Monday, December 17, 2007

"Tis the Season to be busy -Fa la la la la la la la la

I know this is supposed to read "Tis the Season to be jolly" but busy just seemed to fit better today. I've been all over Dacula, Lawrenceville and Buford today trying to finish last minute errands and I made three trips to Bethlehem to Spencer's school because I took him this morning with out giving him his seizure meds so I had to go back and give them to him. I'm trying really hard not to miss spreading Christmas cheer to everyone around, but it is difficult when the people in front of you in the return line at Target are cursing out the employees there - and they are cursing back. It's even worse when your four year old is standing there asking "Why is she so mad mommy?" Yes I was in the return line at Target today, but I went because I know the line will be even longer (and meaner) after Christmas.

This past weekend was busy too, but it was fun. On Friday we went to Lake Lanier to see the lights and have fun at the carnival and Santa Shop. We roasted marshmellows, ate cotton candy, saw Santa Claus, rode the ponies and other rides, bought gorgeous ornaments, watched a Christmas play and spent the night at the hotel there to eat breakfast with Santa the next morning. The kids had a great time. They especially loved the lights.

We also attended two birthday parties on Saturday too, one at Chuck E Cheese and the other at Oasis Bowling. Needless to say, I was wiped out by Saturday night. Sunday we did my favorite thing to do during Christmas. We all cuddled on the couch and watched It's a Wonderful Life. Spencer loved it. I'm going to make him watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington after Christmas. I love Jimmy Stewart.

We still have school parties left to attend, baking to do, presents to wrap, cards to send and a few more gifts to shop for, but it is nearly finished. I'm hoping for some much needed rest and relaxation after Christmas. We don't return to school until Jan. 7 so we plan to spend some time at home resting after such a busy year.

Maybe I'll even get to post a few more times before the end of the year... but I'm not promising anything.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Luke 3:11 Part 2

Ok, so here is the rest.

As I was reflecting on these memories from years past, I recalled how excited everyone was to hear the stories Greg would tell when he returned from his trips. We were always amazed at how God worked out the details. Then it occured to me that we should be telling stories like this to each other all year long, not just at Christmas. God is always working out the details. We should have stories to tell, because we should be blessing others all year long. God is ready and willing to lead us to the right person to bless everyday in all of our encounters. I know that often I am just too busy to take time to listen to Him.
In fact, he commands us to bless others in our lifestyle. Having recently been baptized (That's a story for another post) these particular verses stood out to me.

Luke 3:7-11 says;
"John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

The commentary on these verses on Bible Gateway says that true repentance is a matter of the heart and results in change in everyday behavior. It also says that John makes it clear that he is not interested in their being baptized merely to participate in a sacred rite, but that the act represents and should point to a new way of responding to God. John preaches that the one who pleases God seeks to serve others.

I would add - not to just serve others at one particular time of year, but everyday.
This is a challenge that I am giving to myself. I certainly have more that one coat and more than enough food (there is much evidence of that in my weight LOL). I want to spend the upcoming year seeking God's direction for people to bless that will allow me to share "Christmas Blessing" stories all year long.

One of the ways I am going to start is by helping with a project a family friend is working on in a school in Kentucky. You may recall some of the children from that school being featured on American Idol this past year on the "Idol Gives Back" show. Needless to say, they have not received all of the help they were promised. When I spoke to the lady working on missions projects for this area this past week, she mentioned that when they visited this area of Kentucky this past November, some of the children there were excited to get a toothbrush because they did not have one.

Yes, there are many less fortunate out there who need someone to listen to God's prompting to share from your abundance. My challenge to myself and anyone reading is to set a goal to bless someone else all year long. This is how the spirit of Christmas can be experienced everyday of the year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Luke 3:11 - Part 1

Starting in 1997 and continuing until a few years ago (when we moved), every Christmas my husband Greg would get together with a group of men in Greenville and participate in what they called the Christmas Blessing. These men would come together and donate money to be given to people they felt God was leading them to. Some years they collected a pretty substantial amount of money. They always prayed over how much each of them were to personally donate, and then they prayed about where to go to disperse the money.

Greg always came home with the most amazing stories of what God had done on their trips. They always seemed to be led in the just the right direction - to just the right person. They often ended up in a Waffle House restaurant where they would heavily tip a single mom waitress trying to raise several children by herself; and then secretly watch through the window as she found the money. They watched many happy dances through the Waffle House window.

They also often visited the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville and there was never a shortage of needy families there. They always prayed with the person and shared Christ with them too. They were planting seeds of hope.

One year, one of the men had been called to jury duty. In a conversation with the bailiff, he explained what the Christmas Blessing was, and asked did he know of anyone they could bless. The man excitedly answered yes and provided the name and address of a woman who was disabled and whose husband had just recently lost his job. They had no income whatsoever.

As Greg and the guys finally found this lady's house, they found her on the porch with the lights on almost as if she were waiting on them. When they came up and introduced themselved, she quickly invited them into her home. This seemed rather strange to them as most people would not invite a group of men who were total strangers into their home. (Did I mention this was around 11pm at night)

As they began to talk, they asked why she was on the porch. "I was waiting on you" she replied. "I had been praying to God to send some help and I know he always sends his angels to help me. You men are my angels." They had a great talk with the lady, prayed with her and gave her some money too.

Greg always said he was the one who really received the blessing on these trips and in turn our whole family received a blessing, because it was always the topic of conversation at the Christmas dinner table. We couldn't wait to hear what God had done.

To Be Continued...

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm Back...At least for this post

So I know it has been forever since I posted. I told you guys back in September though that the first of October would start a downhill ball rolling so fast that I wouldn't be able to keep up... and it did. November came and went so fast and here it is almost half way way through December already. Where did the time go?

In November, both kids were sick and Thanksgiving traveling happened. Then, poof the month was gone. We did get an entire week off school for Thanksgiving which was glorious... but we traveled the whole time. I am just now catching up with the laundry.

I kept reading all these posts about all the things that everyone was thankful for and I really had lots of thoughts about all of the many things that I am thankful for too, but I never got them put down on paper or on the computer screen. Maybe next year.

December has also been very busy. We finally got the Christmas trees up this past weekend, a job that I have been trying to complete since the day after Thanksgiving. We have already had tons of birthday parties, Christmas parties, special church programs and musicals to attend this month - about 12 I think and since it is just the 10th, that tells you how busy we have been.

In the midst of all of the running around though, I have really tried to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas and to emphasize it to my children too. I don't want the month of December to feel so hurried and rushed that I miss it. I already feel like I sort of missed Thanksgiving. I want to savor the sweetness of the holidays and the wonders of His love and linger in this special time of year.

So, I am hoping the next two weeks will slow down and we will just enjoy sitting around the living room with the lights down and the Christmas tree lights twinkling, baking cookies and filling the house with their sweet aroma and wrapping gifts to put under the tree. Maybe even doing some shopping, but not with a list. Just shopping to enjoy the decorations and the people watching and the Christmas music playing in the background.
And, watching Christmas movies - It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite. And of course, we have to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolf, Frosty and The Grinch and throw in a little The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3 and Home Alone. I could probably watch movies from now until Christmas.

Also, I want to spend some more time just talking about the true Christmas story with my Children. We are reading several story book versions and starting Adornaments on the 12th.
Our pastor has been talking about Christmas traditions during church, and one of ours is to record one of the grandparents reading the Christmas story from the Bible and The Night Before Christmas each year with our kids. It is neat to go back and look at those videos and see how much they have grown. Watching those videos really makes you feel like time flies.

And, it is flying right now. I've got to get ready for tomorrow. I hope to stay a little more current with posts for the rest of the month... but I'm not promising anything.

Sweet Blessings,

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Trying to catch up

I know I said in my last post that I would tag someone soon, but everyone I know that blogs has already been tagged, so maybe as my blog world expands, I will tag someone else.

It's been awhile since I posted, but things are still as busy as ever. I took a quick unexpected trip to Los Angeles this past weekend to speak at an Epilepsy Advocate event. They called on Monday of last week to see if I was available. Even though I had originally planned to be home and catch up on laundry, cleaning and writing, I agreed to go. I flew out on Friday and back on Sunday. The turnout for the program was great. I got to spend some time just relaxing and catching up on Bible Study without interruption in the hotel on Saturday after I spoke. There is nothing like a good bubble bath and nap with no interruptions to rest the body and the soul. Hopefully this week I can catch up on all of that other stuff - including blogging.

Halloween was fun for our family. Greg's parents came to visit and went to Mary Lyndsey and Spencer's schools to tell stories. The kids loved it. The kids also dressed up for favorite book character day at school on Wednesday and then we all dressed up a familly on Wednesday night to go to the church carnival and trick-or-treating. Pictures are below. The kids were adorable I thought, even if I do say so myself. Our family also won the costume contest in our neighborhood. I still can't believe I conned Greg into dressing up. Miracles never cease.

Mary Lyndsey and Spencer as Gigi - God's Little Princess and Will - God's Mighty Warrior

Our family as the Wizard of Oz. Mary Lyndsey loved her red ruby slippers.

More to come later once I have caught up on some things.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I've been tagged

I know I haven't posted in forever but in my defense I have either had company or been out of town since Oct. 11. I have lots to tell about my trips from the Rockies to the Smokies and everything in between. God is so good and so many good things have happened to me in the last two weeks I can't wait to tell about them and hopefully post some pics, but for tonight, I am going to just post the answers to being tagged by Amanda. I hope to post about my trip and some pictures after Halloween.

Here goes:
Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Waitress at various restaurants (Pizza Hut, Voyager's View, Ryans, Capri's etc.)
2. Craft demonstrator at a scrapbook/stamp store.
3. Preschool and College Teacher
4. Orientation and Leadership Director

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. Facing the Giants
3. Defending Your Life
4. Sleepless in Seattle

Four TV shows I like to watch:
1. Heroes
2. Jericho (it it will ever start back)
3. Lost
4. American Idol

Four places I have vacationed:
1. Hawaii
2. Cancun
3. Greece
4. Disney World

Four favorite dishes:
1. Pizza
2. My mom's fried chicken with potato salad
3. My grandmothers turkey and dressing
4. My father in law's chili with cornbread on a cold day

Four websites I visit frequently but not daily:
1. My blog
2. My friend's blogs
3. Bible Gateway
4. Faith Lifts

Four places I would rather be:
1. On a beach
2. In a mountain cabin
3. On a cruise
4. Scrapbooking with friends (also in conjuction with any of the above.)

Four bloggers I am tagging:
I have to think about this one. Will post who is tagged soon.

Sweet Blessings,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not Enough Time

Ok, so the clock is ticking away. Carol and I leave for the Glorieta Writer's Conference in New Mexico on Tuesday of next week, and there are a thousand things that need to be done before departing. I haven't quite finished the manuscript for my children's book I will be pitching, nor do I have my book proposal finished or about 10 other things that need to be done specifically for the conference. Not to mention all of the "normal" duties that I have to get done - you know the house will not clean itself, as much as I wish for one of those Smart Houses like on the DCOM (For those of you without children this is a Disney Channel Original Movie) and the laundry will not wash itself either. Although I am thankful that with my fairly new washer, I no longer have to listen to see when the rinse water comes in and it is time to put in softner, I can put everything in when I start it and forget about it until I hear the beep.

So enough rambling. I really know in my head that I just need to give control of everything that needs to get done to God and what happens will be the right thing, but that is easier said than done. This whole concept of not enough time to do everything has really been in my head the last few days. I kept saying over and over, "Lord, there just isn't enough time." Then, a few days ago, just as I was complaining to God about this, a Chris Tomlin song came on the radio that said "Time is in His hands."

Well of course I thought. Time is in His hands. He created it. He makes things happen at just the right time. And, He has control over it just as He does everything else. There is even a specific example in the Bible in Joshua 10 where God makes the sun stand still so that Joshua and his men could complete the battle they were fighting. The past few days I have wished He would make the sun stand still and give me more hours in the day to complete everything I have to get done. It is a battle in a sense. I am trying to do everything "as unto the Lord" and the enemy is doing everything he can to stop me.

My problem is/was that I am just not using my time in the way He intended completely. My Bible study homework this week used the verse from Malachi 3:10 to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. That doesn't just mean money... it means time too. He wants us to give the first, most important part of our day to Him and then He will pour out His blessings upon us. I questioned if I am giving enough time to Him. Are there things that are taking up my time that I could cut out. (TV for example... even Heroes). If I am puttinng those things before Him, then no wonder I don't have enough time.

When I put Him first, He pours out blessings on me - even the blessing of more time. Things don't seem to take as long to complete and run more smoothly. I might catch every green light on the way to school instead of every red one. He just has a way of giving back to you what you give to Him - including time. And, He not only will give it back, it will be overflowing.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Malachi 3:10 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Lord, help me to remember that time is in your hands and to put you first in everything.

Sweet Blessings,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Writing on The Wall

As I walked into the guest room of my Mother-in-love's house, I saw it. There on the wall was not just a small mark that might possibly stand a chance to be erased with Mr. Clean's magic eraser, but a huge, multicolored swirl of art that only a 3 year old that had gotten too quiet and not been checked on could create. My heart ached as it skipped a beat. I called to my daughter in the other room. "Mary Lyndsey, could you come here please?" I heard little footsteps running down the hall towards me. "Yes mommy," she said in the sweetest voice imaginable as she came in to the room. "Did you do this?" I asked. I knew full well she had, but I wanted to see if she would make a bad situation worse by lying about it. She dropped her head. "Yes mommy," she said, "but I didn't mean to. I was playing and I wanted to draw but I couldn't find any paper."

It was at this moment that my Mother-in-love entered the room. "Don't fuss at her," she said. "We've already dealt with it, besides it will come off." "It will not come off," I retorted. "It's permanent marker!" "Then we will cover it with paint" she said.

"When did this happen anyway?" I asked. "Oh a few days ago," she replied. "We weren't going to tell you about it because she had already asked me for forgiveness so we weren't going to bring it back up again." I wasn't quite sure how to respond to her. "Did you punish her?" I asked. I wanted to be sure she had learned a lesson.

My daughter had gotten carried away in her playing and because she didn't want to stop what she was doing to look for paper, she had ended up doing something wrong. As I considered this, I wondered how many times I had gotten carried away in what I was doing and didn't stop so I ended up doing something wrong too?

Sometimes we feel like our sin is in permanent marker - it won't come off. But Jesus says that He washes us white as snow and covers our sin with His blood kind of like the paint could cover the wall. We would never know that the permanent marker had been there once it's covered with paint. And Jesus doesn't remember our sin - it's like it was never there once it's covered with His blood.

Do we sometimes try to bring our past mistakes back up over and over again? God says that if you have asked for forgivness, that it's been dealt with and there is no need to bring it up again.

The good thing about this situation was that when confronted with her sin, my daughter told the truth. She admitted she had done wrong and had already asked her GrandJudy for forgiveness. Do we face the truth and admit our wrong, or make matters worse by trying to cover our sin up? It doesn't work when we try to cover it ourselves - only the blood of Christ can cover it.

Things to Do, Places to Go, People to See

Ok, I know I haven't posted in like 10 days, but I warned you. October is like starting at the top of the mountain and rolling down picking up speed until the end of the year. We have been extremely busy. Both of my advocate events went well. I spoke to a training class at UCB Headquarters on Monday and got to share Spencer's story. People always ask how we made it through that situation. I love it when they do because I get to tell them about my faith.

On Wednesday, I was at a studio filming a webisode that will be on the Epilepsy Advocate website in November. I will post when it airs so everyone can check it out. After going through wardrobe, hair and make-up and sitting in front of cameras for 6 or 7 hours, trying to answer questions for an interview that will last 1 hour and hearing "Cut - She has a fly away hair or her makeup is shiny", I've determined that all teenage girls should be forced to attend a photo or video shoot to see that people don't really look like they do in pictures or on TV. It is all an illusion. Except for the 10 pounds heavier I looked on camera. That part was unfortunately real.

Last Thursday we had Mary Lyndsey's birthday party at Build a Bear. She had a great time and when we got home it looked like Christmas in our living room with all of the toys. (I told you Christmas was popping up everywhere). We also celebrated her birthday on Saturday in Greenville with my family and Greg's family. Greg's family has the tradition of the birthday person picking the restaurant we go to to celebrate. Mary Lyndsey picked Olive Garden. No arguments from me. She is a girl after my own heart. My parents and grandmother met us too. My mom made Mary Lyndsey a Barbie Doll Birthday Cake. She loved it. Picture is above but I couldn't figure out how to flip it. Just turn your head sideways LOL.

On Friday afternoon, I went Apple Picking at Niven's Apple Farm in Greenville with my good friend Alicia. I should say we went to the Apple Farm to take pictures. There were no apples to be picked. The drought and weather has gotten to all of them. But, we got some really cute pictures. (Also above, because I couldn't figure out how to move them and I got frustrated.)

Spencer did not win his election on Friday but seemed to be okay with it. We had many discussions prior to the election that if he didn't win it just meant that God had something better planned for him. If I could always remember this lesson when I don't get what I want it would be great. Many of the things I am trying to teach my children, I am still trying to learn myself.

I am working on my children's book to take to the Glorietta Christian Writer's Conference Oct 16-21. That is the other reason I haven't posted. I've been trying to write as much as possible. Wish my luck and pray for me that I can learn the lesson mentioned above if nothing comes of this little adventure.

I have lots more to say, but will save it for a future post. It's late and I need to get to bed so I can get up early and not be late for church in the morning (That was for you Amanda).
Sweet Blessings,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Christmas in September?

Ok, so 3 days seems to be the norm now. Things have been so busy that I haven't really had time to post and they aren't going to slow down anytime soon. There is something about the end of the year from October until December which seems like you are rolling downhill and just getting faster and faster. I don't know where the time goes. Today, in Walmart they already had out some of the Christmas decorations and on the radio today, there was an advertisement for a Christmas play to purchase tickets. Now while I love for Christmas to live in my heart all year long, and I love Christmas in July sales for my china at the Lenox outlet, I somehow can't adjust to Christmas stuff being out in September. It gets earlier and earlier every year. I haven't even ordered our Halloween costumes yet. I probably won't be able to get what I want now either. Our family is supposed to dress up like the Wizard of Oz. Mary Lyndsey wants to be Dorothy and already has her ruby red slippers. I'm having difficulty finding the other costumes. Anyway, on to other subjects.

Tomorrow Spencer has to give his speech for Student Council elections. He is running for 2nd Grade class representative. He can't help it. It's in his blood. Greg and I were both officers for every blessed thing there was in high school and college. We didn't even encourage him either. He just came home with the permission slip and said he wanted to run. We've had great fun making his posters and writing his speech. Is it normal for people to want to get up in front of others to speak? I've always heard that statistics show that someone would rather be in the casket than to give the eulogy but apparently that is not the case with our family. The election is Friday so wish him luck.

Tonight, I felt like my Bible study went well. We have alot of women signed up to take the next series from Cindi Wood -Victoriously Frazzled. I'm excited about teaching it. Next semester I'm going to teach A Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas. I can' t wait.

A few days ago I posted about knowing the rules. I wondered about if there are things we are doing that are sin and we don't even know it. Without going into alot of detail, I will tell a little about what God spoke to me today regarding this subject. My daily devotion readings have been around the events leading up to and the crucifixion. This morning, the verse that lept off the page to me was when Jesus said in Luke 23:34 "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Some of those who were crucifying Jesus would never ask for forgiveness but because He died on the cross for us, we have the opportunity to ask. Sometimes we sin and don't even realize it and Jesus still intervenes for us to the Father and asks for our forgiveness for us if we come to Him. That is so cool. It is just like when the Spirit prays for us when we don't know what to pray ourselves (Romans 8:26). We just have to come before Him believing and accepting through faith and He has done all of the work and continues to. It's not about anything we do or don't do. It's about Him.

Anyway...I probably won't get to post for a few days. This weekend is Mary Lyndsey's birthday and we have several parties planned. Next week I have two epilepsy advocate events. Keep checking the link to the advocate site if you are interested because they are updating soon and Spencer will be on there in full video. Also, the webisode we are filming next week will be on eventually. You can see Spencer's magazine cover if you click on now.

Sweet Blessings...Amy

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Too Much Stuff

Ok, so I've let three more days go by before posting. In my defense, it's been a really crazy weekend. On Friday, we got ready for the community garage sale all day. I was in my kids rooms pulling things out of the closets and out of the cubbies and decluttering (is that a word?) Flylady would be so proud.

On Saturday, we had our garage sale. It was ok, but not great. I still had lots of stuff left, but hopefully it is being picked up this week by one of the area missions. I am now on a mission to get rid of all of the junk. I feel like I should go back through my house again to clean out some more stuff.

I call it junk, but it really isn't. It's actually pretty good stuff. Toys and clothes that are in great condition because my children have so much that they don't wear it out. I have been struggling the past few weeks as I've been cleaning out with being too blessed. When I see seven pairs of shoes in the floor, I am dealing internally with fussing because my children aren't putting their things away and convicted because some children don't have one good pair of shoes to wear. I am very grateful for the blessings we have... but God is working on me about having too much stuff.

I had a dream this week that a family member's house burned down. In my dream, the person was fine, but they lost everything. I remember thinking in my dream, that the person was important but the things weren't. I woke up very disturbed and spent the better part of the rest of the night praying. I am definitely trying to discipline myself to curb my spending habits.

Today's Christian Woman this month had an article on going on a spending fast. The person said she saved $2,000 in 40 days. That amazes and challenges me to see how much I could save. I usually try to justify my spending and defend most of the things I buy as necessary, but as I look around my house, the proof shows otherwise. But, I am daily learning that I just need Jesus and all the rest of this stuff isn't important. He is working on showing me He is all I need. I mean I know in my head and heart that treasures in heaven are what's important and the things on earth won't endure... but putting it into action and practice is an entirely different story. Living what I believe is what I am working on everyday.

Saturday night was an interesting experience. We attended my husband's 20th year High School Reunion in Greenville SC. I guess that shows our age. I wondered to myself if I looked as old as some of the people there then quickly reminded myself that I wasn't...I'm two years younger LOL. But what really struck me is how hard it seemed that life has been on some of those people. They are 20 years out of high school and so lost. It saddened me to see the condition of some of their lives. They have had to deal with alot of stuff. They are still searching for whatever it is they think will fill them up. They just need Jesus too.

We drove back late last night from Greenville and arrived home around 12:30am. At 5am Spencer (who happened to be sleeping in my bed because we know that lack of rest is a seizure trigger) had a seizure. I woke him from his sleep and it stopped. He went back to sleep and 20 minutes later had another seizure. This one also stopped on it's own but we called the doctor since they seemed to want to cluster. We were told to give him some additional medication. We did and he went back to sleep then had another seizure. We gave him more medicine and then just had him stay up. He was fine the rest of the day just a little groggy from all of the meds. So, it was not a great morning. But... I know God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and each trial we endure is purifying us to be more like Him. I learn to trust Him more each time we go through this. We were up to 13 weeks seizure free and now we're back to 13 hours. Moment to moment dependence is obviously something I am working on. When I lay down tonight, it will be harder to sleep because I will wonder if another seizure is coming.

Lately I feel like I've been getting crash courses from God. It reminds me of being in college cramming all night for a test. I'm not sure what the test is going to be though. Maybe that's why I've been having dreams about being in class and not being ready for an exam. In my dream, I'm not ready for the exam because I've had too much stuff to do. I hope this isn't a reflection of real life. I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to tutor me so I can get an A on any upcoming test.

Till next time... Amy

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do you know the "rules"?

Wow! It it Thursday already? Where did the week go? Just one more reminder that our time flies by but each moment is precious. God has been busy teaching and revealing to me all kinds of things this week. Some things, I'm not sure I'm ready to hear yet. But, I know He is faithful to walk me through whatever He has planned.

One thing that has been on my heart this week, is are there ways I am being displeasing to God and I don't even know it? It's amazing how when God lays something on your heart and the Holy Spirit starts to teach it and explain it to you how everything fits together. Yesterday I was convicted of (you are never going to believe this) speeding. NO - I didn't get a ticket by a police officer but I did from the Holy Spirit.

We were running late to get somewhere (imagine that) and I was going about 80mph on Hwy 316. Mary Lyndsey asked if we were going to be late and told me to go faster. At that moment, I realized how fast I was going and passed a speed limit sign at the same time. Remember my earlier post regarding if God gives us signs? He provided that "sign" at just the right moment. I knew that not only was I breaking the law and possibly placing us in danger by going so fast, but that I was sinning because God expects us to follow the laws of the land. And I was setting a bad example for my children. Is it ok to obey some laws and not others just because we don't agree with them or feel like it? Is it ok to obey some commandments and not others because we don't agree or feel like it; or we can justify why we shouldn't? (obviously not) Am I teaching my children to do the same thing? Anway, if I were doing a better job prioritizing and managing my time, I wouldn't be late and speeding anyway. Things I am struggling with.

This may seem like a small thing, but sin has no size. It's all sin. A little white lie is the same as some other sin such as stealing or murder. It is all displeasing to God. And, we don't get off the hook just because we claim to not know that it is a sin. This is really what I'm dealing with. When I had my spirit check yesterday, for some reason the story about David bringing the ark of the Lord back to the City of David came into my mind.

In this story found in 1 Chronicles 13 David inquires of his commanders and the people if it seems good and seems to be the will of God for them to bring back the ark. They agree and go to bring it back to the city. On the way, they are moving the ark on a cart and are celebrating. (If you remember in Exodus 25 that is not the way the ark is supposed to be moved). During the celebration, the oxen pulling the cart stumble and the ark begins to fall and Uzzah reaches out and touches the ark to steady it. I assume because he doesn't want it to fall. After all, this is the Ark of the Lord. But, the Lord struck him dead because he touched the ark.

Now, I'm sure that Uzzah thought he was doing a good thing. But he wasn't. The problem was he didn't know it wasn't a good thing because he didn't know God's law or rule about it. So, are there sins in my life that I am not even aware of? Who's fault is it that I don't know the rule? These were my thoughts yesterday.

Then, once again in true God fashion, he provided the following devotion for me today. It comes from Prime Time with God a daily email devotional.

When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark.... - 1 Chronicles 13:9-10

There are good things we can do, but only God-things we should do. Those activities not born out of the Spirit will result in wood, hay, and stubble. What seems good in our eyes may be an abomination in God's eyes. For instance, if you decide to build an orphanage but God has never directed you to do so, then God will not see that work as good; it was born out of your own strength, even though it was a "good work."The most difficult challenge a Christian workplace believer will ever have is to know what things to be involved in and what things not to be involved in. Many workplace believers have a great ability to see opportunity. What appears to be a "slam dunk" may come back to haunt us if God never ordains us to enter that arena.There are many good things we can be involved with. However, there are God-things we are supposed to be involved with. Uzzah was a good man in David's sight. It was a time of celebration, and David and the people were transporting the ark of God. However, the ark hit a bump, and Uzzah reached for the ark to hold it steady. He touched the ark, and he immediately died. David became very upset with God about this situation; he questioned whether he could serve God. God's ways are not our ways. The most important quality God desires to develop in us is our dependence on Him and Him alone. When we begin to make decisions based on reason and analysis instead of the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit, we get into trouble with God. David later learned the importance of this principle in his own life. This encounter was one of the stepping-stones in his pilgrimage. David was an extraordinary entrepreneur. He ran the nation very successfully, but he, like each of us, had to learn the difference between "good things" and "God-things."Are you involved in anything in which God has not directed you to be involved? Do you seek God about every decision, every action before you take it? This is where God wants you and me to be. Ask Him to show you how to walk with Him in this way.

So obviously God is trying to tell me something. I don't think I would randomly think of that story yesteray and then receive it an email devotion today. I will try to reveal here as it is revealed to me. Here is the prayer that came with the devotion.

Today's Prayer September 20, 2007
Dear God, Thank you for having a purpose for my life and for telling me what Your expectations are through the Bible. I know You must be disappointed with me many times, when I fail to meet Your expectations of me. I can identify with that from a human standpoint. When I expect a family member to be responsible and to do something that they do not do, or when they make wrong choices in life, I am very disappointed. Sometimes I feel frustrated or angry and other times heartbroken. Help me to be kind-hearted and long-suffering with them, like You are with me. Guide me to handle those disappointments with integrity; to remain quiet when I should and to speak up when I should. Please give me the thoughts, words, and actions You want me to have. And God, please forgive me for disappointing You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The List

So...I haven't posted in a few days because this weekend was totally busy! It was however, an incredible weekend. I am so excited about all that God has shown me over the past few days that I can hardly contain myself. I'm going to attempt to post a shortened version of everything that has happened... but just know that I couldn't even begin to cover all of the little details that has made this weekend so awesome.

On Thursday night, Spencer and I headed over to Emory to stay the night for an Epilepsy Advocate event on Friday morning. We were asked to speak and share our story to highlight to the Board of Directors for UCB Pharma the Epilepsy Advocate Program. It was a really neat event the some members of the Royal Family of Belgium were in attendance. Spencer and I both got to share how good God is and what He has done in our lives. The exciting thing is that we don't know how our words might have impacted them. We could have made a difference in another part of the world, with our story. Isn't it cool how God works that way? I was already thinking on Friday how we don't always see how God weaves things together in his master plan...a theme that continued throughout the weekend.

On Friday night, I attended a women's conference where the speaker was Angela Thomas. She was at Center Hill Baptist Church in Loganville. Those ladies did an outstanding job with the conference. Everything was very nice and everyone in attendance received a doorprize! Isn't that cool? Anyway, Angela was awesome. Her message was about growing up in your salvation. I found it very interesting, because Carol and I had a conversation on Monday about the very same thing. Coincidence? I think not.

Earlier in the week, prior to attending the conference, I had been extremely discouraged about the whole speaking/writing thing. I had cried out to God in frustration that I just didn't know what to do next. I told him that I work better with lists and details and if He would just tell me what to do... I would do it. Well guess what... I got lots of lists from Him this weekend.

Angela began Friday night by giving 4 baby steps to rebuilding the foundation of who God wants you to be. Shorted version of my notes are:
1. Choose God first everyday... sometimes moment to moment.
2. Choose to stop the chaos in your life so you can see Him.
3. Choose to meet consistently with a body of believers.
4. Choose to restore order in your physical home and your physical body.

All areas in which God has been dealing with me by the way.

Whew! Powerful stuff.
She continued on Saturday with yes.. you guessed it... Another list.
She said sometimes you aren't doing something or being blessed in someway because it's just not your turn yet. So... what do you do while you wait for it to be your turn. You try to have a righteous and holy wait and do what you need to do to become who God needs you to be so that when he says "You're Next" you are ready for whatever He has planned for you.

Here are the 6 steps to waiting: (by the way she used John Chapter 15 which just happened to be my devotion for that day! Coincidence... I think not.)
1. Abide in Him
2. Entrust to Him whatever it is that is valuable to you or that you are waiting for.
3. Trust He is able to keep it safe.
4. While you are waiting become the person who is ready to be next.
5. Pray
6. Stand like and oak of righteousness for the display of His splendor. (Isaiah 61)

I really felt after her message that noone else really even needed to be there b/c everything she said directly applied to things I was struggling with. The cool thing is that's the way God works... there were other people there who felt the same way. He could use Angela's situation and circumstances to minister and give answers to a variety of different people in different circumstances than hers. Which leads me to Sunday morning.

Remember the feeling I told you about from Friday's speech...that we can't see all the pieces and how they fit together or their impact on others. Also, from the conference how our stories and struggles are different but can be used to help each other. Well, the service at church highlighted those same sentiments. Two different people shared two different testimonies about God's faithfulness through their struggles. I was thinking about how cool God is to work things out without us knowing how it all fits together... then there was a drama where different people were painting different parts of a picture but none of them individually looked like anything... but when they were all placed together... it made the face of Jesus. It was done to Steven Curtis Chapman song God is God.

Lyrics: God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So I’ll never understand it all For only God is God

Then Larry preached on Acts Chapter 2. He talked about at Pentecost the believers could understand a language that was not their's through the Holy Spirit. Most people use the example of foreign languages to illustrate this point. But, when Larry was speaking, I was thinking of our own individual struggles and stories and how the Holy Spirit lets each of us understand truths about Him and God through interpreting and applying those struggles to our own. My experiences and struggles are not the same as someone else's but God can use them to communicate His truth to someone else.

Then Larry continues with you guessed it... more lists. He talked about that we don't have to live life in our own power and strength b/c we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit
1. Guides and gives directions
2. Breaks down barriers
3. Provides power and courage
He also gave a 7 day devotional to follow about the Holy Spirit
1. Psalm 139:7 He is always with you.
2. Psalm 7:9 He will test your heart and mind
3. Exodus 31:3 He will give you the ability to do the things you need to do.
4. Acts 16:6 He will lead you and guide your life
5. Psalm 139:23 He will convict and correct you.
6. John 14:26 He will teach you the truth.
7. I Corinthians 12:7-12 He will give you gifts to help each other.

I knew all of these things already, but it was helpful for me to have them in... you guessed it... A list. God is good!

If you want to see the service from Sunday, you should be able to download or view it here:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why Signs, Miracles and Wonders?

When my friend Carol (Sheep to the Right) started her blog and inspired me to start one, one of her first posts was about how she named her blog. Being new to this whole blogging thing, I have wondered where some of the creative and interesting names for some people's sites have come from. I've read the history of some people's blog names and it ranges from laugh out loud funny to awe inspiring. After reading some of these, I thought they gave great insight into the person, their thoughts and the lens through which they view life. So, I want to tell you why I chose Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

The "wonders" is easy. I constantly stand in amazement, wonder and awe of the greatness of my God. He is just "good all the time" to quote the song. Even when things are bad...He is good. This thought is what gets me through some days.

The "signs" part comes from a question I have grappled with for quite some time. Is it ok to ask God for a sign? I haven't sorted out the answer completely to that one, but once I do, I'm sure there is a book in it somewhere. LOL. I believe that God does give us signs to direct us and guide us on our path but is it ok to ask for one? Probably more to come on this subject later.

"Signs" is also tied in to my website and ministry that I hope to have up and running soon. It will be "Signs of Life Ministries." I chose this name for several reasons. One is that I want there to be "signs of LIFE" in my life. By that I mean signs of true abundant life which is only found in Christ. I want it to be evident that He is my LIFE.

Another is that the sign for life in ancient times was the ankh. It is fascinating to me that this symbol is a cross. But of course, those of us who know our Saviour and Redeemer know that life does come from the cross.

Signs of life is also the reason for the "miracles" part of my blog. You see, when my son Spencer was born... there were no signs of life. His apgar at birth was 0. Forgive me for the long post, but here's a little about his story. It is copied from the talk I give at Epilepsy Advocate events.

"On the night of December 28, 1999, I was admitted to the hospital to have our son Spencer. The labor was very long and hard. On the morning of the 29th Spencer was born, I knew something was terribly wrong because he was not crying. I remember asking the nurse over and over, why isn’t he crying? The neonatal team had been alerted and rushed Spencer out of the room to the neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As many of you may know a baby is given what they call an APGAR test at birth to evaluate the baby’s health on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. Spencer was given a score of zero at one minute and a two at five minutes. You can imagine how scary that sounded, but they told me he was fine but having some problems. Once they got him breathing with the help of a respirator, we were told his blood glucose level was very low, he had very high acidosis, and that his blood pressure was dangerously low. We were told he possibly had lung, liver and brain damage due to asphyxia and was having some problems with his heart. The outlook was not good.

By that evening, Spencer had stabilized somewhat and was beginning to make positive progress. Early on the morning of the 30th everything started to go downhill. A nurse in the unit observed that Spencer was having what she thought was a seizure. At this time he was medicated for the seizure and apparently went into cardiac arrest. The doctor came to see us at 7:30 am and told us that Spencer’s liver, kidneys, and cardiac functions were all starting to shut down and that this was obviously a turn for the worse. The physician told us that if we had family that wanted to see Spencer that we should tell them to come immediately. Within the next 30 minutes, a fleet of nurses were in our room with a wheel chair to take us to the Neonatal ICU. You could tell by the expressions on their faces that it did not look good for Spencer.
When we got to the unit out worse fears were confirmed. The doctors and nurses were performing manual CPR and indicated that this had been going on for over an hour and that Spencer was not responding. The physician then came over and explained that they would have to stop CPR and take Spencer off of the monitoring, the IV’s, and the rest of the equipment if we wanted to hold him. Up to that point, Spencer had had so many challenges that we still had not had an opportunity to hold him. They then wrapped up my son in a blanket and a cap in an effort to hide the fact that he was already turning ashy and gray and handed him to us. Here he was less than one day old and we were to hold him for the first and last time. It was our chance to say good-bye. You see they were just waiting on his heart to officially stop beating so they could call the time of death.

We were placed in a private room just off of the NNICU and immediately my husband and I started to pray over our son. We asked for strength to face this situation and for God’s will to be done. During this time, the physician kept coming in to check Spencer’s heart rate. There was a nurse waiting with a death certificate ready to fill in the official time of death. We didn’t know this at the time, but with each visit the doctor made, his rate was dropping and got below 20 beats per minute. Phone calls were made on our behalf to our family and church informing them that our son had passed away. On the doctor’s third trip to check Spencer’s heart rate, you could tell he was visibly shaken. He started to take Spencer from my arms and I said, “No, please don’t take him… I just want to hold him a bit longer. I don’t care if his heart has already stopped!” But when he pulled back the baby blanket we were surprised to see that our son had turned a pink color. The doctor then explained that Spencer’s heart rate was around 120 bpm and that he wanted to take him back to monitor him. When the physician left the room the nurse filling in the death certificate requested the time of death. The doctor looked at the nurse and said “this baby isn’t dead, he is alive.” We feel like we experienced a MIRACLE that day.

We spent the next 2 weeks in the NNICU. Spencer had x-rays, several EEG’s, a cat scan, an echocardiogram, a spinal tap, an MRI, batteries of blood tests; so many test that I couldn’t possibly remember to name them all. The only thing that they could find was what the physicians called a small area of insult on his brain that we were later told would probably affect his speech and motor skills. They thought he had possibly had a stroke and only time would tell whether he’d ever be able to talk or walk. At the end of those two weeks of testing, we took home for all practical purposes a healthy baby. We immediately started physical therapy and added speech later to make sure if there were any problems that they would be identified early. Little did we know there was yet another storm brewing on the horizon.

Everything seemed to go smoothly for the next three years. Spencer went to speech, occupational and physical therapy several times a week and was basically caught up to where he was supposed to be developmentally. We had a beautiful, smart little boy bursting with personality that won the hearts of everyone he met. And he could certainly walk and talk – sometimes he talked more than we wanted and still does. My husband and I thought, “Hey, this parenting thing is pretty cool,” so we decided to try and have another child.
At our first ultrasound appointment – the storm hit. We were sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office when Spencer started to behave very strangely. He seemed to be trying to speak to us but couldn’t. The right side of his mouth and eye began to twitch and he started to drool. Then he threw up. We had no idea what was happening and even though we were surrounded by doctors and nurses, they didn’t seem to know what was going on either. By this time, Spencer’s right arm had begun to jerk and we called 911. We didn’t realize until later that Spencer was having his first seizure. Spencer went from bad to worse. After an ambulance ride that seemed to last an eternity, we arrived at the hospital where the doctors tried unsuccessfully to get Spencer’s seizure to stop. By this time, the seizure had generalized to his entire body. After giving him enough medication that they were ready to insert a tube into his throat to help him breathe, the seizure finally wore off. Spencer was heavily medicated and postictal for some time. For a parent that does not know what is going on, this can be scarier than the seizure itself. We thought he had had another stroke. He could not talk or move the right side of his body and his face was drawn down on the right side. We wondered if we would ever see our energetic, talkative, effervescent little boy again. Would life ever be the same? What did the future hold?

After a few days in the hospital, the medication wore off and Spencer seemed to go back to his normal self. We were released from the hospital and for the moment, everything was calm. But then, just a few months later, Spencer had another seizure. This seizure also did not stop – a term I have come to learn since as “status epilepticus”. Once again, we called 911 and ended up in the emergency room. It was after this seizure that my son was diagnosed with epilepsy. He had probably developed it due the asphyxia and stroke suffered at birth."

Our struggle of living with epilepsy is something I will probably post more about later, but even though we face challenges, we don't give up hope for Spencer's complete healing from seizures and epilepsy too. You see miracles are something I definitely believe in. I don't just believe in them, I expect them. That is why "it is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me" (Daniel 4:2)

He will perform them for you too, if you will only accept Him and believe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What You Do Matters

So today has been one of those totally crazy days where you feel like you hardly have 5 minutes to catch your breath. The nice thing about today, was that I focused on really trying to acknowledge God in everything, and even though it was crazy - it was smooth at the same time. My Frazzled Female study this week suggested to pray over every detail on your to do list before doing it. I am really big on making lists, but often times forget to turn control of the list over to Him. I know this in my head, but the action part is where I get into trouble. I forget that I make my plans, but I should allow Him to direct my steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
I often forget that Jesus was on the way to do something else on almost every encounter he had with someone that changed their life; and that he took the time to stop for a divine interruption - and the person's life was changed forever. How many blessings have I missed or caused someone else to miss because I wasn't willing to take the time to minister to them in the middle of my own plans?

I started taking a new Bible study today at church called You Matter More Than You Think by Dr. Leslie Parrot. I think the study is going to be great. The women really shared from their heart and I'm excited and expectant about what God is going to reveal over the next weeks through this study. The learning and encouragement already started today.

One of the points that the author makes in the first part of the book is that everything we do impacts others whether we realize it or not. That what we do - even the mundane things in life- can make a huge difference to another person. This was perfect timing for me. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been struggling with knowing what my God given purpose in life is. I want to minister to others in a way that reflects the love of Jesus in my life and makes others want to know Him more. I have this dream or idea in my head that this will be through writing or a speaking ministry and still hope that happens someday. However, I've recently come to terms with the fact, that if it only means ministering to the people I encounter everyday that it's ok. That is my most important ministry. We often get so caught up in our plans for the future or even the next day that we don't take time to reflect Jesus and minister to others right in the moment we are in. I am trying to remember to live each moment through His strength, reflecting Him.

I was wondering to myself if I do enough of that on a day to day basis. Am I am encourager to others? Do the things I say to others and the actions I take reflect Christ in my life and make a difference? Do my actions and words point them to Jesus? As God always does, He knows when to send the right dose of encouragement. One of my dear friends called to talk, and in the course of the conversation told me that she had been influenced and impacted greatly by a conversation we had this summer and that it had directed some of her soul searching recently. Isn't that what we should all as Christians long to do? Point others to Jesus more. It was a refreshing word of affirmation (most definitely my love language) that was sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:24) .

I am going to try to remember in my time spent with others, to allow Christ to control the details of my plans, welcome interruptions and hopefully be an encouragement that might be a life changing experience for someone else. The bonus I think is that the real life changing experience will be for me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

When Life Isn't Great, Find Something to Celebrate Anyway!

I realize it has now been a few weeks since "The Disney Channel Original Movie Smash Hit High School Musical 2" (as my son would say) premiered. August 17 to be exact, but I was browsing through some photos that we took and this thought came to mind - When life isn't going great or as you expected, find something to celebrate anyway.

The particular week that this movie premiered was Spencer's first week at school. Needless to say, he didn't have a great first week. Without going into all the details, just know that we had to change schools the third day into the school year. He loved his old school (as did we) and didn't want to leave but he just couldn't quite keep up the pace. It was a very stressful week as we tried to make a decision as to what to do. We prayed long and hard about the impact a change would have on Spencer and on our routine.

In the end, God was faithful, (as He always is) and we ended up finding a great school that Spencer loves, where he is still in a Christian environment and he is doing great. But, in the middle of all of the chaos, when it seemed that everything was crazy, and our worries and fears were attacking us... we were a more than a little stressed. So, what did my husband do? He threw a party. He took Spencer and Mary Lyndsey to the grocery store and let them buy all the junk food they wanted, including a cake to decorate. He got balloons for the kids and flowers for me too. Then he came home, we ate junk food for supper and all sang and danced to the new tunes on the World Premier of HSM2. On Monday, Spencer started his new school and everything has worked out fine.

God promises us too that if we will just celebrate Him in the middle of our circumstances when everything doesn't seem to be going our way, that everything will work out fine. So, if things aren't going great - find something to celebrate anyway.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Praising Him in my Circumstances

It's official! I'm sick. I knew on Wednesday morning that it was coming and it has. I went to the doctor today where I received an antibiotic, a decongestant, and cough medicine. Hopefully I will actually sleep tonight since I have coughed all night the last two. The last three days have been really hectic and all my plans have gone completely out of the window as will the rest of the weekend probably. So much for the house getting clean and the garage getting finished.

When I'm sick, my attitude can start to stink pretty quickly. So... to head that off, I'm sharing a few thoughts that I am going to try to remind myself of during my recovery.

When I am sick, You are my healer.
When I am hopeless, You are my hope.
When I am unfaithful to You, you still are faithful.
When I am enslaved, You set me free.
When I am needy, You meet my needs.
When I don't know what to do, You are my wisdom.
When I am weak, You are my strength.
When I am sad, You are my joy.
When I am down, You lift me up.
When I am unlovely, You still love me.
When I am lost, You find me.
When I forget You, You remember me.
When I feel friendless, You are my friend.
When I feel powerless, You give me the same power you used when You raised Christ.
When I fear, You remind me to fear you instead.
When I am dirty in my sin, You wash me clean.
When I am hungry, You feed me with your Word.
When I am thirsty, You let me drink from Living Water.
When I feel like quitting, You keep me going.
When I feel like there is no way, You are the Way.
When I feel like no one notices me, You see me.
When I am tired, You give me rest.
When I feel like my burden is too much to bear, You remind me your burden is light.
When I falling for Satan's lies, You remind me of Your Truth.
When I am in turmoil, you are my peace.
When I feel all alone, You remind me that You are there.
When I feel like I am sinking, You remind me you are the Rock I stand on.
When I don't recognize me or know who I am, You know me.
When I am accused, You are my defender.
When I feel misunderstood, You understand me.
When I am in darkness, You shine the Light so that I can see.
When I die, You will give me eternal life.

Hopefully this will speak to you if your day is going like mine has been the last few.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ending the Day Well

Today was a rough day, but it has ended well. First, I woke up this morning unable to speak. During the change of seasons, I always get this congestion/throat thing that takes my voice. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to teach Bible study tonight, but after some prayer, meds and a long hot shower, I got my voice back somewhat. I got the kids to school and decided to go window shop a little. It's nice to be able to look around the scrapbook store without kids in tow so I decided to take advantage of the time alone. The funny thing is on the way over to the stores, I really felt like I should be at home cleaning or preparing more for my Bible Study tonight. I reasoned with myself that I had already prepared, had all of my notes and study sheet ready and had read through the material numerous times and I have tomorrow to clean. I basically talked myself out of doing what I felt in my spirit I should be doing. I justified that "I deserved a break." Funny thing is, once I got to the store, I really didn't enjoy my time there. I was being disobedient and I knew it. I had the "uh-oh" feeling as my son Spencer calls it. You know, when the Spirit convicts you.

On the way home I was beating up on myself for not doing the things I ought to be doing. The ironic thing about this, is that part of this week's Bible study talked about how negative self talk is defeating and distracting to our walk with God. Had I been home going over the notes again instead of out window shopping, I wouldn't have had reason to be beating up on myself anyway. As we all know, once the conversation with yourself starts, it often goes into a downward spiral. It didn't help that I wasn't feeling well physically either. On the way home I was listening to Casting Crowns new CD (highly recommended if you don't have it yet) and the song Somewhere in the Middle came on. I thought "this is so me". If you haven't heard the song, here are the words:

Casting Crowns - Somewhere In The Middle lyrics
Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me
Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me
Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control
Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle
Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me
Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control
Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was struggling with feeling like I didn't know what my God given purpose is in life. I feel at times like I am called to speak or teach, but today was not one of those days. I wondered if my hopes and dreams for myself are God's hopes and dreams for me, and if they aren't am I ok with that? Questions and doubts were attacking. The whole faith and plans part and contented peace and wanting more parts of the song were really heavy on me today.

I came home, spent some time in prayer, picked up the kids from school, did homework, practicied Awana verses, attempted to make it to Tae Kwon Do (we didn't - were running too late) went to dinner where we couldn't get our food which made us late to church, and when we got there, no teachers in one of my kids class yet made me almost 15 minutes late for the Bible study I am leading. I guess with a study called The Frazzled Female at least all of the participants get it! I was quite frazzled by the time I got started. But, again I prayed, asked God to calm my spirit and speak through me to those ladies something that they needed to hear - a word of encouragement or hope. I felt like He did. Hopefully they did too.

We got home late and I just got the kids to bed. Greg is not home yet so I told the kids they could sleep with me. I put them down and told them I would be right up as soon as I blogged, and that they should say their prayers. I usually help them, but I wanted to see what they would do on their on so I stood at the door and listened. Mary Lyndsey asked Spencer to help her pray. I wish you could have heard their prayers. They thanked God for His blessings and for Mommy and Daddy and each other, then asked Him to forgive them for their sins (ML inserted specifically forgiveness for hitting Spencer today) and asked for Him to keep them safe. What more can we say or ask for. Like I said, the day has ended well and His mercies will be new in the morning.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Blog envy

So, since this whole blogging thing is new to me, I decided to start looking around the "blogospher" (is this the correct term?) and see what everyone was up to. You can really get lost linking from one person to another and I have decided after much time (my husband says I am now addicted) jumping from one person to another's site, that I have blog envy. Not only are some of your sites incredible in their appearance, but the content is great... a little of everything, funny, deep, insightful and convicting. And, after the labor day weekend posts from everyone, I am especially envious of all of your wonderful trips and adventures. My adventure for labor day was to clean out our garage. However, I will have a great picture to send in to Flylady of all of the clutter and garbage I cleaned out... about ten 30gallon trash bags full along with about 4 boxes full of junk. And that is just from the garage. Wait until I declutter the house.

On another note, today was Mary Lyndsey's first day of 3K. When we got to the school, I was going to park and walk in with her to take some pictures and take some stuff to the teacher. She quickly informed me that she was "too big" for me to walk her in and that she wanted me to drop her off in carline. It was almost too much for me to handle. I did drop her in carline, but then parked the car and came and took some pics anyway.

Spencer had an appointment with his neurologist today. He is 11 weeks seizure free this Thursday. We are going through med changes once more so please pray for him.
Today he found out that Hannah Montana is going to be in concert nearby so we are hoping to be able to get tickets. He is so excited he can't stand it.

Nothing deep or profound to share today. I'm fighting a cold, so pray for me too.

Friday, August 31, 2007

What would you do with $100

So, my first few posts have been mostly about my daughter Mary Lyndsey. She is most definitely my strong willed child. She is alot like me and I'm fairly certain that God put her into my life to teach me how stubborn and strong willed I am. Independence and control issues are big for her and me.

My other child however, is my compliant, easy going child - Spencer. Aside from the whole epilepsy challenge, he is so easy to parent. He has great spiritual insight even at his young age. One time I asked him where he learned so much about God (of course hoping he would say from me) and he said that the angels told him in heaven before God sent him back to us. (That is a story for another day) He has got to be the most positive, optimistic child I know. If you ask him about anything he always says "it was awesome."

Today he brought home some of his first graded papers from school this year. One of the writing assignments from class was "At last, I have saved 100 dollars! I am going to..." I thought to myself, if I save $100 I'm going to the mall... but not him. Here is his answer - "I'm going to give it to the poor and the hunger. And also to the church so they can send it to mishanaryes all around the world and also to my friends." I guess this shouldn't surprise me. Especially after the goats.

Let me explain.
A little over a year ago, after Spencer's birthday, I asked him what he wanted to buy with his birthday money. He answered "a goat." Well, as you can imagine I was a little taken aback and wondered what in the world he was talking about. Was there some new interactive stuffed animal I hadn't seen the commercial for. Upon further prodding, I discovered that in AWANA they were having a contest between the boys and the girls to see who could raise the most money for a missionary family in Croatia (The Belles) to buy goats. They were giving them to needy families and teaching them how to use them to supplement their income with milk and cheese etc.

He had decided that he wanted to give all of his birthday money ($50) to buy a goat. Furthermore, he wanted to have enough money to buy a goat for the Belle's all by himself, so needed approximately $25 more dollars. Thus, his quest began. He started to ask everyone in our family for money to buy goats. And of course, everyone gave it to him. Once he realized that people were responding, he decided he wanted to buy 2 goats and at my mom and dad's 25th anniversary party he proceeded to ask everyone there to give money toward the goats. (Now this is in a small rural town in SC where many of the people in attendance are farmers and several of them told him they would just give him a goat if he really wanted one).

One day we were in Target shopping. I was distracted by something and when I turned around he was talking to a lady who was pulling out a $20 bill and handing it to him. I was at first mortified and ran over to apologize thinking that my child had just asked a complete stranger for money to buy some new video game I had refused to purchase... but the lady insisted that he take the money and explained that she was happy to help buy a goat!

When all was said and done, he raised over $250 for goats and needless to say, the boys won the Awana contest. Later that year, he got to meet the Belles when they came to our church to speak about their program. And... he got to see pictures of the goats.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Feeling Your Pain

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Today was Open House at my daughter's preschool so we had to go "meet and greet" her new teacher. Recently, my husband has been home more so I have been leaving ML at home with him while I go run errands because let's face it... it's just easier that way... and if you remember I said earlier...she is a Daddy's girl. Sooo, today when I announced we were going to the school, she said she wasn't going, she was staying home with Daddy. We both tried to explain to her that she couldn't because Daddy was leaving for work and she had to go meet her teacher and all of her new friends and find out about all of the fun things that were in store for her to experience and learn this upcoming year at school. But, she was having none of that. At that moment, you would have thought her heart broke. She began to cry and say that she didn't want to go to school this year, or make new friends, or learn new things.

Now, this wasn't a cry like a temper tantrum cry... this was a true, my heart is broken and I really don't know to deal with this situation cry. Well, as usual I was running late so I didn't have much time or patience for her breakdown because to be quite honest at that moment it didn't seem all that important. I knew that once she got to the school, she would be fine because she would see some friends from last year, all of the toys in the classroom and be totally happy within the next 30 minutes if I could just get her out of the door.

Well, we struggled out the door and into the classroom where she wasn't pleasant for about the first 10 minutes. Of course once she saw some friends and decided to play with the toys and color - she was fine. However, as we drove home... I was not. I began to feel convicted about the way I had treated her in the middle of her breakdown. I didn't take the time to realize or consider that in a 3 year old's mind and emotional maturity level, her situation was a big deal to her. Her pain was real to her and her suffering was real to her. And I had shrugged it off and glossed over it and moved on to the next thing because I was focused on me and where I was going instead of stopping to comfort her in her pain.

It was like what she was experiencing wasn't important to me, because I wasn't feeling it. I'm not sure if this makes any sense, but I guess the lesson I got from it was that we do this same thing alot with our Christian brothers and sisters - and to those who aren't Christians. We think that what ever pain or situation they are struggling with isn't that big of a deal, or that it seems silly or trivial, or that they will be just fine if they will just get on with it. But... we don't take the time to see things from their point of view, to consider what their feelings are at their emotional or spiritual maturity level. Maybe what ever they are going through or struggling with isn't a big deal from our point of view, but from theirs it is. This has reminded me to stop focusing on what I have to get done, and comfort others when they need it. After all, Jesus always comes to comfort me with whatever breakdown I am having on any given day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Learning from Everything

I am leading a Bible Study at church called The Frazzled Female by Cindi Wood. It's a good Bible Study and I have already taken it once and led it once before, so this is my third time through. I still learn something every time I read through it. The first week's study starts out in Luke 10 with the story of Mary and Martha. I've heard this story so many times and have sometimes beat myself up because I so identify with Martha and I really want to be a Mary. (I have also read the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" which I highly recommend for all of you Martha's out there.)

When I say that I want to be a Mary - what I mean is I always want to be sitting at the feet of Jesus. One of the questions Cindi discusses in the first session is "What do you consider sitting at the feet of Jesus?" I used to think this was just having a routine hour or more quiet time everyday, and was pretty convinced that it was never going to happen for me. There always seemed to be too much to do and I lacked self discipline. I must say I have gotten better about spending quiet time alone with God everyday, but I no longer consider that the only way to sit at the feet of Jesus. Now I try to invite Jesus to be in on every detail of my life and and ask the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts, actions and words and teach me something through every life experience - even the everyday mundane ones.

With that said... let me tell you what I learned from brushing teeth. My daughter Mary Lyndsey hates to brush her teeth. It is a battle every morning and every night. I have tried to logically explain it to her that if she doesn't get her teeth clean, that decay will start and she will have holes that will have to be filled by the dentist. She has already had 2 cavities (I'm ashamed to admit) and she fully remembers having them filled, so I thought that the logical explanation would be enough to persuade her. Not so. Anyway, I have to brush her teeth for her if I really want to get them clean and I have to hold her face and say "look at me so I can get them clean." If she tries to brush them herself, it doesn't do the trick. Well, recently, I spent an unsual amount of time trying to get them brushed (she had somehow snuck into the pantry and got an oreo right before bed time). We had to brush and rinse several times to get all of the black stuff out. Then, she decided she was thirsty. We usually have water bottles handy at bedtime, since being thirsty is a common excuse to put off actually going to sleep but I had forgotten to bring them upstairs. I sent her to the kitchen to get a water bottle and she came back drinking a Sunny D. I couldn't believe it. Here we had spent all this time brushing to get all the gunk out and get clean and now we were going to have to do it all over again... and what's more her thirst wasn't really quenched because she had chosen something to drink besides water.

As I was fussing at her about having to do it all over again I felt the Spirit of Christ say... "Aren't you glad I don't fuss at you when I have to clean you up all over again." I too fight having to have my sins brushed or washed clean every morning and every night. Sometimes I try to do it myself which doesn't do the trick. Having to admit my sin and ask for forgiveness is a hard thing to do but at the same time the easiest thing to do. If I leave the sin, it causes me to decay and leaves holes that can only be filled by the Great Dentist (Hey a dentist is a type of physician LOL I think my Dentist would appreciate being compared to Christ). I too choose things to try to quench my thirst other than The Living Water; and even though I logically know I have had to have holes filled before and I fully remember some of the pain and numbess, sometimes it doesn't convince me to get brushed or washed clean. I am stubborn and don't want to admit when I have done wrong. But Christ patiently, over and over again, holds my face and says "Look at me... I want to wash you clean."

So, sitting at the feet of Jesus for me is not just listening to him in uninterrupted quiet time. While that is a treasure and is great when I get to, it is also listening to him and learning something in every little thing in life... even in brushing teeth.

A Work In Progress

I think I might actually understand the basics of starting this blog site now but it is definitely a work in progress - just like me. As I was trying set it up, and getting a little frustrated because I couldn't get it to look exactly like I wanted or seem to to make it do what it was supposed to do with the commands given to it, I wondered to myself if that is how God must feel when he is trying to get me to look like Him and I am not following his commands. The song "He's Still Working On Me" that I sang as a child came to mind. If you aren't familiar with this song, it goes like this...
"He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be,
It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the Sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars, How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me."
He sure is patient with us. You'll have to be patient with me too as I figure out all this computer stuff. More to come later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"It's A Wonderful Thing to Learn Something New"

My mother in law who is a retired school teacher of 35 years always says this. She is an advocate of life long learning. Everytime my son resists listening to some of the "words of wisdom" she is trying to impart to him on any given visit, she always tells him "It's a wonderful thing to learn something new." I usually agree with this statement except for right at this moment while I am trying to learn how to set up this blog site. I am most definitly claiming the scripture "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 More to come once I figure this all out.