12.30.2010

Interrupted

Short and sweet - I just started reading Interrupted, by Jen Hatmaker. With what God has already begun to stir in my heart, I think it's going to rock my world.

That's all.

12.27.2010

The Aftermath

I am sitting in the playroom, listening to the kids bicker over crayons, paper and scissors (what's new?) and looking around at all the stuff. Christmas is always fun, but for me it creates a big conundrum. You like that word, don't you...conundrum...I don't get to use it every day, so I thought I would break it out ;). Anyway, back to the point - where to put all the new stuff and what to get rid of from the old stash of stuff. I have such a hard time getting rid of things. It probably goes back to the vivid memory I have of a white garbage bag full of my stuff that was cleaned out and thrown away while I wasn't looking. I only got to see the bag as it was going out the door. I could see through the bag and my Auburn basketball program with Charles Barkley's and Chuck Person's autographs was in there, and a pair of sunglasses I really liked...among other miscellaneous who-knows-what. I was a bit of a tomboy, so that basketball thing was important to me. It really was my own fault and I take full responsibility because I was a big slob. That was not an attempt at a guilt trip, Mom, should you read this ;)

Anyway, for whatever reason I can get emotionally attached to just about anything. Oh, here's something gross and I can't believe I am about to tell you this, but I once kept a piece of gum that some boy I liked chewed. I found it all dried up in a box several years ago among a bunch of other "keepsakes." How gross is that? And I don't even know whose it was.

I'm glad I got that out there. There's power in confession, right? I suppose I'm just going to have to put my big girl pants on and let some things go. The problem is they really do play with a lot of this stuff, so I don't know what stays and what goes. I think what I need, in addition to help from the Holy Spirit, is a few episodes of Hoarders. That's always motivating and I happen to have several on the DVR. I so don't want to be that person, and if I ever feel I relate to what they are saying in the slightest, I immediately start throwing things away. Yes, I think that will be step one, and I'll let you know how it goes. Then I'll have to re-tackle the organization system...whew!

Oh, and if you have any suggestions at all for making decisions about what goes, or how you organize things like trains/tracks, cars, art supplies, etc...do tell!

12.26.2010

Christmas 2010

"Christmas 2010" - that's as much creativity as I've got right now ;). I'm sitting here, half watching Little Women, with my late night snack - my new favorite thing (unless doughnuts are an option):


Cheez-its dipped in peanut butter. Try it. It's a good thing.

We have had a fun few days, but now my brain is just tired. Christmas Eve we went to Montgomery for the day to see both Dave's and my family. We had lunch at his parents' house and hung out there for the afternoon. Dave's brother and grandparents were there as well. His Granny has Alzheimer's, and honestly she appears to be pretty advanced. It's a sad thing to see, but watching his Papaw take care of her was so sweet. He is very loving and patient with her, and is doing his best to keep her out of a nursing home, despite the fact that he is aging as well, and just can't do the things he used to. That's love, isn't it?

We had supper at my parents' house with my brother and his family, and opened gifts. That's what's known as controlled chaos. It could have been worse, but paper and boxes were flying and Baby Christopher loved it. He was all up in the middle of it. By the time all that was over I was beyond tired...I really didn't feel well for most of the day. My stomach was acting up as it does sometimes...and always at the most inconvenient times. Really, when is it convenient? The highlight of Christmas Eve was a conversation I had with [a certain someone who wishes to remain nameless] about who "Harold" is. Think Hark the Herald Angels Sing...it was priceless :)

Christmas morning I forced myself to get up early and bake a cake. Our new tradition is eating birthday cake for breakfast before opening gifts. It was so great and the kids loved it. They sang happy birthday to Jesus and then dove in to the cake.



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We were all sitting down eating our cake, but after only a couple of bites we noticed Corban had disappeared. This is where he was - like father, like son. He didn't like being "yucky."


I don't know why that tickled me so much, but it did. He also was much more interested in eating ginger snaps than opening presents. He's like his daddy in many ways, I guess. We opened all the gifts and played all morning. We finally got the Wii Fit, so we did a lot of this

And I would like to announce that my center of gravity was as close to perfect as could be without being perfect 49%/51% - for whatever that's worth. Be proud ;) Corban so needed a boy "dollhouse" - he's been surrounded with My Little Pony stuff, and he's made do, but he got the Batman bat cave and seems to like it.


Riley got a small dollhouse and it has come in very handy. Even super heroes have to go potty!



Riley got this. It was really the only thing my little girl asked for


We pretty much stayed in our pajamas all day, until this happened



SNOW...IN AUBURN...ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!! What? It didn't really stick, but it was fun for the kids for a few minutes. They finally crashed for the night and all of them slept until after 9:00 this morning. I let them sleep late while I went on to church (Caeley stayed home with them). With the flu and strep that's going around I really didn't want to throw them into the germ festival, anyway. It continued to snow throughout the day, but never stuck. We were running low on diapers and were flat out of Cheez-its, which constitutes an emergency around here, so I made a run to Sams...and it was C.O.L.D. I don't know how people live with this kind of weather, and much worse, for months on end. I am a southern girl through and through, I guess. We finished out the day by doing "Who Hair" on us girls (see earlier post)...ain't we cute!


I'm sticking my tongue out...it's hard to tell. Felt the need to explain why I look funny! And please excuse Riley, she doesn't like to wear clothes ;)

Anyway, I hope you all had a merry Christmas! We sure did. Now I am off to dreamland...I'm really excited!

(Caeley begged me to post this pic...she wanted me to look happy so I went a little overboard)

12.25.2010

White(ish) Christmas!

After the last two days of staying up late and getting up early, I am too tired for a detailed post. I have lots of pictures and fun to post tomorrow...BUT today was a fun day for all. To top it all off we ended it with this:



SNOW!! My first white Christmas and in Auburn, Alabama, of all places. We didn't get as much as they did in North AL, but I'm calling this Christmas white. How fun! We might get a tad bit more tomorrow - we'll see. I just realized that tomorrow is Sunday. That totally threw me for a loop - I feel like I've been in the twilight zone. But I am looking forward to it! Better get to bed - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12.23.2010

Thank You, Francis Chan

I read an article today about Francis Chan. Apparently he has decided to leave his church and move to an unnamed country in Asia to do ministry. This is the quote that I absolutely loved:

“Even in my own church I heard the words, ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words, ‘Holy Spirit’,” CNN’s Belief Blog reports Chan as saying. “I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That's a heart for God right there. Call me stubborn but whenever a book, or the writer, becomes the "big thing", I tend to steer clear. No offense, but when "the Purpose Driven Life" was the big thing, it bugged the fire out of me. Same for "The Prayer of Jabez." I'm not exactly sure why, but it bothers me when something becomes a bandwagon that everybody wants to jump on. If I ever write a book, I guess I hope people would read it, and I guess if it was good stuff, people should want to read it. I think it has to do with what Francis said...too much emphasis on a person.

It took me several years to even do a Beth Moore study. I was thinking, "Y'all, you do know she's a person, right? She's not Jesus." Having said that, though, all it took was watching the first DVD of Breaking Free and I could see what the fuss was about, and I have loved her since. The woman is gifted. And so are these other people. The problem is when we fixate more on the messenger than the message, and it's so easy to do. We humans like something tangible, don't we? Just ask the Israelites about the golden calf that hopped out of their bonfire, or the ones that lived under King Saul and the (mostly) terrible kings that followed him...the ones they asked for because God alone wasn't enough for them.

Anyway, all that to say that I really respect what Francis Chan is doing. I can only imagine the work it would take me to stay humble in the spotlight.

12.22.2010

You're Not Just One of Many

My friends that have done Beth Moore's studies will appreciate this. It's kind of a long story, but the details are essential to see God's sense of timing, and I think, His sense of humor, too. Having said that, let me emphasize that in no way do I take credit for the blessing my friend received, because I really didn't do anything.

I have been doing this Bible study at AUMC for 5 or 6 years and the husband of one of the ladies that leads it had prostate cancer 5 years ago. He went for some blood work recently, and it showed he had cancer cells somewhere in his body again, but from what I understand, they weren't for sure where. They decided to be proactive and went out to MD Anderson in Houston for radiation therapy for 7 weeks. They are staying in an apartment and drive over to the hospital 5 days a week for treatment.

So, a couple of weeks ago someone emailed out their address in Houston so we could send little notes or whatever...this is obviously a lonely time, away from family at Christmas, and it's a heavy atmosphere there, with all the sickness they see. I thought I would send a card, and then I thought, oh I should send some kind of treat or bake something. So on a Monday afternoon, I made those chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. After I made them, I looked at them and was like, these are totally going to fall apart in transit.

So, what now? I decided to get them a gift card to a restaurant in Houston. I get online and start searching, but how on earth would I know if it was really good or not? You can't tell from a website. Then, I said to myself, "Hey, Beth Moore lives in Houston...I'll ask her!" (I just think that's kind of funny, and it had to be a God-idea because I would normally think there ain't no way you're going get in touch with her). She has a blog and apparently she interacts with the people that reply to her posts sometimes. (Sidenote: this says a lot to me in and of itself. If you've ever been around a person in ministry who is "untouchable" or has kept themselves separated from "the people," you will agree). I had read that she was in the middle of writing a Bible study on James, so I didn't know how much gets on there right now, but I thought I'd try. She had just written a post about Deeper Still in Bham, which I was supposed to go to but ended up cancelling because of the LIFE retreat...two weekends in a row was too much for mommy to be gone, I thought. I wrote a reply that basically said, "I hate I missed it...I so wanted to go, yada, yada...And here's an odd question - don't know if you'll even see it, but maybe someone else can give me an answer. I've got friends at MD Anderson and I want to get them a gift card to a nice restaurant just to give them a diversion from what's going on. Any suggestions?" Within about 20 minutes Beth herself replied and gave me some good recommendations. Then she says, Listen, I might be going to MD Anderson tomorrow...are you're friends women and do they have any affiliation with ladies Bible study. I said YES! Are you thinking you might want to pop in and say hey - and I gave her my email address in case. I never heard back on Monday, but Tuesday morning I got an email from her assistant saying Beth Moore wants to visit my friends while she is there at the hospital. One year ago to the day Beth had surgery for what they thought might be stage 4 ovarian cancer...it turned out not to be, but she said she was forever marked by those 4 days at MD Anderson so she was going over on the one year anniversary to take cookies to people and just try and minister to whoever she could.

What perfect timing God has. Since Martha and Rick (those are the friends' names) aren't staying at the hospital, I had to call her and tell her about it, which made me sooo nervous because then what if it didn't work out? I gave Beth's assistant Martha's cell number so they could try and find each other. Long story a little shorter ;), they didn't actually meet in person...Beth had her daughter with her and they had to pick up her grandson from pre-school and Martha didn't have enough time to get to where Beth was. But they did talk on the phone, apparently for a while, and Beth prayed for Martha and Rick and she said it was one of those prayers that felt like God himself came down. Honestly, it might be an even bigger blessing that they didn't meet in person, because it probably would have been short, with the timing and all that.

For those of you who read this and don't know who Beth Moore is, or haven't done her studies...that's not even the point. This was something uniquely tailored to Martha's heart. I can't tell you how overwhelmed I was at God's faithfulness. Like Martha said, it just shows how even though we are but one of many, He takes notice of us. This happened a few weeks ago and I just haven't had time to post about it yet. Be encouraged - He notices you and even the most random ideas can be God-ideas ;)

Oh, and the other reason I haven't posted yet is that I haven't even bought the gift card yet :/ I got all caught up in that whole story and forgot to do the thing I set out to do. Better get on that this afternoon!

Top ___ Things I learned This Year

So, I thought I would make a list of the top 10 things I learned this year. It sounds like an end of year kind of thing to do, right? I really didn't know if would come up with 10, but to my surprise there were like 12 or 13 (I'm too lazy to count right now) - which really bugs me because 10 is just a better number. But, I couldn't cut any of them because they are all legit. So, without further delay, here they are (in no particular order):
  • In dirty diapers and in life, there are times when you're just gonna get some on you. It's a waste of time to try and stay clean, so just jump in and take care of business. In short, life is messy.
  • Full exposure before the Lord is essential for healing of the soul (mind, will and emotions). No hiding.
  • It is for freedom that Christ set me free (Galatians 5:1). That's not redundant; He already did the work, but I have to choose to remain and live free.
  • Friends are essential to my growth and my sanity. I love my friends!
  • Too much is really too much. I need to simplify my home, my expectations and my life.
  • In order to survive letting people into my heart and my world, to stay open, I MUST become a servant. Make myself lower and elevate the value of other people.
  • Having 4 kids might be the riskiest, craziest, thing I (we) have ever done. Who knew it was so challenging to be "just" a mommy! :)
  • I like Indian food. In fact I think the secret ingredient in Chicken Tikka Masala might be crack, because I am addicted to it!
  • When I looked around and saw suffering - kids unloved, unwanted, starving, enslaved and orphaned - I said, "God why? Do something, love them!" He said, "That's what you're there for...you do it." Whoa...still processing that one, but am looking for opportunities.
  • Under no circumstance should I ever set a drink of any kind on the console in the middle of my van. How many cups of coffee do I need to send flying before I get this one?
  • Keep the cupholders in the van emptied out.
  • Marriage is HARD work! But it's so worth it. Like the old Virginia Slims ad said, we've come a long way, baby!
  • Parenting is a long term investment, not a get rich quick program. You don't usually get a return up front, and the things you do today will have to be done all over again tomorrow (and maybe in as little as 10 minutes). I'm living for the "well done" at the end of the race. Note to self: post this somewhere prominent or you will forget by the end of the day.
Voila! There it is...my year in summary. I so loved thinking through all of that and I need to make it a yearly practice. Now, I'm off to do mommy things ;)

12.21.2010

Riley-isms

My kids keep me rolling with the things they do and say! These may not be funny to anybody else but us, but here's a few Riley-isms from the last few days:

Riley had just tried cashews for the first time in a while. Her comment: "It makes me gag, but I think I like it."

"I want some pet ducks that don't talk...and a river. Nevermind, I want some penguins in a cage...and a pet chameleon."

"I've got skills, Mom. Watch this." Proceeds to do tricks. "Corban doesn't have the kind of skills I have. He has different skills." I have no idea where that came from, but it makes me think of Napoleon Dynamite..."computer hacking skills, 'num' chuck skills..."

Christopher had just "kissed" Riley. I said "Riley, did Baby give you some loves?" She said, "that's not loves, it's spit!"

I was helping her finish her hot chocolate and she said "I'm a baby bug that opens it's mouth...wait, nevermind. I'm a baby alligator!" followed by...

"I'm a baby beetle that's blue and green!"

"I'm a baby chameleon!"

"I'm a baby penguin!" (while making some nasty gag sound..she said that's what baby penguins do.)

She's been obsessed with watching our Planet Earth DVDs, can you tell?

**UPDATE - apparently all baby animals make the nasty gagging sound. Picture a baby bird with it's mouth open and tongue sticking out - then add a gagging noise, and that's what she's doing.

Riley: "I'm a person." Corban: "you're not a person!" Riley: "I am a person. We are both persons! I am not an animal." Funny, considering the above.


"With my pretend gun I only shoot people who are whining." (that would be Corban)

"Can I call our baby 'Pepe'?" Me: "Why do you want to call him that?" Her: "Because I like that name. I'm gonna call him Christopher Pepe."

Riley said she's a superhero this morning. I'm trying to help her come up with a name, so I asked what her special powers were. She said she "wraps up mean guys and drinks." Random. She just said she's going to be "Whiteyball." No idea where that came from, but I am cracking up!

12.20.2010

Kid Stuff

Just some kid stuff... Baby C is trying really hard to stand on his own...he's been able to balance for up to 10 seconds, but not on camera, of course :/


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And then he decided he wanted Daddy to chase him. Here he is trying to entice him...


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Not to be ignored, Riley and Corban got in the mix and begged to be tickled...


Oh, and did you know we had a mean baby reindeer? Look...
and apparently Corban was being attacked by the brown blanket...


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Oops

Okay, my blog looks awful right now. I started playing around with it, and can't get it back the way it was. So, no, this is not on purpose...I'm not loving the birds. Not that there's anything wrong with birds ;)

12.19.2010

What Does Peace Look Like Here?

What does peace look like here? That's the big question on my mind. My pastor, Chris Hodges, preached about peace this morning. Listen to this statement: "Peace is not the absence of something (conflict), but the presence of Someone (Jesus)." If you need peace in your life, don't pursue peace, pursue Jesus, who IS peace. He is Sar Shalom, the Lord of Peace...the one in charge of peace. Whoa...that was one of those times I wanted to shout in church, because it was a light bulb moment.

I have been so stressed out and overwhelmed, just with the season of life I am in. Having a teenager and three kids age 4 and under is hard, I don't care who you are and how organized you are...it just is. So the big question is, how do I get peace in the midst of what can only be described as chaos? How do I get in touch with Jesus, bring Him into the situation, so that I can be at peace regardless of what's going on around me?

I don't know yet, but I'll get back to you when I find out ;) I am certain the answer is locked up somewhere between Isaiah 26:3 - "He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts you" - and Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

12.17.2010

Who Hair and Gingerbread Men

Hallelujah, Christmas break has officially begun. This family is so in need of some schedule-free down time. Riley had her last pre-school day on Wednesday and Caeley had her last day of school today. The 7th grade ends the first semester of school with a celebration and they do something called Who Hair (like as in the Whos in Whoville) which is best described with a photo--



Too fun! Then we decorated gingerbread men...always a good thing. We all enjoyed eating them - for the most part. Caeley ate her whole cookie, Corban picked off the M&Ms and ate one leg and Riley freaked out because icing got on her fingers. She's still working on hers. Mine is half gone and will be finished off before the night is out, I'm sure.




I love this time of year and am so thankful for a break, because, honestly, I'm done - stick a fork in me. I'm ready to refresh, spend some time with the family and restructure and reevaluate during the January fast. I need to hear from God about what my next few months should look like and how I can streamline my routine. I'm way out of whack somewhere.

But for now...it's time to chill...TYJ!

12.13.2010

Restoration

I am processing through something I heard this weekend at the LIFE retreat. Tricia Gunn referred to the passage in Luke 7 (it's in other places, too), where the "sinful woman" anoints Jesus. She breaks open a very expensive - like a years' wages expensive - jar of perfume and washes His feet with it. What Tricia said about this has stuck in my mind - she said "the money she earned to buy this perfume, she earned lying on her back." And then she basically said that every time she gave herself to a man she gave away a piece of herself, but when she poured out what she had on Jesus, she was restored. He knew what she was and He knew how she got that perfume, but He did not turn her away or turn from her. In fact, He holds her up as an example and says that everywhere the gospel is preached, her story would also be told.

I have found it to be true that the very things I have done in my past that have caused me shame are also the things that, when brought to light and brought before the throne of God, have given me a greater sense of love and acceptance. As long as we try to hide ourselves from God and cover our shame, it is as though we have made camp in a garbage dump. We sit huddled with the mess we've found ourselves in. The only way to be free of something is to give it to someone else. It's like the clutter I am constantly battling to be rid of - I can hang onto it, or I can give it to Goodwill. Even better I can give it to the garbage collectors. But a decision has to be made...hello, it's GARBAGE!

And the same goes for the junk in our soul (mind and emotions). If we want to be rid of guilt and shame or anger or whatever garbage we live with every day, we have to give it to someone else...and that someone isn't your spouse or kids because they can't handle your junk, either. God the Father is the one who stands ready, and really He has already taken it. Once you have chosen to belong to Him - and it is a choice and anyone can make that choice - the only power the past has over you is the power you give it.

Several months ago God showed me that I had been hiding from Him. Even though I knew in my mind that I was forgiven, I still felt a "yuck" that I couldn't shake and so I tried to hide, as though one could hide from Him. It not only blocked that relationship, but it was blocking other relationships - with Dave, with friends, etc. And that was the power my past had over me. I gave it the power to keep me in shame, until, in a moment of time, God put His finger on it and said, "That's not who you are. I have given you a new name." I had to bring it to Him, be honest about what I had done, about who I had been, and let Him speak the truth to me. It was life-changing. You can do that, too...and you don't have to sit in the dumpster as long as I did.

The cool thing is that what I feared - being exposed - was exactly what I needed to be free. And it is what He has used to make me a better servant to people. It drives me to love others. It moves me with compassion. Last night I saw "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." Without too much background, because this post is long enough already, a boy named Eustace (how horrible for him) had been turned into a dragon. It happened because he gave in to a temptation, even though he had been warned that temptation was coming...he was weak and so he gave in. There was nothing he could do on his own to change.

In that disappointing state, feeling stuck and feeling sorrow for where he ended up, his destiny to do extraordinary things had not changed. In fact it was exactly because of what he had done, and because he was a dragon that could fly, that he was able to be in a position to be the hero in the story and be used to put all things right. Did that mean what he did was okay? No. Why, then? Because he came to a place of repentance (he turned away from sin toward God). When he met Aslan face to face, suffering the consequences of his sin, he was "healed." In the movie Aslan drew in the sand with His paw and roared a giant lion roar. The scales were blown off and Eustace became a boy again. He became what he always was...the boy that was inside the dragon, but couldn't get free on his own.

My mind instantly went to the story in the gospels of the woman caught in an adulterous situation. Bottom line, Jesus drew in the sand and said he who is without sin can cast the first stone. No one hung around to condemn her, and He said, "I don't condemn you either, go and sin no more." That's what happened to Eustace. He was confronted with the savior, in his sin...he was caught red-handed, so to speak...no hiding it...and was healed and restored. And his destiny had not changed. He could still be great in the kingdom.

God can build off of your past, whatever it is, whether it's things you did or things other people did to you. You can't change the past, but He can make your foundation strong, building on those things, IF you bring it all to Him. He starts where you are, not where you "should" be. He can take garbage and make it treasure, but we have to choose that. Choose it. Please. There is nothing like being seen for who you really are and knowing that you are loved and cherished.