On Jan 2, 2010 I wrote the following about this shirt:
I call it the skinny white shirt...not because I would be skinny in it, but I would be skinnier. It doesn't fit at the moment! Ahh! This is the first time I've ever been cajoled into buying something that I actually can't wear. What Not To Wear would be all over this one! Anyway, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it and thought it would look sooo cute on. Ashley said to try it and I assured her it wasn't in my size. We took it to the dressing room anyway.
Needless to say, I did get it on my body, but just barely. I'd have a ways to go before wearing it in public. When I got home and told my husband about my purchase (emphasizing the great price!), I then hung it on the knob of my closet, saying that I should leave it there for a reminder. Then I stepped back and said, "I should leave it hanging on my refrigerator as a reminder." Don't think that would really work too well; it's white, you know.
I am hopeful that I will be "IN" the shirt by my birthday in mid-March. I am hopeful that this doesn't make it in my last blog post of 2010 as "the shirt never worn...but what a good price!" Nineteen year olds...what influences they can be!
Friday, December 31, 2010
On Jan 2, 2010 I wrote the following about this shirt:
Monday, December 27, 2010
The mother-lode of cute backgrounds:
Arts & Crafty looking, plus a few photo backgrounds:
Lots of unique patterns:
Talk about creativity: (keep scrolling down!)
Another popular site with LOTS of designs:
One of my personal favorites:
My newest favorite and the one I'm using:
There's some winter backgrounds under the Christmas tab here:
Bold is the word here:
The title says it all:
Got a free background site you love? Share it with us in the comments!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Yesterday I read this quote by Fredrich Beuchner from the book Secrets in the Dark:
Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of Him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If the holiness and awful power and majesty of God were present in this even, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there also. And, this means that we are not safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in to and recreate the human heart because it is where he seems most helpless that He is most strong and just where we least expect Him that he comes most fully.
I couldn't shake the thought of what it meant to have the Holy Son of God coming to earth as a babe in a stable. The treasures of Christ's birth are too many to count. My mind wandered to varying themes on the story until I landed on the thought, "He kept His promise." Mary knew this. She ends her Magnificat with (Luke 1:54-55), "He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever." God fulfilled prophecy through her and kept His promise.
Ok, God kept His promise. Fundamental. I know that one. But do we LIVE like we believe it? When Romans reminds us that "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose," (8:28) do we KNOW it's true for us?
The children of Israel were blessed, but let's not forget that when Christ appeared, they didn't have everything. Their lives were oppressed. Mary and Joseph were peasants. Poverty and subjugation to the Roman government was the order of the day. Ultimately, they only had the promise. And that was enough.
Think of the OT saints who had given their lives for the hope of the promise. Hebrews 11 records how they "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them." They embraced them.
What God did when he sent his Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that he will do everything he has ever promised to do." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
The birth of Christ in glorious simplicity is a promise kept. Do I trust that what I can not see will come to pass? (faith!) Do I look to the future fulfillment of His promises yet to come and embrace them?
Oh, to have the faith to say, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." To trust in the promise. That's my heart cry today.
Friday, December 10, 2010
If you'd like to see some beautiful trees, click the button below:
Yesterday I was involved in two different white elephant gift exchanges. Although one of the host groups encouraged re-gifting something unused from home, you could tell most of the participants had purchased a small gift for the swap. There was the random bowling ball and silver baby plate and spoon, but otherwise the gifts were typical - bath product, Christmas tchotchkes, candles and gift cards.
At one of the meetings where the exchanges took place, a devotion was given on God's forgiveness. The speaker noted that during this stressful time of year in preparing for Christmas we should be like Christ, forgiving. I guess, because of the activities of the day (or the late hour), I thought, "Yeah! We should re-gift forgiveness!" The analogy doesn't completely work since a re-gift is usually something you didn't use or didn't really care for. Or is it right on target?
We're commanded in Matthew 6:14: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
My pastor, speaking on offenses/forgiveness one Sunday, used the word picture of being a tunnel, not a wall. When someone offends or hurts you, let it go right through you to God. In reverse, allow His forgiveness to flow through you in response to that person. Don't be a wall, where the offenses stack up and hit anger, impatience and bitterness, a place where God's forgiveness can't be shared because of your hard heart.
It's often difficult to be a tunnel with our immediate family, but being a conduit of forgiveness at this time of year is truly THE picture of Christmas.
My prayer is that we can say like Paul:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save [forgive] sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (I Tim 1: 15-17)
Whether you're trying to navigate around rude shoppers and drivers or facing the heavy load of "doing it all" at home, be a tunnel. Allow forgiveness, what ultimately Christ came to earth to give us in love, to flow through you this season. You'll be glad you did!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
As mothers, how often have you had the thought that you don't know if you could have endured what Mary experienced?
Secret-keeping, shame, separation from family, being misunderstood, having a child unlike anyone else, trying to understand your place in the relationship with your son & Heavenly Savior, the indescribable pain of watching your child die, and grief.
We can't imagine it, can we? She was given a unique call to fulfill and she did it faithfully. We've touched on these subjects the last few days, but HOW did she do it?
This fall I attended a Beth Moore Simulcast. It was my first one, actually. One thing I admire about Beth is that she allows the Lord to direct her topics when speaking at these events. Beth spoke on kindness, and although it was very good, it didn't seem to speak directly into my life at that moment. I had sense enough to take copious notes, however, knowing that at some point I'd need to remind myself of what I had learned that day. In contemplating Mary's life, Beth's topic of kindness came to mind. This might just give us the insight we need to see how Mary lived a life of faith and obedience.
In one of Beth's points she talked about Matthew 11:30, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." It's so hard sometimes for me to wrap my brain around that concept when life can be so hard. Then I thought, God didn't say life would be easy, He said the yoke would be easy. Easy is accurately translated as "kind" from the root word philanthropia.
A kind yoke. His binding us to Himself and directional navigation is kind/easy. He wants us to walk where He leads. We may be mired in the mud of life, but HE leads. We don't have to worry about our Creator's good purposes for us.
The burden is light, because He never gives us more than we can carry WITH HIS ASSISTANCE. He wants you in that place where the burden of life may SEEM unbearable, but He gently reveals that with Him, the One carrying the weight of direction and transformation, the burden of your obedience to Him is light!
So, I ask today, can we accept the kind yoke and fully depend on Him? I tend to think that Mary understood that within herself, she wasn't able, but with God all things were possible.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
We return today to Zacharias and Elizabeth. Luke 1 tells us that while Zacharias was performing his priestly duties the angel came to tell him he would be conceiving a very special son. Verse 8 states that Zacharias was serving "in the order of his division." I Chronicles 24 explains that the Temple priesthood was organized into 24 divisions, with each division serving twice a year for one week. As a descendant of Abijah, Zacharias' division was the 8th. In ancient times the Lord had set the schedule for the priest's rotations. At some future date Zacharias was going to need to be on duty so that Gabriel could appear and tell him that what he has hoped and prayed for - a son - would finally come to pass.
Verse 9 tells us that Zacharias' lot fell to burn incense. This was a high honor. MacArthur's study Bible sheds light on the perfect timing of God. "Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice. Zacharias no doubt regarded this as the supreme moment in a lifetime of priestly service. The incense was kept burning perpetually, just in front of the veil that divided the holy place from the most holy place. The lone priest would offer the incense every morning and every evening, while the rest of the priests and worshippers stood outside the holy place in prayer (v. 10)."
Zacharias had been born into a priestly family (the right job) and within a specific lineage (the right division, thus the right week of the year to serve). Then the lot (an unknown procedure divinely controlled by God) fell to him. He was given the honor to enter the holy place where Gabriel would bring him the good news.
Are you resting in the knowledge that God's timing in your own life is perfect? Maybe it doesn't seem perfect to you at the moment, but can you look back and see other events that, at the time, didn't seem to make sense, but in hindsight were perfectly timed by God?
Psalm 18:30 reminds us, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him."
James 1:17 encourages us; "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
I remember several years ago just after Katie had been born. Within the span of one month our landlord sold the house we were living in, Mark lost his job and we found out we would be having a second baby right on the heels of our newborn. My parent's graciously offered to let us move in with them. We knew God would use this time as blessing and restoration, but had any of us known it would last 10 1/2 months, we may have questioned our resolve. There was discouragement and faith-challenges during that time, but God's hand was evident. His timing would be perfect.
As a faithful priest, Zacharias, enters the Temple to burn incense and the angel, Gabriel, appears. Gabriel shares how Zacharias' prayer has been heard and that he will bear a son. Gabriel tells him to name the baby John and shares how great this child will be in the sight of the Lord.
I marvel at how perfect the timing of the Lord is in this story. Not only does the Lord prepare the way for John's birth and future ministry, but the timing of John and Jesus' births also brought comfort and joy to Elizabeth and Mary.
Following the account of Zacharias in the Temple is the revelation of Christ's birth that Gabriel shares with Mary. In verse 34 Mary basically says, "How on earth is this going to happen?" A few verses earlier Zacharias has asked the same thing. Gabriel said that he was the sign as the answer to the long-awaited prayer and gently rebuked Zacharias by making him mute until it happened.
Zacharias was expected to believe.
In contrast (vs. 35-37) Gabriel explains to Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her (the how). One commentary says that Mary's was not unbelief, but wonderment. I don't know if there was a stark difference between their questions, but God gave them each what they needed to grow their faith and it didn't look the same. Gabriel also encouraged Mary's faith with something akin to "by the way, Elizabeth is also having a baby because" "For with God nothing will be impossible." That was quite a faith-boost to a young girl who has witnessed the longing and faithfulness of her dear relatives. Then Mary in faith says, "let it be to me according to your word."
God gives us all we need to trust Him. Zacharias' name means "Jehovah has remembered." He was not forgotten; He just needed to wait for the perfect timing of God. He lived faithfully, but he should have lived expectantly too. Easier said than done, isn't it!
My family and my parents recognized that God had given us a unique opportunity when we lived together. We did our best to maximize the time together and allow the Spirit to bring restoration/healing amidst a trial.
God has not forgotten you! Luke 12:6 says "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God." God is good and He is for you. Rest in faith, believing that His timing is perfect, not only in the lives of Biblical characters, but in your life, as well.
Remain faithful and expectant; God remembers you!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Last December I posted a two-part Christmas devotional. I'd like to share an edited version of those posts with you again. I share it with hopes that it will refresh you in the midst of busyness and encourage you to see God's perfect timing in your life.
In Luke 1 Zacharias' story opens in verse 5 with "There were in the days of Herod...." MacArthur's Study Bible notes that this was Herod the Great, the first of several important rulers descended from the Edomites, offspring of Esau. "Herod was ruthless and cunning. He loved opulence and grand building projects, and many of the most magnificent ruins that can be seen in modern Israel date back to the days of Herod the Great. His most famous project was the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem [although it] was not completed until long after Herod's death."
The stage is set. In Jerusalem there are massive building projects, trade, worship - the hustle and bustle of a busy urban life. The scene opens on "a certain priest named Zacharias." We quickly learn that he and his wife Elizabeth were from the priestly line of Aaron, but more importantly "they were both righteous before God, walking [emphasis mine] in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
Can you imagine being recorded for the rest of human history as righteous and blameless before God? This couple's life was marked by faithfulness. Day in and day out they lived according to the Law. They faithfully worshipped at the Temple and sought to please God with their lives. Then the next word of verse 7 strikes me,
Luke records the faithfulness of two people, BUT the one thing in life they desired more than anything else - a child - they had not received. Then, as if to highlight the tragedy, Luke tells us "and they were both well advanced in years."
We, as 21st century Christians, know this story well. We read over these first eight verses as the descriptive precursor to a miracle by God's hand, and although it is the exciting culmination of Zacharias and Elizabeth's story, there is much to be learned in the preamble.
When I was thirteen-years-old my mother took me to my first women's conference. I'm sure she just wanted to spend some time with me and give me an opportunity to hear encouragement from a female perspective. Little did either of us know that by the end of the conference I would walk out with a calling of God on my life. The conference speaker didn't even address the topics of callings, and I was thirteen - what did I know about them? All I know, is that I left that meeting knowing - completely assured - of what God was going to do in my life. It was quite a moment for a young girl.
I continued through my teen years, not focused on what God had revealed, but aware enough to not make any decisions that would exempt me from fulfilling God's work. I went off to Bible college and began looking for opportunities to fulfill my calling. God, in His great kindness, gave me room to grow and I, like most college students, felt I had the world by the tail. It was all going according to the plan I had envisioned.
Then I got married to a pastor and we began working with youth and teaching in a Christian school. Life was hard, but again, God had put me on the path I had imagined. I thought my life would be this way until death. BUT...
God delights in change. He loves to take a scenario in our life, and if it were recorded for history, it would include the word "but." It's as if God voices
"you may have thought this, but..."
"you may have wanted this, but"
"you may have gone here, but..."
Not only does this challenge our trust, but it challenges our faithfulness as well. When those unexplainable circumstances in life come, are we faithful like Zacharias and Elizabeth? Do we accept the life God gives to us, trusting that He knows best?
In my early thirties my life fell apart and from my perspective, I thought the calling of God would never be fulfilled. Instead I was just beginning to be refined by fire. Oh, how I needed it! God had not shelved me, but it sure felt that way. All that I had been striving to accomplish went up in smoke. I had some God-sized lessons to learn.
In my late thirties, as healing progressed, I realized that I didn't truly grasp foundational truths of God's love and grace. It's as if I had known about God, but didn't know Him. He patiently unfolded truths that had been so obvious mentally, but never truly experienced. God was real; He really loved me and there was enough grace to continue on.
Now in my early 40's I see the Lord's restoration in my life and I've stopped striving for the calling in my own power. Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, my greatest desire is to be found faithful. Living daily by the Holy Spirit's guidance is challenging, but as I give up my own will and rest in what He calls me to do, I find that faithfulness manifests itself.
Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, God's calling will be fulfilled in me. I may be advanced in years, but God is faithful.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I encourage you to take some time this holiday season to think about where you are in your walk with the Lord. Do you need to be more purposeful in your obedience so you will be remembered as faithful? Maybe you're in the middle of circumstances that have you clinging to God's faithfulness. Wherever you are, Immanuel, "God with Us," is there for you. Praise the Lord!
Update: In July 2010 I had the courage to ask the Lord in prayer to, once again, fulfill that calling in my life. I had fearfully held on to the dream, afraid that God would not allow it to come to fruition. (Can't you just hear Satan's whispers?!) I thought it was just too BIG, too impossible. It was a BIG prayer for me and one that I imagined praying faithfully for many years. Guess what happened! Two days later the Lord gave me this verse as an answer,
Psalm 145:19 "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them."
I was shocked, amazed and in awe. My Father confirmed through His Word something that I already knew, but had forgotten, He cares about what I care about and He is faithful.
What can you entrust to Him this Christmas? He is faithful and He will uphold and empower you to walk faithfully in Him.
Monday, December 6, 2010
At Christmastime I enjoy taking the month of December to focus on the Christmas story during my devotional time. As I spend mornings meditating on the story of God's redemptive plan to clothe Himself in human flesh and dwell among us, the revelations into who the Lord is, continue to amaze and inspire me.
I am awed by Mary's answer in Luke 1:38,
"Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her."
A moment of clearly defined faith and obedience. How often I ask myself, "How did she get to the point where she could answer like that?" Couldn't your mind go in a million different directions, giving application over and over again? Yes, of course, and that's why I enjoy meditating on the Christmas story each year. The characters in the narrative are so vivid and we can learn so much.
I will be honest, I struggle with submitting to God with full abandon. I'm afraid. I have studied the lives of saints before me and the Lord ASKS so much of them. It doesn't feel safe. When fearful thoughts pervade my thinking, I am reminded that, although we have no idea what our future will be, the truth is that He will be with us. Mentally I've played out what I would do if the Lord took my spouse or my children away. The truth is that in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, I wouldn't be alone. God would be with me. Emmanuel: God with Us. As a believer, how often have we observed the world and wondered, "How do they live without Christ?" I can't imagine it!
So this week when you are faced with challenges, lack of sleep because of the long to-do list and added commitments, remember God is with you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us,
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
My prayer is that we will dwell in the fullness of His presence this season.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Kenny had been born with Cerebral Palsy and had two twisted legs that could walk with the aid of a crutch. He was in constant pain, but never complained. He hated being treated special in any way. He did almost everything a 25-year-old young man could do, except play sports. He made up for that with his passion for basketball and baseball and was a great encouragement as coach to the athletes on his college teams.
Kenny was also brilliant! He was at the top of his class academically and was smart as a whip. I tend to find intelligence attractive so we made a good pair. I've often wondered what smart men found in me! :) We quickly fell into a routine of dates that would start out at a sporting event and end parked somewhere discussing anything from politics, to philosophy to the Bible. We LOVED to talk and found each other's conversation quite stimulating. Very quickly Kenny became one of my best friends. He was a safe place to float ideas and work through thoughts.
Anyway, I started telling you all about our dating relationship because of the outfit I wore in my senior picture. We had only been dating a few months when Kenny took me out to dinner to a nice restaurant. On our way back home he parked the car in the small urban park that surrounded our County Courthouse. The trees sparkled with small white lights in the darkness of night. Honestly, I got a little nervous (he seemed nervous), but then he pointed out something through my window. I looked away, but when I looked back at him he had placed a beautiful lavender glass heart necklace over the rear view mirror. It glistened in the sparkling lights. He then put the music from Somewhere In Time on with his cassette player and began reading me a story. The story was about a prince who had been lost and a princess who rescued him. She had captured his heart. It was sooo romantic! After he read the story he took the necklace off the mirror and put it around my neck. He said, "You know what would look good with that?" I said, "What?" He answered, "Look in the back seat." There he had laid out this gray suit and burgundy blouse. Wow! I couldn't believe that he had purchased an outfit for me. I was a giddy school girl and he loved it!
I will be honest that I didn't like gray and NEVER chose to wear that color. I loved burgundy and gave it a try when I got home. I LOVED it! I wore the outfit for several years and often thought of the romantic way it was given to me. I think that's the only outfit he ever purchased for me. It certainly was the only one that sticks in my memory, but what a sweet memory it is. I still have the necklace. In telling you this story, I pulled it out of my jewelry box and looked at it fondly - remembering a dear friend.
Kenny and I continued dating for 2 1/2 years. I dated a few other boys during that time, but the summer before going off to college (after I was 18!) Kenny dropped hints that he was serious about our relationship. In hindsight, he was on the marriage fast-track, but I was somewhat oblivious to how serious he was getting. That was until one night as he dropped me off at my door, he leaned in and gave me a quick kiss. He said a hurried good-bye and rushed out to his car. I remember closing the door and thinking, "Oh, no...that was like kissing my brother!" Really.
During that summer my parents had released the rule of dating monthly. Our family had moved to within an hour of his college so we were seeing each other weekly. The next time we saw each other we knew all was not well. We talked about the kiss and came to the realization that God had given us a friendship, but that marriage was probably not His plan for us. In some ways I think it broke both of our hearts. We were buddies! We could talk about anything, but marriage takes more than an understanding of the minds and that's all we had. We dated a few more weeks, but our story ended soon after I went off to college several hours away from him.
My mom made the observation that maybe the Lord brought us together so that I would be protected and would have a wonderful example of dating and the opportunity for Kenny to do a little growing up. Although he would say he didn't want to be treated differently because of his disability, he actually had to own up to his words when I would wait in the car for him to get my door or wait at a table for him to pull out my chair. It surprised him, but he loved it and I think it made him a better man to have someone believe that he really didn't need to be treated any differently than anyone else.
Kenny went on to date others and got married, just as I did. I entitled these posts as Remembering a Friend because Kenny is no longer living, but the sweet memories I have of our friendship will always remain with me. I know someday I'll get to see him walk with perfect legs on streets of gold. What a joy that will be!
Friday, October 15, 2010
As a teenager my parents said that when I turned 16 yrs old I would be allowed to date. I was generally boy crazy most of my life and was looking forward to going out on actual dates.
As a young girl I had given my heart to Jesus and grew in faith and understanding. Although I was excited about dating I truly ONLY wanted to date who the Lord would choose for me so I began praying regularly at the age of fifteen, several months before my 16th birthday, for the Lord to reveal His choice for me. Innocently I probably thought He would reveal someone around the time of my birthday - what a nifty present a "knight" would be, but the Lord began teaching me early to wait for HIS timing. (Remember these are the musings of a self-absorbed teenager!) My March birthday came and went. I prayed a little more fervently. (smile!)
In late July I went to a youth conference several hours away from home. It was a multi-day event sponsored by a Christian college. I did NOT have the dating prayer request on my mind because all the boys from my church who went to the conference had already been brought before the Lord and found wanting. (Oh, this is so revealing-what an attitude I had!)
There was a young man from our home church who had graduated with a undergrad degree and a Master's degree and was working at the college. Kenny had come to our church on a bus route as a young boy and was the only believer in his family. Our senior pastor had taken him under wing and he had flourished. Kenny usually found our high school group each year at the conference and would act as host - giving us good intel on how to beat the long lines, where to get fast food, etc. We all enjoyed his humor and company. This year, however, he did not find us right away.
Late into day two in the middle of a sermon as I was sitting in the balcony I looked down upon the crowd and saw Kenny sitting with another group. Immediately I felt the Lord impress upon me that Kenny was the person I was to date. "What? That didn't make any sense, Lord! He's a MAN!" I tried to dismiss the thought. Nah! That's crazy thinking, girl!
Following the message Kenny found his way up to our group in the balcony and apologized for getting to us so late in the conference. He had been tasked to host another group, but wanted to check in on us. My heart was pounding and I just kept looking at him and thinking, "There is NO WAY this is the answer." Throughout the rest of the conference Kenny did not make it back to our group, but I did see him off and on throughout the building and each time the Lord was telling me, "It's HIM!" By the time I got home, my head was spinning.
After the conference our bus pulled into the church parking lot back home and inside the secretary's office we lined up to use the telephone to call our parents to come pick us up. After my call I had to wait for my parents to arrive. I noticed the light was shining under the door of our senior pastor's office. He was studying for the next day's sermons. I knocked quietly on the door and asked to speak with him. He welcomed me in and I began sobbing and telling him about my prayer request and that I thought the Lord was telling me that Kenny was the guy I was supposed to date. (Poor man!) He settled me down and then assured me that a MAN was probably NOT the answer to my request. I listened quietly, sensing in my heart that this answer, if it was from the Lord, was so unusual that God would have to do it, because it wouldn't make ANY sense on the human level.
I arrived home well past midnight and told my mom all that had transpired. If there was ever a moment of Godly wisdom (and she's had a lot of them, but this one was a biggie) Mom said, "Well, ok then, we need to continue praying about it - just you and I. Let's not tell anyone else because it doesn't make a lot of sense right now." She didn't shoot me down or discount my thoughts; she just said, "Let's keep praying." That's all I needed.
Fast forward...in September my family hosted a Labor Day picnic at my home. We had at least 50 people on our property and Kenny, whose family lived about 6 houses away, had been invited, as usual. I IGNORED him. I was so afraid of my feelings/thoughts that I steered clear away! I think he tried to speak to me once and I answered abruptly, then made a beeline for anywhere else. I was afraid he would somehow sense something and I just didn't know how to deal with the emotions of what the Lord seemed to be saying. I was not polite.
Fast forward again...a Saturday in mid-October I was traveling with my high school's marching band for a state-wide competition. We left early in the morning and wouldn't be returning until late into the night. Unbeknown to me, Kenny had phoned my parents earlier in the week mentioning that he would be home for the weekend and asked if he could take them to dinner on that night. My mom, sensing the Lord's movement, said that I would be out-of-town and he could come to our home for dinner. She did not reveal the phone call or plan to me. Then it was time for Mom to let Dad in on what had been transpiring. I assume he was a little surprised!
Kenny came for dinner that evening and said that while he was at our picnic in September he felt like the Lord was telling him, "to ask Angie out." He argued with the Lord making note that she was still a MINOR and in high school, but he couldn't get the thought out of his mind. He then mentioned, "It wasn't anything that she did that day. As a matter of fact, she actually seemed to be avoiding me, like she was angry or something." My parents asked a few more questions and then revealed to him my prayer request and answer in July. They were all stunned to see how the Lord had unveiled His plan for a 25 yr old man and a 16 yr old girl to date.
My parents gave Kenny stipulations: he could only come home once a month to date me, I was allowed to date other people and they encouraged him to do so, as well, AND if he touched me he was dead! (or prosecuted or both.) They then agreed that he should ask me to lunch after the Sunday service the next day to tell me how the Lord had moved him to ask me out.
That he did. We went to Long John Silver's for lunch. There were a few nerves, but the peace that passed all understanding was clearly evident in my heart. God had answered in a way that was unmistakeably Him. How I would need this example to rely on later in life!
I'll tell you the story of the outfit in part 2.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I grew up in the Midwest where my family called a sundae a "sun-duh" and a soda a "sodie." Upon entering college I quickly changed their pronunciations to fit the norm, but my SoCal husband LOVES to tease me about "sun-duh" every so often.
2. How do you feel about the use of texting shortcuts and trends? (ex: "I've got ur notes. Get them 2 u 2morow.")
I feel gr8! (Got a college kid, remember!)
3. Tell me about your high school senior picture. Please feel free to post.
I came home from school on the afternoon of my senior picture and decided that my bangs were too long so I went into the bathroom and started hacking away. They were a little short, but not catastrophically so. This whole outfit, including necklace, was given to me by the guy I was dating at the time. Sentimental.
5. Share a high school or college homecoming memory.
Our college didn't have homecoming, but we did have formals with banquets and plays/concerts. Those BIG dates were always highlights of the year. Here's a picture of Mark and I looking much younger and thinner than today.
6. Linda at Mocha with Linda wants to know: "Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?"
That's tough. Generally, I prefer sunsets, but I do enjoy watching the sun come up while I'm having devotions on the couch.
7. Lea at Cici's Corner asks, "What is something you have not done that you desire to do?"
Sightseeing in London
8. Carol at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind ponders, "If you could come back [in another life] as an animal, which would it be?"
9. Joyce from The Other Side of the Pond is curious: "Where were you 10 years ago?" Please feel free to elaborate more than just your physical location.
I had just moved to Northern Virginia where I wasn't sure I wanted to be. I had left a big sprawling ranch-house on the outskirts of Fresno for a very tiny bungalow in suburban Washington DC. We had left our beloved church and dear friends and were just getting settled and trying to figure out how to make friends in this new city. We weren't in "Kansas" anymore!
10. When you are proven to be correct in any contentious discussion, do you gloat?
Who, me? Maybe. Sometimes.
11. What is your favorite food which includes the ingredient "caramel?"
Death by Caramel bars. See recipe here.
12. If you could be part of any fictional family, which family would you choose and why?
Pseudo-fictional: Laura Ingalls family on Little House on the Prairie. Michael Landon was a great dad! How badly I wanted to be in that family!
Monday, October 11, 2010
It's almost been 2 months since I've faithfully blogged. Those two months have been hectic, to say the least. The start of school is crazy for everyone and yet, most of you still continued to blog regularly. Sheesh, how do you do it? :)
When school started I also had two huge projects on my plate - adding to my team and training about 22 volunteers on our computer check-in process at church AND completing registration for about 140 leaders/girls in our American Heritage Girls troop. Every spare moment was spent trying to stay on top of these extra projects and keeping my home up and running.
I was determined to get up at 5:30am every morning for devotions before homeschooling began which made me bleary-eyed by 8:30pm. I was often in bed by 9-9:30pm, my usual time to blog. Sad.
The Lord helped me through both projects and for the most part I was able to keep up with the laundry and schooling. Please, don't ask about the cooking and cleaning. I've got a little triage to do in those areas!
Then the respite came! October 1st we left for our annual vacation to the mountains. How needed and welcome that was! Whew! It was such a blessing to get away and have some refreshing moments with my family and parents. I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.
For now, though, I want to pick up where I left off with my pictures. Only 10 weeks behind! Good grief! I blog for the purpose of journaling my life more than I do for entertaining you with the latest and greatest, so bear with me while I do a little catching up...again.
When we get to the end of 2010, I may have to sum it up as the year of "catching up." Maybe I'll learn a little about myself in the process, you think?
Thanks for hanging with me. I love sharing my life with you!
Sunday, July 25th - no picture
Monday - no picture
We have coral, a sand dollar and sea sponge on display. The boys brought the sponge home wet and told the girls that they brought Spongebob home. We got to see it change into it's hardened form.
For days we heard about the beautiful scenery in the Bahamas until the pictures were finally developed and we got to "see" it for ourselves.
Thursday - no picture
Rhett spent his 17th birthday in Florida and the Bahamas so we celebrated with grandparents when they returned. Happy Birthday, son!
I couldn't be more proud of the man he is or love him more!
pictured: Rhett, Uncle David, Mark, Ashley, Angie, Tara (in yellow), Katie (in pink)
Mark's brother, Uncle David, came through town on a school trip. We went downtown to meet him and spend a few hours relaxing with a picnic on the Mall before his 25 school bus ride back to Minnesota.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I have been waaaay too busy. My sanity is shaky. I think. :) I gave my Saturday to helping my son with his Eagle Project, Sunday was given to church and training of new Awana volunteers. Yesterday we had a full day of school, followed by errands to get done for Boy Scouts before they met last night. Then I endured the onslaught of American Heritage Girls registration in the evening. Can't tell you how many times I've cried on someone's shoulder this weekend and said, "I can't keep up this pace."
Today we went to two art classes and then spent the day running errands which included lunch out, a little time at the playground and 2 hours at the library. I feel better now. I just needed my family time back.
My house still looks like it didn't survive a hurricane and the remaining clothes in the drawers/closets is reminding me of poor Mother Hubbard, but my sanity is less shaky and I'm grateful.
I am reading a book on stress management (which I'm sure my cardiologist would be glad to hear) and it mentioned a simple "tool" to use that I put into practice a little bit today and it helped.
The idea is that even if you ARE rushed, as we all are at times, you should tell yourself in the MOMENT YOU ARE IN that you have all the time that you need. Don't tell yourself you don't have time to load the washer, if you are standing there loading the washer.
You, actually, do have the time, but the mental load you are carrying by telling yourself that you don't have the time drains you of energy and increases your stress level.
I tried it today while driving to the art classes. I ended up singing summer camp songs with my kids and still making it there peacefully and on time.
I tried it while sitting on the park bench waiting for my girls to explore all the areas of the new playground. I did have time to enjoy them climbing, sliding and running instead of constantly looking at my watch trying to figure out how I was going to get it all done.
I won't get it all done. It's never-ending, but I can get the most important things done today in MOMENTS that I'm completely in...trying to enjoy the task at hand.
The rest I just leave in the Lord's hands.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The day went well and there were no injuries! Praise the Lord!
I'm looking forward to showing you the day in pictures. Until then... Have a great Sunday!
Tomorrow, Sat the 11th, is my son's Eagle Project Work day. We will have over 30 scouts helping Rhett build portable roll-up boardwalks for local park events. There will be power tools, including two saws (table & hack?) and a drill press. All will be well-supervised, but it will be dangerous. Would you say a quick prayer for safety and success? It would be greatly appreciated. I'll be sure to take pictures and fill you all in when completed.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Tara: "Mom, I think the Tooth Fairy left me $10!"
Me: "What?" (looking a little shocked!)
Tara: "I think she left me $10. Probably because I gave her the tooth on the first night."
(Tara usually holds on to teeth in a baggie for months and shows it to everyone. Then loses it; then finds it. Then extorts the tooth fairy with an old tooth.)
Me (thoughts scrambling): "Wow! That would be somethin! I've never heard of the Tooth Fairy giving so much money though. Why do you think she left you $10?"
Tara: "When I got the money out of the pillow I saw a one; maybe I just missed the zero 'cause when I counted all my money I had $12."
Me: "How much did you have before?"
Tara: "I don't know. I thought I paid you for the silly bandz with my $10. I don't think I had one."
Me: "Silly bandz?"
Tara: "Yeah, when we were at Staples!"
Me: (relieved) "Uh-uh! You did NOT pay me for those silly bandz. I think we forgot you owed me. You already had the $10 and the Tooth Fairy gave you $1."
Tara: "Oh, man! I was going to turn my teeth in on time from now on."
Me: (sighing with relief) "I bet you were."
Monday, September 6, 2010
I usually try to keep it lighthearted around here, but if I were truly unlimited to do as I wish, I would love to have one or all three of these dreams come true:
1) Build and run an orphanage in a poor country. (Peru?)
2) Own a restaurant with my husband in the town where my daughter goes to college. After closing hours, open the doors to the college students and feed them snacks while we have Bible study and prayer together.
3) Speak to women about their faith - share my journey and encourage them to trust God fully.
Any one of these would fulfill my longing to minister in the name of Christ.
What are your three wishes?
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Have you ever read a great post and wished you could share it with your friends, but then spent the next hour meandering through other good-ish posts and forgot all about that one jewel that you thought was worth sharing? me too.
Each weekend I'm going to highlight some posts from the previous week that I think you might be interested in reading. I will categorize these posts so if you want to skip a category that doesn't interest you, feel free.
If you'd like to nominate a post you've written ('cause we all know there are posts we love ourselves) or someone elses, just leave me a comment or send me an email. Maybe it will make the Post Party! The only rule is that it must have been published within the previous six days.
Here's this week's posts I think you'll enjoy:
Too Funny & relatable: http://allthingsaro.blogspot.com/2010/09/too-much-power.html
I decided not to share WHY I love these posts; I wanted you to enjoy them without any bias from me. Happy Reading!
So yesterday we celebrated summer's demise by going to the local water park as a family. I wanted to take my camera to share the day with you, but, you know, it is a WATER park. I can tell you, it was a lot of fun! Our local water park has a mining theme so there were mountain slides, raft rides, covered wagon slides, floating barrels to walk across and dumping water buckets along the lazy river. What fun! We were there for a couple of hours when all of sudden the lifeguards blew their whistles and everyone exited the pools. I loved the announcement over the intercom that followed: "Due to circumstances beyond our control The Water Mine will be closed for the next hour and a half. We're sorry for this inconvenience." Yep, someone pooped in the pool. Lovely.
The Martens' gang sat there wondering whether to wait it out and pay the exorbitant pizza prices for a late lunch or call it a day and leave. After much deliberation, we decided we'd grab a cheaper lunch outside of the park and go shopping for soccer gear for the girls. (They begin their first venture into soccer on Wednesday!) The girls, like any children, were disappointed, but were spirited by the suggestion of a carousel ride in the park across the lawn from the water park. It was free; we loved that.
On leaving the water park, we were told that if we wanted to relinquish our armbands (so we couldn't return later in the day), they would give each of us a pass that would be good through the end of next June. That cracked me up, because the water park closes on Monday and they are only open on weekends between Memorial Day and the card's expiration date next summer. How many guests will actually be able to keep, let alone retrieve, their free passes in 10 months? Seemed to me like a pretty safe bet for the water park. Oh well. For us uber-organizers, retrieving those free passes in 10 months won't be a problem! Hopefully, the water temperature will cooperate. Knowing summer around here that won't be a problem either.
Good Riddance, Summer! You've had your fun! Now let's get on to cooler weather!
By the way, it's a high of 79 today and I've got the windows wide open - which hasn't happened for months around here. It's just a two-day teaser, thanks to the crazy weather over the Atlantic, but I'll take it! Is it time to bake a pie yet?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Never fear, I think I'll stick it out.
Around our house we casually call August "Hell Month!"
It is usually the only month in the year that I do not homeschool, but spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for the next school year. (I took two months off this year, but did I get ahead...NO!)
I've also added the American Heritage Girls Troop registration drive the last two Augusts (which has been known to include some all-nighters.) The task of putting together the paperwork for 100 people is monumental.
Then we add the drama of sending Ashley off to college. It makes me sad.
Of course, this year we added two car accidents, a trip to the ER, purchasing a well-used car (oh, the pains of that!), and the acknowledgement that my husband will be out of work soon.
Wouldn't that be enough for anyone?
But on top, we've added work deadlines that I'm struggling with.
My son's Eagle Project Work Day is in 10 days.
Day 11...I lead Awana Greeter Training. sigh.
Rhett also began a new job that includes my chauffeuring back and forth.
Next week begins our homeschooling year, Children's Choir, Art Classes, Soccer, and CoOp classes.
Just putting this all into words makes me want to check my sanity! Hence, the need to blog!
I write posts in my head as I go through each day. I have moments where I think, "Oh, this would make a great post," but have nothing with me to jot down the idea.
I ENJOY blogging. I enjoy sharing my life with others. I love the quirky ways we look at life. I enjoy reading about what's happening in YOUR families, whether we're old friends or new. I think it would be so neat to meet a fellow-blogger someday (whenever you come to DC, just let me know!)
It fills a need. Don't know what it is, but I'm teaching Psychology this year so if I run across it, I'll let you know.
Until then...whether I'm ON or OFF, my heart is still with you. My brain...sometimes.
Today I will spend preparing for school, choosing music for choir and yoga tonight with a friend. That doesn't sound too bad.
Well, you'll just have to come back to find out!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I have the equivalent of a brain surgeon for a computer fix-it guy/husband and by last night he had me up and running...no data lost. I do not take this for granted. I am blessed.
This afternoon he had to tell me how to operate the machine sitting on my desk, but I can at least converse with the world again. Yay!
This morning I took a few minutes and wrote out the blessings we encountered this week to try and get my focus BACK into right perspective. Here are a few:
1) After being told Mark's car was totaled, the insurance company priced the estimate and we will have some money to put down on a new vehicle.
2) We have good insurance so once the issues are ironed out (which I'd rather not share on my blog, since it involves others outside our family), Ashley's accident will be covered.
3) My daughter is fine. She only has bumps and bruises, although it looked like it should've been worse.
4) On Thursday our family doctor said to come in right away. He saw us within 5 minutes, even though the waiting room was full. (Sorry, folks.) He did a VERY thorough exam and confirmed that Ashley had no shearing or bleeding in the brain.
5) We still have a car to drive (and share!)
6) I still have all my pictures and documents...amazing.
7) We can still have fun. The gang is upstairs painting the girls' room yellow, pink and purple. I'll show you the renovation when we're done.
The Lord walks with those who put their trust in Him. He didn't change; just our circumstances. The One who could be trusted 2 weeks ago when things were going well, can still be trusted when trouble is around every corner. He is faithful and that's what I choose to focus on today. Nothing else.
I'll continue my project 365 updates later this week.
Have a blessed Sunday, everyone!
Friday, August 13, 2010
1. Music is melodic Scripture to my soul.
2. Quiet time is what I like first thing in the morning.
3. The first thing I said this morning was, "I'm stressed out; leave me alone." (not proud of that one!)
4. Potluck BBQ; it's what's for dinner tonight.
5. It's all been a little too much lately.
6. Praying and crying is what I feel like doing right now.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting to know Mark's worship group better, tomorrow my plans include housework, laundry, etc. and Sunday, I want to get a good night's rest for the water park on Monday!
**Sorry it's a little melancholy. Since Wednesday morning, we've encountered the news of a totaled car (my husband's accident the week before), a 90 day letter of termination for my husband because his government contract is ending, my daughter's car accident in which she shattered the windshield with her head (she's fine after time in the ER and Dr. office), and the news that we may have issues with the car insurance. # 5 & 6 is just how I feel, but I TRUST COMPLETELY that all of this is not news to God and that He has us safely in His Hands.
When I am afraid, I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3
**I'll be back later with a project 365 update.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Sunday, July 18
This is one of my mother-in-law's famed dinners. It's simple to make and delicious. You can find the recipe here.
The boys headed out early Monday morning to spend a week in the Bahamas on a Boy Scout Seabase Adventure.
Science Experiment time. The girls and I set up a crystal garden growing kit.
Just two hours later it was already beginning to grow...
Four hours later, a little more...
Before going to bed, this is how far it had come.
We awoke to a beautiful garden ten hours later... (a little more snow on the "grass")
It didn't change a lot, but here we are on the third day! Wouldn't time lapse on this project have been fun. Too bad I'm not that technical.
Katie is my little foodie around here. She took a regular cream puff, one of her favorite treats, and kicked it up a notch with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar. Then she snapped a picture. I have a food blogger in the making!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Come join the fun at Lid's 2nd Cup of Coffee. Just cut and paste her questions, share your unique answers and link back to the Random Dozen Meme. It's that simple. You'll have fun, I promise.
1. When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
The last time I laughed until I cried was when I saw this video on my husband's IPhone as we're pulling into church on Sunday morning. What a fun way to start the day!
Peppers at the Farmer's Market. Gorgeous!
2. If you found $10 today, what would you do with it?
Tuck it in my wallet and save it for paper, office supplies or chocolate - my splurges. OR, give it to a needy college student - whichever came first.
3. Do you volunteer anywhere?
I've spent the last 3 years setting up a library at church and volunteering as a leader and registrar in my daughters' American Heritage Girl troop.
4. What is your favorite summertime veggie or fruit, and how do you eat it?
Green Beans - Sauteed. See the recipe here.
Love all kinds of fruit - blended in a cold frosty smoothie. See recipe here. And...maybe a cold slice of watermelon. Love that too. (A three for one answer! We like our food around here, what can I say.)
5. Is your social sphere (circle of friends) small, medium or large?
How subjective! At first, I thought, small. My closest friends are limited, but I have a wide range of good friends. So my answer is "just enough for me!" That'll leave you guessing. :)
6. When was the last time you attended a family or school reunion? How did that go?
My kids, mom and I attended a family reunion at the end of June. It was a lot of fun; see this post.
7. When you're feeling blue, what is the best way someone can cheer you up?
Not much. I usually have to find a way out of the blues myself. Flowers and chocolate help.
8. Have you taken a vacation this summer?
We took a trip to clear out Grandma's house. It did not feel like a vacation. My boys went to the Bahamas. I saw the pictures. I'm hanging in there until our annual vacation this fall.
9. What is the most unnecessary item you carry with you all the time?
Gum. I hate gum, but my girls like it.
10. What is the best summer flick you have seen so far?
Despicable Me - loved that movie. (I want a glow-in-the-dark minion!) Need to see Inception.
11. Describe a perfect summer day.
One with air conditioning, a cold glass of lemonade and maybe an old movie or good book. Now, if you asked me to describe a perfect autumn day, I'd have the details. I survive the summer. Be gone, hot weather, be gone!!
12. Please a share a favorite photo from the summer so far!
This is a shirt I bought while in the Midwest. I do not wear loud clothes or orange. This shirt is both. I LOVE it. Don't know why, but I would've paid full price for it (but didn't!) We've all got to have something our kids can blackmail us with later. BTW, it was bad lighting/kid operated camera that made my face red - not the color of the shirt. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
The girls were invited by friends to go to a local water park for the day. Here they are waiting just outside the front door. They were ready to go!
I inherited my Grandma's quilting and embroidery materials. Here is part of the embroidery stash. She had thread that cost 15 cents - love that. (I'm guessing I'll have to check for colorfastness.) She also had a set of Farmer's needles. I don't know what half of them are, but look forward to finding out. I love carrying on the traditions that Grandma left behind.
I needed quick and easy meals to cook once I got home. This one is fast and delicious. See the recipe here.
Speaking of blackmail...my 8-year-old snapped some pictures of her brother while he was getting his hair buzzed off. I included a pic of him with a full head of hair so you saw the transformation. Why do guys love to fool around when getting a haircut? (Am I jealous? maybe.) Anyway, we got a laugh out of the curly Mohawk, but I think he looks best with a short shave. Perfect for the upcoming vacation.
We needed to get shoes with non-marking soles for Rhett to wear on the boat in the Bahamas. We went to Sports Authority and the girls hung out under the tent awning in the entry way while the boys made the purchase. The girls pretended to be mannequins and people coming into the store got a good laugh!
Eat. some. cake. This one is to die for. See recipe here.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, July 4th
We didn't go out and see fireworks this year, but watched the National fireworks on tv via PBS. It actually made us cry to see our hometown's spectacular display and miss it. We knew right where Mark, Grandpa, Ashley and Rhett were as they watched the fireworks over the Mall. Although we were homesick, we made the best of the night. The girls collected their own "fireworks" - fireflies! Several evenings they headed out to the backyard to chase the the flickering bugs. Their top score was 30 in one jar.
Wallpaper. Do you have any memories of your grandparent's or great-grandparent's homes? I remember wood burning stoves, outhouses, wringer washing machines, clocks, quilts, gold painted rooms, but I will never forget Grandma's favorite wallpaper hanging in her kitchen. It just makes me smile because it is "Sooo Grandma!"
This is the last time we'll be at Grandma's house. We may drive by years from now, but it will be like my childhood home - just a memory. It will have another owner's stamp on it. We miss you, Grandma!
We drove to the cemetery on our way out of town. Grandma's grave will be dutifully colored with seasonal flowers thanks to my uncle. I'm looking forward to her getting her gravestone. We say good-bye, one last time.
The car is PACKED! jam. packed. Every available space is being used. Even then, our 4 foot Santa, that the girls stipulated "HAD" to come home with us, had to catch a ride in Grandma's car. At first Santa was in my passenger seat, but when we got laughs at the ice cream stand I figured I didn't need Santa riding shotgun thousands of miles across the country. Now that would've been a good picture!
"On the Road again..." Yes, my mom was listening to Willie in her car and we often serenaded each other over the walkie talkies. It's always so good to reach the hills/mountains of West Virginia. Then we know we're almost home. Love the flat corn fields too, but the mountains have my heart.
It's so good to sleep in your own bed after three weeks! I awoke to my girls and husband making animal pancakes in the kitchen. While we were gone, Mark's mom sent him a cookbook that he had used as a kid. They opened it up and provided a fun breakfast.
I spy an elephant and a duck? ostrich? We had many representations of the animal kingdom and they were all delicious!