December 30, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I have been wanting to take the time to make a post to show all the changes Jack has gone through physically since March of 2005 when he was diagnosed with a baseball sized brain tumor. His body has been through so much, his spirit has stayed strong except for when the medicine took over last year while he was on steroids. He is a tough young man.

This first picture was taken right before he was diagnosed. He was in the last 90 days of his kindergarten year at school.


I took this picture several weeks after his brain surgery. He was in the midst of posterior fossa syndrome at this time. He couldn't speak or eat which is why he has the feeding tube. We stayed at Our Children's House in Dallas for about a month until Jack could eat again.


This was taken while Jack was in chemo. He had had his port inserted by this time, you can see the scar below his collar bone, and the scar on his head where the shunt was put in for a couple of weeks after his brain surgery. (this pic doesn't show the shunt area). He is also dealing with ptosis at this time which is the name for eye lid droop. The chemo causes alot of muscles to just kind of drop out and not work properly. Jack's flat feet got flatter, and his eyes drooped. The eyes went back to normal, but Jack's feet are flatter than an inverted pancake today. Can you say arch support? ; )


This picture was taken while we were in Orlando, Florida on Jack's Make A Wish Trip to Disneyworld. We stayed at a great Make A Wish property called Give Kids The World Village. It was a dream trip for Jack and my other two kids. What a blessing.


After Jack's Gamma Knife Radiation treatment in March of 2007, six weeks after the procedure, Jack's brain started dangerously swelling from all the radiation. His face became paralyzed and after taking him to the local ER and then transported to Dallas Children's he was put on high doses of steroids. The steroids quickly helped the brain swelling get under control, but wreaked havoc with his physical, emotional and mental self. You can see the difference physically, what it did to him mentally was cause him to turn within himself. He could not interact with others easily. He lived in a little shell for almost a year. Books were his refuge. During this time he had his 2nd eye surgery to correct the eye from turning in which was caused by the brain swelling, and he underwent Hyperbaric treatments at the hospital 5 days a week for about 3 months each morning. The Hyperbaric was to help the healing happen quickly and efficiently in his brain.


And now here is the picture I took a month or so ago for our family's Christmas Card. He is back to himself again, still has right side facial paralysis, we are continuing to ask God to heal that, but we are overwhelmed that Jack is doing so well and couldn't be more content to look upon him with amazed and enamoured eyes just grateful that we can walk through our days together.


Jack has touched many lives with his courageous spirit, not the least of all mine. Seeing how Jack faced 3 years of treatments and an unknown future with a smile, it has allowed me to grab onto life and face each day with a smile and a desire to make the most of each day given. I am grateful for all the prayers of our friends, family and blog readers who have been our greatest cheerleaders. God heard each prayer, and we are eternally grateful for your part in Jack's life.

December 29, 2008

A pic a day for 365...who's in?

I'm SO IN!!. I have linked Blissfully Domestic before. It is a plethora of information, cooking, fashion, health, photography, design...There are over a hundred contributors to the blog, so there is always something new and interesting posted. If you haven't marked it then you should do it a.s.a.p.

Today there was an article about participating in the 365 Day Challenge. Take a picture everyday, a picture of what is around you, a self portrait, a pic of your kids, of the landscape around you, then post it on your blog. I love the idea of it. Click the link above and read the info. Sounds like a fun and creative thing to do. As I generally take thousands of pics a week for others, I will commit to taking atleast one for me.

I would love for you to join me in this little photography adventure, if you do be sure and let me know so I can add you to my rss and check on your pics each day.

Our days go by SO quickly and this is a good way to catalogue a snapshot of your day.

Here is my first official day on the 365! Pictures of my new kitchen torch and my very first attempt at creating my most favorite dessert...Creme Brulee. I wanted to make a special something for Rob to welcome him home from his first day at his new job. Nevermind that I finished my special desert at 9:15 at night, the thought still counted. So here is day one of 365, my torch and creation.


Volunteering then a Show for Lunch

Denise who never writes on her blog any more ; ) signed her family and my family up to volunteer at the Food Bank of Abilene today. After about an hour orientation we got to start sorting away. The kids had a great time and it was fun for us all. Here is a pic of all the kids after we were done working.


After volunteering we went to Bonzai for terriyaki chicken and a little sushi for lunch. It was Dee-Lish. Here is our chef making our food and Kenny looking on. Jack is reading a book, which made the chef laugh a bit, not too many kids bring a book along to read instead of watching the cooking show. Apparently Jack just needed to finish a chapter, then he watched the cooking.

December 28, 2008

Half Way Mark, Christmas Holiday is Great.

Sunday morning. Rob and Jack woke early as Rob is working in the sound booth at church this morning and the kids take turns going with him. Jack decided to sleep in his clothes so he wouldn't have any chance of being late and missing out on his sound booth day.

Christmas vacation is going splendidly this year. The best one I can remember actually, it is low key, the kids are loving their presents, and the best part of all is that Rob is home. His last day at the bakery was the 24th, he starts his new job tomorrow, so he has had 4 days off in a row. Except for when Jack was in the hospital and a trip out of town Rob has never had 4 days off in a row, free to do as he pleases, for 17 years. It has been such a blessing to have him home.

The kids and I will be watching the weather this week, we might take a trip to the Ft. Worth Zoo. We will see how that works out. Tomorrow might be the best day to go with the New Years holiday coming up this week.

Derek turns 12 years old on the 31st. He is pretty excited about his birthday! I am not a big fan of sleepovers, the staying up late part doesn't bother me, but the grouchy kids for the day or two after makes me crazy. That was what he had wanted to do, but I am going to let him pick something else. Mean mom I know.

Read another's review on Seven Pounds, she was not happy with the movie either. Unless you want to be depressed and slightly confused don't go and see it.

Enjoy your Sunday.

December 26, 2008

Tammy's Movie Reviews

3 movies in 2 days.
First there was Marley and Me, the whole family enjoyed it, tear jerker. I give it 4 stars. Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson were both delightful in this movie. I love true stories which makes it even better.

Next Bedtime Stories, I went in with low expectations because the rating on the web gave it 1 star. Most of the time I wont even go to a movie that has only one star, but we really wanted to take the kids to the movies again today, so we gave it a shot. All of us liked it, it helped that I went in with low expectations. I would give it about 2 and a half stars.

Then Rob and I went and saw Seven Pounds with Will Smith tonight. It was VERY long, and quite heartbreaking to watch, there were many sniffles in the theatre and at the end the tears were a flowin' I would give it 3 stars. It is a much darker movie than I expected, and pretty slow moving. It was a movie that one doesn't soon forget, it will be in your head for days after.

We like to see movies at our house while the kids are on vacation. Something we look forward to and anticipate on Christmas vacation.

I bought the book of the Tale of Despereaux for Jack for Christmas, once he finishes reading it we will go see it in the movie theatres.

Haven't really heard great reviews on anything out there, I had heard that The Boy In The Striped Pajamas was wonderful, but unfortunately it is only showing during the afternoon, and I don't think it is for kids. Other than Pajamas everything seems to be mediocre on reviews. If you have seen a movie just released and love it or hate it leave it in the comments and that will help me out, we still have over a week left on vacation after all.

December 25, 2008

My Day In 15

A List of Today.
1. Heard sweet giggling and whispering of my kids at 5:15am.
2. Cooking and Baking
3. Present-ing
4. Brunching
5. Cleaning
6. Apples to Appling
7. Marley and Me-ing
8. Spaghetti-ing with family
9. Cleaning
10. Blogging
11. Emailing
12. Folding
13. Reading
14. Reminiscing
15. Falling Asleep

The last 4 haven't happened yet, but I am anticipating #15 to happen soon.
Best Wishes.

December 24, 2008

My Feelings Exactly on Family

I love this commercial. Saw the link for it on Preacher Mike's blog, he's on the sidebar if you want to click over there. I am being lazy, it is Christmas Eve.
This is how I feel about family. There is always room for more.

Merry Christmas

If you are in my family....."Christmas Eve Gift!!!!!!"
For everyone, Merry Christmas.

December 23, 2008

Linus shares some scripture.

I watched this in its entirety last night while wrapping presents. There is something about the way Linus speaks this that makes it so simple and clear. For unto us a child is born.

December 22, 2008

Wedding Image Link

Posted a couple of pics at my photog blog from the wedding this weekend. Dreamy.
Click on over and check them out.

A Great Weekend

What a great weekend. Friday night started out with Rob's and my special date which I wrote about in the previous post. We went to Cypress St. to eat, then walked the city sidewalks to the Paramount to see my most favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life. The evening was awesome. Here are some pics of the night.

These first two pics are of Rob and I in the restaurant. They are a bit grainy but I wanted to be able to catch the ambient light to see the fire place behind us, so no flash.



Here are the lights of the Paramount. Might even frame this one to remember the night.



And here is the red curtain that covers the screen with snowflake lights shining on it to commemorate the season.


Lovely night.

Saturday I was in Brownwood and Bangs for a wonderful wedding. The bride lived in Bangs growing up, she lives in Virginia now, for a few more weeks anyway, as her groom is from England so they will be living across the pond for several years then maybe returning to the states. It was a gorgeous day, I will be blogging that a bit later on my photog. blog, so I will link it here when I do because the couple is precious and the pics are amazing.

Sunday our church hosted a community wide church celebration at the civic center. We sang a mix of Christmas music and our regular Sunday music. It was beautifully put together. There were 1450 people there and it was so much fun. Rob performed a monologue called the Nativity Set, here is a pic of him while he is in performance.



Then one of our friends had a large group over for Sunday lunch so we met some new friends and visited with the "old".
Rob said last night that this was a great weekend, and I totally agree! Thank you God for these sweet blessings.

December 19, 2008

It's a scene From The Godfather I tell ya, only better.

I am so excited about tonight. My favorite movie has come to my favorite movie theatre. For those that live or have lived in Abilene you know the Paramount Theatre . For those who haven't let me tell you about an old fashioned movie house that we are so blessed to have in our little town. The theatre was built in the early 1900's and then restored in 1986. It is old fashioned and beautiful. A large red curtain covers the movie screen and draws back when the movie starts, the sky of the movie theatre is filled with twinkle lights and moving clouds, there is an old fashioned box office that sells the movie tickets. The snack bar has old fashioned prices, so you can actually afford popcorn without breaking what is left of the piggy bank for a wonderful night out.

So tonight the stars have converged, the planets are alligned...the most wonderful night of events. Rob and I are going to go out on a date which is wonderful in itself, but it is cold out, The Paramount lights are lit, It's A Wonderful Life is showing and it is almost Christmas. Each time I think about tonight I think about the scene in Godfather where Michael Corleone and Kay are out in the snowy city shopping for Christmas and then they go see a movie, she is in her fur coat and holding on to his arm, the lights are blinking at the movie house and they are happier than they ever will be again in the trilogy. So picture me on Rob's arm walking down the sidewalk in the cool brisk air with the Paramount grandeur of lights shining off of our faces, and we will be starring in our own production tonight. I wont be wearing a fur coat, but I do have this fun little fur wrap that goes around my neck that I could pull out in a pinch ; ) And I do expect that our happiness will continue in greater scale than even today, so it's better than the movie.

I am just as excited to go out with my husband of 13 years tonight as I was when we first started dating.

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I am feeling nostalgic and wordy at the moment, but it is time for me to get to work. I have friends coming over for coffee and brekky in just over an hour, time to make the German Pancakes.

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From your giddy cyber friend. Merry Christmas.

December 18, 2008

1,304 Football Pictures in 3 minutes.

I follow a blog of a photographer named David Bergman. He shoots sports, concerts and musicians. I found his work during the Beijing Olympics. His rocks the camera. He created a slideshow of over 1300 hundred images he shot for Sports Illustrated of the 2008 SEC Championships, the Gators playing the Crimson. The video is about 3 minutes long plays almost like a movie wish adrenaline running through it. To see slideshow and what he wrote about it you can click over to his blog. Tried to just embed it here, but it is too wide a format for my blog layout, wouldn't have the same effect to only see one side of the picture. ; )

December 17, 2008

Sugar is not my friend.

Two more school days for the kids then it is time for vacation. It has been a busy week. I have been feeling poorly over the last couple of weeks. Too much sugar. I finally put myself on sugar arrest, cutting way back and making it mandatory to eat a protein if I eat something sweet. I am feeling much better. Not necessarily an easy time of year to watch sugar intake, but it is certainly better than feeling so sluggish.
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Many people who don't live here in Abilene have asked me about my husbands new job. What is DRI? Disability Resources Inc. I shot a Day In the Life out there a couple of weeks ago. Rob will be a Resident Coordinator, he will have some administrative duties as far as keeping up with the government required paperwork, he will also work some with the residents. I love DRI and I am so excited for him to be out there with the people. That still doesn't really answer what DRI is, it is a place where disabled people can live and work in community. There are many types of disabilities, Downs and Autism being the most prevalent I think. The residents love being there and they bring such joy to all who are around them. I am excited for Rob to start, his first day will be December 29th. To see the Day in the Life Slideshow of DRI you can click here.

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One of my friends sent a great You Tube video to me yesterday. Sarah put it up on the Coffee Group Blog. The video is of a writer reading about the blessings of friendships. I have watched it 3 times and it has made me tear up twice and cry once. The words are beautiful and it is so well written. Click here to see the video on the Coffee Group Blog.

December 15, 2008

Simple Christianity

Monday morning. Last week of school before the kiddo's are out for the holidays. I am excited for their holidays as I am taking a holiday too! I have a wedding to shoot, but other than that I am taking time away from my computer work while my kids are home. It is a much needed break for all of us. One thing I have figured out with my job is that there is always work to do, there is never downtime unless I make it intentionally. I am a rough boss to have as I don't give myself very much time off, I should give myself a raise ; )

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I continue to think about all the content of the Christian Spiritual Formation class that I audited at ACU this last semester. It was such a great class, but I think I have said that like 100 times here already. I am so drawn to people who are searching for God, taking their walk deeper, not afraid to be put out of their comfort zone. I love being challenged and inspired by the people around me. One of the things that I am thinking about today is how many Christians are constantly seeking and searching, but not necessarily putting into action what they already know. That stopped me in my tracks when I heard it the first time. Why am I seeking if I am not acting on what I have already learned. More information does not a better Christian make. I immediately thought about areas of my life that were not aligned with God's will for me, things I knew that I had not addressed even though it was clearly in scripture. My desire for myself is to focus on the simplicity of Christianity, the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control, think about the Beattitudes in Matthew.

I have met people who simply write off a bad temper as a character flaw rather than see it as a sin, or others who might not be kind and gentle with people around them in a disagreement. Then there is the "go to the person you have a disagreement with and make amends" scripture, even if it is not your fault, be the first one to step up to the plate. These are basic Christian expectations in scripture, they are simple enough for a child to learn, but the question is if we are humble enough to seek and follow the will of Christ.

My life experiences have taught me that there is nothing worth separating myself from God in any area. I pray that God will show me and help me go back to the basics and see what areas that I need to address to have that firm foundation in Him. All the learning in the world will not shine the love of Christ through our eyes, but kindness and gentleness and acting in love and patience screams from the rooftops that Christ is the Master we serve.

One of my favorite books written that talks about how simple Christianity really is, is The Simple Path, written by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She is someone who walked the talk, and this book really affected me and helped me see the importance of the simplicity of following Christ.

I will always be a seeker, God continually calls all of us closer in our walk, deeper into Him as He has so many things to teach us, so many mysteries and so much power that I can't help but being drawn to that, but I must focus on the 101 and make sure I am not neglecting my basics in Christianity.

December 12, 2008

Faith IS the victory.

Faith is the victory. How many times have I sung that song and never thought about what the words meant? Every time.

How many times have I thought the outcome is more important than the journey? Alot.

Faith IS the victory, believing and trusting God to take care of me and work His masterpiece around me for His glory and not to appease me in my circumstances, and to be good with that, now that's a victory.

How often have I found delight in God's workings even if they don't seem to line up with where I want things to go? I find that completely invigorating, extremely humbling, and freakishly exciting. I am glad that God does not give me the boring life I ask for, where everything lines up perfectly, all hospital corners are tucked proficiently, He gives me a life full of adventure, learning to trust Him more everyday. He rocks my little world. The challenge for me is what I choose to do with those messy hospital corners.

December 11, 2008

Christmas Candy Anyone?

Thursday morning.

As I have nothing at all new to say today...I know this is a rarity ; ) I want you to tell me what your favorite Christmas Candy or Cookie recipe is. I am in a nesting and cooking mood this season, not really in a shopping mood at all, which causes a bit of a problem and this must be rectified quickly, or my sweet kids will not be happy. I made some super delicious Toffee Squares a.k.a. Pine Bark last week with my daughter and they were super yummy. I want to make some more goodies so help me out and tell me what is deee-lish.
Here is a link to some recipes from Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

December 09, 2008

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Monday night. I have been uber busy today. I wrote a couple of days ago about a fun shoot that I am doing tomorrow. After it all takes place I will probably write about it a bit more, but I have been preparing for tomorrow along with many other things going on today, so no post, until now that is.
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I have put Esther back in on the cd player in my car. Took a week off to listen to some Christmas music. I just can't wait to do this study at church. It is so full of life application. Jack went to school today, he is feeling better, not at 100% yet, but soon I hope.
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I read the book of Ruth last night for my bible study. There is just something about the words, "where you go, I will go, your people will be my people, your God my God," that make me just want to shout out. That might be one of my top 100 quotes out of the bible. Do you have a favorite?
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I went to help out at City Light's tonight. The 2nd Tuesday night is called Rockin' Mom's. It serves many women in Abilene. Some might say less fortunate, but I think that many of them are more fortunate than some with a bunch of money in the bank. Many have a strong relationship with Jesus, and others are learning who Jesus is and how much He loves them. When the leader was asking for prayer requests tonight one of the ladies asked for prayers for her family as her son was shot and killed here in Abilene last week. He was 18 years old, then while at the funeral another attendee of Rockin Mom's house burned down. After prayer requests were done a precious woman stood up and asked if she could bring a meal to the woman whose house was burned down. Please keep these two families in your prayers. The speaker tonight was a young woman who had been r*ped and then turned to drug use to deal with it. Over the course of a couple of years and many hardships she turned to the Lord and He has blessed her with a new direction. Powerful testimony. It was a fun night, the ladies made a Christmas swag, they were beautiful. They were served turkey with all the trimmings. I really like being with all the women.
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After 17 years of working at the bakery, it is official that this will be Rob's last holiday season. He was offered a job today working at DRI and we are SO excited for this new opportunity. He will finish out the holiday season and his last day will be December 24th. Papa's got a brand new bag.

Well there you have it. Shine on my friends.

December 08, 2008

Monday Morning

Good morning on a Monday. Just a couple of weeks before Christmas! I have had two somewhat free weekends with my family and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing holiday stuff. Yesterday was Christmas card addressing and finishing of the tree. Jack came down with something this weekend, took him to the walk in clinic on Saturday, the Nurse Practitioner didn't test him for strep, but thought that might be what he has, either that or something else that would be treated with the same antibiotic. I made the mistake of letting her talk me into NOT giving Jack a shot. Big mistake. I just assumed he would get a shot and be back to normal to go back to school today, but the nurse said that the antibiotics work just as quick as the shot, and she said she doesn't give the kids a shot unless it is necessary. Jack is still on the couch not feeling well, but he is feeling better, so the medicine is working, the shot would have put him back on his feet much quicker. Oh well live and learn.
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Rob took me to see the new Bond movie this weekend. It was good. I like the new way Bond is going much less s*x and skin, and more action. I forgot how racey the early Bond movies were as I hadn't seen them since I was a kid, too racey for my kiddo's to watch, or me for that matter.
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I just read on yahoo news in the headline that Obama smokes cigarettes. Who knew? Apparently he munched away on nicotene gum while on the campaign trail to keep his addiction at bay. He told the reporter he had quit but that he falls off the wagon. I found that odd for some reason. He seems so healthy, and like someone who would make healthy choices. I took care of my mom along with my siblings in her last weeks after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Small Cell Carcinoma, diagnosed and in just weeks she passed away. It was a difficult several weeks for her. She was healthy in every way, ate more healthy food in one week than I would eat in a year. She kept herself in good condition. But the cigarette smoking killed her like a thief in the night. I am grateful that we had time to say goodbye, and I am grateful that even though she suffered it wasn't for years, it was for a handful of weeks. After my mom died Derek who was about 3 at the time would tell everyone who had a cigarette that smoking killed his grandma. He was concerned for their health too. As someone who has never smoked, (sitting in the back seat of a car with the windows rolled up and two parents chimney smoking in the front seat cured me of ever even wanting to give it a try), I only can imagine how hard it is to stop once you start. So that will be my prayer for Obama this week. God give him the strength. All things are possible through Christ Jesus.
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Here is a link to a Day In The Life that I shot last week. The family is precious. I haven't linked my work in a while and I love shooting Day In The Life sittings as the images are alway so personalized and just real life happening. Click here to see some images from the day.

December 06, 2008

Babette Ate Oatmeal

Saturday night. Rob, Sophie and Derek just went up to ACU to see the theatre production of The Wedding. My cousin's son is in the play and we were all SO looking forward to seeing it. Jack woke up with a horrible sore throat this morning and a fever. Took him to the walk in clinic and they put him on antibiotics. They didn't test him for strep throat, but that is probably what it was. So Jack and I are a bit bummed to not be at the theatre tonight ; (
Earlier today when Jack thought he might be up to going this evening I asked him if we should take Corban some flowers as this was closing night for the play. Jack said, that boys get chocolate not flowers. So we bought him a big candy bar.
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I found a cool web site today and bought this shirt and this shirt. I could have selected about 10 more, but how many Gilmore Girl t-shirts does one girl need. I might not ever outgrow my love for t-shirts. I have this "you are 40 years old now" start dressing like it bubble looming over my head on a pretty regular basis. But I am continuing to ignore the bubble in most cases. I LOVE fun t-shirts. You could ask my sweet friend Judy who drove me all around Dallas one afternoon so I could buy an inspi(red) t-shirt. That is a good friend I tell ya! It continues to be my most favorite t-shirt, but it will be a close call once I get my new shirts in.
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I just finished reading Twilight, and thanks to M'chelle have the next 3 here at my house ready to read. Started on New Moon and am about 40 pages into it. I am enjoying the series. I went and saw the movie by myself last week at the first showing before the kids got out of school. Rob hasn't read the book and I am thinking he probably wont, so I thought it would be easy just to head to the show myself. One of my favorite things to do is to see a movie by myself. I LOVE seeing movies with my hubby and friends too, don't get me wrong. But there is something totally vegetative and calming sitting in a dark theatre totally engrossed in the movie on the screen when I am alone. So the movie was good and fun to watch.
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I have a project that I will be shooting this Wednesday that I am pretty excited about. I have always enjoyed expanding my photography business to learn and experiment with new types of shoots. This shoot will be more of a commercial shoot, many women involved, set design, lighting...mmmm. So excited. This is really an area of photography I see myself pursuing as I get older. See it's that 40 year old thing again.
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Note to self: start shopping for Christmas this week!! 2 gifts down, many more to go.

December 04, 2008

Great MRI, and Great Reverse Offering Stories

Thursday night. Jack and I arrived home from Dallas today happy as 2 pea's in a pod. Jack's results were great, no change from the last MRI, NO TUMOR. I can't really even explain how I have felt while walking away after hearing that news, twice now. It is almost surreal. I used to say that when Jack was diagnosed we just found a new normal, that normal included lots of doctor visits, trips to Dallas, Emla cream, chemo, gamma knife, steroids,...that was our normal for 3 years. I do believe it is time for me to begin a new normal again. I think that life is always providing bumps in the road, as long as I am flexible and will adjust to whatever speed bump or large boulders are currently knocking at my door, then life is good. It has just been the times that I have looked back to before the bump and wished for how things used to be, especially with Jack's health, those times have been much more challenging than just facing where we are this current day and moving on from there.

Jack's illness has taught me in a huge way to just be content. Not wishing for this or that, but to find peace with my circumstances. I am so grateful to God for that, because it has been a journey.

Praising God for His continued faithfulness.
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I wrote briefly a week or so ago about a fun event our church planned out. 85 envelopes were filled with different amounts of money, then 85 volunteers were asked to participate. The plan was to take the envelope given to you and then bless someone with the money enclosed. It was so totally fun. We still have our envelope, I told one of our minister's that I was waiting for some divine leading on where it should go, I think I got the nudge today and am excited to send it on it's way. The cool part of this post, is that people are submitting the stories behind their reverse offerings and handing out the money in their envelopes. If you click on Reverse Offering you can read them too! God is working through His people.

December 03, 2008

Day In The Life

A couple of weeks ago I took some pictures at D.R.I.
I spent time in the Amber House and with the residents that live there, and also visited the infamous place where all that good Picante Sauce is made. Here is the slideshow of a Day In The Life at DRI.
The residents are awesome, smiles everywhere. The personalities behind these pictures make me smile.
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Jack and I leave today to get the results for his MRI in the morning.

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Back to work, a lot to do before we head out today. ; ) Have a great day.

December 01, 2008

The Light

Some of you readers know my story. Some have just stopped by recently.
Everyone at some point in their lives has walked through some forks in the road. One single change of direction can change your whole life. When I was 23 I had a day, the big fork in the road day. The day that I fell out of my bed with the hot Arizona sun pummeling through the windows and me crying and asking God to lift me from my messy life filled with too much of everything. He did and my life has never been the same from that day on. Because that day is SO special to me, the day that I asked for grace and mercy and God rained it down on me, the day that I learned what it felt like to be truly aware of my frailties, truly aware of my inadequacies, truly aware of my sin, and truly aware of how it felt to be forgiven and completely and utterly loved by God. Because of the memories of that day I asked a friend, T.M. Gand, to create a canvas painting for me. She and I talked about the details over coffee, then she went with it from there. I received my painting about two weeks ago, but today she sent me the digital print, so I can share it with you. This is my day of redemption. She called the painting "The Light."


Tracy's work is amazing. I knew that it was she that I wanted to paint this canvas for me. She uses bold colors and texture. Her work is very fun and bright. She is always open at Artwalk and her studio is around the corner from mine, in the Cockerell Building Downtown on N. 2nd. She has been featured in print, and has made a great name for herself because of the quality of her work. Be sure and stop by her studio to check out what she is working on currently during the next Artwalk.

Le Make Up.

I am working away today to get a bunch of orders in, but thought this little you tube video on a photography shoot for cosmetics in France was totally cool. Make up flying, poofing, pouring...it was fun to look at. Enjoy.

November 27, 2008

Majesty.

What I am most thankful for today...

A couple words from my favorite song right now.
As sung by Michael W. Smith.


Majesty.
Forever I am changed by Your love.
In the presence of Your Majesty.
Your grace has found me just as I am.
Empty handed but alive in Your hands.
Majesty.
Forever I am changed by Your love.
We praise You O Lord. Glorious.
Halllelujah

November 26, 2008

D.

Here is my son Derek. He found a new hat at the store today. The boy has moves and soul. From the time he was little he has always loved hats. I love that he has his own style.

Reverse Offering and Brenden

Day before Thanksgiving. Just stopped in to say hello. Hanging with family. Grateful for much. Glad to be me. Loving this 70 degree Thanksgiving weather, start difference from last years snow storm.

Our church did a reverse offering last Sunday. 85 people were given an envelope with cash in it to bless someone (not themselves ofcourse). Our week has been harried so just today I prayed with my kids for God to show us what we can do with our cash from the envelope. I am excited about the possibilities that my kids will come up with.

This little boy named Brenden is certainly an inspiration for making a difference. Saw this yesterday and can't get his sweet face and heart off my mind.

November 25, 2008

The Stethoscope and The Temptress

My friend Stephen Corbett has a new blog. He is the creative guy behind the idea and also behind the camera for this way fun video about a guy and a stethoscope that now has gone viral (is that a new buzz word, because it sounds like an illness to me), and has been viewed over 26,000 times on You Tube. I love that for many reasons, the message is fun and powerful at the same time, but mostly because I like to watch my husband laugh when he leans on the light pole. Always makes me smile to see him smile.



Thanks to this guy for twittering about this today and enlightening me to the word viral as not associated with a cold. He always has thought provoking posts, and they are quick to read, which is an added bonus. Today a thought provoking video about the temptress in Proverbs.

November 24, 2008

Jack and his delicious lunch.

Jack and I are the only ones home right now. I am back on my work computer...computing. I heard some plate clanging several times and wondered what he was doing. I walked out to the kitchen and asked him what he was up to. He said, "I am making myself a sandwich." To which I replied, "for dinner?" and he said, "no, I was making it for my lunch tomorrow, because that food in the cafeteria doesn't taste good to me." And then he said, "and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich looked so delicious I had to just take a bite of it before I put it in the baggie." There was his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a big bite out of the side ; ) I noticed the other component to his lunch was white chocolate chips in a baggie, I guess that was his side dish.
I grabbed this pic with my phone.

Here and There.

Monday almost lunch time. I am posting late today because I had some special friends that are in town for this week over for breakfast. My friend Amber and her new husband Kent. We had a great time visiting and then I was glad to show them my studio downtown. This week will be a bit off kilter with the holidays, kids are out early today and tomorrow. So my posts will probably be hit and miss. I am going to work hard today and tomorrow and get my work done for this week on the computer then take the rest of the week off with the kids for the holidays.
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I also am wanting to get some reading done this week. I started reading 5 Conversations You Should Have With Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney. I also want to start the Twilight series.
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I googled "Texas Ghost Towns" and came up with many to choose from that are in my area to photograph. My plan is to have some fine art work to show and sell during my "featured" month in February up at my gallery. I am excited about this project, but it is a bit cold out right now so I am hoping to be motivated to bundle up, grab my camera, and head out. I think the cold weather will add to the mood, bare tree's and maybe some wind movement in the image.
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Who watched 24 last night? A rough subject to watch, but probably helpful for us to see what other parts of the world are dealing with. Jack Bauer was great, and the new season looks intense.
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May your week be filled with a grateful heart. God be praised. Shine on.

November 22, 2008

Harry Potter

Suh-weet!!!

Bravery - A transformation just waiting to happen.

Jack Bauer is Back for one night. Two hour special called Redemption on Sunday night. Who else is excited about this?



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I am listening to the new Esther Bible study in my car as you know if you have read my blog in the last week. If you are a living, breathing woman this bible study will bless you so much. If you are one of my sisters at Southern Hills please sign up to do this study in January when we will be offering it. There is no way I could explain how good it is, but let's just say that Beth is knocking it out of the ballpark. Please join us. If you are in Abilene, you can join us too just leave a comment and I will put you on mailing list for when sign up starts. If you are not in Abilene, lead it, or find a group and join it, or do it on your own if you have to. Don't just listen to it, buy the workbook and work through it that will be where the growth and transformation really happens. All of Beth's studies are geared towards women. Although men everywhere are doing her studies on their own or with their wives because she is certainly one of the most anointed bible study leaders out there today. The nature of this study is certainly for women.

I am writing this through tears just thinking about her words last night. She addressed our calling to be brave. Do we have a conditional love for God? Do we trust God that He will never allow our greatest fears to happen, or do we trust Him to be faithful to us if they do? There is no other commandment in the bible stated more than "do not be afraid" but many of us live our lives afraid. Afraid our kids will get cancer, afraid our husbands will leave, afraid that our outward appearance is diminishing each day....the list goes on. She lists many more than those,... This is a life changing lesson. I used to live my life in fear, I was skiddish and fearful of most everything, God has delivered me from that in many ways, but my journey continues and I anticipate each step of continued and further deliverance and this study will certainly be a tool God uses to help me along in that journey.

Can you imagine a life where you are bold and brave and are ready for whatever comes your way? With the living power of Christ in you, this is a place where we can be delivered to. What a powerful testimony to Christ as his army of mom's, sister's, friends, followers will walk taller and more confidant of their place in Jesus. Praising God for His mighty transforming power.

November 21, 2008

Inspired.

Friday morning. I am almost done reading my book called Annie Leibovitz at Work. It has been a great book. One thing I am taking away from this book is to shoot more documentary images. Real life playing out. I do that to a certain degree with my kids, but those pictures I took of my grandfather a couple of weeks ago have lit a fire there. I am excited about a personal project I have coming up. Nothing major, but for me it will help me remember some of the fondest memories of my childhood. I will post more about this when I have some images to show.
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I was looking at some pictures taken at an old Ghost Town in Southern Cal. I remember when I lived in Arizona we had a Ghost Town that people would visit, called Tombstone. In all my years I have lived in West Texas I haven't heard of any Ghost Towns around. What are some fun quirky places within a couple hours radius that you have knowledge of? My friend Jana and I have taken pictures in several little town squares around here, I have yet to make it out to Albany, I think that is next on my list. But what else is out there that would be a great subject for some pictures?

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I am excited for my kids to be out of school next week. Rob was excited to tell me that McKay's will be closed the day after Thanksgiving. So he has 2 days off. Looks like it is going to be a grand week indeed.

Here is a pic I took out at Jacob's Dream on the campus of ACU a couple of days ago. The sun was almost down. I shot this on 100 iso because I really wanted more of a silhouette, but when I was looking at it in Lightroom I pulled out some of the shadowed areas and I loved the detail in the plants in front.





Shine on.

November 20, 2008

Twilight? Yes or No?

Who out there has read Twilight? I keep hearing raves about it from people who I generally have the same taste in books. I have NEVER been a fan of vampires since I slept over at my friends house, I think I was about 7 years old, and for some ridiculous reason the entertainment for the night was Count Dracula. I called my mom at midnight and told her I was afraid and wanted to come home. She told me to wake up my friends mom and tell her that I was coming home. I was too embarrassed to wake my friends mom up, so I begged and pleaded with my mom to call back and tell my friends mom that I must come home and that she would be right over to pick me up. A minute later the phone rang, and right after my friends mom came walking down the stairs to get me ready for my mom to pick me up. I got sick that night after I got home, and from then on I told people I was physically allergic to scary movies, they made me sick. I still pretty much stick with that allergic story, and could count on one hand the scary movies I have seen. Although there are some classic Hitchcock movies that I saw at the Paramount that I made it through without losing my lunch, and I think I have watched Bedroom Window, which was based on a Hitchcock classic, a couple of times. That is the extent of my scary movie repetoire and I still haven't watched another vampire movie, except for the Lost Boys. So help me out, tell me what you think.

Plan of Non-Action

Jack and I made a quick trip to Dallas. Left at 4pm yesterday and got back home at 2:30pm today. There was no room at the Ronald McDonald House so I pricelined a hotel room which always works well. My lack of directional driving skills always makes for an interesting couple of minutes, but we always end up where we need to be. I am thankful for my map directions and gps on my iphone.

The MRI went well this morning, we were a bit late getting in which is unusual. Jack was his usual MRI King. No complaints, no movement, nothing but perfection on the MRI table. The tech commented that Jack must have done it before as he knew the routine and didn't move a muscle.

We stopped and ate at Pappas Bros. on our way home. We hadn't eaten there before, and I thought there would be food there that Jack would actually eat. We had a quick lunch and headed home. Jack's tummy started hurting him r-e-a-l bad on the way home and he got sick. But he seems to be perking up a bit and is feeling a little better. Maybe the greasy burger was not what his tummy wanted.

We will not have a report from the MRI until December 4th. That's right you read December 4th. 2 weeks to get a report on an MRI seems a bit crazy. I am assuming we are on the low end of the totem pole as far as priority goes now, and with the holidays next week we got pushed pretty far out from the clinic date. I will take low priority MRI over high priority MRI any day!! I wont even think about the results again until we are driving back to Dallas. That is my plan of action, or non-action.

Well that is our report from the home front today.

Shine on.

November 19, 2008

All Things Thanksgiving

Hey, guess what? One week till Thanksgiving. What is your favorite dish? Mine has to be the candied sweet potatoes, I make them every year, although this year I am going with the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, still dee-lish.

What will your family do this year to show thankfulness? Do you simply say your prayer before the meal, or do you go around the table and share your blessings with each other?

Do you like jellied cranberry sauce or whole cranberry sauce? Or homemade?

Do you like to cook?

Does this meal stress you out?

Have you ever accidentally cooked a turkey upside down? hee.hee. that's a big yes right here.

Do you serve green salad?

Do you order any part of your meal out? i.e. pies from a bakery? turkey from ?

These are all questions that roam around in my head this time of year.

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My sister Becky loves to go back and read my Thanksgiving week routine having to do with preparing the turkey. And because I am a goober and links to my past blog stuff don't seem to work I will just post it for you here to save the trouble of cutting and pasting my link, that is if you were going to cut and paste my link. If not feel free to just move on at this point. But for those of you who want my guidance in Turkey Preparation feel free to take notes as you read below. Call me Spaz Stewart a.k.a. Martha's nemesis.

This post was from Thanksgiving week 2006. I can vouch for myself here. This is EXACTLY how I feel about the beloved turkey.

1. Buy the Turkey. Walk around the grocery store one week before Thanksgiving. Go to the dairy aisle to buy the only thing on your list, 1 gallon whole milk (yes we drink whole). See the turkey's piled up in the frozen food section. Calculate how many days until Thanksgiving (eek, only one week away). Pick out biggest turkey in pile, heave into basket. Read the sign, ".39 cents a pound with $10 purchase." Continue on to the dairy aisle to select milk. $3.29. Wander aimlessly around the store to decide what other items I can buy to get to $10. After walking through the snack aisle, quota is met. Buy groceries and go home.

2. Look at the turkey, count the days until Thanksgiving again, decide the turkey needs to go into the freezer.

3. 3 days before Thanksgiving, panic because the Turkey is still in the freezer.

4. Leave turkey in sink overnight (not recommending this to anyone else) to get that deep freeze frozen thawed a bit.

5. Put turkey in fridge to continue thawing for the next 2 days. Note: Still rock solid frozen.

6. Poke turkey with one finger twice a day to see if it has thawed. No luck.

7. Ah...glorious Thanksgiving morning. Wake up to the sound of my alarm clock at 5am to get the turkey in the oven.

8. Look in fridge, cry for my departed mother, I wish she was the one making the turkey, not me.

9. Take a deep breath, heave partially thawed turkey out of fridge and drop it in freshly scrubbed sink.

10. Cut open plastic to reveal a fleshy, white, 22 lb. turkey, partially frozen.

11. Cry again for my mom, why me? Why do I have to touch this huge hunk of raw bird? Think pretty thoughts. Go somewhere else, ahh, the beach,....

12. Turn water on to complete thawing process, grab knive to start prying turkey legs from the metal leg holder device.

13. Jab legs with knive, pry, grab turkey as it is doing a 360 degree turn, and hopping around in sink from me jabbing at it.

14. Get large ziploc bag, (bread bags work best), stick hand in ziploc bag and go to that pretty place in head again while I put my ziploc covered hand and forearm into turkey. YUCK. Dig around feeling for the neck. Pry the neck loose, pull it out. What ever you do, don't look at it. This alone could cause one to never eat turkey again.

15. Turn turkey around and feel around neck area, still with bag on hand. Turn on faucet, steaming hot to melt ice around turkey flap to open up other end and pull out a bag of something I will not even mention here. Again, do not look at it!

16. Finish rinsing turkey. Plop in big pan that hasn't been used since last November. That 10 minutes before had dust bunnies in it, until washed out.

17. Pour oil over turkey. Cover all turkey with oil, you can use 1 tablespoon and rub it around, or half a bottle and never have to touch anything, just drizzle till all covered.

18. Salt and cover with foil. Ahhh...raw dead bird out of sight.

19. Bake for 4 hours pull foil, smell delicious aroma, let turkey brown for another 45-1hr. make sure popper thing is popped, take out of oven. Let cool a bit so as not to burn fingers when hacking or carving as I like to call it.

20. I will spare you the details of carving a turkey, but just know I try only to touch what looks like belongs on your plate. Anything that looks a little iffy, I go to my happy place and just throw that part away.

21. Serve the turkey to loved ones, and give them big hugs because all the raw bird touching was worth it to see the smiles on their faces when they eat their Thanksgiving meal. Thank you God for my family.

22. I thank God for you too! Happy Thanksgiving Day.

p.s. my daugher who is now 7 years old has prepared our turkey for 3 years now. She double crossed me and spent the night with her grandma to hang out with her cousins who are in town for the holiday. She loves the turkey experience, but not enough to give up a night with cousins. Go figure.

November 18, 2008

For Fun

Grabbed this from Michelle's Blog.

1. Where is your cell phone? table
2. Where is your significant other? by me
3. Your hair? funky
4. Your mother? passed
5. Your father? passed
6. Your favorite thing? Jesus
7. Your dream last night? no clue
8. Your favorite drink? loose leaf tea
9.. Your dream/goal? always learning
10. The room you're in? bedroom
11. Your fear? don't know
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Smiling
13. Where were you last night? Bunco
14. What you're not? mean
15. Muffins? blueberry
16. One of your wish list items? new carpet
17. Where did you grow up? Arizona
18. The last thing you did? ice cream
19. What are you wearing? A&M Tshirt
20. Your TV? Gilmored
21. Your pet? sleepy
22. Your computer? always editing
23. Your life? Rocks
24. Your mood? focused
25. Missing someone? my brothers and sisters
26. Your car? MiniVan
27. Something you're not wearing? lipstick
28. Favorite Store? Target
29. Your summer? swimmy
30. Favorite Color? Black
31. Describe you? Seeker
32. Last time you cried? today
33. Who will/would re-post this? No clue
34. Four places I go over and over? shoot pics, church, Starbucks, Lifeway
35. Two people who e-mail me (regularly)? Mrs. Someone from Africa to let me know I have won 1 Million Dollars, Heartlight
36. Four of my favorite foods? Pizza, Sushi, Mexican, Thai
37. Four places I would rather be right now? Italy, Vermont, the Ocean, Australia

Are Your Words Vitamin C?

Tuesday morning.

I am listening to the new study on Esther in my car. As I wrote yesterday I am waiting for my peeps to do the homework portion when we watch the video series at church in January. So I am missing a lot without doing the homework along with the presentation. I am on the 3rd session and Beth is bringing it home, she is talking about all things womanly. It always amazes me how God brings Beth to a subject to study then how she can find such relevant topics to today through something that happened thousands of years ago. Yesterday's lesson was my favorite so far, but with her studies they always seem to get better and meatier as she gets the footwork laid out in the first couple. So what did she talk about yesterday? Many things, but one that stuck out to me was "mean girls." This is the first study where she took surveys on her LPM blog to ask the people answers to questions which she placed in a book to refer to. One of the questions she asked was what are the 3 hardest things about being a woman. Many of the responses came back that one of the toughest parts about being a woman were other women. Beth went on and listed areas where our gender can be harsh to each other. One of the topics she talked about was that when a mean girl rises up out of our own self towards another girl, whether we show our teeth or not, was when we feel threatened. We need to figure out why on earth we feel threatened and work through that with God, be ready to confess that if we need to...
The first two bullet points from lessons one and two...It's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow, it's tough being a woman when beauty is a treatment.
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I can't find my bible. I have many, but I have one favorite that has all my markings in it. I feel sure it is in my house, so after work this morning I will be on a cleaning mission to locate my trusty friend.

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Yesterday was my last Christian Spiritual Formation class. There is one more for the non-audits, but it is evaluation stuff. So yesterday was Denise's and I last class to be blessed with.
We shared our Rule of Life yesterday. It was so cool to hear what everyone had worked up.
Several of the people in class are in their early 20's, time when things start to morph and when you are trying to find your personal God not your parents'. It is a difficult search and is filled with growing pains but so very worth the search. I just wanted to open my heart and let Him spill forth so they could see how much they need HIm, but my experiences with God is not what they need. They need their own, but I can remember being in their shoes and it is a journey, well worth the blood, sweat and tears. It made me think that my kids could be sitting in that chair saying the same thing in 10 years.

I can't recommend this class enough to elders, ministers, and those of us that are pew warmers. For me it deepened my spirituality with the Lord. It showed me avenues where I could practice spiritual disciplines, it helped open my eyes to how little "my" God was. He truly is the Ancient of Days. It will be offered again in the Fall I think, there is a Maymester class that others have told me about, but fitting all those lessons into one week I think would lose a lot because you wouldn't have time to think about one topic before you had to move on to the next. $35 and a bit of time, so worth the journey. This class is generally taken by graduate theology or ministry students. I have not met one person recently who took this class and did not say that it changed their life.

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My rule of life I spoke about yesterday if you want to look back. But there is another rule of life that stems from following God to the ends of the earth, it is to allow His light to shine through. One of the ways that I see that is done is to speak words of life into people. No matter who we are, what position we hold, where we live, we probably feel a bit run down. Life is stinkin' hard. We have a choice we can be someone who breaks others down or we can build them up. Our words can shrivel a heart or give refreshing water. We can take these opportunities for granted and not see the value. We could finish the day and not have said anything harsh, but have our watering can still full because we haven't shared words of life along the way. I have asked God to show me who needs His words, who needs a smile, who needs His comfort, who needs some word vitamin c to clean out the toxins. I don't have this mastered by any means, far from it actually, but I can see where God is working and He has been generous to guide me in this.
This will be very hard if your mouth is used to take life through gossip and slander. The more I allow God to purify that area the more useful I become. It is a beautiful gift.

One of the girls in the class yesterday made the comment "You are as holy as you are at home." So my words of life need to start in my home, then let the rivers flow out.

I grew up in a home where harsh words were often spoken. Maybe that is why I am so sensitive to this. Words that shrivel can tear a child up. It very literally hurts my heart to hear those words.

November 17, 2008

My Rule Of Life

Monday morning.

I am grateful for my sweet family and am looking forward to Thanksgiving to spend time with the larger group of extended family. Is there anyone out there like me that loves Christmas, and thanks to the stores early promotions, kind of forgets about Thanksgiving until a couple of days before. I do that pretty frequently. As I talk to some friends and family they choose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday because it is fun with family and good food, but without the stress of the Christmas season, presents, wrapping,...

For me Thanksgiving is just a signal that it is o.k. to start listening to Christmas music and not have to be underground about it.
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I bought the audio cd of Esther this week. I needed some bible study going on in my car this past week to keep my eyes lifted during a week filled with such grief. I am on the 2nd lesson. I want to wait to do the work part of the study with my bible class friends at church when we study Esther starting in January. The lessons aren't quite as meaningful just to listen to without having done the work in scripture, but they are still good.

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Today in Christian Spiritual Formation we will be meeting in the living room inside the Campus Center. We will be sharing our rule of life for ourselves with each other. It can be in song form, prayer form, a simple sentence, whatever we come up with.

Several months ago, I talked with a friend of mine who is an incredible painter who galleries up where my gallery is. We were discussing the book Same Kind Of Different As Me. I was telling her that I was considering going to Denver Moore's art studio in Dallas and purchasing a piece of his art work because it would have so much meaning to me after reading his story in the book. I never did get to go to the art gallery, but that got me thinking. What if I had Tracy paint my story. What if the meaningful in the art came from a moment in my life. So T.M. Gand (Tracy) and I met for coffee and I shared with her the morning when I gave my life back to Christ. A morning with the Arizona sun shining in my window, me falling out of my bed to kneel on the ground, the warmth of the sun and the warmth of Jesus surrounding me and holding me in a tight embrace. The moment when all my sins were forgiven because of The Cross and because I simply asked. The moment that changed the rest of my life. And the moment where I had hope for the first time in years. Tracy wrote pages of notes down, she started with a sketch, and a couple of months later with a couple of peeks along the way she presented to me a beautifully painted piece of art with my moment of submission to Christ on it. I am tearful just thinking about it.

My words that I spoke to Jesus that day were, "If you will save me from my life, I will follow you to the end of the earth, and will never turn away again." On the painting are my words "I will follow you to the end of the earth." And that is my rule of life. No matter where God calls, no matter what I am asked by Him, I will follow as long as He leads me in my path. I will not let fear or selfishness or pride...stop me from going where He has placed a call on my life. I will remember bowing to Him at the foot of my bed, and the warmth of the Spirit surrounding me forever. And now I have a beautiful painting that brings that moment to life for my children to see, and anyone who walks through the door.

I will get a digital print from her this week or next and when I do I will post it up here for you to see.
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Think about your rule of life. What is your guiding influence? What do you live your life by? It could be a song or a poem or a scripture. Close your eyes and think about it. Share it with me if you feel comfortable. If you want to write about it on your blog click over and leave a link in my comments and I will link to you in a post.

Grace.Peace.Shine On

November 16, 2008

Memo to Self: This World Is Not My Home

Sunday morning. It feels like winter here in Texas. Cold and windy.

Rob is working sound booth at early service this morning so he and Jack are already up at the church. The other two kiddo's are still asleep. We will meet them up there for class and Refresh.

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This has been an incredibly hard week. Ben's funeral was yesterday. It was precious. I loved that it was so personalized. Each of the Pallbearers and the preacher had on matching fishing shirts. Ben loved to fish and go backpacking more than anything. He was going to fly fish this summer and had learned to make his own fly fish lures.



Link to Ben's obituary: http://obits.reporternews.com/obit.cfm?id=6668

My friends will always miss their son, the only thing that helps that hurt dim slightly while on earth... is time. So time come quickly. I can remember when Jack was diagnosed I just prayed for Jesus to come and take us all home because it seemed too difficult of a task to face. The bitterness of life on earth will certainly make heaven sweeter if that is possible.

Dan Garrett read this scripture yesterday during Ben's funeral.

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13-14


This world is not my home, I am just passing through. My charge to myself is to allow God to blow me where he wants this misty body to go, because there is nothing more important than imparting God's love and kindness to my family and friends and strangers. To give up oneself for the cause of Christ becomes so much easier with each reminder of how fragile life is here on earth.
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November 14, 2008

The Ministry of Guacamole and Sweet Amber

Friday morning. Tonight 5-7 is the visitation for the Allen family at the Hamil Family Funeral Home on Buffalo Gap Rd. Last night my kids and I went over to the Allen's to hang out. Yesterday on my blog I wrote about the Ministry of Presence, well last night I will tell you what, I saw alot of ministry happening. Ministry of dropping off a delicious beef tenderloin, the ministry of guacamole, the ministry of Vleta's candies. It has been such a blessing to just see all the people bring themselves and their hugs and condolences along with sustenance of a large variety. Along with their hugs and tears they bring their stories of Ben and inevitably smiles. If you don't know what to do to help someone who is hurting, just show up at their door with the makings of guacamole and yummy chips, hugs, smiles and start the guacamole making, things will go well from there.
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I started editing my DRI pictures this morning. I will work on those and get some posted by the middle of next week. It was such a fun day for me there, a piece of my heart is with my new friends who live in Amber House. Amber house was named for a young lady who went to our church. Her plans were to take up residence in the house that was her namesake but she went on to be with the Lord before that could happen. Here is a sweet picture of Amber that is on the entry room wall. Amber and I became friends when I worked as a church secretary. Amber would come and sit down in the chair next to my desk and we would just visit. She thought the word supercalifragilistic expialadocious was always funny so I said it alot, we always had fun.

November 13, 2008

The Ministry of...

Here it is Thursday morning. This is the first day in weeks that I have no little dots on my schedule telling me there is a place for me to be at a certain time. I rejoice in those days.
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My friend's the Allen's are being surrounded by those who love them, and there are a lot of that type around here. Ben's services are Saturday at 1 pm at Southern Hills Church of Christ. Visitation will be Friday night at the Hamil Family Funeral Home.
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My Christian Spiritual Formation class is almost over. I have two more classes to attend. I have learned so much. The instructor is Dr. David Wray. He is an elder at a congregation here in town and maybe one of the most learned and spiritual people I have met. The jewels that have come from his perspective have been the most precious bits of information that I have taken away from this class.
One of the first things he said is:

Judging someone else's spirituality is dangerous at best and destructive at worst.

Very true. Speaking for myself - Hasn't ever worked out positively for me in the past. At the very least it has built a wall in my heart towards the other person and given me a false sense of pride and at the worst I could look at my heart and it might be compared to that of a pharisee. Bad... we all know what Jesus thought of the pharisee's.

The Ministry of Presence

Just being with others in grief, offering your presence. A silent presence, one that is not intrusive, one that is reverent to the gravity of the situation, one that doesn't prod with questions, one that offers a warm smile or pat on the knee or shoulder when there are no words to say. This one goes along with the Ministry of Tissues.

The Ministry of Parking Lot Duty

This ministry consists of showing up at the hospital parking lot at 4:30 am to make sure you don't miss your friends or family when they are going into the hospital for testing that often starts at 5:00 am so they are ready for surgery at 7am. To make sure that your friend doesn't walk into the hospital alone, or to make sure your friend doesn't walk their child or parent into the hospital alone. For this ministry all that is required is an alarm clock and a good book to read. You just show up and offer your Ministry of Presence in a tough situation. You walk them in, tend to their needs, and sit quietly with them while reading a book, or grading papers...

I have grown in the Lord over this past semester. I have learned to see myself in a new way, I have learned to see others in a new way. The most valuable asset I have to give someone is my devotion. My devotion to be there. My devotion to love. My devotion to growing in my journey with God. My devotion to being a friend. My devotion to be quick to listen and slow to talk.

The Cost to Audit this class - $35
The Time - 3 hours a week

The Life Changing Learning and Lessons....priceless.

November 11, 2008

How I Love Tom and Judy

I will not be home much tomorrow so I will post tomorrows post tonight. It has been a rough day here in Abilene, the Allen's are loved by many and we are all grieving along with them. It felt good to be able to go and do and shop and tidy and wipe counters, it felt good to just do whatever our minds could think of today to serve this family who is so well deserved.

Tom and Judy are an integral part of our lives in so many ways. When Jack was diagnosed with his brain tumor it was Tom and Judy that arranged for a chartered flight for us to get Jack to Dallas Children's. Judy is one of those friends who will just stop by to check on you to see if there is anything you need. During Jack's illness our roof had a couple of leaks, I was beyond even knowing how to get my head around my sick child and a leaky roof so I just didn't deal with the leaky roof. We would grab a bucket to catch the water if we had a rain storm, but as we live in West Texas we don't get a lot of those. One day a man showed up on my front door to tell us he was there to reroof our house for us. He never said who sent him, but I found out later that he was the roofer that Judy uses for her houses that she builds.

It is Judy that gets us Coffee Group Gals upgrades or adjoining rooms when we travel. It is Judy who can cut through a bunch of hulabaloo and get to the core of the matter within seconds. She takes care of others all the time.

Tom is our shepherd at church. He is the elder assigned to our family, we have sat and eaten meals with him. He has sat with us when Jack was sick. He is strong and has a heart for all those around him.

These are my friends that are suffering today.

Dearest God please help my friends and comfort them. May they feel your warmth at every turn. May they know they are loved. May you give them peace that can only come from You. In Your Son's Name, Amen.

Hurting Today

I belong to a great group of friends. We laugh, we cry, we quote movies, but most importantly we live life together. We are there for the ups and downs, one of our own is hurting today and I know that means we are all hurting. My good friend Judy Allen and her husband headed to Houston on a plane last night when they found out their son Ben was having chest pains and was being ambulanced to the hospital. Before their plane landed Ben had passed on to be with the Lord. Ben was in his 20's. He was an awesome student in school, very easy going personality, a friend to all. He was currently attending Optometry School in Houston where he was learning to be an eye doctor. This is such a shock.
I was laying in my bed last night thinking about the last time I saw Ben. One good thing that came from the hurricane down south last month was that Ben got to come home for several days while they were waiting on electricity and such. Please pray for my friend Judy and her husband Tom and her other children Lori and Cade along with the rest of their families.

God's word reminds us that Ben is complete and whole and in the presence of God, and that is a comforting feeling, but there is a mama and a papa and others family members who weren't even close to thinking they would have to say goodbye and they need God's presence to walk them through and the prayers of their brothers and sisters.

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I struggled with writing about this on my blog as it is not necessarily my story to tell. But I really want prayers for my friends.

November 10, 2008

A Fun New Blog, Pics and Red Eye Gravy

Monday morning. My to do list is whittling down, that is a good feeling. I have tried to set limits for myself with work, but can't seem to get everything done. So these last couple of days I just decided it is time to live in front of the computer when I am home and awake taking breaks for meals, but that is about it, just enough to get caught up. One more day of face to computer time and I think I will about there. One thing I did do this week for me was to design my families Christmas card it looks precious I can't wait to send it out.
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I have found a great blog called Blissfully Domestic.
My cousin's wife Karise who writes at Book of Common Grace gave me a heads up on this blog. There are 300 contributors, they cover a wide range of topics, great recipes, great household idea's, photography tips..., I have it on my RSS feeder (I use bloglines) and there is normally about 10 posts a day to the site. Sounds like a lot, but I just scroll through and see what looks interesting to me. One of my favorite posts last week was how to make a mini mud room in your house out of a coat closet. As I live in West Texas, a mud room is not high on my necessity list, but I loved the idea. Enjoy.
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Here are some pics of my kids and Rob that I took out at the flags during the same sitting I took pics of my Gran, which are the post previous to this.





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Bible study is going well, we have 2 more classes left in this series of The Power of a Praying Woman. All the ladies have been so blessed by this study. 2 more left then we will take a break until January when we start the study of Queen Esther by Beth Moore. I think that study will be released in just a short 5 days.
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Red Eye Gravy. Who makes this any more? My most favorite meal as a child at my grandmother's house was her homemade biscuits and red eye gravy. She would use left over bacon grease or ham drippings mix it with a cup of REALLY strong black coffee, sugar and seasonings, let it cook down and voila, a sauce that was invented out on the trail when they didn't let anything go to waste. I loved my Nana's red eye gravy. I was wondering if any of y'all have ever had it, if so what your recipe is for it?

Have a blessed day.

November 08, 2008

My Wonderful Gran

So tonight I took pics out at the flags of my grandpa and my kids. Here are some precious pics of my sweet Gran. He is a man of strong character, full of kindness and love. He is one of my hero's.




Do you want your pic in front of the flags?

Any one in town want a pic by the flags? I am taking my kids and my grandpa up to the flags tonight to get some pics of them with the flags. Got me to thinking that it might be something other people would want, but not necessarily want to do a whole sitting.

I would charge $50 and that would include uploading of the images to an online gallery and 1 8x10 or 2 5x7's. You could purchase more images at my regular price if that was something that you would like to do. This sitting would take about 10 minutes, be more epic or artsy than a traditional ROTC look if that makes sense. This would be a great opportunity for your veteran or kids or family, or yourself to have a patriotic picture. I could incorporate the image(s) in Christmas cards, do a collage with an image or two and a scripture or quote. I am excited to get some pics of my grandpa a WWII Vet.

Email me at marcelain5@sbcglobal.net if you would be interested. The two dates that would be open to do this sitting is Monday the 10th or the last night the flags are up on Thursday the 13th. The sittings would be schedule between 4:30-5:45 each night.


Email me a.s.a.p. if you are interested.

Flags, and Ernie Davis

Saturday morning. Quiet and cool in our house, dreamy.

Last night I took some head shots in Downtown Abilene. 2nd set this week. The first set are already up on my Photog Blog, and these two kiddo's are precious. I know you would smile if you clicked on over.

On my way home I stopped by Frontier Texas as they have hundreds and hundreds of flags up to commemorate Veterans Day. It is a site to behold. So I parked and grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots.




The weather was gorgeous last night, I don't know if it could possibly show in the pics but it seems like it does.

Rob and I went and saw The Express last night in Abilene's tiniest theatre. There are other larger theatre's in this venue, but the particular one we were put into was like 5 rows of seats and that was it. It is a great movie, worth sitting through even in a tiny little theatre. I was not at all familiar with the story of Ernie Davis before last night so the ending caught me off guard a bit. But I loved the movie. Rob did too.

We were in the theatre with a couple of ACU theatre professors sitting in front of us and they clapped during the credits as one of ACU's grads was on the screen in the credits, set design I think. Nelson Coates. Go Big Purple.

November 07, 2008

What is your favorite Cold Weather drink?

I bought my first Christmas present this week, less than 8 weeks till Christmas. Sophie will be well on her way to cooking with Paula Deen and her new kids cookbook.
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I do have to say that one of my most favorites things about cool weather is warm drinks. I love coffee, loose leaf tea, hot chocolate...and I must say that my most favorite hot chocolate is the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate made at Starbucks. Sounds a bit weird, but let me tell you if you like a little salty with your sweet, i.e. Snickers Bars, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, this drink could become your winter addiction.

What do you drink when it turns cool out?

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Here is another video from Northpoint Church. Meet Chris.

November 06, 2008

A Cool Pic, and Jesus for President

One of my friends that I know through the photography business is Kenny Kim. He is a friend to everyone, a photographer's photographer. He is on the road all the time working for himself by shooting weddings or working for other photographer's recording events that they are a part of. His home base is Chicago. He had heard through the grapevine that now President Elect Obama would stop by his barber shop in Hyde Park on election night, so Kenny went and recorded the events at the barber shop. Obama didn't show up, but the energy was electric as you can tell in Kenny's picture. If you click over to Kenny's site you will see this pic larger and it looks much better. I saw this on his blog and it has stuck with me, I have thought of it often. I don't know if it is the community gathering at the barber shop that I find Mayberryesque, or if it is just the expressions on the faces. Kenny did a great job capturing history in the making.



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I just read Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Great book. Shane also wrote Jesus For President, which I started to read last night. I love the look of this book, the art work is cool.
Here is a paragraph from the book before chapter one.

This book is a project in renewing the imagination of the church in the United States and of those who would seek to know Jesus. We are seeing more and more that the church has fallen in love with the state and that this love affair is killing the church's imagination. the powerful benefits and temptations of running the world's largest superpower have bent the church's identity. Having power at its fingertips, the church often finds "guiding the course of history" a more alluring goal than following the crucified Christ. Too often the patriotic values of pride and strength triumph over the spiritual virtues of humility, gentleness, and sacrificial love.

I don't expect that this book will give me warm and fuzzy feelings, but I loved to be challenged by the books I read. I think that the Way, The Jesus Way, has always been a grass root's operation, in scripture Jesus led a group of radicals that said the last shall be first, the least - greatest, let the dead bury the dead and follow me, a group of men led by the ultimate foot washer of all, a Man who had no ego, no need to prove Himself when insulted or to test God in the desert. He was and is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Sharing Jesus starts with the foot washers.
Jesus was The Extraordinary Radical.

Vann at Conexus has been putting some way cool video's on his site this week. I did some nosing around on you-tube from the Northpoint Church where his video's came from. Meet Meghan.