So, have you guessed where we are headed in two years?




The kids and I are so excited to be on this journey with Nathan. Over the next two years, Nathan (and I) will be PRAYING, training, learning, & fundraising for our church plant. We will go up with, virtually, nothing and will see the Lord grow our church from the ground up! Isn't that exciting?!?!?!?!?!



I have started a new blog to journal the goings on of the next two years, but I am not sure I will actually keep it. Because this is our life, it seems silly to seperate it form this blog. For now, I will continue to update here.

What can you do? PRAY for us. God has affirmed this ministry to us in many ways, including affirmations from people we respect and look to for counsel. Satan would love nothing more than to shake that confidence. Please pray that the whole team will remain unified in our mission and that we will be protected-physically & emotionally.



As I have said A LOT lately, I feel that the Lord has been preparing us for THIS path. We are ready to go! As one friend put it, it is comparable to a loooooong pregnancy. We have been here, learning and growing for the past few years. these next two years are going to feel like the last two weeks before you give birth- anxious to get things going, but remaining confident in God's perfect timing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Overflowin'

I was sitting down on the landing on the top of our stairs the other night, exhausted, and waiting for Annagail to finish her 14th trip to the potty so that I could begin our nighttime prayers and singing. I was exhausted- more exhausted than I remember being in a long time.

Nathan has been out of town since Saturday and it has been just the kids and I here, holding down the fort. The children are also tracked out, so we have had heaps of time to play together and work together over the last week.

Back to the landing, I was sitting there waiting for Annagail knowing that every muscle in my body was ready to feel the mattress underneath it. I led the children in their prayers and sang our “Goodnight Song” with them. My eyes were heavy. My hair even felt tired. Then I remembered that the dishes sill needed washing and the floors still needed sweeping. I took a deep breath and started to pull myself up using the railing on the stairwell. As I did, I caught a glimpse of Graycen and MaryEvelyn, laying each in their own beds, but rolled towards each other and whispering. I felt warm seeing them have that moment together. Seeing it prompted me to take a peek into each of the children’s rooms before I headed downstairs to finish out the day.

Cooper wasn’t near asleep and was trying desperately to stay still long enough for me to get downstairs. I’ve come to understand that boys are different and Cooper can’t just turn off his day, so wiggling all around his bed and maybe a car or two snuck under his pillow is expected.

Ella was almost asleep already and Annagail was not far off. Being so little still, they were both worn out from a full day of sunshine and playground fun with friends.

It was at that moment, watching Annagail laying there with her hands pressed together under her cheek and that stare on her face that always happens just before she zonks out, that it hit me.

This is my life and I love it.

It poured over me in a wave of emotion that started n my brain, but eventually swallowed my entire person and manifested itself in huge, crocodile tears.

These five children, all happy, all healthy, all clean and settling into sleep safely under one roof, with full bellies and a Daddy who loves them more than his own life, were placed in my care by my Heavenly Father. I have no need to BE anything else- no need to hold any other title or to continually reinvent myself into something “grander” or more interesting.

I. LOVE. IT.

Peaceful does not accurately describe my heart this week. I went into it fearful of how hard it would be. I ended up with a heart eager to do MORE for my family on a regular basis that extends well beyond Nathan’s one week away.

I feel the Lord changing me, growing me in preparation of what is coming next in our life- in our ministry. I feel ready- more prepared for the task before me. It isn’t only this week alone with the children, but more because I believe we are on the path God desires for our family. It feels amazing.

**My next post will answer so many of your questions about what is coming for us. The reason I have waited is because I wanted to wait until our families knew. (again, no baby news!) I will give you a fairly large hint: Another reason I have waited to share on the blog is that it seemed like a post so HUGE for our family needed images to go with it. After tomorrow at 11:30 (give or take a few minutes or normal air delays) I will have them. :o)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sooooooo, I am a little late on that post...

...but a lot has happened.

We moved.

Again.

Thanks to some great people from our church family, it was out easiest move to date. They packed the truck and unloaded it here at the new place in THREE HOURS FLAT. Isn't that amazing?!?!?!

Now the unpacking of the boxes is going to take much longer than three hours. I'll be blessed to get it all done in three weeks!!

Why the move? We were given an opportunity to move into a 1700 square foot unit vs. stay in our 900 square ft one. We thought about it...for a second. :o)

My girls aren't all four crammed into one room and we have lots of closets. I can close the linen closet(s) door easily and , maybe my biggest thrill, I can get out of my bed... ON EITHER SIDE!!!!!! (pictures coming!)


I missed delivering my post on the one year anniversary of Nathan's lay off, but I think that was God's design. He has been so very faithful to us during this time- meeting and exceeding any need we have had. With the exception of scattered moments, we are living in Joy. I have learned this year that Christ + 0= JOY. My circumstances are irrelevant to my JOY. Listen to me carefully when I say this: I am not trying to live in Joy. I am not making lists to help me remember to live in Joy. I am not praying that I will find my Joy. I am just simply LIVING it. God has provided His Son as a living sacrifice for my sin. Jesus now sits in Heaven, because death cannot hold a true child of God. period. THAT is my Joy.

I have frustrated, emotional moments. I am flesh like the rest of humanity. It happens. When it happens, I find that living daily in the Joy of my salvation allows me to push past those moments in an instant and stand again on the truth of Christ. JOY!!

In other news, we have a plan for the future. We aren't going public with it just yet, but it is a plan. We both feel the Lord leading us in this and it is a wonderful and familiar feeling- one very similar to when we felt the Holy Spirit pressing us to move our family to NC for seminary. We are unified in this and have recv;d affirmation from many of our trusted counselors. It is big...but you have to wait a while to hear it. For now, please just pray that the Lord will make clear His provision and plan and that we will remain faithful to His calling.


Stay tuned....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Semester started...

...and Nathan is taking a whopping 15 credit hours. That would be 5 classes for those out of the academic loop. they may sound like nothing for a high schooler or even some universities, but in graduate school- in THIS graduate school, it is a HUGE work load. We have been shutting out most of the outside world this week while we work through our family schedule for the news semester, making sure it works well and has balance. So far, so good, but that is where I have been.

Next week marks ONE YEAR since Nathan was laid off of his job, so look for a big post then and a HAPPY ONE at that. (No job news. Didn't want to get your hopes up in THAT way, but it is a post that is sure to bring JOY to your heart!)

Until then, pop over to my friend Jessica's blog and enter to win in her new give away. I am not going to tell you what it is, because I want you to go look for yourself and see ALL that she does, but I will tell you that she is "SEW" very talented. :o)

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)


A few years ago, Graycen (my oldest) was trying to tell me about a little girl in her preschool class that has become a good friend of hers. She told me everything she could THINK of to describe her: always wears pigtails with pretty bows, her favorite color, sits beside so and so, taller than her other friends, wore a pink shirt on such and such day when I was there, etc.. FINALLY, a few days later the class photo came home and Graycen came running to me to show me who this little girl was that she had been talking about. Guess what? She was the only non-Caucasian in the class. Graycen never thought to describe her that way, because she just doesn't see the difference.

I couldn't think of a better tribute to the work of MLK, Jr. if I tried.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Isn't she luh-valeeeee? Isn't she wuuunderfu-ul...


Grace, my Grandmother and where my oldest daughter gets her name.



Nathan sent me away this weekend to Charleston to spend some time with my Grandmother. She is 84 and still full of spunk. Her health, however, is declining and she went under hospice care on Monday. I enjoyed being able to spend some time with her and serve her some. I wish that there wasn't 300+ miles between us, so I could be with her more. I am so grateful to Nathan, who not only took care of the children solo, but also wrote a 4 page paper for his Jterm class that started on Monday.

Friday, January 1, 2010

All In A Decade!

Since Y2K, I have: (not necessarily in order)
- spent 41 months pregnant
- spent 45 hours in labor
- had 3 surgeries (including 2 C-sections)
- surrendered my gall bladder, with gratitude
- came very close to dying (during 4th delivery and, in turn, first C-section)
- spent 43 months nursing babies
- successfully potty-trained FIVE children!!!
- watched my vehicle evolve from a cute, white 2dr Honda Accord to a not-as-cute, charcoal, 8 passenger Suburban, filled to the brim with car seats and boosters
- lived in 3 different states
- built a house from dirt up
- sold a house
- learned that the words "house" and "home" have very distinct meanings and learned to place appropriate value on each of them accordingly
- witnessed my husband and two children surrender their lives to the Lord and turn to Jesus as their Savior!
- witnessed my husband and oldest daughter be baptized, in obedience of God's Word.
- wept over and also celebrated the home-going of a much loved Grandmother
- (with Nathan) affirmed a call to devote our lives, full-time, to the ministry of furthering God's Word and Kingdom
- packed up 4 kids (4 & under) into a minivan and loaded everything we couldn't sell, donate, or throw away into a 32 ft UHAUL and left all familiarity behind us to pursue the above mentioned call.
- became an UNDERGRAD student's wife
- typed more papers than I could have ever IMAGINED
- witnessed Nathan earn his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
- became a GRAD student's wife
- spent 4 years (combined)working as a portrait and event photographer
- made more than a few friends that I am CERTAIN will be in my life forever, regardless of where the Lord sends us.
- OH! I began blogging to journal my thoughts and experiences for my children!

Whew! The list grows and grows the more you think about it! I wonder what this next decade will bring with it? It is amazing to think about.

What did YOU do since Y2K?