Saturday, December 31, 2011

Questions for 2011 Reflection

Yesterday I did a lot of blog reading and ran across some questions for 2011 reflection. I didn't make note of where I got the questions and I can't find them again this morning after much searching. So...if you read my blog and realize that I "borrowed" these questions from you, please, let me know; I'd love to give credit where credit is due. Thanks!

I thought about not posting the questions ('cause I hate to "borrow" and not give credit), but after sitting down last night and answering them myself, I felt they were too beneficial to not share.

I'm all about making new goals (maybe a post for tomorrow?), but I have rarely looked back on the previous year. These questions are a great exercise to help you see where you've been and what you've learned. I hope they will be a fun exercise that will help you focus on what you'd truly like out of 2012.

Without further adieu,

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

5. Pick three words to describe 2011.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don't ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you.)

I didn't answer questions 6 & 7; it was my reflection, but if you're interested, I included them because they were on the original list.)

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking.)

8. What were the best books you read this year?

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationship with others?

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.

*Side note - my answers to # 5 & 20 took me by surprise and helped me put the year into perspective.

Adios, 2011!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Recap

Hang on to your seat!
We're taking a look back at our Christmas season!

Rhett got to hang the first ornament on the Advent calendar this year since he'll be away at college for most of December next year.  Thanks for the goofy face!

We went to my parents house to trim their tree and a few other things.

Experts at work!

The finished tree.

Tara (center) sang in my children's choir for the Homeschool Christmas CoOp concert.

My handbell group performed three Christmas pieces.

We cut down our own Christmas tree this year...

then had to drag it FOREVER to the barn to pay.
(The only one complaining was the mom taking pictures. Hm.)

Time to trim our tree at home. 
Grandpa and Rhett hammed it up with their "manly" ornaments - a teddy bear and angel.

Tinsel and Garland, Man!
We dig it!

Baking Day -  with a snitch getting caught in the picture.

Love Pinterest!
Made the cutest name placards out of candy canes.

Best Gift EVER!
When I was a small girl
I loved to play Pegity at my grandparent's home.
I inherited the game, but the game board was falling apart so sometime this fall I offhandedly mentioned to my son how cool it would if he made me a wooden board to replace it...someday.
Then I promptly forgot about the suggestion.
He spent the two weeks before Christmas in the basement (with Dad and Mark as helpers) designing and creating the gameboard with drawer underneath (to hold the pieces).
I do have a picture where I'm blubbering like a fool, but I have a little too much pride to share it. :)

Since our 9 month old puppy loves to chew,
we enjoyed watching her chew off the wrapping of her new toy!

Tara got an American Girl doll...

and Katie got an IPod!

Mark got a pitchfork and then posed as the stoic farmer icon that he is. Ha!

Dad and Mom loved my tears over the Pegity game on Christmas Eve so they pulled out all the stops on Christmas Day and gave me two of my Dad's old toys - a play hospital ...
(The name on the front is Plasticville Hospital. Love it!)

and his Viewmaster (from the 1940's).
It works great and I love looking at the retro reels!
Lots of memories!!

None of us lacked in the present department, especially Katie.

But the best present of all was having Ashley home with her new hubby, TJ!

Hope your Christmas was a memorable one!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mark Sings

Proud wife time! Mark's worship group sang for two of our Advent posts on December 18th and 19th. They did a great job! (My man is the one on the far right.) Enjoy!

(the 19th's post)

Good Christian Men Rejoice from McLean Bible Church on Vimeo.
(the 18th's post)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just Jesus

I have a friend-of-a-friend who has been on my prayer list for almost 18 months now. Missionaries to a closed country in Asia, they came home for a break in the summer of 2010. They took their 7-year-old daughter to the doctor because she had been having several small symptoms that would come and go, like unexplained fevers, leg pain, and fatigue. Their world was turned upside-down when sweet Adah was diagnosed with leukemia. They spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital, wondering if it would be their last with her. We all praised the Lord together when Adah's treatment and bone marrow transplant worked. She is still getting tested monthly, but all the tests return normal and Adah's mommy is thrilled to be facing another Christmas season with both of her girls, Adah and Claire. I'm sure you can imagine how precious this time is for their family. She recently wrote this:

Our living room looks like some nomads decided to camp for the night. Quilts and blankets hang over the couches and chairs, and a fire is slowly dying in the fireplace. The girls are snuggled into their tents, cozy. As I passed through just now, I paused to eavesdrop, unseen, on their conversation.

"But is he a baby now?" asked Claire.

"No. He grew up. Just like you used to be a baby and now you're three." (Adah replying)

"I am baby Jesus?"

"No, Claire. But you were a baby. Jesus was, too. Now he is grown up."

"But what is his name now?"

"Just Jesus."

"What does he look like?"

"I don't know. I never got to see him." (long pause) "He looks like Daddy. Except he has hair."

This mom was relating a cute conversation between her little ones, but I was struck by the simple answer, "Just Jesus." Obviously, Adah was pointing out that Jesus still had the same name, but in light of their circumstances, I thought about the significance of His name! Just Jesus - nothing more, nothing less. His name didn't change; He never changes. He is faithful, no matter the circumstances - always there, always upholding His children. In good times and bad, He is Just Jesus - all we need. May you allow Jesus to be all you need this Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Celebrating Advent

This year my church, McLean Bible Church, has put together a daily advent email. Each day I eagerly check my inbox for the email where someone from our music department sings (my hubs later in the month) or plays a traditional Christmas song followed by a written devotional. The music has been so good and the devotionals, even better. Since we're still early in the season, I wanted to give you a chance to celebrate Advent with us. You can sign up for the emails here.

If for any reason you'd prefer not to participate this way, I will be sharing some of the devotions on my blog as we go along.

May you have a Blessed Advent Season.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Every December I get a little "fired up" about the coming celebration of Christ's birth. Emmanuel, God with Us, is one of my favorite names because it implies how great His LOVE is for us.

That He would Come
to Earth,
His Creation
to Redeem.


The following video shares the message in such a dynamic way.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A New Day

I have some audacious goals for the month of November!
They are BIG and scary. :)

I'm not quite ready to share them with you yet, but I realized that the bottom line of anything I want to accomplish is really all about God. He controls my days; He directs my steps and to act differently (accomplish BIG goals) means that I will need to fully rely on Him!

Does this mean that any audacious goal is really just partnering with the Divine and offering my complete surrender? I know I can't establish new patterns of behavior without the Holy Spirit.

I was reading in Psalm 62 and found these verses encouraging.
(v 5-8)

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

My expectation is from Him...I LOVE that!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Down Day

It's raining.


Sorry, Texas, but I'm really sick of the rain.

The dog needs some exercise, but won't go out in the rain. Don't blame her.

I've been sick since Sunday. I hate being sick. My week has been wasted with tissues and cold medicine. I'd like to be well soon.

I don't know if I like the farm. (Remember, it's raining and I'm sick; I might like it tomorrow.) Certainly the farm doesn't feel like home. It somehow feels like a vacation, but I still need to cook, clean, school, and do all the other routine tasks that make a house a home, but I am struggling.

I've spent some time thinking about why I'm on-the-fence about the farm. I enjoy the quietness and it is definitely picturesque, but the house isn't our home.

I'm still rearranging furniture, which I hate to do.

Nothing has my stamp of creativity on it. It's beige walls with our stuff inside. Blech.

I need to "nest," but don't really want to dig into any process. It's as if I don't want the farm to become our home.

I hope that's just sickness talking.


Monday, October 24, 2011

God is With Us

When I returned from vacation and checked my email, I got the news of two deaths, one cancer treatment and one birth. Life. One death was of a good friend who birthed a still-born son, which as a mom touched my heart deeply. I knew my friend would be second guessing herself, asking the "why" questions and struggling. Of course, she is, but her faith is strong and she is walking through this dark time trusting in the Lord. When I thought about each of these emails, I just kept thinking of Hebrews 13:5,

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

In context, Hebrews 13:4-6 reminds us that God gives/takes away in regards to our possessions, that no matter the circumstances, He is with us and we don't have to be afraid.

Of course, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" are the two phrases that kept coming to mind, reminding me that all of these people, the ones dealing with death, cancer and an additional child to nuture all needed the comfort this verse gives. As I meditated on this partial verse, I wondered if the Lord was trying to say two different, yet complementary things or was it repeated for emphasis. I think a little bit of both is true.

In Webster's dictionary leave meant: to go away from or to fail to include or take along. Forsake meant: to renounce or turn away from entirely. Not only is the Lord staying with us, but He is also going to include us. We can't do anything, as believers, to make Him renounce us or turn away from us completely.

If I were going through dark times right now that would bring me comfort, but it also speaks to my heart in the calmness of today. He's going to include me. The sin that I repeatedly struggle with is not going to wear Him out so that He wants to give up on me. Today, He is with me. If/when I acknowledge His presence in my life moment by moment He is there to faithfully guide. He will never leave; He will never forsake. Our God is faithful!

May you find all you need today in His presence.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Recently I had a prayer request that was potentially life-changing for our family. It was regarding a job. When I shared the request with a fellow homeschool mom, she stopped and prayed with me. Her prayer was centered around me knowing the Lord's will by the peace He would bring as He revealed the answer.

I was able to go away with friends to a cabin in West Virginia where I had plenty of quiet time to ask God to show me His answer. He actually used a secular book, plus Proverbs to answer my prayer, but I kept thinking back to my friend's request, that I would know His PEACE. I had a strong sense of peace to not make any big changes. When I got home and shared with my husband and my mother, both agreed.

Of course, Philippians 4:7 kept coming to mind: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Do you have anything right now in which you need to know God's mind/will? Pray for the answer to be revealed in His Word and with an overwhelming (can't understand it!) peace. He wants you to have it!

My prayer for you this week is Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Plenty of Room

Today the Lord impressed some thoughts upon me about the word “room.” I began with the thought of our Hosts at church helping families find their rooms on Sunday night. I thought about how blessed we are to have plenty of room for a thriving Awana program. We are very FULL, but we have room. It made me think of the nativity phrase, “no room for them at the inn” (Luke 2:7) and I thought how the Lord provides the room we need, unlike what He experienced entering our world as a baby.

I, then thought about the “room” the Lord has provided in my own personal life this past month. Earlier this year we experienced the unexpected death of Mark’s father, married off our oldest daughter and had our rental home put on the market, forcing us to make a quick move. I joked about how many other BIG life stressors we could handle, but the Lord has given me a quiet place of rest on our new farm. He’s given me room. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” I spent the last two years overcommitted in different volunteer capacities. It took a toll on my family, my health, and my peace of mind/spiritual life. The Lord taught me many things as I depended on Him to get me through each day, but I knew at the end of the last school year that it was time to say “no” to those commitments. I didn’t know that He would move us to the country, where logistically it would be impossible to keep my commitments, but I’m glad that I listened and obeyed.

My final thought was about the room the Lord is preparing in heaven. (Please, tell me your minds roam this way too!) John 14:2 tells us that “My Father’s house has many rooms….” I love how The Message says it, “There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.” There is such comfort in knowing that the Lord is preparing a place for me, but while He is preparing the place for my future, He has given me all the room I need right now, physically, spiritually…in all ways. He supplies our every need and I’m thankful for it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Love Country Life

Early morning view. Can you see the moon?
I love the peace and quiet of country life.

I love the slower pace, the dreaming, the ease.

I love the mist in the morning over the pastures and I smile when I hear the roosters crow.

I love the crunch of tires on gravel - someone is here to see us!

I love sleeping under a quilt in a cold farmhouse bedroom.

I love porches and barn doors and crickets in the garage.

I love hearing the neighbor's far-away voice and watch the horses gallop home.

I love a warm crockpot meal after a long day's work.

I love to gaze at the starry night sky.

I love that the farm inspires.

I love country life.

Little while later...dawning of a new day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

She's Got A Name!

It took a while, but we've finally all agreed. I think, like Sweet Tea commented, the house "told" us what her name should be.

drum roll, please...

Scarlett Hill Farm

Why? you ask.

1. The farm is set on a hill and the house is trimmed in red.

2. We have a Gone With The Wind theme going on in our family (see here) and the name Scarlett is in honor of our Katie. Hill references the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of the Kings of Ireland, in honor of our Tara.

It just seemed to fit.

No one fussed and trust me, there was a lot of fussing over the other names.

Tara was the one to come up with the name. She's excited about getting a prize for naming the farm.  I'll have to come up with something clever. Hmmm.

As we settle in here, have a good week, everyone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hush, Little Baby

This is what I'm doing...
This is what I want to be doing...
The sleeplessness has arrived. The anxiety about moving, coupled with the "to do" list running through my head, is hindering my sleep. Feeling rested, I guess, is out for the remainder of the week. My eyes popped open early this morning and I went to bed later than usual last night. Sigh.

The first thing I thought about was, "Can I wash my velvet curtains?" A truly pressing matter. Ha! And no, I can not wash my velvet curtains. Dry clean only. Rats.

So I crept downstairs to the computer, hoping not to wake the dog. I don't want to go outside yet! I made it past her crate and thought I'd tackle some laundry, email and other quiet tasks until the gang starts waking up. Hence, a blog post this morning.

I find it funny that during my "normal" life I can't seem to find the time to sit and write posts, but put me under the gun for a move and I'm sharing everyday. Can we say commiseration?

Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in one of these this afternoon...

Monday, August 29, 2011

To Have God's Eyes

I'm sitting at my keyboard and can't even find the words to begin writing this post.

Through a family member, I was "introduced" to Jason and Sara Morris whose daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. AML. I began praying for their family, reading their care page and leaving encouraging messages...from a stranger. But what comfort, I thought, to know that strangers care so much.

Adah, their daughter with cancer, has come through treatment and a bone marrow transplant. Her mom, Sara, writes about their recent move away from the hospital that has been home for the past year.

It is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. I'm speechless. It's left me thinking and asking the same question that Sara asks.

This year we've buried a parent, seen our first daughter married and are now about to make a major move, one that will drastically change the way we "do" life. Last week we made it through an earthquake and a hurricane. Life just seems a bit crazy, but in it all, what do I see?

That's what Sara asks.

A new light.

To have God's eyes.

I spent 3 hours today talking to an elderly neighbor on her porch who was saddened to hear of our move. Why did God give me the opportunity to meet someone new on the cusp of leaving? There seemed to be a deeper meaning to the divine appointment today. To have God's eyes.

Please, visit Beautiful Addition here and read Sara's post: Wanting to See. You won't be disappointed.

May you see His grace today.