Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful For The Gift Of Him

He auditioned me for a band in college.

That's how we met.

I came into the classroom at Liberty University wearing my Gap jeans and sweater vest like a good 90's girl, and played the keyboard and sang for a couple of young college guys including one long-haired seminary student.

When I left the room that seminary student's friend told him these words...

I think you're going to marry that girl.

A little over three years later he did.

And over fourteen years from that very first meeting, here I sit, gratefully his wife.

As I ponder Thanksgiving, I can't help but give thanks for Jimmy.

I was thinking today that as blessed I am with some excellent friendship and relationships, there is no friendship so deep as the one I share with my husband.

He is my very best friend.  He knows my heart, the deepest places, and protects it. We've shared years of long talks into the night, deepening the intimacy that grows over time.  There is so much sacred between us. I have confidence and trust in him like no other.

He thinks I'm beautiful.  No matter what.  I used to wonder what he saw certain days, but over time I realized that when he looks my way he simply sees me.  I've never once heard him utter a negative word about my appearance.  When he looks at me he sees from the inside out, into the heart of a girl he fell in love with.

His respectfulness runs deep and true.  He is committed to keeping his eyes and heart pure.  His integrity helps him lead our home well.  I trust him.

He gives up certain things.  I know he does.  There have been lots of material things he could have insisted upon through the years.  I know he is often the only guy in the room without various possessions.  But he sacrifices so we can give, so I can be home as much as I can with our children, so we can meet our shoestring budget, so that if there is extra we can enjoy a memory as a family or the kids can get something they need.  I don't tell him enough how much I admire him for not having to have the latest and greatest of everything that comes along, how he is making the greatest of investments into our family life.

I love that we have always had regular date nights and sometimes full date days.  I love that he sometimes surprises me by already lining up care for the kids and making plans.  I love that we have gotten away on overnight trips and mini vacations now and then, just the two of us.  I love that he takes Madi and Trev on dates.  I love all the places we've been and memories we've made together.

Jimmy loves God in a way you don't see too often anymore.  His faith is uncompromising; his walk is wise; his commitment clear.  He and his house will serve the Lord, even if they do so alone.

That is a strong foundation for a home.

I love our home.

I am so thankful.

This world is unsettled and the future is unclear, but my heart can rest knowing the man I love loves God and honors Him with each day.

We are not a perfect couple.  We have those days.  We have things we are still figuring out.

But what we share is special.

To be so intimately connected with someone spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally is a gift.

And that's easy to forget in the routine of day to day.

I don't want to forget.

It's easy not to see even the best gift when it is right in front of our eyes.

I don't want to miss the gift.  I want to thank the Giver.

God, you have so blessed us.  In the very best and even in the hardest times, we can see so evidently Your hand over us, Your blessing upon us.  You have grown us in so many ways since we met as college students.  Sometimes that growth has been exciting, other times it has been challenging.  But I praise you that as we've grown, we always end up having grown closer to You and to each other.  Thank You for meeting our needs, giving us strength, and giving us richly so much we have enjoyed. Thank You for our children.  Please help us to continue to make intentional investments into our marriage and family so this love will only grow richer and sweeter with time. Please help us remain unconditionally committed to You which will help us remain unconditionally committed to one another.  Marriage is such an amazing part of Your plan, a beautiful picture of Your love for us.  To enjoy marriage and family as we do is such a gift.  Thank you God for Jimmy.  May I honor and love him well.  Amen.

A Thanksgiving Thought {Yet I Will Rejoice}

I was reminded of this passage by my dad on Sunday.  It comes from the little book of Habakkuk, a book of the Bible with major themes of struggle and doubt, God's sovereignty, and hope.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls -

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

The choice to rejoice.

A reminder that Thanksgiving can involve choosing.

It's a choice that can transform this and every day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Nicest Weekend And My Mom's Apple Crisp

All is not right with the world.  But isn't it grand when a day or two comes along where we feel like it is?

We need those days!  And this weekend has blessedly been that way.

Yesterday we woke up to sunshine and cool breezes.  Grandpa is in town so I put his favorite hazelnut coffee on and some blueberry muffins in the oven.  The fresh air rushed through our open windows as the fragrance of morning wafted through the house.

Before breakfast was over I had already put a batch of chili in the crockpot for later. Jimmy and his dad took the kids out for some fun and activity while I enjoyed a few moments of quiet at the computer, a good workout, and a hot shower.  Fall is still abundant in our home with Thanksgiving front and center, but I allowed myself to listen to some beautiful, mostly instrumental Christmas music as I got dressed and started peeling fruit for some homemade apple crisp.  The sights and sounds and smells were calming and all was bright and beautiful.  

My heart felt immensely grateful.

Each day is a gift from God; days like these are exquisitely generous.

My Mom's Apple Crisp

4 C sliced apples
1/4 C hot water
1/2 C butter
1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar

Arrange apples in buttered dish. 
Pour hot water over apples.
Cream butter - add flour and sugar and blend to form crumbs.
Sprinkle over apples.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or
until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.

The rest of the day was family and slow pace and more good tastes and sights and sounds as palm trees danced and the Florida breezes blew through the screens. Today was a sweet time of praise and thanksgiving at church and more relaxed time with family.  In the message this morning my dad used this scripture that he dedicated to Madison when she was born.  My heart can echo these words.

Psalm 107:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

This was the nicest weekend.

Gratefulness abounds.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have heard of Five Minute Friday for some time now and had considered participating in this writing exercise, but it would slip my mind and time would go by.  The directions are simple...take five minutes and write what comes to your mind on the assigned topic with no fancy editing, over thinking, drafting, etc.  You see a word, and you write.

Honesty, I love this type of exercise! But Fridays are often full - yesterday for instance I subbed 5th grade, went to the grocery store after school, welcomed my father-in-law in our home for a visit, and cheered on our local football team at a playoff game as we had youth group students represented on the football team, cheerleading team, and band.  And here it is already Saturday, but the link is still open and I think I want to give this a try.

So here we go.  Five minutes. The word is...


As women we constantly want to stay.  Stay in shape.  Stay in love.  Stay in the same jeans size.  Stay in control (yikes).  Stay within the budget.  Stay in tune with the people in our lives.  Sometimes we are in transition and want to stay in the past in a time that might have been simpler, easier, happier.

One place I want to stay is in the present.  I don't want to miss these moments.  It's way too easy to do just that.  We get busy, distracted, overwhelmed and all of a sudden we blink and that season we thought would never end is gone and we want it back.  Each day is a gift from God and I want to be present.

I want to stay committed to my family because too many people leave these days.  I want to stay even when staying is hard.  There is power in staying.  

I want to stay faithful to my Savior.  Even when faithfulness takes sacrifice and I feel like I stand alone, I want to stand faithful.  To stay fully committed to Him.


Five Minute Friday

Thursday, November 15, 2012

{Gifts 15-31}

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; 
that's why they call it the present."

{Gifts 15-31}

#15 - cool, invigorating air blowing through my car windows, backseat belly laughter, and birds flying in perfect formation on the way to school

#16 - my mom's fish tacos and broccoli slaw which could rival any good restaurant

#17 - the small ways with which I am blessed to help provide and contribute 

#18 - teenagers who inspired me once again last night

#19 - a husband who leads these teenagers spiritually, patiently, and lovingly

#20 - AWANA leaders who invest into Madi and Trevor's spiritual lives each week, and help them learn the Word of God 

#21 - a warm, dry place to sleep every night

#22 - the lights on my fall tree that shine this cloudy morning

#23 - that we have never gone hungry

#24 - the diligent work of amazing teachers

#25 - how well Trevor is reading - I am in awe of what he has learned already in kindergarten 

#26 - low cost and sometimes no cost opportunities for extra fun, skill development, and learning at school

#27 - free shipping offer from American Girl that helped motivate me to begin Christmas shopping

#28 - their understanding and willingness to open piggy banks to help with a simple gift of chickens for a family across the world

#29 - how Madi eagerly packed a shoebox for an unknown teenage girl, and it so burdened her heart that her teacher came to me and said she told her all about it 

#30 - opportunities to inspire others

#31 - layers of my heart God is peeling back and revealing, and the learning and growth that takes place when we lean in and listen

For these and more I am thankful...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Am I Discouraged?

This afternoon, I read this devotional and was compelled by its truth.  The familiar scripture at the end grabbed my attention.

Psalm 43:5, "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!" (NLT)

Something may have you down and discouraged.  Something may have your heart divided or sad.

But God is your Savior!  You can hope in Him!  You can choose to praise Him again!

Just thought someone else would be blessed by this reminder as well!

Love and Good Cheer {He Has Overcome!},


What I Wore Wednesday

It was off to fourth grade this morning, and off I went in an anchor top I got for my birthday this summer (growing up near Annapolis gave me a love all things nautical), an old gray skirt from the late 90's that I wore in college (we're talking Gap classic), and a pop of my very favorite color.

I tell you what, that skirt has served me well!  And yellow just makes me feel more cheerful!

Thankful for this day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Choosing Gratitude {Gifts 1-14}

It's the choice we are faced with moment by moment, day after day.

The choice between gratitude or grumbling.

We wrestle with it because we are human.

The winds of change are always blowing, leaving us fearful.

Our expectations don't always determine the outcome, and all does not turn out like we had planned or hoped.

Yet we are blessed.

Blessed, blessed, blessed beyond measure.

And when we choose gratitude for those everyday blessings, our soul still sings.

Because amidst the change winds God is constant, and it is because of His unfailing love that we are not consumed.

So we thank Him, we choose the rejoicing, and it is beautiful to our God.

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.

Psalm 33:1

Many of you have been making your lists for some time now, giving thanks for your 1,000 gifts, inspired by Ann Voskamp.  I have decided that it is time for me to join in the noticing, the documenting, the blessing, the worship.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!  
O Lord my God, You are very great.

Psalm 104:1a

{Gifts 1-14}

#1 - a surprise gift on the piano bench that met a need and touched my heart

#2 - the anticipation of a visit from a dear friend

#3 - that the Lord is good to those who quietly wait on Him and seek Him

#4 - the blessed sound of silence

#5 - two little Students of the Month this autumn

#6 - that recent exquisite day spent in the sunshine when Jimmy and I made time simply to be together

#7 - open windows and cool sheets

#8 - strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

#9 - children tucked safe and sound sleeping peacefully in freedom

#10 - small but significant opportunities for our family to give together

#11 - God loving teachers who care for my children each day

#12 - that grace flowed down and covered me

#13 - dancing in breezes

#14 - covenant love

For these and more I am thankful...

Friday, November 9, 2012

High Five For Friday!

One: Stopping to notice and appreciate the simple beauty.
Two: The Taco Chili was fragrant, the cornbread hot, the produce fresh.
Three: Hard to remember such a sore throat. So sick. Thankful for what comforts.
Four: Pumpkin spice chai. Easy on the throat, good for the soul.
Five: Love her style.


Resting this Friday evening!  Thankful for doctors, medicine, comfy beds, helpful family, and God's grace to get me through the last two days of subbing in PreK-3 while better but not at full strength.  

Because if I hadn't been able to make it to PreK-3, I would have probably never been told I looked like Michael Jackson.  Which in any other setting might have made me a cry a little bit, except that I knew the sweet little fellow who said it (who is one of the cutest kids ever) happens to be a huge fan of MJ, so it was a compliment.  

Funny how perspective and context can change everything!

Lesson learned.

It still makes me laugh to think about it.

Though I find myself wondering if it was the leather jacket I was wearing...

Broaden your perspective.  Spend the day with twenty 3 year olds!

Linking up with Lauren at High Five For Friday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I Bought A Mug With A Question Mark On It

It was a month or so ago when I was heading towards the frozen foods aisle at Target and got sidetracked by this...

A simple mug with a question mark on it.

It perked my interest, but I left it on the shelf.

Then it caught my eye on the next visit...and the next one...

And then one visit I noticed the peculiar mug had been marked half off and was on sale for $2.50, so I bought it and use it often for my morning coffee.

Why would I want to buy such a mug?

Now, that's a good question!

(So sorry, I just couldn't resist. Haha.)

In all seriousness, it is because I can identify with that little mug.  There have been times where I have felt as if my life has been marked by a big, huge question mark.

And it's been a journey.  Because on the one hand, carrying unanswered questions can be incredibly trying and feel like weakness or lack of faith, but on the other hand it is marked by perseverance and seems evident of authentic faith.  Still believing when you can't see all the answers right in front of you, but trusting that they are there.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

I have quite a few unanswered questions right now.  Actually, I have a few more today than I did yesterday.  Some are small and relatively minor; others are big and quite significant.  I am learning that God can handle my questions.  In fact, Jesus asked a question that has burned through my soul as I've thought about this subject.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Matthew 27:46

He was suffering in our place on the cross.  He was in submission to the perfect plan and will of God the father.  We know he had asked God to take the cup of suffering from him, but had uttered those beautiful words of submission and surrender...not my will but Thine be done.

Ultimately, love overcame!  Death was defeated and victorious resurrection triumphed! Yet as Jesus hung on the cross in obedience to God as the sacrifice for our sins, literally giving his life and taking the punishment for those sins upon himself, he cried out to God with an agonizing question.  The Bible records the question.  It also records the sweat that became drops of blood.  The weeping in the garden.  

So I am learning to cry out honestly to God with my questions.  With my stress.  With my tears. And when nothing in life or this world seems to make sense,God's overcoming power and presence are just as sure as the morning sun.  I may not know all that will happen, but I know He is there.  He listens to my questions. And He loves me through them.

Sometimes He answers them quickly, and sometimes I wait and lean on His understanding.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God...

Deuternomy 29:29a

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

It's interesting how information stays in your brain.  How you can go years, even decades, without thinking of something and then one day it is right there.

As I type this, a song from my childhood in the 80's comes to mind.  I haven't heard it in ages.  Some of you may remember it.

When answers aren't enough there is Jesus
He is more than just an answer to your prayer
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge
When answers aren't enough, He is there.

In life, some seasons are going to be identified by a question mark.  On this journey, until we finally make it home, we're going to have questions.  And when we have questions, we are going to want answers.

But when answers await, or when answers aren't enough...

There is Jesus.

Rest in that tonight.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Have A Coral Skirt! I Have A Coral Skirt!

So, like many of you, I have been loving the whole pop of color thing this fall, especially the look of a trim coral skirt or pair of jeans.  I have little to no budget for clothes most months (hence the clearance rack and "from my closet" shopping you hear me speak of all the time), but love fashion and dressing to match the season, the occasion, and my mood!

I looked at a coral skirt on the sale rack at Target a month or so ago, but it just wasn't on sale enough. So I put it back on the rack for someone else.

The past few weeks as I've been putting together outfits to suit the unique and varying Florida fall weather (more posts on that subject to come soon), I have been wanting to wear one of those bright pops of tailored color that I keep seeing on fashion blogs.

Then it hit me.

I have a coral skirt!  I have a coral skirt!

It's definitely not the "latest and greatest" - in fact, here is a flashback photo of Jimmy and me from the spring of 2004 in our pre-kids, early ministry days.  I wore what was back then a brand new monochromatic outfit to an Evangelism Explosion banquet at church. A coral, linen skirt and top set I had purchased at good old Hecht's - did anyone else grow up shopping at that department store?!  Miss that place.

I hadn't worn this outfit in a couple of years, but hadn't gotten rid of it either.  I went digging in my closet, pulled out that skirt, and paired it with a lace top, my trusty nude heels, and some accessories to give it an "8 1/2 years later" makeover!

This is the kind of thing that energizes me! A beautiful, sunny, fall day and a "new" outfit made from everything I already had, including something very old!

Everything old is new again!  
Is there anything in your closet you can make new today?

The Battle Of The Mind

It's a new week.

Is anyone else extra thankful for that today?

I am home today, which is a huge blessing. I love being home.  I have taco chili cooking in the crockpot and the scents of fall burning, which adds to the comfort of this place I love.  I spent some much needed extra time in the Word and prayer this morning.  The rest of the week is going to be extremely full.  Today I sit for a few moments.  I am thankful for so much.  I am thankful it is a new day.  I am thankful for mornings.  His mercies are new every morning!  I am thankful that it is a new week, because last week threatened to drain the life right out of me.

Ever had a week like that?

I am a solid Biblical counselor (by study, not profession) and give myself free counseling sessions on a regular basis.  This weekend a friend suggested that I start charging, which made me giggle! (On the one hand I could make some extra money...but on the other hand I can't afford myself. Haha!  The conundrum of being your own therapist.)  Last week my "office" was busy with three demanding clients - me, myself, and I.  And let me tell you, it was exhausting!

I'm not proud of this, but I had a few days where I was tempted to resign any roles of responsibility, leadership, and influence, and crawl into a corner where I could be anonymous, average, and apathetic.  That self-protective corner looms in front of me at times, luring me with lies that it would be easier to hide there.

However, God desires leaders to shine as lights and stand strong for Him.  So I press on in the name of Jesus.  But sometimes my flesh is weak, and I have to fight a battle of the mind.

I've been thinking about that battle a lot.  Often we automatically assign the term "battle of the mind" to issues of purity and lust, and those are absolutely areas where we must remain on guard.  But there are more issues than those in this battle.

Sometimes in life we get a little beat up; we get a little torn down; we have to process words thrown out about us that are unfair or untrue; we have to deal with circumstances that we just plain don't understand; we have to stand strong in a culture that mocks God and could easily weigh our hearts down, or tear our families and faith apart.

During these times it is easy for all that to get in our head.  And we replay words, and wonder why on earth someone would say or do that, or feel like we just can't take this anymore, or feel we don't have the strength to stand strong and endure.  And the enemy of our souls would take the greatest delight if we took our ball and went home.  If we found that corner and cowered in fear and self-protection, extinguishing the light that threatens his darkness.

But the Lover of our souls has the power to renew our minds.  He gives us a plan of action.  His Word, our source of life and strength, tells us where to set our thoughts.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."

Philippians 4:8

Sometimes we want to meditate on the harsh realities of life that threaten to drain us to the point of ineffectiveness.  Our minds race with these thoughts, but we need to replace them with things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.  Things that will be honorable and profitable to our spiritual lives.  

The battle of my mind was so intense this week that I literally made out a chart of some harsh realities that my mind was dwelling on (that threatened to drive me into that corner) versus a chart of some truths I know from God's Word that I needed to replace the other thoughts with.  It looked like this...

Leadership is lonely.  I had a dear, sweet pastor's wife recently tell me she was battling serious isolation and trust issues.  She didn't need to say more.  I get it completely.  I cannot describe to you how lonely it can be as a leader but if you are one, than you know this already. But in the loneliness I often ask myself, what am I going to do? Throw in the towel?  Be anonymous, average, and apathetic?  Or embrace the truth that God is always with us - He will never leave or forsake us - He is El Roi, the God who sees.  He knows - He will defend and have the final say.  We must saturate our minds in truth, because truth trumps feelings every time.

People are manipulative.  There's really not much more that is necessary to say, except that manipulation hurts and drains.  But God is truth - His Word is truth - and He knows the truth, the whole story!  The Bible says we can know the truth and the truth will set us free! (John 8:32)

Life is not fair - often the righteous suffer.  Oh, some of the suffering I have seen among the righteous lately has brought me to my knees on behalf of others and what they are going through.  It doesn't make sense to our earthly minds.  But God is just and all knowing - it will all be sorted out in eternity - and He calls us to faithfulness regardless of our circumstances.  That is a high and honorable but difficult calling.

We have some faraway friends who have been enduring an incredible trial for some time now.  This couple has four beautiful teenage/young adult children.  They opened their home and were sweet mentors to us and several other couples when we were newlyweds.  They are godly people grounded in the Word who have served Jesus faithfully.  And right now Tim is fighting a very serious battle with brain cancer.

They have been actively posting about their battle on facebook and a blog titled We Choose To Believe.  I am amazed how much they are relying on and claiming Scripture during this battle.  It is humbling and inspiring.

The other day Melinda posted this on her facebook page...

Gal. 6:9

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."

Thank you for the encouragement of keeping on!

My God be glorified today!

Right smack dab in the middle of their intense physical, mental, and spiritual battle, she chose truth.  And shared truth.  And the truth she shared encouraged my weary heart to not give up.

So if your heart is weary today, may I encourage you to not give up.  If your mind is in the middle of a full fledged battle, may I encourage you to set your mind on those things Philippians 4:8 instructs.

Just this morning I was brought to this verse.

"and be renewed in the spirit of your mind"

Ephesians 4:25

Nine words that offer renewal when we think we're just about done.

Claim the truth of God's Word today.  It will renew the spirit of your mind!  It will help you keep going!  It will breathe life into your weary soul!  God's Word is the most powerful weapon we have in this battle.

Blessings for this new week and whatever it may hold,