Sunday, September 30, 2012

Repentance, weekend and food...

I don't have pictures to share this, hoo for me!!  My camera is acting up and not wanting to focus properly.  My #1 want on my Christmas list is a GOOD camera.  I hope my heart can wait that long!  (I only added that last part in case my sweet husband reads this!)

I must begin by saying how much I respect our pastor.  He is one of the best speakers I have ever heard and, more importantly, he has a true heart for Jesus.  If you download sermons off of iTunes, his are worth checking out.  His name is Gregg Matte and our church is Houston's First Baptist.  Today he spoke from Acts 2:37-40.  Part of his sermon focused on repentance.  He emphasized that repentance is not regret and or guilt.  It is deeper and more meaningful. 

 "Repentance is a change of our thinking that changes the core of our living"

This made me stop and reflect upon my prayer life and my relationship with Jesus.  My repentance consisted of telling Jesus I was sorry for my sins, checking it off of my list, and going on with my prayer.  My confession/repentance was more of a hand over my mouth mumble to Jesus.  I wanted that part out of the way so I could put my good Christian girl hat on and pray for people and things that are important to me and my family.  I have been missing a big part of building my relationship with Him.  In order to truly have a meaningful relationship with Jesus, I need to set my pride and sometimes embarrassment aside and be completely honest.  I must focus on my sin and ask God to change my heart so that I will grow towards Him.  I feel like I have a very strong relationship with Jesus.  I am looking forward to going even deeper with Him as I spend more time truly repenting and growing in our relationship. 

10 Things I LOVED about our weekend....
1.  Having dinner as an entire family on Saturday night.  (Jorden usually works on Saturday nights, but didn't last night.)
2.  Laughing with my witty husband.  He cracks me up.  :-)
3.  All of our kids telling us at dinner last night how much they look forward to Sunday mornings at church.  Be still my heart. :-)
4.  Hearing my girl share and share AND share some more about a birthday party she attended on Saturday.  I LOVE that she tells me so much.  I love that we have a close relationship and she enjoys sharing her life with me.  I love her something fierce!!
5.  Taking in God's word at church this morning. 
6.  Watching Luke get a haircut.  He loves his hair even more than I love mine.  Haircuts are a big deal to him.  He looks precious as he watches VERY intently as she cuts it. 
7.  Talking to my friend Jennifer as we stood in the rain without umbrellas.  I could talk with her for hours.  She is such a joy and a strong Christian woman.  She is the true Proverbs 31 woman!
8.  Hugging on my sweet Jorden.  He is 16 and still lets me love on him.  :-)
9.  It rained most of the day on Saturday.  It was wonderful.
10.  Snuggling up on the couch with a blanket and watching Hawaii 5-0 with my man.
***I sure used the word LOVE a lot!  I guess I really LOVED our weekend.  LOL!!

Weekly Menu....
Monday - Creamy Artichoke and Mushroom Penne, balsamic salad
Tuesday - Beef Stew in the Crockpot, sourdough bread
Wednesday - Manicotti, Caesar salad
Thursday - White Chicken Chili, corn muffins
Friday - tacos, beans, and rice

As always, the recipes are listed in the recipe section at the top of my blog.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for my sweet Emily's bruised heart.  I am ever grateful to all of her prayer warriors.  She is totally better and stronger for the experience.  As her mama, I hate to see her in pain, but to see her rely on Jesus during those times brings joy to my heart. 

May everyone have a blessed week full of fun, laughter, and love.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2 Timothy 1:7

My girl's heart was bruised today.  As her mama, I wanted to scoop her up and hide her from the pain.  At first, I was angry. Don't hurt my baby, I thought.  After a while, my heart began to bleed for her.  I wanted so badly to take her heartache and make it my own.  I wanted every last bit of it to leave her body and invade mine.  Love is like that.  I would push her out of the way and jump in front to get run over by the pain if I could.

As I was hurting for her, a friend of mine sent me a text and said she was praying for her. She wrote 2 Timothy 1:7 out for me to read....God did not give us a spirit of timidity but of power, love, and self discipline.  I am so grateful to my Godly friend for reminding me what God has given my girl.  The enemy tries to steal my girl's joy and self confidence, but God has gifted her with power.  My baby has the God given power to hold her head up high and live as Christ intends, regardless of bruises.  She can choose to wallow in her pain or pull herself up and persevere.  As her mama, it is up to me to guide her on her paths.  I choose to pull myself up and teach her to run her race of life with her head held high and her eyes on Jesus.  I am grateful to my sweet friend for her prayers and her reminder of who we are in Christ. 

Growls and smiles....and a cookie recipe too!

For some unknown reason this morning I started thinking of all the things that irk me.  My face scrunched up and I began to have a conversation with myself about all the things that rub me the wrong way.  I then had to turn my brain around and think of the things that make this girl smile, otherwise I would be one steaming woman all day. 

5 things that make this girl growl...
1.  People who know if I know nothing.
2.  Mamas who judge other mamas... we are all just trying to do the best we can with the experiences we've lived through.  I have been judged for being a worrier when it comes to my kids.  Yes, I admit it, I am!  I know God has them, but this mama heart worries-a thorn, I get it!  My oldest has had two heart surgeries and an elbow surgery, my little guy has had two neck surgeries and has been hospitalized twice with asthma.  Cut me some slack...and other mamas too.
3.  Backstabbers....don't waste my time and your time talking to me if you are going to talk behind my back. 
4.  Bad drivers....please don't cut in front of me if the speed limit is 40 and go 30!
5.  Rude people...need I elaborate? :-)

10 things that make this girl SMILE...
1.  My sweet husband, my wonderful children who cause my heart to skip a beat....I could give you 10,ooo things just from the word family.
2.  My morning quiet time with Jesus.
3. Rain...I loooooove the sound of it.
4. Fall days....ahhh, the cooler weather and the beautiful leaves.
5. My morning cup of yummy with my creamer and sugar...oh, no!! I'm drooling!
6. A good movie....I love a good story, tears are a plus.
7. Road trips...I love being trapped in a car with my family-GOOD TIMES.
8. Cute shoes...only if they are comfy too.  This girl doesn't like screaming feet.
9. Lunch with friends....good conversation and laughter are what makes for great memories.
10. Sunshine...I love the way it reflects off of the grass.

What about you?  What makes you growl and/or smile???

I love to bake.  On Tuesday I wanted to make some cookies, but I didn't have brown sugar.  I decided to play around with a recipe a bit and see what I could come up with.  I came up with DELICIOUS, MOUTH WATERING cookies.  I am calling them Hodge Podge cookies.  I think I just like the name, actually, because that can be life. :-)


1 cup butter flavor crisco
1 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
2 individual packages instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix crisco and sugar together until blended well.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Pour in the packages of instant oatmeal and blend well.  Next, add all of the dry ingredients, except the oatmeal.  Mix well and then add the oatmeal.  Mix until the oatmeal is blended well.  Stir in the chocolate chips, white chips, and toffee bits.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. 

I put these cookies in the fridge and then pop one in the microwave for 20 seconds when I want one.  Life is good when I have one of these babies in my mouth!!! :-)

Enjoy your day.  May your growls be overshadowed by your smiles.  If they aren't, make some hodge podge cookies....they will show those growls whose boss.  :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Inspiration Wednesday

I have been hearing this word a great deal lately.  It rolls in one ear and then out the other.  As I was praying yesterday for God to give me a topic for Inspiration Wednesday, the word courage kept coming to mind.  I would push it aside and wait for God to give me an a-ha moment.  That moment came but the human I am kept squashing it.  I finally grabbed a pen and started jotting down everything the Lord was telling me.  I get it Lord, courage is the inspirational word today.  :-)

Joshua 1:9...Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous?  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

As God was speaking to me about the word courage, I did a Bible search with the word in it.  I was reminded just how many times He tells us to have courage, to be courageous.  It got this girl thinking.  God knows we would much rather stay in our happy, safe places where no one can really get to us.  We can smile, be friendly, but stay safe.  It takes courage to step out and do the things God impresses upon our hearts.  I wonder, how often has God wanted me to work for His Kingdom and I've purposely ignored Him because it was uncomfortable? 

A couple of weeks ago our pastor said, "It's not about your comfort but God's Kingdom."    I realize to step out of my comfort I will need courage.  God will never ask us to do something alone.  He will be right with us holding our precious hand.  I don't know about you, but I NEED to know that He is with me.  It can be scary stepping out of my box.

God gave me 10 things regarding courage...
1.  The courage to live for God when those around us aren't.
2.  The courage to love the unloveable.  (This can be a stranger or even a family member.)
3.  The courage to raise children in a Godly way when the world wants otherwise.
4.  The courage to be nice to an enemy.
5.  The courage to stand for an issue even if you are the only one.
6.  The courage to lift your hands in church if you feel led to.
7.  The courage to step back if someone has made you his/her savior.
8.  The courage to pray in a restaurant.
9.  The courage to make the doctor's appointment you've been dreading.
10. The courage to forgive.

May we be courageous people for our Lord.  It's scary, but love for Him is worth it.  It's funny, I find that when I do step out in courage I am so blessed.  Where will you step out this week? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emily and Craig Biggio

Emily was so excited to eat lunch and hang out with Craig Biggio, former Houston Astros baseball player, at school today.  Her friend, Riley, won a contest through the Houston Chronicle and one of her prizes was to eat lunch with Biggio and invite friends to join her.  He brought them Whataburger and Emily thought that was super cool.  She said she will never throw her cup away.  She said he was really nice and made the girls laugh.

He brought each girl a signed hat, which Emily said will go next to her Whataburger cup on her desk.  She had him sign her Vera Bradley phone case.  This shocked me because she is very particular about her case!  She must of thought he was pretty cool stuff to actually let him write on it.  :-)

A news reporter from a local channel and a reporter from the Houston Chronicle were at the school to video and interview Biggio and Riley.  Emily cracked me up as she told the story of how huge video cameras were taping them as they ate and as they walked down the hall.  She imitated how the videographers walked right in front of them.  I laughed and told her that's what they do to famous people. :-)  I hope to see it on the news tonight so I can see if my girl was eyeing the videographer and letting him know to back it up a bit. 

I hope everyone is having a beautiful day.  May we snuggle with our families tonight and be grateful that they are OUR famous people. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday times and my weekly menu

JESUS....His name has such power.  His name alone can bring peace to a troubled heart.  It can bring joy to a happy heart.  He heals, comforts, and stands beside us always.  How often do I take Him for granted?  How often do I tell Him to hang on while I focus on other things?  In church this morning, our preacher reminded us that Jesus is to be at the center of everything we do.  He said that church is not about rules, board committees, or fancy shows.  Church should be about Jesus, bottom line.  As I go about my week of schedules, mommyhood, being a wife, meetings, etc. I commit to make Jesus my main focus.  May I remember to do everything without grumbling and do it for Him.  I ponder all of the ways I can live for Him this week.  What about you?  How can your day be Christ centered?  As we choose Him this week, may we not forget the smile we cause to overtake His wonderful face.  As our hearts grow towards Him, we will feel His peace and love overtake us no matter what we face.

My girl made the club volleyball team this afternoon.  I am so proud of her for working so hard!  The coach told her that she needed to gain some strength before the club season starts.  She came home and did planks, sit ups, and who knows what else.  She is one determined cookie. :-)  Thank you to all of you who prayed for her.  My hope is not that she's a superstar, but rather that she does something with this experience that God has provided her.  May she show respect to her teammates, opponents, and coaches.  I pray that she shares God's love with everyone she is around.  If after that she rocks on the court, I'll be good with that!!!

As I promised last Sunday, I am posting my weekly menu.  The recipes are listed in the recipe link at the top of my blog.
Monday....Fresh tomato and basil linguine
Tuesday...Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti
Wednesday...Santa Fe Casserole
Thursday....Chick-Fil-A :-)...they don't share the recipe with me!
Friday...Homemade pizza

Here are a few pictures I took this week...

My friend started an Etsy shop and she sells homemade canvases.  She is very talented and I'm the proud owner of one of her pieces.  Her shop is called 3 Hearts Design.  Here is a picture of my canvas...

May you have a blessed, Jesus filled week with lots of love and laughter......Marci

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This and that and a little bit more

I have a hodge podge of things to share today. :-)

My kiddos didn't have school on Wednesday due to a teacher's inservice day.  They thought it was super cool and I did too.  I love having my little peeps at home!  Emily was invited to a go kart birthday party on Wednesday and she had so much fun!  The girls were so cute to watch!  Their competitive spirits came out when they got behind the wheel.  They put the peddle to the medal and drove like the wind.  Too cute as long as it's at the go kart track and not when they are 16...Yikes!!
Here's a picture of my girl ready to go.....
I've started using tissue paper to wrap presents.  It started when I couldn't find a box for a gift that needed to be wrapped pronto.  I've grown quite attached to this way of wrapping!!  Here is the present Emily took to the party....
On Wednesday Barry brought me home flowers.  I just love when he surprises me!  Emily saw them and immediately asked her dad, "What did you do?!"  I thought it was so funny!  He actually just brought them home just because... this time anyway! ;-)

The weather has been gorgeous this week!  We have been hovering in the mid to high 80's.  For this Texas family, it is almost cold!  My boys decided to play a game of baseball in the front yard after dinner.  They use a tennis ball because our neighbor just got new windows and we don't want to replace one!!

 I LOVE this picture of Luke and Barry!  Recently, Luke wanted to play catch in the front yard.  I told him I would play, but he told me he would rather his dad play.  He pulled me aside and said it was good for their relationship.  (He's 9!)  I thought that was so sweet-for the first 10 seconds!!  I quickly realized that it was his way of politely telling me that his dad is a waaaaaay better player than me.  I smiled inside and went with his explanation.  Looking at this picture makes me think Luke knows what he's talking about.  From the mouth of babes!!

I have often said that I love, love, love doing laundry.  I'm not sure why I like it so much.  I think it's the smell and the sense of completion when it's done.  Anyway, I found a new product that rocks my world! 
Our clothes smell and feel so good.  They are super easy to use.  I just drop one in the washer when I turn the water on, add the clothes, and poof-clean clothes without the mess of a liquid or powder everywhere.  I would totally be on a commercial if they ever ask.  I'm not holding my breath! ;-)

This is a picture of my five favorite things...

1.  My striped shirt.  It is super comfy and I have a thing for navy stripes!
2.  Big hoop earrings
3.  Seche Plus nail nails have grown so much and are strong too.
4.  Origins VitaZing SPF 15 moisturizer. 
5.  Kiehl's Aromatic Blends moisturizer - Vanilla Cedarwood.  This lotion leaves my skin smooth ALL day long.

And a bonus...I am a candle freak!  My house smells so fallish with this scent.  Love it!!

Emily is trying out for a club volleyball team on Sunday.  Please keep her in your prayers! 

Have fantastic, family full of good times weekend!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The POWER of prayer

 A friend and I were discussing the power of prayer yesterday.  We both agreed that it is powerful beyond anything we can truly wrap our heads around.  The Bible tells us that God hears ALL of our prayers and answers them in His perfect timing.  I see my prayers answered daily.  I see the health of our family, I see the safety we are provided, I see the love my children share with each other and with strangers, and I see illnesses healed.  

I would like to share one answered prayer with you in particular.  It moved me, knocked me over really, when it happened.  The magnitude of God's answer has as much power over me today as it did the second it took place.  I still get chills and tears when I tell it.  

A month or so before my youngest, Luke, started kindergarten (he is now in 4th grade) I found a lump in his neck.  I was sitting on the stairs with him in my lap.  He was leaning back and I was tickling and kissing his sweet neck.  I had my husband feel it so he could determine what it was.  (Thankfully, he is a PA.  His expertise comes in quite handy for me and my friends!)  He looked puzzled when he felt it and told me he wasn't sure what it was.  He told me to take him to the pediatrician.  It was determined that it was a thyroglossal duct cyst and would need to be surgically removed.  Our family was no stranger to surgery.  You see, when our oldest was 6 months and 4 years old he had heart surgery.  Needless to say, the word "surgery" causes my stomach to tighten up.

We met with a surgeon and were told that it wasn't an emergency, but we did need to schedule a date so it could be removed.  We decided to have it removed the week after Thanksgiving.  We wanted him to be able to acclimate to kindergarten before dealing with a surgery.  

The day of the surgery arrived and I was nauseous beyond belief.  Handing my child over to have a surgery is always tough for me.  I worry about his safety.  Will the people taking care of him love him like we do?  Will they be gentle with him?  Mostly, will he be ok?  Will he be in pain when he wakes up?  Will he be afraid if he awakes without his mom and dad right by his side?  The surgery went fine, but the surgeon told us that the cyst appeared to be a bit infected.  He would put Luke on some heavy duty antibiotics and he should be good to go.  Unfortunately, due to the infection, the cyst came back within a few weeks.  Apparently, if even the tiniest of cells is not removed the cyst will grow back.  

Luke had his second surgery two days after his sixth birthday in February.  This surgery was a bit of an emergency because it became pretty infected very quickly.  I hated that my child would have to suffer through recovery once again.  Because the incision was on his neck, it hurt to swallow, turn his head, talk, laugh, etc, etc, etc.... Once again, we were told the surgery went well and the surgeon was postitive everything had been removed.  He used wide borders and cleaned the area up very well.

Within weeks, his neck swelled up to about the size of half an egg.  I was heart broken.  I knew we were greatly blessed because our child didn't have a life threatening illness, but it still hurt this mama's heart to see her baby in pain.  I, of course, had been praying for him throughout the whole experience, but I bumped it up and began laying my hands on him while he was sleeping and praying for God to take this from him.  I prayed 2 Corinthians 5:7...For we walk by faith, not by sight over him.  Regardless of what his neck looked like, I knew God could do anything He wanted.  I prayed that God would heal him in such a way that we would visibly see the healing take place.  I prayed without ceasing.  I prayed at the grocery store, during my workout, as I was cleaning house.  My heart and soul were always thinking about my sweet, little innocent six year old.  This lasted for a couple of weeks. 

Onc morning Luke woke up for school and came downstairs with fluid running down his neck.  I would wipe it and it would just continue to flow.  My husband called the surgeon's office and we were told to go the hospital and the surgeon would meet with us between cases.  A peace washed over me like I have never felt before.  I knew without a doubt that God was doing exactly what I had prayed for.  I literally felt a huge weight being lifted off of our family.  The surgeon was completely baffled.  He had no explanation for what was happening to our child.  He called a neck specialist and sent us right over.  The neck specialist, too, was baffled.  He could not understand what was going on.  He finally said to us, "Well, I have no idea what is happening, but I can assure you the cyst will be back and require surgical removal."  I calmy (and very happily) said to him, "No, it is over.  The Lord has healed him just as we asked."  He looked oddly at me and I remember thinking -you just watch, we won't ever be back in this office. 

My sweet boy's neck never needed another surgery.  The Lord healed him just as I had prayed. The power of prayer is amazing!!  I am not glad that my child suffered, but I am happy to be able to share God's glory with anyone who will listen. My hope is that prayer never becomes just something we do.  May it always be something that we are.  May it comfort us, thrill us, and carry us.  May we know without a doubt that God hears every single one of our prayers.  There is no prayer too smalll for His ears.  He desires for us to approach Him with open hearts.  Prayer should come from our hearts.  It certainly doesn't need to be wordy or scholarly.  Remember, God created you.  He knows exactly how you think and He wants you to come as you are.  Just as our children's voices are precious to us, so are our voices precious to Him. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

{All Things New}: The {faith} filled life: Week #11

{All Things New}: The {faith} filled life: Week #11
My inspiration comes from Ephesians 3:20. I love that God can, and will, do more than I can even imagine.  It is comforting and thrilling to know that Jesus works far beyond my wildest dreams.  He moves this girl's heart with great speed. Oh, how I love my Main Man!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Inspiration Wednesday

I really love writing and inspiring.  It brings me great joy to share my faith with others.  I have learned to let go of many hurts, fears, judgements, and expectations because I learned to walk with Christ.  This in no way means I am perfect or live a perfect life.  I am human and, therefore, I sin, worry, have fears, have judgements, and hurt others.  I hope, though, that through all of those things, I will choose the way of Christ.  May I keep Him in front of me rather than in the background. 

I have decided to write an inspirational piece each Wednesday.  I hope it touches you and causes reflection. 

Psalm 139:14.....I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.

We were created by God, plain and simple.  In Genesis, we are told that we are created in His image.  Often times, we forget that God made us just the way He wanted.  We are nothing but beautiful to Him.  We buy into what society sees as perfect and good.  We play the comparison game, the if only game.  Interestingly, everyone has some issue with his or her body.  No one is 100% happy from head to toe.  I say it's time we step back and see what God sees.  He sees remarkable people.  He sees beauty.  As He looks down upon us, He calls us His own.  God sees more than the outside, He sees our hearts.  I believe, however, even if He just saw the outside, He would be overwhelmed with love for us.  I challenge you and I challenge me to let go of our hang ups, let go of what society sees as perfect and good and embrace God's view of us.  Hold your head up high and know that you are remarkably and wonderfully made.  May we all know that we are loved and cherished beyond measure by our Creator.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hurts and healing

 A person I love recently said some things that cut me to the core.  I'm not sure if the intention was to hurt me, but it certainly left my head spinning and my heart aching.  It actually stopped me in my tracks and left me questioning myself.  It's funny, there are times that I'm cruising along the path of life with the wind blowing through my hair and the radio turned up full force.  I think I am doing an awesome job with all of my responsibilities and then one phrase can cause me to nose dive and crash into the ground. 

As I sit here thinking of my heart, I'm wondering who gets to define me.  Is it my past?  The people who are supposed to love me, but are not capable of love?  The things and responsibilities I get right? No, I've decided none of these things gets to define who I am.  Boy, they sure want to sometimes.  They cut in line and stand in front with heads held high and blinking lights that scream to win out.  Some scream that I'm not good enough, while others-mainly my pride over a great accomplishment-scream that I'm a rockstar. 

When the dust settles and I am able to catch my breath, I realize that only Jesus gets to define me.  He calls me daughter and loved.  He knows my heart when others only claim to.  Yes, there will be many times that my heart aches, many times I crash to the ground in pain, but I hope that each time this happens, I will look up through my pain and see Jesus offer me His hand.  May I reach out and take it and let Him pull me up to His love.   
Notice the dark clouds and the cloud that is shining brightly on top.  This photo reminds me of life.  When dark clouds threaten to consume us, we can be assured that the Light of the world is right there with us.

May you be filled with the knowledge that Jesus heals all broken hearts.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thoughts, family, and food....

What a wonderfully busy weekend we had.  Emily had a volleyball game on Thursday and a tournament on Friday and Saturday.  She had a great time playing ball, being immersed in competition, and hanging out with her teammates.  Needless to say, my girl was pooped out, as were the rest of us.  Every bit of tired was well worth it.  It was some good times....and memories!!

I struggled last night and this morning about letting her sleep in and catch up.  As a mom, I tend to feel guilty when our family skips church.  It is one thing to be out of town, but another just to skip out.  As I was tossing this around in my head, my heart was filled with the fact that God is not just present at church.  He is in my heart and my soul.  He goes everywhere with our family, regardless if it is church or the local burger diner.  I certainly think church is important.  We hear God's Word, have fellowship with other people, and worship together.  However, I don't think someone is less of a Christian if they are not seated in a pew on Sunday morning.  Life is about relationships, and the most important relationship we will ever experience is the one we have with our Father. 

As I have said before, I am a thinker.  So, naturally, I began to think about church attendance and a true relationship with Jesus.  I thought about the many conversations I have had with friends who do not attend church.  It isn't that they don't believe in God or desire to live like He calls us to.  Rather, they choose not to attend because the hypocrisy they have encountered is disheartening.  It saddens me that we have been called to be the church, yet there is so much judgement among us.  When Jesus refers to His followers as the church, He doesn't mean Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.  The church should come together and love and support each other regardless of what service we attend.  The way I see it, we are doing Satan's job for him when we nit pick each other.  He doesn't need to pull us away from God and turn our focus on ourselves.  We do it for him when we judge and criticize, when we put down other faiths, and when we are more focused on the rules set forth by humans rather than love demanded by God. 

Let's come together as a church and love like we are called, regardless of what box we check when we are asked our religion preference. 

Jorden worked Friday night, Saturday evening into the night, and all afternoon today.  I asked him if he wanted/needed to cut back his hours so that he could have more time for homework and free time.  He said that he really likes working and enjoys his coworkers.  He has become close to a few of them and I don't think he is turning his nose up at his paychecks either.  He is a saver and not a spender so I think his bank account looks good to him as it keeps going up! He certainly takes after his dad with that!! His mama likes to shop...within reason, of course. :-)

Luke is such a trooper!!  My sweet boy sat through all of the volleyball games without complaining.  He cheered his sister and her team on and when he got bored, my iphone kept him company...a little concession stand action certainly helped too! 

Some of you often ask me, "What's for dinner!?"  As we juggle busy schedules and activities, we know it is important that our family is fed.  I am a stinker about family dinner time.  I think it is super important to eat as a family.  This is the time we talk, laugh, and often times, act silly.  I have decided to post our dinner menu for the week on Sunday nights.  The recipes I use will be listed in the recipe section at the top of the blog. 

Monday....meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans
Tuesday...Beef tips over rice, salad  (this is a crock pot meal)
Wednesday...Chicken parmesan, caesar salad
Thursday...slow cooker red beans and rice, cornbread
Friday....breakfast - biscuits, eggs, bacon, and sausage

A few pictures I took this week......
I made this poster for the volleyball tournament.

Emily fell asleep doing homework today.  Sweet thing!!

Notice the American flag.  Jorden hung it the morning of September 11th.  He is so patriotic, has been since he was a little munchkin.  :-)

Have a wonderful. love filled Monday!!! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anger turned to grace

Recently I volunteered to help with something.  It was a short project, only a few days really.  I certainly didn't mind taking the time to help.  I didn't offer so that I could get praise.  I offered because I truly enjoy helping others.  I won't lie and say I didn't appreciate the "thank you's" I received, but that wasn't my motivation for taking on the job.  I appreciate the kind responses.  They show me not that I'm great, but that those around me are.  It's nice seeing kindness and love being passed on.  It makes me smile. 

I woke this morning to a nasty email directed at me regarding this particular volunteering.  My mouth dropped open and I was struck by how utterly rude the person was to me.  My immediate response was anger.  How dare this woman be so rude!  Barry was still sleeping, but I was already preparing my vent to him.  He would definitely take my side and probably throw in a few choice words regarding the woman just to prove it!  (Let me say that my husband is not a mean person by any means.  In fact, he goes out of his way to help others and show kindness.  However, when someone is rude to his woman, he takes offense.  I love his loyalty!  I know he always has my back.)

Thankfully, everyone in my home was still sleeping and the only One I could talk to at the moment was God.  I learned a while back that I can tattle on people any time I want to to Him.  He listens and then gives me insight and ultimately peace.  I began complaining to Him and telling him all of the reasons the woman made me mad.  Almost instantly a peace washed over me and I was no longer angry.  God reminded me that anger accomplishes nothing.  James 1:20 says, "For man's (woman's) anger does not accomplish God's righteousness."  I was struck with how truly at peace I was about the email.  Literally, not 5 minutes before I was ready to give the woman a piece of my mind.

Don't get me wrong, I believe we are to take up for ourselves in certain situations.  There are times when it would be wrong not to say something.  We are never to allow ourselves to be bullied.  I have taught, and continue to teach my children that it is never ok to be bullied.  We can most certainly tell someone to STOP.  However, in this situation, I quickly realized this was not about me at all.  I began to pity this woman.  It must feel terrible to have so much anger and frustration that you take it out on a complete stranger.  I wondered, what was in her life that caused her to be so rude? 

I realized I had three options....
1.)  Send her a nasty email back. 
I quickly realized this would not accomplish anything.  It would foster my anger and create more in her. 

2.)  Talk badly about this woman to all who would listen.
I have learned nothing good ever comes out of this option.  When I have chosen this option in the past, my heart is so heavy that I can barely stand it!!  I actually read in a devotional I received from Proverbs 31 ministries THIS MORNING that a child was asked what love is.  The child's response was, "Love is when your name is safe in someone's mouth."  That's pretty powerful stuff!!  We may not always feel love for someone who has injured us  or angered us, but we can, and should, always love our Father. 

3.)  I could choose to pray for this woman and forgive her.
I choose this one.  What good will come out of my anger?  Anger causes us to be seperated from God.  We focus on the wrong, rather than the Right.

In "A Daily Walk Through The Psalms for Women" it says, "We return our Father's love by accepting His grace and by sharing His message and His love.  When we do, we are blessed here on earth and throughout all eternity."  One important way I choose to share His love today is by offering grace to this person.  She may never know I have, but I know Jesus is looking down with a smile on His face.  Who better to please than Him??

As I write this, I wonder who else I will need to show grace to today?  I'm certain I will since I live in a world full of humans.  Will it be the person who takes my parking spot?  The neighborhood gossip?  Or the friend that I have learned said some things about me?  With that being said, I'm ever certain that I will need grace extended to me too.  This people loving, Jesus loving girl is sure to sin before the clock stikes midnight.  Thankfully, I know my Jesus loves me regardless, hears my heart's regret, and extends me grace far greater than I deserve.

Where will you show grace today? 

May we live in such a way that those who do not know God will experience Him in us.

Here are a few pictures of my girl at her game last night.  She takes my breath away.  I love her so much.  There truly are no words to communicate fully the depth of my love.  As I was watching her play last night, I felt myself gasp for a breath.  Man, my love for her LITERALLY takes my breath away.  As I sat there watching her play the game she loves, I thanked Jesus for letting ME be her mama.  I am one lucky girl!

As I was dropping off my sweet Luke for school this morning my phone rang.  I was thrilled to see the long line of numbers indicating a call from Switzerland.  My gal, Molly was calling.  I just love hearing her voice.  She gets this woman!!  As I was dropping Luke off, she was picking up his buddy, Nicholas.  We talked for over 45 minutes.  Let me say, it seemed like 5.  There is so much more I need to tell her, want to tell her.  I sure do miss curling up on her couch with a cup of coffee and good talk.  As much as I miss her, I am so thankful for the moments we get to hear each other's voices. 
Have a wonderful, Christ filled day full of love and grace.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The gift of a day...

Each morning that we awake is a beautiful gift from God.  As I look around this morning, I realize that there are so many things to be thankful for.  Material things, yes, but more importantly, things that touch my heart.  I love the way my children's hair looks when they crawl out of bed each morning.  I admire the way my husband so willingly gets up each day to go to work happily.  I can't say enough thank you's to God for the health He has blessed us all with.  The way the sun rises through the trees is so beautiful and peaceful.  I'm certain that the birds morning songs are God's special wake up call.  I just love the sound that carries through my backyard as they sing in unison. 

I ponder all of this this morning because I learned yesterday that a past neighbor of mine died yesterday of cervical cancer.  She was 40 with a 5th grader and a 9th grader.  I did not know her well, yet when I did see her she was always as friendly as could be.  I'm left thinking about this beautiful thing called life and what truly matters in our time God has given us to walk this journey.  My heart breaks as I consider the pain her sweet babies must be totured with.  A mama is supposed to be here to comfort her children through this type of pain.  Yet, they are left to grow without her. 

The question that fills my heart is what am I doing, what will I do, with this life of mine? Will I focus on me and my comforts, or will I focus on God's Kingdom?  It is so easy to get lost in the here and now and forget about the outside world.  Yes, we are to take care of our responsibilies, but I don't believe that we are to neglect to love outside of our box.

 As I have said before, I love music.  It often speaks to my soul and causes me to think and reflect.  The song "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets does that very thing.  Here are a few lines from the song.  I hope it causes you to think about your life....

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to you...

What will I do with this very wonderful blessing called life today?  What will you do?  Let us pray that we honor Jesus in all we say, do, and think.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Muffins and soup.....yummy!!!

 Before I begin, I want to remember the 9/11 victims, those killed and those affected by the tragedy.  As I took my kids to school this morning, I noticed numerous flags being flown in front of our neighborhood and various houses.  I am grateful that we are a country that can come together.  Yes, our lives go on and we continue living.  However, may we never forget the unity we felt that day, as a country and as human beings. 
We vacationed in wonderful NYC this summer and visited the World Trade Center sight.  It was odd returning and seeing the city without the buildings.  Barry and I lived there for a couple of years when Jorden was a baby.  Barry went to Physician Assistant school in NY.  We visited the city often, and even stayed at the Marriott World Trade Center one time when his mom was in town.  Taking this picture was weird.  Usually when you pose for a picture you smile, but it just didn't seem right to break out in an ear to ear grin.  It was patriotic day at Luke's school today.  He wore the same exact outfit as in this picture!!

I decided to make some banana nut muffins yesterday.  I wasn't particularly in the baking mood, but I hated to throw out over ripe bananas.  It was either in a muffin or in a trash for those brown bananas....muffins won.  I have never found a banana nut muffin that I love and rush to make again.  Emily loves this type of muffin, so I often try out recipes.  I searched the Web and found a recipe on  Food Network to try yesterday.  WOW!!  They are so moist and delicious! 
I will definitely keep this recipe and use it many times. 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 lg. eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (I used toasted pecans because I didn't have walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place nuts on a baking dish and toast for approximately 7 minutes.  Whisk the eggs and vanilla together.  With a mixer, mix the sugar and the butter together.  Once they are thoroughly mixed, add the egg mixture and mix until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.  Add the nuts and gently stir them in with a spoon.

Pour into muffin cups and bake for 15-17 minutes.  If you would rather use a loaf pan, bake for 55 minutes.....ENJOY!!

My kiddos each came home from school happy to see muffins in the kitchen.  :-)

Last night was a busy one!  Jorden had SAT tutoring at our house.  Barry and I divided and conquered because the junior high and high school both had open house.  Emily had homework and Luke held down the fort (we told him that was his duty last night!)  I knew regardless of our busy evening, everyone needed some nourishment.  Complaints and growling tummies would invade our home if I didn't have some form of dinner for my hungry bunch!  I threw a soup in the crock pot and boy, oh boy, was it wonderful!! As I was trying to clean the kitchen when I got home last night, Barry wouldn't stop eating out of the crock pot.  He had already eaten two bowls and finished off Luke's too.  He kept saying he wanted to stop but he couldn't because it was too good.  Once he backed away he said, "You're welcome!!  I cleaned the crock pot for you."  Sure enough, it was empty!! 

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans corn, undrained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 pkg. Ranch packet
1 tsp. cumin
1Tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 8 oz. cream cheese
3 chicken breasts, cut in half (raw)

Place all the ingredients into a crock pot and turn on the low setting.  Let cook for 6-8 hours.  Before serving, cut the chicken into pieces and return back to the soup. 

I served the soup with cornbread muffins.

Off to a meeting!!  May we all enjoy the day....may many hugs and kisses be a part of it!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My thoughts.....and Smith weekend

Love this quote
 I really enjoy listening to the radio and singing along.  My kids will tell you that I love to sing, but I will never be heard on the radio.  If they had their way, I would keep it in my head.  I know they secretly love it...they just don't want my head to get too big!!  Anyway, a song that I really like is Jesus, friend of sinners by Casting Crowns.  It makes me stop and think every time I hear it.  It is so powerful and reminds me that we are all sinners and we are all loved by Jesus.  A part in it says, "Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners.  Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers.  Let our hearts be led by mercy".  I wonder, how often do we (me definitely included) look down on those that are hurting and in need of love? It seems to be so easy to judge based on differences.  For example, just because someone is in a different economic class does not mean they are better or worse than we are.  Isn't it the heart we are to be concerned about? Jorden and I recently had a conversation about sins.  It seems it is so easy to judge someone else's sin, but when it comes to recognizing our own, we are blind.  The thing is, we all sin.  We decided we were going to focus on our own sins rather than other people's sins.  I am so thankful that Jesus loves me despite my many sins.  I pray that I can extend that grace to those around me.  Honestly, it can be tough at times, but if we remember the grace we are shown, hopefully it will soften our hearts to all mankind.  One of my favorite books, Same Kind of Different As Me, has a great line in it.  I actually have it taped to my fridge.  It says, "...I found out everybody's different-the same kind of different as me.  We're all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us.  The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain't no final restin place.  So, in a way, we is all homeless-just workin our way toward home". (p. 235)  Love it...we are all trying to love and be loved on our way home.

Moving on......
Our weekend was wonderful.  We were able to spend good times together.  On Friday night we took Emily and Luke to the high school volleyball game.  It was so exciting!!!  Our team won...finally!!  They played all five games and it lasted over 2 hours.  Emily was amazed at how fast moving the games were. Here's my girl taking in the game....
Unfortunately, Jorden worked most of the weekend.  As parents, we missed hanging out with him.  As a teenager, he loves the money he is making and the independence having a job brings.  This is where our boy was hanging out.....

Emily played/practiced volleyball all weekend.  Her padiddy is her constant partner! Boy, that girl sure has found her love!!  Her bedroom is over our bathroom and tonight when I was in our bathroom washing my face, I could hear her playing with her volleyball.  I'm certain it's tucked under her arms tonight where her teddy bear used to rest.  She has her sights set on playing for A&M one day.  You go girl!! 
Look how beat up her balls are!!  Thank goodness her sweet arms don't look like this!  She always chooses her padiddy over me to practice with her.  I'm guessing it's because when I practice I yell "Ouch!" every time I pass the ball.  Seriously!....those balls hurt! ;-)

Luke, of course, couldn't keep his hands off of his basketball.  He is really looking forward to the season starting.  Barry has been officially signed up to coach.  I think father and son are counting down the days until the team is assembled!!  They are already running drills.  Barry is testing out new drills on Luke.  Luke is running them like a little pro!!

Recently, I bought a basil plant because we eat so much of it.  It has needed to be replanted in a bigger pot because it is crazy growing.  Surprising, yes, I know, considering that I manage to kill most plants I own!!  Anywho...Luke built a rolling board to put the new pot on...all by himself.  Talk about man pride!!!!  He was beaming proud!!  I'm surprised he didn't ask to sleep with it!

Here are a few pictures I took this weekend.  I am really getting into this photography thing.  I have already put a bug in Barry's ear that I want a better camera for Christmas....I haven't told him the price....yet!

May everyone be filled with love and laughter this week....