Saturday, December 20, 2008

Truth about Relationships and Then Some

Something that the Lord has been showing me over and over through my relationships this past year and by seeing other relationships encounter turmoil, division, or whatever else you want to call it is that we can not view those that have hurt us as our true enemy. We only have one true enemy and that is the Devil himself...well, and the flesh. Both of those things want us to believe lies about other people to gain ground over our thoughts and our "rights" that we think we have. I was reading in "My Utmost for His Highest" the other day and it was about how God uses circumstances to test our faithfulness to Him. We say God is in control of everything very easily when things are going well, but when things around us are falling apart that involve people, or something they have done, suddenly we believed it was caused by that person and then we can totally lose focus on who we should be focusing on. And then we start wanting to be in control of fixing the problem or taking matters into our own hands. Yes, people do things that are wrong or hurtful to others, but how are we to respond to that. Are we to continue to stake blame on them and be unforgiving and bitter toward that hurt, or are we to see it for what it is? Trust me, I've had my share of bitterness, unforgiveness, and sometimes hatred over people who have hurt me and it did nothing but made me miserable. The Truth is God still in control, even when we think we are. Either he allows or orchestrates things to happen for a higher purpose than what our angry, hurting flesh is willing to see. The enemy doesn't want us to see it that way though so he starts putting thoughts in our head about that person or those people that have hurt us, and even about God, therefore keeping our eyes off of of Who we need to have them on. Remember, God had good will toward us, and if God caused or allowed this to happen, then He did for our own good. It may not make sense right away, but we will always be able to look back and learn from it if we are willing. We have to fix our eyes on God who has either caused or allowed this to happen for a higher purpose. And the only way to come out of it in the right position, is to depend completely on the One who ordained this situation in the first place. When we feel we are in a battle with someone, we need to look beyond that person and into the spiritual realm, and see who are battle is really against. Remember, "our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and rulers of this dark world". If we could believe that folks, how many people would we have spared unforgiveness toward. Let's fight our battles the way God calls us to, and start rebuking the enemy and not our brothers and sisters in Christ. God is on our side and knowing that He is not just on our side individually, but on "our" side as children of God as a whole. That person may see you as their enemy too but that is just them believing the same lie you are. So that is when you need to pray for them to see things clearly as God does. Whoever it is that has hurt you, or even continues to hurt you, start going to the Throne of God on their behalf and claiming that God is for you both and Has a beautiful plan for your lives. And it also requires surrendering what we want out of that relationship and asking God to reveal what He wants. And then patiently allowing Him to accomplish it in His's tough but not impossible.
The biggest breakthrough I think Tim and I have had in our relationship recently is realizing that we are not each other's enemy. I believed too long without even realizing it that Tim was out to make my life difficult. But little did I know that he was believing the same thing about me...ha! Who was behind that? Uh..huh! The truth is we are not out to get each other and have no ill will toward each other in the grand scheme of things. We have said hurtful things to each other or even done hurtful things to each other, but really when it comes down to it, we didn't want to do that. It was an "in the moment" time of weakness that we regret. The only person that wanted to tear us apart was the enemy himself. And God was finally able to pound it into us after a difficult season that we had to go through, that He is on our side together, He is for our marriage, and as long as we believe the Truth of His Word over each other instead believing the lies that we have for so long, we will be ok. And things have been monumentally better since then. But it's a daily thing. We have to take every thought captive, EVERY thought, EVERY the obedience of Christ. Which means we ask ourselves in every situation "is this thought from God, myself, or the enemy"? If your answer is anything but from God, than you rebuke it and replace with something that God would have you think about that person, even if you have nothing to work with. Just speak a blessing over them, even if you don't feel it, just do it. There is power in that...and the results will follow in your favor.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blessings from Above

First of all, I want to say "Thank You" to my dear friend, Liz, for mentioning me for a blog award. How sweet of you to do that. It has been quite a year and I have not been as good about posting on here as I used to be. I get to where I have so much to say that I don't know where to begin or what to talk about so I just avoid it altogether sometimes.
So me not blogging doesn't mean there's nothing to say...LOL! There's just too much sometimes and I don't take the time to jot it all down. But I feel with it being the Christmas season, that there is nothing better to do than to say thanks to Jesus for all the blessings that He has given me in my lifetime. It is a thank offering to Him to celebrate His birth and His life that He has given so freely to us. And with it being a difficult year for my family financially, I have been forced to find all the things I have already been blessed with, and to be thankful and greatful for all the un-material things God has given me. And for that I am thankful, because I have felt more full this year than ever before.

Thank you Jesus for:

1. My husband- for the love and friendship that is growing between us, and for continually holding our marriage into Your hands. Thank you for making Tim a man after Your own heart and for never letting him go. Thank you for the amazing father that You have made him to be for our girls. You knew what you were doing when you joined us together 11 1/2 years ago and I know there so much more that you have planned for us. Thank you for the gift of your promises and hope for our life together...and thank you for fulfilling your promises for our life.

2. Hannah - what a beautiful, sweet, loving daughter she is and I am so excited about the things you are doing in her life right now. Thank you for giving her a heart to reach out and disciple her lost friend and for the amazing letter that she wrote us in her journal. That was a gift that will never be forgotten. Thank you for answering my prayers when I pray that my children would first and foremost learn to love you with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. And thank you for loving them more than even I can. I pray that you show us how to raise her in a way that she will have a love relationship with you that lasts her lifetime during her journey here on earth.

3. Faith - I prayed for 2 years for this little girl when we were wanting to have our 2nd child. Though the waiting was hard, she came in your perfect timing and she has become such a tender-hearted, loving, and compassionate little girl and brings so much joy to our lives. I pray for her to know that our love for her will never waver no matter how much or little she sees it, and that she will find her true identity in You and You alone. I give this child to you and ask that you would meet her every need from the inside out and help Tim and I to know how to help her cultivate a lasting love relationship with you.

4. Rebekah - What a wonderful unexpected blessing this child is, who came at a time when we thought our family was complete. But you had other plans and now I just can't imagine life without her. She brings such life and joy to our family that I can't describe. I love that she needs the quality time that I love having with her. And that she is so affectionate and embraces every happy moment we give her. She has a smile and presence that lights up a room and brings such laughter to this family that we wouldn't have without her. I pray, Lord, that you would use Rebekah's vigorous and captivating nature to shine Your light to others. That people would be drawn to her because of her love for You, and because your love flows through her to others. Inhabit her heart in a way that is real and contagious, and that she will never want to run from you all her days of her life.

5. Mom and Dad - Words just aren't enough to describe the blessings that come from having such loving, giving, caring parents. My dad has become a patriarch of our family and has shown a love for us that will never be forgotten. My mother is such a selfless, sacrificial giving person and is truly one of my best friends. And you just can't put a price on that. Thank you, Jesus, for putting me in the family that you did and that we have been able to grow in our love for each other over the years instead of grow apart like so many families do. I pray that you will continue to grow our relationship with each other and that there will be lasting blessings that come from our family for generations to come. Create a bond of peace, joy, and love for you that can not ever grow old or weary.

6. Matt and Shelly - I am so greatful for my brother and "sister". Though my relationship with Matt hasn't always been the closest, that doesn't change how much I love him and believe that he was placed in my life for a reason. I hope that our relationship can grow from here on out and that we can find common ground in ways we never knew we could. That would be such an extra special gift from above.
Thank you God for Shelly. She has been such a an awesome addition to our family over the years and I am so blessed to call her my sister I never had. And I love her desire for You in her life. She inspires me and I hope and pray that our relationship would grow and mold into something more than we could imagine. She is considered one my best friends and though we don't see each other as much as we'd like, I pray our bond does not go away and actually grows stronger because of your place in our life.

7. My friendships - I tried listing them all but I'm too scare of leaving someone out, so I'll just say that I would not be where I am today without my amazing sisters in Christ. Every one of them that has been part of my life, whether big or small, has been a huge impact on my walk with the Lord and has poured so many blessings into my life that I really am just too overwhelmed to list. I have learned this past year that I can't take any friendship that I have for granted and that God in his sovereignty and provision, very intricately places each person in my life for a reason and I hope that I can be to others what they have been to me. I hope and pray that what has been poured into my life by my Lord and Saviour through my friends and sisters in Christ, can be poured out of me to them all a hundred times over. Thank you, Jesus, for friends. What a blessing from above.

8. My family in NY- I have grown more and more greatful and blessed by all of the family I have away from home. I am so blessed by our visits with them every time we go up there and whenever they make it here. I have grown to miss them more and more over the years. I pray especially for Becky, Beth, Scot and the Waters family during this time of year as they are missing Mike. I pray that this will be a year that they can say that You were still present in their lives even in the midst of their sorrow. I pray that they can find the joy and hope that only comes from You and that they can find the hope in Your promises for their lives. Thank you for the blessing that they are to me. I love my family in NY.

9. The Christmas carols that my children are currently singing to me as I'm typing. It's the sweetest thing ever and a gift (don't worry, I stopped and watched them).

10. Giving Yourself to us - You left the heavenly realms and walked in our shoes for 33 years to bring good news to the poor, and to give your life sacrificially so that we may have a love relationship with you for eternity that we couldn't conjure up on our own. You rescued us from eternal death and gave us eternal life. You love us the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow no matter how sinful or wretched we are. Your unabashed love for us is something that no material item can match. What I want for Christmas is for every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that you are Lord over all the earth. That we realize that you are the reason we walk, breathe, and exist on this earth. I pray that our lives will reflect your glory this Christmas season and that your light will shine in a way we've never experienced before.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

May this Christmas season bring you more of Christ than ever before, my friends. For He is our ultimate Gift.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interrupted sleep

I'm a bit perplexed these days at how to get my dear 3 year old to sleep all night. I can't say how long it's been since this has started but it's been at least a month or two since she's been getting up at random times at night and climbing into our bed. And it's been happening almost every night. We have been putting her back to her bed some but not always, which is probably escalating the problem. Some attempts have gone bad due to her throwing fits about it in the middle of the night, and us fearing she'd wake up her sister in her room, or the puppy that still sleeps in our room (in her crate, not our bed). I've been praying over her a lot before bed. I prayed over her last night when she woke up again. She still was fearful and insisted on me sleeping with her or visa versa, so I resorted to putting a pallet on our floor next to our bed and she was quite content with that. Although, I do not want to make that a habit either. She asked to sleep on my floor tonight again but I didn't give in to that. There was a time a few weeks ago that I prayed very intentionally and specifically against anything that is giving her bad dreams or for wisdom and revelation into what is waking her up so much. That night, she never woke up. But has done it every night since. Tonight, I decided a new attempt at playing some soft Christian music in her room. She really was pretty excited when I brought up the idea and it made her stop asking to sleep on my floor. Phew! That was a relief. She went to sleep very well with the music playing. This will be our first night to attempt this, and I'm praying it helps her. Her room seemed way too quiet before and I just wonder if that has been contributing to her waking up. Too many noises she hears, etc. So we shall see how it goes tonight.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I picked up Beth Moore's "Praying God's Word" yesterday for the first time in ages. I opened up the book and came onto this passage that Beth Moore wrote in regards to what pride does to us. Woh! This hit me right between the eyes!

Hi. My Name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny...because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment...because you "deserve better than this".
I cheat you of knowledge...because you "already know it all".
I cheat you of healing...because you're too full of me to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness...because you refuse to admit when you're wrong.
I cheat you of vision...because you'd rather look in the mirror than out the window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship...because nobody's going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love...because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven...because you refuse to wash another's feet on earth.
I cheat you of God's glory...because I convince you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater
you like me because you think I'm always looking out for you. Untrue.
I'm looking out to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don't worry,
If you stick with me you'll never know.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Walking it Out...

Wow! It's been a whole month since I've been on here. I have been contemplating whether I should keep this blog or not, since I'm not as good about keeping up with it as I used to. But I've gotten so much encouragement from people about it and figure I'll keep it around a while longer. We are approaching the holidays and this is definitely my favorite time of year. I've thoroughly enjoyed the college football season so far too since our team is #1 right now. And I love that all the college football hype surrounds my favorite time of year. It's all one big perfect package. I've had the pleasure of going to 3 UT games this season and don't really know how I lucked out that much but it has been very fun and exciting to say the least. Although, I thought I was going to have a heart attack during the last game. The picture beside this is from that game. What a nailbiter!!! A little too close for comfort for me! But at least we came out of it with a "W"!

My girls have gotten into the groove of school quite well and are doing good in their classes so far. Although, mommy is really struggling with getting up at 6:30 in the morning lately and seems to be a bit frazzled every morning getting them ready since she's been dragging her feet getting out of bed. But we're still getting them to school on time, so that's good at least. ANd Rebekah and I have enjoyed some good one-on-one time at home while the girls are at school. She is growing so fast and I know it will be no time before all 3 of my girls will be in school. Here's a picture from our trip with all my girls to the Pumpkin farm a few weeks ago on Columbus Day. We met several friends there and had lots of fun!
Speaking of fun, our Boxer puppy, Mocha, has also been so much fun for the family. She is 3 months old and is 20 lbs already (she was 6 lbs. when we got her) and she has really made a great addition to the family. This has been a completely different experience than our other dogs we've had since we prepared ourselves before we got Mocha this time. And we're actually training her. We have her in training classes right now. She just started last week and did quite well for her first time there. We have 8 weeks to go. And she and Tim have been going on morning walks every morning which has been great for both of them. I will say that the hardest part right now is getting the girls to respond properly when the dog gets rough with them when she is playing. They of course start screaming and crying when she gets too hyper or jumpy, which makes her even more jumpy and hyper. I get onto the dog, but I get onto them too for reacting that way. So I haven't quite figured out how to stop that madness, but hopefully we'll figure it out soon. I feel I'm training the kids as much as the dog.
Now it's time for me to squeeze in some Rebekahisms that my mom shared with me when she was staying with her a few weeks ago. They are too good to not mention!
Rebekah chattering: Mommy said I was once baby Becka. But now I turned in to Rebekah.

Rebekah said: I was a baby and Faith was a baby.
Gramma said: Did you know I was once a baby too?
Rebekah said: A Gramma baby!!!

When Gramma leaned over and hugged and kissed Rebekah she said: You smell like tuna!!!
And Gramma said she had just taken a shower too. She said she must have to return that body wash. Apparently it's not vanilla scented after all.

A few days ago, I was having to go down the NAMC hospital to get some medical records for Hannah and Faith's school and couldn't find a parking spot to save my life it seemed. Well, Rebekah chimed in finally and said in a very sarcastic voice"Just find a parking spot already, mom!"
Kids will be kids!
Moving along now, I've been doing a Beth Moore study ("Breaking Free") since the beginning of September and it has been such a revealing and monumental study for me.
I wanted share a few things that God has reminded me through it. One of the things is that instead of asking God to follow me every day and help me in my walk, I need to start committing to God that I am going to follow Him however or wherever He wants me be every day. When we ask God to follow us, we're pretty much throwing out the fact that it is His will we need. We're making it about our will instead. When we take on our day, we don't always stay in God's path, and He won't follow us if we're veering off from His will. So we need to be ready to follow God in every way, and that is when we will begin to experience the Spirit-filled life that we are called to. Whether it's how we are parenting our children, loving our spouses or not, whether we are reaching out to a neighbor or friend or not, etc. Most of the time, we just try to take off in the day ourselves, and assume God is going to walk along side us wherever we go. He may be with us, but He isn't gonna walk with us into a sinful life. We do that to ourselves. He'll stand by, watch us, and wait patiently for us to run back to Him. But He really just wants for us to follow Him ever step of the way and in that, We will know His will and plan. But we have to want it and receive it for Him to reveal it to us!
Another thing that God is showing me, is that a way to be free from any strongholds in our lives, we need to learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I think that ties in to the first point I made. We won't want to follow Him if we don't love Him with every part of our being. That sounds hard to do, God. Well, that's because it is. There is no way we can do that without praying for God to give us the power to love Him in that way. But we also have to realize that the only reason we love God and others is because He first loved us. One thing I love that Beth Moore said is that God would have to stop existing if He stopped loving us. Because He is love! But if we can grasp how much He wants us to love Him back, and then ask Him to give us that ability, He will answer. Because that is us praying for something that is according to His will. Each day, I want to be praying that the Lord helps me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and that my husband and children will learn to do the same. Our fulfillment should come through Him and Him alone, and everything else is just overflow. I wish I could say I'm there, but I'm not yet. But I want to be there and I guess that's a start. What things am I trying to fulfill the empty places of my life with instead of God? And can I believe that God is enough? That has been the question that keeps coming back to me. O Lord, help my unbelief in this area and in this area with others. We need to believe that you are enough!

As we are moving into the Holiday season, I pray that I can learn to rest in His presence every day and that I can allow His Spirit to guide me into His will through the hussle and bussle of life and bring me to a place of fulfillment and contentment in Him and Him alone.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Well, I'm up at 6am on a Saturday morning trying to figure out what to do with myself since I really just rather be sleeping. Tim is off having a great hunting, fishing, and camping trip so I'm on full-blown doggy duty this morning. Mocha decided that 5:45am was her wake-up time this morning (and of course she has been sleeping later on weekdays...figures). But I think it happened because Rebekah decided to try to come into my room and climb into my bed at 5:45 this morning only to wake up Mocha. Needless to say, we have implored Rebekah not to do that anymore since any sign of a human being up and around gets Mocha thinking it's time to get up. Oh well, such is life.
Anyways, life is doing ok around here in the Waters household though. We have had our ups and downs since Tim's father passed away on Sept. 1st. And yesterday would have been Mike's 56th birthday, so it was a tough day. So Tim is walking through the process of grieving over the loss of a father as I've been trying to learn how to be a supportive wife of a grieving husband. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I've had to remind myself over and over from the beginning that what he needs from is completely different than what I would need from him. We are wired so differently as men and women are. So I have to constantly put myself into his shoes and try to figure out what he needs and that is just not easy. What has been real tough too is that I've missed my husband in certain ways. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand why I've lost a companion for a while. Yet I'm a quality time person, he is not, so when you throw in the grieving he is going through, quality time pretty much goes out the window altogether (unless I get on my knees and grovel for Not his fault at all, but it still doesn't make it easy on me. Of course, life is not about being easy is it. And life is not supposed to be about me either. I've been pretty ashamed of myself since the beginning of the month at how selfish I can still be even when my husband is going through what he is going through...oh, the joys of living in the flesh.
On that vein, God is teaching me a lot about that as I've also started a new Bible Study this fall with our women't ministry at church. I'm doing "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore and boy is it shining some light on things that I didn't know were even there! We are only in the 3rd week and I keep thinking, "Is there actually more?". This is so much already!
Last week, the study was on the obstacles that hinder our fullness in Christ. Woh!!! Was that an eye-opener. She covered on: unblief, pride, idolatry, prayerlessness, and legalism. These things are direct counterparts to a full life in Christ, which are: belief in God, God's glory, satisfaction in God alone, peace from God, and experiencing God's presence. So long in short, I discovered I need serious work on all of this!!! I'm sure we can all find some way in which those obstacles are a part of our life. You know when you think you are doing pretty good in your walk with God and WHAMMO!, God wakes you up to reality? It's like in the song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns when he says "Be careful if you think your standing, because you just might be sinking". What a powerful statement!
So now I'm going through feeling overwhelmed at what he has revealed to me this past month, and I'm still having to walk this out every moment of every day. So it's time to cling to God with all that is within me and trust that I will grow through everything that has transpired in my life, one moment at a time.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pics from our Eventful Week

1st Day of School - Tues., Aug. 26th
(Bekah had to bring a lunch box for herself too when we dropped her sisters off)
She didn't handle the drop-off very well either

Faith walking ahead of us with gusto

She was so excited about going to Kindergarten

(by the end of the week, she said school was boring....go figure)

our new Boxer puppy, Mocha
(we got her on Thursday night, Aug. 28th)

Faith capped off the week and went to the UT game with her grandparents on Saturday

This is Faith with her Big Dad

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Real Me

Ha...I made you look. JK. I'm sure some of you can identify "the real me" way better than I can.

No...really, I'm going somewhere with this though...I think. So last Thursday night, I went to see Natalie Grant in concert and though there are several songs of hers that she sang that night that I really enjoy regularly, there is one that she sang that I really hadn't listened to a lot before Thursday night. But I immediately added it to my ipod playlist afterwards because of how deeply it spoke to me then. And it just happens to be the song "The Real Me", thus the title to this post. I actually was so hoping I could put in on the top of my playlist on this blog too so it would be playing as you read this, but no such luck as it wasn't an option to add...bummer! It's really been in my head often though since Thursday night and the words have really touched me quite a bit. You can find it on UTube easily to listen to by the way.
The theme of the night during her concert that I grasped was about finding our true identity through the our personal Creator, which is of course, God (and Jesus, as Faith would say. She always says the two together).
So Natalie spoke a little about the temptation that we all have to let our standards for ourselves and our identity be dictated by what the world says we should be...yada, yada, yada. And how it is always a struggle to listen to the One voice who is calling us to listen to Him over everything else, who knows us inside and out. For He is the One who created our inner-most being and He knows us more than we or anyone else can ever know about us. And that brings real hope to me, friends.

The words to this song say it so clearly:

The Real Me
Foolish heart looks like we're here again
Same old game of plastic smile
Don't let anybody in
Hiding my heartache,
will this glass house break
How much will they take before I'm empty
Do I let it show, does anybody know?

[Chorus:]But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Oh,Cause you see the real me
Painted on, life is behind a mask
Self-inflicted circus clown
I'm tired of the song and dance
Living a charade, always on parade
What a mess I've made of my existence

But you love me even now
And still I see somehow
But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Oh,Cause you see the real me
Wonderful, beautiful is what you see

When you look at me
You're turning the tattered fabric of my life into
A perfect tapestry
I just wanna be me

But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Oh,Cause you see the real me
And you love me just as I am
Wonderful, beautiful is what you see
When you look at me

I have been through a phase over the past few years where I really felt like I lost who I was in so many ways. You may not have noticed so much or may have noticed more than I realized. I was so immersed in trying to be a good mom, good wife, keep the friends I had, among other things, yet inside I felt like a failure in so many ways and someone that couldn't find a purpose anymore besides keeping my kids fed, clothed and bathed on a daily basis, and trying to keep my husband happy enough to still love me despite my shortcomings. I know, it's sad. I've still been having ups and downs with it even now and I know some of you have dealt with that same so that's why I'm addressing this. I've considered myself a pretty open book with my friends, so don't think I have some deep, dark secret that I'm about to reveal, I guess it's just that, like all of us, I am still a work in progress on so many levels, and sometimes it just feels as if this life here on earth leaves me walking in circles and not on a straight path to somewhere.
Well, I've had to come to realize that the only way that my true identity and purpose will be revealed to me is when I am listening whole-heartedly to my Creator and allowing Him to mold me and make me into His image the way He intended to. If someone were to ask me to explain my personality, what others see in me, how I'm perceived, etc., right now, I really can't give a clear answer because I've allowed way too many thoughts come into my head that I'm sure are not from my Creator. But that's my own fault for not being with Him enough on a daily basis. And I'm ashamed to say that I have believed too many of the negative thoughts. I'm working on weeding them out but also having to embrace the areas that He really wants me to work on, whether I want to or not. It's not easy, is it?
But for today, one thing that I can say that I am sure of is that I am a daughter of the King, a new creation, and that Jesus is trying to break through the walls of unbelief so He can pour into me all that He knows that I am. And what pours in must come out. Therefore, if I want the things to come out of me that are of Him, I absolutely have to empty out the junk, and let Him fill me with His truth and His life so that my life will reflect "the real Christ" who lives inside of "the real me".

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Week Full of Surprises

Well, our family vacation brought on many twists and turns that is worth telling about. So I'll try to line it out the best I can from beginning to end.

Our timeline goes a bit like this:

Monday: proposed time of departure (by car) with the family for the beach is 9:00am. We're all excited, up at 7am getting everything together.Then the phone rings at 8:00am and it 's my mother sounding not so happy saying we are on hold for departure because of a tropical storm that is possibly heading right to the location that we are going...sigh. So we wait til 11:00am for the updated report. I get a call from mom at 11:00 and she said we are gonna give it a go and see what happens when we get there. Yipee!! Everyone is gearing up, getting the car loaded with all the stuff, only to get another phone call a few minutes later and we screech to a hault again. A deputy from the beach area returned a call from my mother and highly discouraged that we come. So, we sit and wait for a possible alternative plan to spring up. In the meantime we decided to take the kids down to Barton Springs for the day to help kill time until we knew more that evening what we were to do. So then dad was surfing around the web Monday night trying to find other places to go because they were pretty much resolving to the fact that the beach is out. So he finds this farm house online out in Bastrop, in the country, 6 bedrooms, a covered pool, hot tub, game room, plenty of space for all to sleep and things to do in case it rained half the week (which it never did). And it was available last minute! Oh, and the road trip would be cut by about 3-4 hours. Definitely a bonus! It's not the beach but somewhere we can still have some good family time together. So after corresponding with each other that night, we decided to say goodbye to the hopes of going to the beach and take a wack at this other place and made plans accordingly for the next day.

Tuesday: departure time is 10:30am. After discovering that the storm never hit our original vacation spot and accepting that we could have still gone to the beach after all but are still not going, we all leave on time to head to Bastrop and arrive there at noon.

I'll now share quote of the day is from Faith. As we were driving toward the farm house, there were lots of cows of course, and Faith said "Oh! I thought those were just decorater cows, but I saw an ear move". We still laugh about that one. That's my intuitive girl!

So when we arrived at the house, the owner was still there cleaning (which we knew she would be) as we had given them very short notice obviously, so that was fine. Well, this next part will be the surprise of the day I think. We 1st learn when we arrive quickly that this is definitely a farm with all the old shack-looking buildings around the house (obviously not shown on the web). We then find the "game room" is a dirty glorified garage. It's no wonder they didn't show this room on the web either. Then we walk into the kitchen only to find some leftover food laying around, the fridge and freezer had food in it still(eyes are getting bigger by the minute), then we find that there's many filled closets, a very used laundry room with dirty linens still laying around, floors that really are not very clean, you get the picture. Just not exactly what the web made it look like to say the least. The rooms were quite nice though and had made beds and all. So that was very appreciated. Oh and for the record, the owner did empty out her fridge for us before she left. It just needed cleaning afterwards. So after a final analysis, we finally realize that the people who own this house actually live here!! It turns out it's a farm house that a couple lives in, but goes and stays in an RV in their shed next door while some strangers come and take over their home....can I say strange!? It took me and the others some time to get used to the idea. But there we were, so we adjusted over time. We just kind of all rolled with it, got settled, found a groove for the week, and became used to living in someone else's home while they lived in their RV...still wierd. I felt pretty bad that first day for my mom and dad, since they were the ones who paid for all of this. They seemed a bit perplexed as well. But we spruced up some things throughout the week before it was all said and done and made the best of it. The guys then took the kids swimming that afternoon while us ladies went and did all the grocery shopping for our meals for the week. The pool was definitely a hit...and the food got eaten quite well. :)

Wednesday: We went to check out Lake Bastrop this day. It was actually quite beautiful to look at. It just felt like we were swimming in bath water. The kids didn't seem to mind, but I couldn't stay in that very long. The water was feeling warmer than the outside air. We also had a picnic lunch out there. We did let the kids attempt to fish too and they loved that. Serah caught a dirty sock, but that's the best anyone could seem to do. We then went back to the house later and jumped in the nice cold pool. It felt so much nicer than the lake, needless to say.

So later that day, we had dinner and were just visiting around the table, when suddenly the ceiling fan above us lost a blade as it was on and it fell on Tim. It was like a "Money Pit" movie moment. We were waiting for the ceiling to just cave A bathroom cabinet door fell off the day before as well. And we couldn't get the top range to work where the double ovens were. But then later in the week it started working. Hmmm....what else will we discover in this house? Time would tell.
To cap off the day, we got the kids settled in bed and the enjoyed some fun game-playing amongst the adults. That will go down as my favorite times of the trip. We did it every night after the kids went down. Lots of great laughter and just plain fun

Thursday: We were awaiting the arrival of Liz that day. This was definitely a big blessing from changing our plans. She wouldn't have been able to come had we been 5 hours away. So we went on our normal routine that morning. The guys offer to take the kids swimming at the pool while us ladies caught up on "So You Think You Can Dance" (you know...priorities). We had tivoed it the night before on the big TV there. So as we were enjoying the show, suddenly I hear a door open and a crying child. It turns out it was Tim and Hannah. And he was holding her arm up as her hand was falling limp. She had fallen off the diving board at the pool and landed on her hand on the concrete. On the bright side, at least it wasn't her head. And we pretty much knew by the looks of her hand that her wrist was broken. So off to the hospital Tim, Hannah, and I went. After we left the ER, we took Hannah for some ice cream and to buy a game or two so she wouldn't be too bored the next few days while the others were swimming. Her friend Azalea apparently was so worried the whole time we were gone as she paced around waiting for our return to the farm house. Azalea was so cute the next few days being Hannah's little hand-maiden as she helped her to do things you can't do with just one hand. Hannah was a trooper and really hasn't complained much about her wrist. She's a tough kid. We capped off the day once again with some good ol' game-playin' that night. This time we had Liz with us which made things even more fun.

Friday: no more surprises this day, thankfully! Well, except for the miserable cold my dad started coming down with. Poor guy! But the guys graciously let us ladies, along with Hannah and Azalea, go do some window shopping but without the little kiddos, at the town square in Smithville. We enjoyed lunch together too at a local soup/sandwich place that once was an old filling station years ago. We then came back and did some swimming with the family again, played some ping pong at the pool, had dinner later that evening, and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics as a big family. The kids even watched most of it until most of them fell asleep in our laps. It was a very special time.

Saturday: time to head home! We were all scurrying around that morning getting everything together, loaded up the cars, and said our goodbyes by about 11:00, and made our quick drive back home. That quick trip was fantastic by the way. I had the whole rest of the day to unpack and unwind. Big bonus for sure!

To mom and dad: Thank you so much for all you do to keep the tradition of our family vacations going every year. We could never do it without you. And it's not about where we go, but who we're with. This year was a bit different than others and some ways difficult at the beginning, but when it's all said and done, we still were able to accomplish what we wanted, and that's to just be together, make great memories and have more stories to tell, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. This will go down as another very memorable, fun-filled time with my incredible family and friends. Love you all so much!

Ed, Liz Timothy, and Silas: I'm so glad that y'all were able to squeeze in one more vacation with us. We are so glad that y'all were included in this memorable week. We hope y'all are able to take some memories from it with you to Atlanta. We love you guys!

Vacation pics...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Just Catching Up...

I know I haven't been on here much lately. I have so many other things going on and really have been having another case of blogger's block. Things have been good around here. To start off, I'm seeing much fruit already from my nutrition changes. There have been many "testing" times to help me see how I've handled certain situations now vs. how I used to handle the same type of situations before. And I have to attest, things are sooo much better. I am much more even keel. And I'm actually starting to have fun finding new recipes and things that I can eat as well. I'm even gradually involving my children in it which is a big step considering I've only been at this for about 6 weeks. It's all a process, though, and I just gotta keep at it.

I happily hosted a 80's-themed Diva Night Friday night for a bunch of ladies at church. For those who don't know what Diva Night is, it is basically a ladies' social that we formed about 3 years ago with our ABF at church, and it comes with a trace of craziness and being silly:). If it were about 3 months ago, the thought of hosting anything like that would have sent me over the edge. My anxiety was on full force then and anything added to my everyday life was just too much for me to handly. I look back to this past week though and think about how incredibly calm

I was in the preparations and how I was able to enjoy the anticipation of having a blast with my fellow sisters. And it wasn't something I consciously had to do. I'm praising God for showing me a path to healing and now I just have to keep down the narrow path.So back to Diva Night last Friday, we all dressed up in 80's clothes (well, most of us), had a best-dressed contest (by which Shelly won), had a bunch of 80's music playing all night, and we had a crazy Scavenger Hunt doing the kinds of things most high-schoolers would do. Each group videoed themselves doing their scavenger hunt stunts and then we all came back and watched all of the vidoes. Talk about peeing in your pants laughing! And my team won, by the way ;).

We also celebrated all the fun times we've had with our dear friend, Liz (pictured below), who will be moving out of state in just a month from now. She has always been our party animal at Diva Night and it was great to dedicate this past Friday night to her as we knew it would be our last with her before she moved. We had a time of prayer over her and had the ladies write notes of encouragement to her to take with her and her family on their new journey, as well as just plain having a blast laughing with her one last time.
Liz, if you are reading this, you probably have figured out by now how incredibly loved you are and that we are gonna miss you terribly. But I am excited to hear about all that the Lord is going to do in yours and your family's life as y'all walk it out on faith. I hope you can start your own Diva Night up in Atlanta with whoever ends up being your fellow sisters up there.

This is Shannon and Liz, the Diva Sisters!

So now that brings us to tomorrow as we leave for our annual family trip. We are going to Surfside beach this year with my mom and dad, Matt and Shelly and kids, and Ed Lockwood (Liz's husband) and Timmy (their son). Liz can't make it because she has to stay and help get fall registration going on campus where she works.

Anyways, I am just trying catch up a little before I am gone for 5 days. I will probably be back with pictures and an update from our trip. Pray for safety for us and that we will have a relatively stress-free week. There will be 14 people total including kids in our beach house for a week and it can get hectic sometimes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Prayer - Funny, Yet So True

I read this in a book I read recently. It comes into my head some mornings. It makes me chuckle yet it's so true at the same time:

"Lord, I haven't done anything wrong today. I have not made any mistakes, spoken any wrong words, or thought any bad thoughts. I've done everything right so far. But I'm really going to be depending on you now, Lord, because I'm about to get out of bed."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spiritual Food

As I was journaling last night for the first time in a while, I was reflecting on the past month and the ups and downs of trying to stay on this new path of eating habits. What a narrow path it has felt like, oh my! It was pretty easy the 1st week because at the time, I was desperate and willing to do anything to start feeling better and being functional again. I will say at this moment that there has been some improvement in my mood-swings, energy level, etc. Yet I have had more days than I had hoped by this point where I have pretty much bombed on eating what I am supposed to, or not eating what I'm not supposed to, however you want to look at it. I'm still learning how to say no to some things, and ultimately yes to the right things. And there have been days where I don't feel so great physically, emotionally still and those days are when I wonder if this whole nutrition stuff is really working. And I've just wanted to quit some days.

And as I was getting my thoughts on paper last night, it really hit me how incredibly similar walking out our faith in Christ is so similar. When we feel good spiritually, it's easier to want to walk the straight and narrow, to do what God asks us to do, to speak so highly of how wonderful Jesus is, to read the Bible, feed on His word, etc. And in those times, the not-so-healthy things in life aren't as tempting. But when our world gets rocked, our faith gets put to the test, we aren't feeling very good spiritually, know we've messed up yet again in a certain sin area, etc., is when our flesh rares it's ugly head and wants to be fed. It wants to feel good at that moment. So thus the tempation of bad choices begins.
That's pretty much what happens when we are pursuing a healthy lifestyle physically. When we aren't seeing results right away, we want to put everything back on the shelf and say, this isn't working. I'm gonna do or eat whatever I want!
Well, the good news is that if we have received Christ as our personal Saviour, we don't have to "do" anything to make our salvation work. It's already been accomplished. But are we willing to believe that every word we read in the Bible, every piece of spiritual food we put into our spirit, is really making our lives here on earth more effective, more useful for His Kindgom, even if we don't see it coming into fruition right away? Our God wants us to press on, hang on, don't give up, and trust that when He says His word is Truth, and "is God-breadthed, good for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thorougly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16), he means it.
Honestly, lately, reading the Bible has been like eating shredded wheat without the milk for me. I've been devouring my prayer books and have been reading other things that apply directly to my current needs, but the Bible has been kind of dry for me. But I really do want the Word to come alive to me again. But what will it take? I just have to trust that even if I don't feel it's doing anything anything today or any day, that really, anything that is God-breathed is still alive and active. And usually when it becomes dry to me, it's because I'm making it about what's in it for me, not what's in it for the glory of God.
It's so cool how God is using my current situation in changing eating habits to speak so directly to my relationship with Him as well, and help me realize how vital His words to me are through the Bible itself.
This song has spoken to me lately. It's a new one by Third Day that I'm sure many of you know by now. I'm having to constantly be reminded of God's love for me. And this song says it all:

Call My Name

It's been so long
since You felt like you were loved
So what went wrong
But do you know
There's a place where you belong
Here in My Arms

When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there

The pain inside Has erased your hope for love
Soon you will find That I'll give you all
That your heart could ever want
And so much more

When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there

You just call My name
You just call My name

Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive
Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive

You just call My name
You just call My name
You just call My name

The love I have for you is so alive
The love I have for you is so alive

You just call My name
You just call My name
You just call My name

I know I'm surrounded by a husband who loves me so much, friends that surround me with love and support and all that we as people need from each other. Yet when the enemy gets me to a place where I feel no one else understands me and I'm a hopeless case, I can call out to My Saviour, knowing that He understands me inside and out, and still loves me, and sees all the hope that I can't see. And that hope that Jesus brings, is what keeps me going.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July---Part 2

Our evening 4th of July picnic at San Gabriel Park in Georgetown with our friends from Church!
Waiting for fireworks to start!

playing a serious card game!!!

Look at those card sharks :)

4th of July

Our Morning started with our Neighborhood 4th of July Parade and Celebration

The girls worked hard decorating their bikes to be patriotic for the parade

Hannah and her close friend, Azalea

Waiting to take off for the bike parade

Yummmm! Nothing like a good popcicle after a parade!

Faith's brave attempt to eat an ice cream bar in the heat after the parade!

But it was worth every bite!

Choo-choo!!! One of the rounds they took on the little train ride!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Update on Life...

Phew!! I survived last week as we had VBS every night up at the church. It was fun and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. I helped in the snack room as we put together all kind of fun concoctions of snacks that went with the tropical island theme of VBS. It was lots of fun, yet like everyone else I'm sure, I was pretty wasted by the end the week.
We then took the girls Saturday night to see the Zilker Musical "Beauty and the Beast" with our friends, the Steuerwalds. It was a bit hot til the sun went down, but the girls say they enjoyed the musical, so I'm glad we went.
A new thing that I began embarking on last week is a change in my eating habits. And no, this isn't a weight issue. Many of you know I've never had a problem with weight. My reason is, because of all of the emotional instability I've had over the past year or so that has now led to me just not feeling well physically, has affected my marriage and my kids I'm sure, I decided to go see a Naturopath Physician this past Monday. Her name is Melissa Russ. She is a strong Christian woman that my dear friend, Angie, recommended to me. Angie has been seeing Melissa for several months now for the same issues I've had and has become great friends with her. Also Angie was gracious to come with me to my first visit and we all 3 sat there and had a great visit. What was supposed to be an hour and a half visit with Melissa and Angie became a 3 1/2 hour visit. We talked about everything you can imagine in regards to our health, our lives, our walks with God, you name it. So I knew that God had taken me to the right place.
I left there with a mound of information about what I needed to be changing as far as my diet as well as my time management to help reduce my stress level. But she's starting me with somefairly easy steps to start off with as far as my eating goes.
We're focusing on getting my digestive system healthy again which will through time help my emotional and physical state to where I'm not such a head case for my family to be with during those times of the month if you know what I mean. A lot of our emotions are actually stored in our gut and digestive system, and when our digestive system isn't healthy, it affects our mental, emotional and physical state. For me, it's gotten pretty bad to the point where my husband would hardly talk to me the last few weeks because he didn't know how to deal with me. So it's just not a good thing when anyone is that difficult to deal with.
So I'm on a high protein, high green veggie, no gluten, no dairy diet and I've got some nutritional supplements to take as well. And to top it off, I'm supposed to drink 75 oz. of water a day. Yikes!! Considering I was good to drink a bottle of water a day, that's quite a task for me. No more sodas, only a little bit of juice, and obviously TONS of water is what the doctor ordered :). Not to mention I'm supposed to exercise a little every day as well, something else I wasn't doing before.
But my 1st week has gone very well so far. I've had to fudge a little because of VBS last week, but all in all, my focus is in the right place. And I'm allowed to enjoy a normal meal on occasion and even a soda if I've had all the waters I'm supposed to have, which is kind of nice to know. I love the motto I heard recently: "Eat to live, don't live to eat". So that's what I'm trying to stick with. I really want to feel better and be the best mom and wife I can to my family. It will take sacrifice and diligence, but I can do it with God's help and the accountability I have with Melissa and Angie. Just knowing I'm going back to see Melissa in a month is enough to keep me going in the right direction. I'm also seeing a chiropractor very regularly as just another way of getting healthy. Apparently I have a lot of muscle tension and spasms that were found on my exam, plus my lower back is in pain a lot. So hopefully our good pal, D.R. Steuerwald, will be able to help out with that. I had never been to a chiropractor before a few weeks ago, and it's been pretty cool so far.
Just pray that God will continue to direct my steps as I'm determined to get healthy and take care of my body the way I should.
So there's my life update for now. Until next time...God bless!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Great Devotional for Today

"Whitewashed Walls"

"Then Paul said to him, 'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck."
Acts 23:3 (NIV)

Have you ever painted over a dirty wall, only to have more handprints and marks appear just days later? I noticed this recently after we had some interior painting done in our home. The painters had painted the wall that leads down our stairs--the same wall that our kids drag their hands across as they race up and down the stairs. This wall had grown dingy gray from years of dirty hands, stray pencil marks, and the occasional crayon scribble. After the wall was painted, I admired how clean and pristine it looked. Ahhh, I thought, at last.

About a week later, I discovered marks on my beautiful wall. While the wall had been painted over, the habits had not changed. The children were still racing up and down the stairs, dragging their dirty hands behind them. Making what was once white and clean, gray and dirty all over again. As I looked at that wall, the Lord showed me that I am like that wall if I am not careful. I can cover what's there--wear the cool Christian tee shirt, carry my Bible, smile like everything's great and talk a good game about my walk with the Lord, but deep inside the ugly old habits are still there, waiting to be revealed the moment life gets messy. If I am not careful, I can become a modern-day Pharisee who focuses on the whitewash covering and ignores the dirty stuff underneath.

In Matthew 23:27, Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs because they appeared perfect on the outside, but inside were full of deceit, lies and hypocrisy. In Biblical times, tombs were whitewashed to make them attractive and visible, but that didn't change the death and decay they held inside. Jesus compared the religious Pharisees to these tombs. He knew the danger that lurked inside an overly religious person who spends more time perfecting how they appear than working on the condition of their hearts.

For those of us who are in the church and living committed Christian lives, I think it is easy to slip into the mindset of the Pharisees. The more comfortable we get in our Christianity, the more tempting it is to think certain ways and allow that thinking to supersede grace, mercy and compassion. So, how can we stop that from happening? We can stay in the Word, concentrating on what Jesus taught as He walked on this earth and connecting with who He ministered to--the broken, the less-thans, the lost and lonely. We can focus on being thankful and rejoicing in Him. We can pray often, asking God to reveal any patterns of behavior that are more surface-oriented than heart-oriented. We can surround ourselves with friends who are real and transparent and allow us to be as well.

Most of all, we can admit that, while we are saved, we are still sinners who struggle with bad habits and bad decisions just like everybody else. In a world that is mostly based on appearances, it is easy to become concerned with how we appear to others. We have to daily depend on Jesus to bring us freedom from striving and peel the whitewash away.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Prayer and Scripture

It's another serious one so bear with me...

So I picked up this little booklet the other night at HEB that is from one of my favorite Christian authors, Stormie Omartian. I know most of you have at least one of her books. I have had "The Power of a Praying Wife" for years now and came across another book of hers about a year ago, "The Prayer that Changes Everything" (The Hidden Power of Praising God) but actually never ended up reading all of it, although I loved what I did read (I'm just terrible about finishing books). It's a handicap of mine really.
Well, she has a prayer booklet based on the second book I mentioned that includes all the prayers she wrote in her initial book after each chapter, which is perfect for me, because I really just usually use prayers the most anyways in her books when I need them for my prayer life. I looked in it for a few minutes while shopping at HEB and just knew it was for me. And it turns out this book ended up touching so directly on some of the things that I've been dealing with this week.

Probably one of my biggest struggles in my spiritual life are negative thoughts, confusion and anxiety which really go hand in hand with each other. I haven't struggled with it though for a few months now, but it all came on full force this week again. When circumstances come and I don't don't know what the outcome will be, those things that I just listed just come on full force. Not to mention, it puts a strain on my marriage as well, because understandably, my sweet husband just doesn't know what to do with me. Then I get angry that he's not being there for me, which draws a wedge in which brings a whole other struggle. And I believe we were under some attack this week after such a blissful time last weekend on our 11 yr. anniversary. Don't worry, we're ok now :). And I give God all the glory for that. Well, and Tim and I are growing so much and are able to overcome these hurdles better.
For me, it's a battle of the mind and the enemy knows that I can get struck down pretty easily when I'm not prepared for my next time of testing, as we all can. And I felt pretty struck down this week. There's a section of this booklet that is titled "When I am Troubled By Negative Thoughts and Emotions" that prays through some powerful scripture but praises God in the midst the prayer over this very specific struggle. It hit the nail on what I needed to pray to my God. It's also just so important that we can still praise God in the midst of a stormy time. It was my lifesource to pray through these scriptures this week and I know the Lord carried me through. I love that when I am weak, He is strong, that his power rests upon me at my most vulnerable times. It may not have felt like it in the midst, but looking back, I know He was with me. And probably to anyone reading this, my issues (if I got specific) would probably seem minute compared to how they felt in the midst. Emotions can make anything feel huge though and I know it was just a time of testing for me. I know that if anything, it got me talking to God ALOT...and that's always a good thing.

So here are some of the prayers that the Lord gave me to pray this week through the little booklet and they became vital to me:

Lord I praise you that you have given me a sound mind.
Thank you that you are not the author of confusion, but of peace. (1 Cor. 14:33)
Thank you that I have the mind of Christ. (2 Cor. 2:16)
Thank you that you enable me to cast down every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of You and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) (even when I don't feel it at the time).
Help me to be renewed in my mind and put on the new person You created me to be in rghteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22-24)

Here's some more powerful scripture that God had been speaking over me to meditate on day and night that I have to share:

"Be still and know that I am God". Psalm 46:10

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Eph. 6:13-17

" But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."1 Cor. 4:7-9

I pray that these truths and scripture will bless anyone reading this. I know it's all about progress and boy am I a work in progress. But there's a truth that the old has gone and the new has already come, and there is nothing I have to "do" to attain it. I just need to walk in the truth and receive everything that I am through Christ.

As of now, I am at peace that only God has given, and the storm has passed.

And after all that this week brought, the Lord in His grace has actually brought me into a closer relationship to my kids once again thru some areas that only He could have empowered me to work on with them, and we've enjoyed our summer so much already because of it. I'll have to share later our new little chore schedule we've begun and show some more pics of my 3 joys of my life once I get more taken. I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer will bring before my Faith starts school in the fall and Hannah returns...(sniff, sniff). Oh the time flies.

Until next blessed!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

11 Years and Counting...

Tim and I celebrated 11 years of marriage yesterday. We had a wonderful time on our evening out together last night and I am looking forward to all the future memories that we are going to make together.
I also want to say how overwhelmingly blessed I am by my husband. He is becoming my best friend, he is the most wonderful daddy to our girls, and most importantly He loves the Lord and is following Christ in more ways than He probably realizes. God has brought us through some tough times over the past few years, and we are at a place today that I never dreamed we would be. I love Tim more today than I did the day I married Him, and am excited to know that because we are both following our Lord and Savior together, our love will grow even more with each other than it already has. It's hard to imagine that being possible, but because His love has no bounds, our love for each other has no bounds. Thank you, God, for Tim and all that he is to me and will be in the years to come.

Happy Anniversary again, sweetheart!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Our Week with Tim's Mom

Most of you looking on here know that we had Tim's mom, Candy, down this week from upstate NY. We had an awesome week. She left this morning to head back home,
but has left some great memories for us.
So here's some snippits of what we did while she was here.

Tim and his mom, Candy, at the RR Express game on Monday night

Candy is a big NY Yankees fan so she wanted a pic of Hannah wearing this hat.

Candy was showing the girls some pics of their family up in NY

On Tuesday, Tim, Hannah and I took Candy to New Braunfels to go tubing on the Comal River. Here we are floatin' away!We also took her to the historical town of Gruene, TXwhich is one of Tim and I's favorite places to go. We did some shopping and ate dinner at the Gruene River Grill which is a fantastic place to eat. Above is taken in Gruene in front of an old chuckwagon we walked by.

We also went to the historical Gruene Hall, pictured below, which is the oldest dance hall in Texas. It's also the place where George Straight and many other country artists started their careers. This was a big highlight of our trip actually. Candy loved the Texas-style feel in there. It's not something you would obviously ever find in NY. We went in and listened to a band "Two Tons of Steel" play for a while, which were very good by the way. I ended up enjoying their music so much that I came home and put some of their songs on my ipod. The best part though was watching all the two-steppers and jitterbuggers on the dance floor. It was amazing!! I tried to get Hannah out there with me, but had no luck. There were lots of kids dancing with their mommies and daddies along with all the couples. I've already told Tim I'm gonna teach him how to two-step soon so we can go back sometime and join the dancers :).


We then took Candy to Krause Springs on Wednesday to swim for the afternoon. Candy took this picture of Tim and I under the waterfall. Candy and Bekah swimming together We closed out our week yesterday by just veggin' at home, watching movies, and recooperating from the busy week. Like I said, great week, great memories! Thanks for coming down, Candy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Meaning of JOY

I had a lesson on joy today, and I just wanted to share this one example out of the many times that my joy gets stolen, but how that can change on a dime if I take it to God, and receive from Him all the joy I desire, and let Him remind me of where my joy really comes from.

Today I found myself coming home, even after another great morning at church and a great sermon, still just kind of discontent, not very joyful, and at one point felt I wanted to kind of bite someone's head off, but didn't know why. Don't worry, I didn't bite anyone's head off. Actually, my family never had a clue this was going on in my mind. Luckily, I had a talk to God while preparing lunch so I could nip this fleshy-ness in the bud. I didn't want my long Sunday afternoon with my family to be ruined. And of course, it's always right after a good sermon that you get a little tested, isn't it?
Anyways, I really wanted to go and have a quiet talk with God during the time that I was making lunch, but that wasn't possible, so He graciously spoke to me right there where I was at, making lunch. I love that about Him. I was telling Him that I didn't feel very joyful, I didn't want to make all these sandwiches, try to entertain my kids all day, or pick up the mess that was left from rushing out the door for church that morning. I know, whine, whine, whine. And He said "Who are you wanting to please right now?". I easily said " yeah...that's my problem". He said, "Yep". The flesh always wants to get fed first, cared for first, doesn't it, and it is NEVER satisfied. Nor does it want to serve others. There have been other signs of my flesh being strong this week as well. And then God said, "Remember, the only pure joy and contentment you are going to find is through Me. So for the thousandth time, abide in Me, feed the Spirit, and rebuke the flesh in the name of Jesus". And then I was reminded of JOY being an acronym for what God was telling me. This has done wonders for me in that past.

J - Jesus first
O- Others second
Y- yourself last

So I decided to start taking my thoughts captive to Jesus, praying over every thought that was stealing my joy for a few minutes and claiming the mind of Christ...and suddenly, contentment, rest, and joy took over and I truthfully have been able to be completely be joyful the rest of my day just with the joy that only my Jesus can bring. Humility, and willingness to deny your flesh, is also what this all boils down to. I pray that this daily task of of denying the flesh and feeding the Spirit will begin to be a better habit of mine. For the Word says I am a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come. Therefore I should be acting like one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our Garden - a Work in Progress

We spent the day today as a family gardening some more. We tackled some more of a flowerbed that we had redone about a month ago. Then we finally were able to redo the bed directly in front of our house that needed it soooo badly. The big flowerpot with the cascading Petunias and the Caladiums around it are all new. It is a vast improvement. Wish I had thought to do the before and after thing so you could see the big change. We are quite thrilled with the outcome of our hard work today though. And no, I really don't like to garden, but it really needed to be done, and now I'm glad we did it.
Bekah and Faith hard at work
Above and below: Tim and I's gardening project 99% finished

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our Camping Trip

We spent this past weekend camping at Krause Springs in Spicewood, TX with our friends, the Steuerwalds. This was my 1st camping trip ever with kids in tow. I think it's honestly been at least 10 years since I've camped overnight somewhere and I'm happy to say that it will go down as one of the best camping experiences I've ever had. The fellowship was wonderful. The kids were all quite delightful, and even though Tim and I and 5 kids (Hannah, Faith, Rebekah, and niece and nephew Ethan, and Serah) all shared a 10-person tent, we all had 2 full nights sleep. Can we say miracle?

Probably the only complaint was the interesting group of Unitarians in the campsite next to us that decided to play their banjos, fiddles, and yodle and sing folk songs quite loudly for hours each night including "What Can You Do with a Drunken Sailor", followed by "Amazing Grace". Talk about diversity. But we have since learned, that's what they are about: diversity. It was quite an experience, but I figure now it gives us a story to tell. We also saw some oh so bold racoons lurking around the camp each night. One even walked right up to our table as we were sitting just a few feet away around the campfire. Then we got to hear some racoons squabble with each other that sounded like the tasmanian devil was just down the hill from us. And the funny thing is, just minutes before that, one of us was asking what a racoon sounded like. And boy did they answer us.

Here's the beautiful spring-fed swimming hole that the kids swam in near our campground

Hannah getting ready to take her 1st jump in the frigid water. And yes, they swam in it anyways. Honestly, I lasted about 5 minutes.

As you see, the trees around there were huge and just breathtaking. This one was right on our campsite. The kids really enjoyed playing in it.

Between our family and the Steuerwald family, we had a total of 7 kiddos. Here's 5 of them inside the BIG hollow Cypress tree at our campsite.

The kiddos eating breakfast around the campfire

Our camp cook, Chef Steuerwald. We were quite spoiled by the amazing food that he cooked for us. Thank you, D.R.!