Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Still There

Betty Miner was my Grannie

It's been awhile since I've written about her.  It's been awhile since I have been caught off guard by her absence.  The truth is that sometimes, in a rare moment, the pain of her passing is still as prominent as the day she died.

My grandmother has been gone almost 7 months, but her name continually escapes my youngest daughter's lips.  The other day, I was looking for a picture of the beach for my new blog button.  Hannah walked up behind me and said, Oh no.  I don't want to see any pictures of Grannie.  It will make me cry.  Yeah, she's four.

Today, I sat on the couch with my Bible and Priscilla Shirer's One in a Million. I was lamenting to God that sometimes motherhood is just so hard.  I was specifically thinking about the energy level required to keep my kids entertained, loved, fed, etc AND do everything else.  My thoughts turned to my grandmother because she was always the one that I would call when I started to feel overwhelmed.  I could hear her sweet voice resonating in my head, the one that I grew up listening to, not the scratchy, almost non-existent one that the cancer treatment gave her.  I could hear her say, Honey, you are doing the best you can.  I just can't get over how much you do.  You have two beautiful girls -- you must be doing something right.  Honestly, she lived over a thousand miles away, so she didn't know day-to-day how much I messed up, but that didn't matter.  She saw my heart and my intentions.  She focused on the good when all I could pay attention to was my mistakes and my failures.  God used her more times than I can count to lift up out of my own, self-dug pit.

Perhaps all of this is so fresh because today in our paper was a special pink section (yes, the newsprint was actually pink!) about the upcoming Race for the Cure.  Last year I ran it in honor of my grandmother, who did survive breast cancer years ago.  This year, I'm not running the race, but I thought that if I was, I would not be pounding the pavement in her honor, but in her memory.  For although she overcame breast cancer, God used the metastasized lung cancer to call her home.  Even though I can feel her these days and can rejoice, honestly rejoice that she is at home with Jesus, 7 months down the road of saying good-bye, I'm still sad, maybe a bit angry, that she is gone.  She was just so much of everything I needed and many times, a tangible example of Jesus to me.  It's just hard to let it go.

I don't daily drown in this grief like I am doing now, but I have found if I don't just let the wave pass over me, lift me off my feet for a moment, and submerge me for a few seconds, I end up harboring the feelings that, if left in darkness, will grow into something overpowering.  The wave comes, it pulls me under.  And then, it passes, and I find my feet on the packed sand once more. 

I write about this for my own sanity, but also to perhaps give credence to those in their own journey with losing something so precious.  You don't have to be over by now.  You don't have to meet everyone's expectations and deal with it as others think you should.  You have freedom to work out your questions, to seek answers, to sometimes be restless with the pat responses, and even scripture.  God welcomes your thoughts, He welcomes your heart, no matter what state it is in.  You don't have to censor what you say to Him -- He knows it anyway.  Nothing you say will change the Truth  -- He still is our ultimate Comforter, the Prince of Peace, the Author of our salvation.

May waves of peace cascade of you, ones even more powerful than the waves of grief.
Doesn't she look fun?
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
Dr. Suess

Interested in finding out more about the new Finding Heaven community that is starting up on Tuesday?  If so, just leave me a comment on "A New Community" Post.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Funny Bad Hair Days

No, untangling this mess is not my simple pleasure.  Believe me, I let her tackle this one herself.

My husband took this picture of my sweet 4 year-old on Tuesday morning.  I kinda imagine her saying, "Go ahead, make my day."  Literally, her hair stood up on end with the aid of no hair spray, gel, or any other concoction.  Too bad this didn't happen on Halloween -- she looked scary enough without a costume.  Anyway, as mad as she looks in this picture, she actually spent the next 15 minutes rolling her eyes upwards, trying to see her hair sticking out.  When most of us would wake up complaining about an impossibly bad hair day, here she was making a game of it -- and eliciting uproarious laughter.  

This is going to sound really trite, but I'm going to say it anyway -- it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for kids to revel in the simple pleasures of this life:  to have fun when things are a little off kilter instead of rushing to get things back into a perfect balance, to stoop down to pick a lone flower instead of just dismissing it as a weed, to find joy in the unexpected instead of just lamenting about how it has messed up my routine. 

I've been writing a lot about how God has asked me to lay down things that have been part of my life for several years.  There is a myriad of reasons for this, I think, but one of them has to be so that I can be more childlike, so that I can actually take a few guilt-free moments to enjoy one of the many simple pleasures that abound in this world.  He has given me so many sweet gifts of beauty and light and I simply don't take the time to really see them.

Here's to simple pleasures and finding yours today.

I'm linking up with, well, you guessed it -- Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

Monday, October 25, 2010

A New Community

You know, God is good and His timing is always, well, perfect, but sometimes, just so...sweet as well.

Last night, I laid down the part-time job that I wrote about on Friday.  I made the decision to at least take the next semester off of supervising student teachers, but in my spirit, I think I know already that I am going to quit completely.  There was peace and then a simple breath.

And then, no sooner had I surrendered, but a new idea fresh in  my mind began to grow.  And here it is:

I would like to host you in my house. 

Of course, since we live all over the world, my house is my blog.  But what I  mean is that I would like to create a safe place for people to come and share their struggles, their moments of battle, their surrenders, their renewals, their defeats, and their successes.  I want to host us so that we may encourage each other each week.  To lift up, to not judge, to welcome, to speak truth.  I would like it to be a place with new life is born, chains broken, and sisterhood celebrated.

If my vision seems a bit unclear, I am sorry. I think God is creating it as I go.  In practical terms, this is what I see:
1.  A link-up every week (I have to figure out that McLinky thing) on TUESDAYS (starting next week, November 2nd), hosted at Finding Heaven (which is where you are right now).
2.  You link up whatever post you have most recently written where you have shared what is on your heart (make sure you use your permalink, not just your blog address).
3.  Everyone who links up will visit each others' blog posts (or as many as you can) to offer encouragement, empathy, a sweet word from the Word. Perhaps you will be lead to share a similar experience?

I realize that there is a certain amount of risk be vulnerable to some extent.  It's not about airing dirty laundry or sharing things that you feel will uncover you.  It's about journeying together and showing each other support and love.  If you feel that you might like to be a part of this, will you drop me a comment?  I will try to send out an email or drop you a comment on your blog on Sunday or Monday to remind you of the link-up.

I hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Contemplating Change

Tonight during family prayer time, my sweet Hannah prayed this prayer:

And God, please help Mommy love us better.

Honestly, I don't know if those were her exact words, but that is what I heard.  Talk about dagger to the heart and a terribly sinking feeling in my stomach.  Immediately, I held her close.

Do I not do a good job of loving you, Hannah?  My eyes plead and my heart hinges on the "yes" that escapes her lips.  She smiles, gives me a kiss, and crawls into her bed.  I slink out of the room, no taller than the Barbie leaning up again the toy chest.  Is it so obvious that I need help showing love to my children?

I throw this question up to God.  I don't expect the answer that immediately imprints on my brain, one similar to a neon OPEN sign in a storefront window. OPEN! OPEN! OPEN!  These words simply say, Did you not just pray these words yesterday?

I try to explain to God that it doesn't matter if I prayed it.  The fact that she prayed it is what is important here.  It's much like me realizing I should lose weight and someone else telling me I'm getting a bit chunky in the rear.  Perhaps it's that I'm okay knowing my flaws, but I detest other people recognizing them, too.

I think of other possible promptings for this prayer.  Maybe she recognizes that some days, it's hard being a mom.  Maybe the Holy Spirit is speaking through her and she is lifting me up in prayer.  Maybe she likes how so-and-so's mom dishes out the lovin' and she's hoping I'll follow suit.  I don't know.  The whole thing hurt my heart, but I'm determined to not drown in guilt and to, instead, let these words provoke some thoughts about changes.

  • I will recognize that during this season in my life, I am easily distracted from my parenting.  I will ask forgiveness and I will continue to pray that God shows me when and how to be more intentional.  I will put the iPhone down.  I will not rush to the phone every time the email *dings* to see if it is another comment on my blog.  I will not wait with anticipation until it is my turn again on Words with Friends.
  •  I will give up the things that God has asked me to lay down.  Even if it means forfeiting extra money and a title of which I might be a bit too proud.
  • I will lay down my fear of things not getting done.  Perhaps in my quest to tidy up every last loose end, I have left my own children dangling in the lurch.  Oh my.
  • I will not idolize my time in a quiet house.  In fact, I will not call it "my time."  Really, it's God's time and He knows how it would best be spent.  He knows when I need to work.  He knows when I need to rest.  He knows when it is time to clean the house.  When my house is noisy and full of boisterous children, I will rejoice and see God's love and grace in the moment, no matter what is within the present situation.
  • I will give myself grace. I am a parent.  I am not a perfect parent. I am not perfect. Period.
Oh, the power of the words that come from the mouths of babes.  They have the power to make a mommy's heart swoon or bring her crashing down, guilt burying her in seconds.  But, we can allow Jesus to temper them.  To show us the truth in their words, while pulling us up, out of the ashes.

I'm linking up with Home Sanctuary and Caffeinated Randomness today.  Check out the fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simple Pleasures

I don't always find pleasure in running.

Some days, it's hot.  Some days, my energy is depleted.  Some days, my muscles are not on board with the training plan.

But, I take immense pleasure lacing up my shoes, knowing that I am healthy enough to run, knowing that I can condition my body, even at 32 years of age, to do something I used to think would be impossible.  No matter how I feel, I can will myself to push a little bit harder, to go a little bit longer, to get a little bit closer to whatever goal I am trying to achieve.

I can look at my shoes, see my faithful companions, and visualize crossing the finish line after a very long 26.2 miles.  I remember how I endured.  I remember how I convinced myself that if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, I would live to see the end.  I remember the magnitude of elation that filled me in that final moment.

And when I see my shoes, I see myself -- what I have become.  Because no matter if it is a physical challenge or emotional or spiritual one, I know now from what material I am made.  I know now that I can endure, that I can succeed, that I have the will and the drive to push through.

And I have a Faithful Companion with me, literally, every step of the way.  He helps me endure.  He helps me push through.  He wills me to go farther than I ever thought possible.

Project Simple Pleasures2
I'm linking up with Simple Pleasures.

Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough.
Hal Higdon

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dots and Stars

I wrote a guest post for Critty Joy's blog and it live today!  Please check out my post on her blog and please spend time reading some of her posts. She is such a gracious girl, with a beautiful spirit, and a passionate heart for Jesus. I am so blessed to know her and I know you will be, too.

Here's a teaser --

Max Lucado wrote a children’s book entitled You are Special.  The basic premise of the book is this:  You are special because God made you and nothing that anybody says or doesn’t say can change that simple fact. 
I think this adult needs this lesson just as much as kids.
If you don’t know the story, Punchinello spends the first part of the book despondent because the other Wemmicks (the wooden people all made by Eli) continually place gray dot stickers on him because his faults, his failures, his never-measure-ups.  He longs to have someone, anyone, give him a golden star instead.  The people who receive stars are those who are the models of perfection.  They are the ones who achieve, who are beautiful, who are successful in all they do.  He tarries on this way until he meets Lucia.  Lucia does not have any stickers, not because people don’t give them to her, but because they don’t stick. In short, she does not internalize worldly acclamation or condemnation. She simply relies on her Father to supply for her a sense of worth.
I am not like Lucia.  
To finish reading, please click here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh, What a Week

Sunday is the big day.

It's our church's 50th birthday and I have been in charge of planning the party. It is an outreach project -- who can have a birthday party without invited guests? We have asked the surrounding community to celebrate with us and my prayer is that they see Jesus, that they are enveloped in joy, that they have fun, but that they see the purpose behind all this -- a witness of the God's amazing, unconditional love for them.

Needless to say, I have been a bit busy. But, I have still been writing. In the spirit of being random and giving myself grace for not writing a specific post (or for finishing my art this week) for today, I'm linking up my posts for this week so you can check them out if you feel so inclined.

First, the sad state of my art piece this week:

It is not nearly finished, but you can read the significance of this particular flower here.  (Side note:  My oldest daughter just walked in the room.  Who drew this? I did, I say.  Wow, Mom, I didn't know you were an artist.  That's really good.  God is so kind to bless me with this words, eh?  Especially so early in the  morning.)

Last weekend, I went to the Women of Joy conference in San Antonio. It was amazing, to say the least.  Here is the pouring out of my heart from this conference.  It is a post that completely rocked my heart as I was writing it.  It's called "Torn in Two?"  and you can find it here.

Finally, if you need some encouraging words because you have dealt with (or currently are dealing with) food addiction, you can find them here.

I hope you all have a blessed Friday and weekend!  Y'all are such an amazing group of people and I am so glad that God encouraged me to walk with you in this land of blogs.

Please check out the extraordinary link-ups!
Jennifer's Studio JRU
Rachel Ann's Home Sanctuary
Michelle's Lost in the Prairies

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Waiting for Blooms

You don't know how long I've been waiting for this flower.  It's a summer/fall bloomer and  most of the time I don't even know if it's survived the winter until late April/early may.  Even though I am unsure of the status, I still lovely add fertilizer.  I make sure I give it enough water.  I baby it, even though all the laboring may be for nothing.

Upon the first green shoots, I am ecstatic.  I am filled with immense pleasure that one of my most beloved plants will return for another season.  June, July, August, and September pass and while I do see a plethora of green leaves, I see no blooms.  Red and yellow are nowhere to be seen.  Was it damaged somehow? I wonder.

And then, October arrives and I first begin to see bulb-like blooms.  They are ready to burst.  They are ready to flower.  They are ready to show off the explosion of color that they were design to shimmer on the world.  And my heart jumps.  Beauty has arrived.  The waiting is over. 

There have been so many times in my life when I have toiled tangibly and in prayer for things that I never thought would come to fruition.  I would find encouragement in the small happenings, but then quickly become frustrated when the finished product or the answer I was seeking would remain elusive.  What is wrong with this?  What is wrong with me?  Am I damaged somehow?

And then, in God's perfect timing, the bloom arrives.  And it is more beautiful than I ever could have expected.  If you are waiting, if you feel that your labor is in vain, if you cannot see the sun peeking out over the horizon, revel in the tangible encouragements, in the simple pleasures, no matter how small, and know that God is still cultivating the soil, He is still shaping the blooms, He is still perfecting His beautiful creation.

I'm linking up with Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

Food Addiction: Avoiding the Backslide

I don't know if you know this, but I am a recovering food addict.  I will always be recovering because every day has the potential to be a battle, especially if the day holds stress, emotion, or if there are Three Musketeers bars in the house.  Through  my own journey of learning that food is to nourish my body and not my soul, I have learned how to handle the days and fight the temptations.  Oh, yes, I still slip.  I have far from conquered the battle, but there are some strategies I've picked up along the way. If you are interested, please click over to my Blissfully Domestic article.  Not sure if you are interested?  Here's a little teaser...

Recovered alcoholics can never drink another drop of alcohol, lest they want to return to the pit where their addiction strangled the life out of them.  Recovered smokers must stay clear of another cigarette, lest they desire to fall back into the trap that they must have a dose of nicotine to relieve their stress.  Those previously ensnared by the tantalizing lures of pornography must even be wary of rated-R movies, lest an image conjure up memories of past behaviors and a lifestyle that perverted the true meaning of love.  But what about those of us addicted to food?  Food is vital to the nourishment of our bodies and it not something that we can completely cut from our lives.  It is ingrained and designed to be a part of our daily routines.  If it is not escapable or avoidable, how do we, as recovering food addicts, manage our addiction so that we do not fall back into destructive behaviors?
 Finish reading by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Torn in Two?

The waves were rough that day.

I had little Hannah standing next to me in the calf-deep water.  Grannie was sitting in front of me, in water that was just a hair shallower.  We chatted.  We laughed.  And we didn't notice the wave behind us.  All of the sudden we were smacked with a large, unexpected wave that lifted Hannah off her feet and nearly knocked my 88-pound grandmother under the water.  Hannah had already been holding my hand, but since her feet no longer found footing on the ocean floor, the rip tide was carrying her north.  I tightened my grip on her and lunged for my grandmother to help her keep her head above water.  I had two people who did not have enough strength to battle the wave and undertow on their own, clinging to me.  My arms were outstretched, one pulled north and one pulled south.  My heels dug into the sand beneath me and I held on as tight as I could, desperate to save them both.  The wave passed and everyone righted themselves, hearts beating quickly, relief settling in.

During my quiet time this morning, God replayed this event in my mind.  As I looked back at my physical being in that moment, I saw my arms extended in a straight line, each hand 180 degrees away from the other.  I saw a cross behind me.  And in some sort of weird image that only God can make in order to show His point, I saw myself super-imposed on that cross.  I was a sacrifice trying desperately to save two souls, unworried about myself, sure of my footing, but scared for my daughter and my grandmother.

No, I'm not saying I'm Jesus.  Not even close.  What I think God was asking me was if I was willing to sacrifice my life for those who have not chosen Him.  Would I choose to endure waves of pain so that someone else might find life eternal?  Then, would I not only live through the pain, but would I be able to eventually choose joy, despite the circumstances?

Can I really lay all that I have down at Your throne?  Can I trust You with all that I have and allow You to use me to the fullest extent possible to win souls for You?

Can I let You use my children?  Can I let You have my husband?  Can I give You free rein over our financial stability?  Can I give You my health?  My house?  My jobs?  Will I offer up everything, knowing that I might lose it all, to bring You more glory?  Will I willingly seek and find the joy and the presence of Your Hand, no matter what this life may bring?

At the Woman of Joy conference that I attended last weekend, the recurring theme was finding joy in the midst of the most tragic suffering.  Steven Curtis Chapman spoke about losing his five year-old daughter.  Carol Kent spoke about her son being sentenced to life in prison for committing first-degree murder.  Becky Tirabassi spoke about being a teenage alcoholic and her husband's battle with cancer.  All these trials.  All this suffering.  And yet, here they were, allowing God to use these things to win souls for Christ.  They weren't martyrs.  They were the embodiment of joy because they were living out their purpose.  In the midst of it all, at some point, they trusted that God was with them and would lead them, in the end, to victory.

Will I be willing to take the risk to actively surrender my life so that God can use it to the fullest extent possible?  Will I die to myself, to my dreams and do whatever heart work it takes to finish the race strong and in His name?  Will it be for His glory alone and not for a drop of mine?  Will I risk feeling as though I am being torn in two in order to be a part of the most amazing victory in the end?

I don't know if this act of surrender will end in the type of pain these people experienced.  I don't believe that God caused these horrible things to happen, but I do think He allowed them to happen so that these amazing people would testify to the power and divine surprises that He gives us in this world.  The truth is that there will always be suffering on this earth as we now know it.  There will always be pain.  It is what we do with that suffering and pain that has the possibility to reveal God's powerful and amazing love, grace, and mercy.

Would you risk it all for Him?

"That evening Jesus' disciples went down to the shore to wait for him.  But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn't come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum.  Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.  They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat.  They were terrified, but he called out to them.  'Don't be afraid.  I am here!'  Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!"  John 6: 16-21

Friday, October 8, 2010

Breaking Chains

 Who knew that something as casual as flipping through the mail would be such a devastating, my-worst-fear-has-just-been-realized kind of moment?

Craig and I had just returned from our honeymoon, which consisted of two days in Fredericksburg, Texas at a B&B, one day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and eight days on the Senior High Mission Trip to the Navajo Indian Reservation in  New Mexico.  (Yes, driving in a 16 passenger van filled with high school kids might not be part of the average person's honeymoon, but it was actually fun and full of blessings.  Plus, the whole reason we met was because of these kids, so you know, it was a nice way to pay it back.)  Anyway, we were freshly showered and snuggled into our 600 square foot apartment and I was opening the mail.  There was thin envelope from the life insurance company with which we had just applied.  It was addressed only to Craig.

It says I don't qualify.

Surely, you read that wrong, I said, snatching it from his hands.

He didn't pass the bodily fluids test.  Death is at his door, I thought.  The letter said something about abnormally high levels of protein in his urine and creatine in his blood.  I immediately called the nearest hospital to talk to a nurse.  What does this all mean??  The nurse said she couldn't make a diagnosis on the phone, yada, yada, yada.   

Look, lady, do these things mean my husband is going to die?  Like right now?  Hypothetically speaking, of course.

After I felt reassured enough to stop hyperventilating, we discussed making doctor's appointments, etc.  Through the general practitioner, the kidney specialist, the kidney biopsy, the medications, the routine tests, my thoughts were always the same:  My worst fears are coming true. I am going to get married and then my husband is going to die and I will be left alone.  For so long, I had dreamed of him and now *poof*, he will be gone.   

Rational,  no.  Real, yes.  Despite the heartache and worry and unceasing fear, I can look back on that time and be...thankful.  I'm thankful, of course, that he is fully healed now and has no more problems with his kidneys.  I'm thankful that he no longer needs the medications to keep everything in proper balance.  But most of, I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to look at the greatest fear of my life at the time in the face and STARE. IT. DOWN. 

Through all that, God showed me that even if my husband were to cease to live here on this earth, my life would still go on.  It would be hard.  It would be terrible.  It would be hell on earth.  But, my God would still be with me.  He would still carry me through.  He would still love me, still equip me, still take care of me.  I would still have His mission to carry on and I would do it because everything in this world is temporary and we are all really just preparing for going Home.

If I was still tied to that fear (and it still creeps up every now and then when I can't get a hold of him on the phone and he is late and he hasn't called OR he goes camping where things like bears and mountain lions exist), I would be bound to something that is not of God.  I think about how differently I act when I let fear settle into my heart and my mind.  When I am worried, I am uptight, short-tempered, and generally unpleasant.  That kind of me with my kind  of busy life does not mix well, I tell you.  The freedom of placing these fears in the hands of a God far mightier than me, allows me to breath the breathe of new life, of a surrendered life, of a life filled with abundant joy.  Living through this experience with Craig, and with other experiences in my life (like being afraid of not being able to pay my bills) has shown me that God is trustworthy.  He is a provider.  He is Love.

Do you have chains of fear that need to be broken?

"So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, 'Abba, Father.'"
Romans 8:15, NLT

I'm linking up with Studio JRU, Lost in the Prairies, and Home Sanctuary today.  Please stop in and see these amazing ladies!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lovely Blogs

Yesterday, I received a Lovely Blog award from Paris, who has just this cutest family ever.  She is a new friend that I met through my (in)courage post.  She is obviously a very generous friend, as she has already starting giving me gifts!

Here it is:

The rules in receiving the award are: 

1.  Accept the award and acknowledge the person who bestowed it upon me.  
Paris, thank you so much. I am truly humbled by what you said about this blog and I am honored to know you.

2.  Pay it forward to 15 newly discovered blogs you enjoy.
Some of these are not newly discovered, but old favorites.  Enjoy perusing!
1.  Studio JRU 
I link up with Jennifer every week to show what I've been creating in my studio (a.k.a my couch).  She is an inspiration with her words and her art.  In fact, she is hosting a giveaway right now so literally, stop what you are doing and click over there NOW.
2.   Critty Joy
Critty Joy is just a super fun, all-around great gal.  She does this fantastic wallpaper, blogs about real life -- highs, lows, and everything in between, and just oozes sweetness.

3.  Home Sanctuary 
Rachel Ann kindly gives us tasks to do every day to keep our home organized, clean, and genuinely, um, a sanctuary.  She gives away prizes at the end of the month to keep us tallying up those points for all things we do around the house.  She also hosts "Company Girls" which is a fun Friday link-up where you are sure to meet some of your best blog friends.

4.  Mommy on Fire 
Natalie is just that -- a mommy on fire for life, her family, and Jesus.  She is writing her journey on her blog (along with other great stuff) and she has a very touching, grace-filled testimony.

5.  CiCi's Corner 
Can I just tell you how much I love this lady?  She is so heart-felt, heart-warming, and just amazing. I love catching up with her life.  I'm claiming her as my Lousiana mom.

6.  Amy Sullivan 
Amy writes about gracious living and trying to keep herself and her family focused on doing that which Jesus calls us to do -- to serve others instead of ourselves.  She is an amazing writer and one after Jesus' own heart.

7.  God Speaks Today
8.  Fitness Friday Girl
Sandy Cooper is both a Jesus and fitness buff.  She writes eloquently and humorously about both on 2 different blogs. She is knowledgeable and so not afraid to laugh at herself.

9.  In the Becoming 
Jenny is new to the blog world and new to being a stay-at-home Mommy.  She shares from the heart and is very real.

10.  Lost in the Prairies...Found By God
I love Michelle's blog because not only does she write about what she personally deals with, but she often opens my eyes to worldly happenings that I probably would have missed if I didn't read her posts.

11.  Opened Door 
Jodene is an amazing (amazing!) photographer.  I love her words that she shares, too.  Simple and from the heart.

12.  Graceful 
Michelle is also a very talented photographer and I love her pictures.  Her writings stir my soul in a powerful way.

13.  Journey of Healing 
Stephanie hears God through her every day life events and then shares them, no matter how convicting.

14.  Celebrate Friendship 
Ruth is a well-traveled, multi-talented lady.  She hosts Tea Time Thursday and has such a sweet, quiet spirit.

15.  The Mommy Mambo 
Jennifer is some kind of talented.  Her tag line?  Coffee in hand, baby on hip, twins in tow.  Sounds like a mambo to me!

I hope you have a fabulous time checking out these blogs!! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Need some (in)couragement Today?

It's another big day...

Today you will find me on (in)courage (see badge to the right).  It is an amazing site that brings nourishment to the heart and soul.  Please go over there and leave me a comment -- it would bless me tremendously.  I hope YOU are blessed by my words and thoughts today!

Here is a teaser to (hopefully) lure you over there --

Love Like That

It was just my church newsletter. 

It was just a Bible verse at the top of the page.

And now, I believe, the words are permanently seared into my heart.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.  Ephesians 5: 1-3, The Message

Do I love like that?  Am I even capable of emanating a love that profound, that free, that unencumbered by strings?  Is this even a possibility?

When I think about my day and all that entails, do I spend the majority of it loving?  Sure, the actions that I perform may come across as being loving, but is that my true motivation?

Continue the story by clicking here.

Friday, October 1, 2010


If your marriage is starving but still hanging on, you need to wake up today and make a real effort to pour some of yourself into your husband's cup.
~Kristin Armstrong, Heart of My Heart

I read this on Tuesday and since then, all that has been on my mind are the proverbial cups that I am supposed to fill.  I pictured myself, a large pitcher (okay, you can stop laughing now), carefully doling out precious amounts of myself into designated receptacles.  I even started drawing them.  For some reason, I decided that I would represent my girls with these dainty little flowery cups.  Who am I kidding?  There cups, if you look at actual volume would be resemble the  Route 44's from Sonic.  There were some disposable Starbucks cups labeled "special projects" that won't be around forever (praise God).  Ceramic tea cups for friends -- the go-to cups when you are in need of something familiar in your hands.  There was a champagne glass for the husband because, you know, it's like we are still on our honeymoon after 10 years.  Um, yeah. There was even a chalice for Jesus and a water bottle for running.  I'm very thorough, you know. 

As I finished sketching all of these things out, I stood back.

This is just impossible.  I felt so divvied-up.  Dried up?  Unsure of how to keep things in the proper check.  Is everyone getting what they need?  Where am I falling short?  Is something overflowing?  To top it off, I just read this, too:  It's easy to get caught up in the needs of our children that the needs of our husbands slide down the priority scale into oblivion.  Of course, this has never happened to me.  We are still in the honeymoon phase, remember?  Right.

Later that night, I asked God -- Is this it?

Let me paint a different picture, child.

I watched and before me was a glass pitcher, pouring out into this ordinary drinking glass, where the water spilled over the lip and onto the saucer beneath it.  From there, the water overflowed over the edge of the saucer and the waterfalls cascaded into all the cups below.

Nice, huh?  Practically speaking, God is the pitcher. I am the ordinary drinking glass and the cups below are the things He has called me to pour myself into.  I'm not sure about the plate.  Feel free to share your thoughts on that one.  The point is, in my earlier sketch, I was dried up because I didn't have the Source flowing into me.  And, I realize now that if I have cups below that aren't really mine to be filling, I, and the other cups, are left without.  It's not because He is not giving enough, but because I usually don't have/make the time to get replenishment from Him.  He is about relationship, not just about works.  He desires to spend time with me and if all I'm doing is working, there is a very real possibility that the relationship is in danger of drying up. 

Anyone thirsty besides me?

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'"  John 7: 37-38

A Word about the art:  This was an extremely difficult piece to draw.  I was using a clear glass pitcher, trying to depict water pouring forth.  Shading glass and water is next to impossible for me.  But, I took on the challenge because I felt the full frontal view would offer the gift of refreshment to the viewer, as if he/she could readily receive the offering.  Anyway, I'm sure that one day one of the real artists that read my blog are going to realize I'm just posing!  :)

I'm linking up with some of the coolest people in blogland.  Please check out Jennifer's Sneak Peek Friday, Michelle's Caffeinated Randomness, and Rachel Ann at Home Sanctuary.