December 31, 2009

New Years Eve Recipe!!

Each New Years Eve we eat Black Eyed Peas. As one of my parents was a Texan this has just always been a tradition in our house. I think it might be a Southern thing. The tradition says that eating black eyed peas on New Years Eve brings good luck, we eat them because most citizens of the South eat them this very day. We can't walk into a grocery store without nearly colliding with the pallets of canned black eyed peas swaying to and fro, right next to the sparkling cider ofcourse. Anyway my cousin's wife Karen makes the BEST Black Bean Salsa, which has no black eyed peas in it, but I am going to make this salsa and substitute one can of the black beans for a can of black eyed peas and it will fit nicely into our menu tonight. Enjoy this with chips or eat it on it's own. YUM!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Roast 1 pound of frozen corn at 450F with 2 Tablespoons oil, turning often for 15 minutes.

In very large container mix:
The roasted corn
1 cup chopped cilantro
3-4 plum or roma tomatoes chopped
2 jalapenos chopped and seeded
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Mix Dressing:
2-3 Tablespoons oil
6 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Pour Dressing over corn/bean mixture and mix well. Marinate for a few hours. Just prior to serving, chop and add 2 large avocados.

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Today is Derek's 13th Birthday. I am now the mom of a teenager, he is sheer joy. I took this pic last week at the Forts at Lake Fort Phantom, Derek is in the black shirt with his cousin Christopher and brother Jack.


I pray great mercies of love and grace over my son. May he always have a heart that seeks God and His will. May he always cherish those around him and err on the side of love and kindness. I am thankful for all he is.

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I joined my friends for a girls nite last night, we hung out at a friends house and brought snacks, ate some delicious taco soup, watched an episode of Glee, played Rock Band, and began a movie before it was all of our bedtimes and was time to head home. To my crazy surprise they showered me with Back To School Supplies. I couldn't believe it, I have the cutest highlighters, binder clips, note pads, binder, pens, metallic paper clips, and day planning calendar to write all of my assignments in. I was blown away. It was so special and such a blessing to have friends that would even think of doing such a thing. Thanks to God for giving me friends. Thanks to my husband for praying diligently for me for years for God to bring a friend to me, He has brought me many...my friends but also my sisters in Christ. Thankful.

December 30, 2009

Let It Snow...Again.






We don't get snow every year in Abilene. To have it twice in a week is a dream. This second snowfall wasn't as wild as the first but it still left us with an inch or two of fun snow for the kids to play in. Derek got out and built a miniature snowman from some snow that was on my van. Here are some fun pics of him playing in the snow. This sweet boy will be a teenager tomorrow.
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While my sister Becky and her family were here I took some pics of them out at the Forts at Lake Fort Phantom. I posted them on my photog blog so the pics would be a bit bigger. You can click over to that blog from the sidebar where it says, Marcelain Photography Blog. I also took pictures of a couple downtown a couple of days ago, they are on the blog too. Love that there is snow on the ground for those pics.

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Kids have the rest of this week till they head back to school on Monday. Then I have one more week to go and I am starting school as a full time student. To say I am excited would be an understatement. I just can't wait.

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Thankful to God.

December 27, 2009

Let It Snow

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. All Christmas' have been wonderful but this one was made extra special with Rob's work schedule, and him having a 4 day Christmas break, and with my sister Becky and her family coming in for several days right before Christmas. I got some fun pics of she and her family while they were here and will post some of those this week.

The day Becky, Dallas, and the kids left for Kansas was the day the monster storm hit, which was Christmas Eve, the 24th. They tried their best to make it to Kansas, but ended up having to stop at a hotel, south of Norman, OK as the roads were not safe, and many closed down. I am glad to report that Christmas day they started their trip up a couple hours closer to Dallas' mom's home in Kansas and made it there by mid afternoon. Santa had come and the presents were waiting for the kids under the tree.

For all the holiday travelers, the snow was not necessarily their friend on the 24th, but for those of us who didn't have to be on the roads it made for a special treat. Here we are 3 days later and we still have snow on the ground, in West Texas!! The kids and Rob played out in the snow during the blizzard like conditions, and had a great time. It was our own winter wonderland. Here a couple of pics of the kids.





Christmas Eve we had planned to attend a local Christmas Eve service, but the weather kept that from happening for us, or so we thought. It turns out that the church service we were going to attend actually still took place, the news didn't differentiate which service was cancelled so we assumed it was the 6pm as it was scrolling across the bottom of the television, but was the 11pm that was cancelled. Tom and Elaine went as they didn't see the church closure information and they said it was a beautiful service and so heartwarming. My only disappointment this Christmas was that we were not there with them. I look forward to attending next year.

Christmas morning, Rob's mom, Elaine and her husband, brought over a yummy breakfast casserole and some sausage rolls and we started opening gifts at about 8:30am. The kids are allowed to dig into their stocking and open up those gifts when they wake up. They LOVE that! Then they wait for us to wake up while quietly separating out all of the gifts in their own piles.
All were blessed by the presents under the tree, but the greatest blessing was family being together and remembering Christ.

We went to the first showing of Avatar 3D at 12:25 on Christmas Day. We all loved it, although Jack and Sophie thought it got a little long for them. The movie was spectacular. Visually it was like a dream. I told Elaine and Rob after the movie that the colors make me think of the New Earth that God will have for us once ours is gone, Heaven. Although scripture tells us we could not even imagine how beautiful it will be, and that earth is just a shadow of the beauty we will have in heaven. James Cameron does a great job at stretching our imaginations one step beyond what we see around us here.

Christmas Dinner was hosted by Elaine and Tom and we enjoyed a wonderful meal at their home.

It was a great holiday. Derek's birthday is this week, he is a New Years Eve baby. He said he wanted to go see a movie and then come home and watch the fireworks on television that happen each year to celebrate the new year, but we say they are celebrating his birthday.

I will post some pics of my sister's family this week some time. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and that each day we remember the birth of Christ with as much excitement as we do on the 25th. God's sweet blessings to you for the New Year.

December 11, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

....these are a few of my favorite things...

This time of year my hands get so dry. The key to my hands not hurting from the cold and being as soft as they were 20 years ago is
Deborah's Collection Hand and Foot Creme I love this creme. Rob uses it too. Right before we go to bed at night we slather this on our hands and they feel so good the next day. It has a bit of a waxy feel to it when you rub it in, but it absorbs into your skin very quickly and immediately makes your hands feel hydrated. This product has 72% Aloe Vera. The good aloe too...high grade pharmacutical. I love it. I am a consultant for Deborah's Collection, so if you decide to give it a try then you can select me if you would like on the consultant page, TX-Abilene Tammy Marcelain. I am not getting any endorsement for putting any of these item's on my blog...isn't that a blogging rule now? Full disclosure.



This has become my most favorite Christmas album. I listen to it ALL day long and it never get's old. The message is wonderful and the tune's are upbeat and fun. Love Bebo!!!
Bebo Norman's Christmas Album



I can almost always be found with something hot brewing or steeping. I love hot drinks in the winter. I have come to love hot tea all year long. This is my most favorite... Earl of Grey from The Tea Spot in Boulder, CO I tasted the Tea Spot's tea at a Whole Foods in Dallas one day and have been a fan ever since. You can buy it off the shelf at Whole Foods, but I order it online as we don't have a Whole Foods in Abilene. I bought my tea cups from the Tea Spot too, makes steeping loose leaf tea SO easy, they even have collapsable silicon tea strainers now that can go with you anywhere...oh happy day. I have been known to take my breakable tea cups with me in my suitcase to make sure I can have my tea, now I can just take the tea strainer.



No picture here...just words...what is my one stop shopping place on the web for music, movies, books,...
Amazon.com. No crowds, low prices,..I heart Amazon.


To finish up a few of my favorite things, you can always find this link on my sidebar. I love
Eternal Threads
I have several Sofi Totes that I have bought over the years, they have carried my bibles/water bottles, keys, wallet...my bigger one, we call the Chemo bag, carried dvd's, dvd player, books to read, books to color, snacks, water...
Several years ago I became acquainted with Eternal Threads. This organization releases women from poverty by teaching them a trade and paying them a fair wage to make totes, jewelry, bookmarks, lace items...The Sofi Totes are made in India then they expanded to several places around the world. I just bought a beautiful matching necklace/earring set made of swavorski crystals by the women in Afghanistan, for $24. The prices are reasonable to purchase, and the women who participate across the world have seen their lives change. Eternal Threads also sponsors girls who would not otherwise be able to attend school in their country to attend school. This organization changes lives.
This is one of my Sofi Totes, I love the colors.



This hat just makes me smile. I don't think my kids would wear this being preteen age, but I can guarantee you this hat had Jack's name written all over it, only if he was 2 again ; ) It was made in Nepal.



For those of you who live in Abilene for Downtown Days tomorrow, Saturday the 12th, you can go to the Eternal Threads storehouse and purchase many items for 20% off. They are located at 101 S. Walnut, in that blue and white building on the corner of Walnut and S. 1st. Downtown. I love to buy gifts that give twice, once to the person who I am giving it to, and second to the person who made it.


What are some of your favorite things?

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Today's tree ornament is my Armadillo Sheriff. He reminds me of the great state of Texas of where I was born and now reside. I was born in San Angelo, TX about 2 hours or so from where I live now, during my childhood I lived mostly in Arizona with some brief stays to my mom's homeland, Australia. My dad always said that the humidity in Texas made his hair curl which is why he loved Arizona so much. No moisture in the air AT ALL. I moved back to Texas when I was 23 years old, it was a journey that God had ordained for me, a journey that saved my life in so many ways. I left behind a life that was filled with too much of everything, and came to a place where I was grounded in the simplicity of family and the love of Christ. One of the prayers I love so much is from St. Patrick, Christ before me, Christ ahead of me, Christ beside me. That is what I found in Abilene. I found it in the people, in the churches and mostly in the example of my Grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins. I was able to see the fullness of life that I had never experienced, I wanted what I saw around me...which was unconditional, faithful love. Thanks be to God he says if we seek Him with all we have we will find Him and He is my all now. I needed family to help me find that and to give me a soft place to land and love me when I felt unloveable, they were the hands of Christ to me, and still are. Thanks be to God.
So this little Armadillo says Texas to me, and that makes me happy.

December 10, 2009

The Bumble

Today's ornament is The Bumble. Yes, I am dating myself here, but when I was a little girl there was no TV shows on DVD or video, so at the beginning of December we would always mark the date that Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer would be on television and everything would be planned around that special Christmas show. When I saw The Bumble I knew he belonged on my Christmas tree, he represents Christmas television from my childhood. Remember....Bumble's bounce.

December 09, 2009

The Butterfly Ornament

If I had to pick one ornament that brings a tear each year when I put it on the tree it would be this one. The Butterfly. My mom passed about 9 years ago, the Christmas after she passed I went shopping for an ornament that would remind me of her each time I trimmed the tree. My mom loved butterflies. I look for this ornament each year thinking of my mom the entire time, holding my breath until I can find it wrapped gently in tissue paper and in it's own special ornament cubby within the ornament tub. When I find it and hold it I can see my mom's face and her beautiful smile.

December 06, 2009

Full of fun.

My sweet friend Amber took her little precious Ruby to the book signing for Ree, The Pioneer Woman's, new cookbook. Ree is travelling to and fro promoting her new cookbook. I have made many of Ree's recipe's over the years and they are scrumpdillyicious. Anyway, Ree is also an avid photographer and took a pic of Amber and Ruby while she was signing books at the Dallas bookstore, then she posted it on her blog. So my friend Amber and Ruby are famous. Ruby is so cute in her crochet cap.
Click here to see Pioneer Woman's post with my friends.

Matt Chandler, the pastor of the Village Church in Highland Park near Dallas, you might have heard of him. He is a gifted pastor and deliver's amazing sermons that you can put on your ipod, iphone, mp3 or just listen to them on the computer. The Path is a series I am currently listening to. Matt was diagnosed with a brain tumor a couple of weeks ago, underwent brain surgery and last I checked is still in ICU. Please pray for he and his family. Before he went into surgery he made a blog post of what was on his heart. Amazing stuff.
Click here to see the post.

The Deeper Still Conference was wonderful. I had a great time with friends and was blessed to hear Kay, Beth and Priscilla speak in person. I have heart Beth at a Living Proof Live once before and it was superb. We were die hard participants as we arrived super early before the doors even opened to have seats close to the platform. When we heard Beth before we were towards the back of that venue and were able to see her well on the screen, but I wanted to be close enough to see the ladies without having to look at the jumbotron. I was thankful that the other girls that went were also excited to be close up. We did have good seats both days. Here is a pic I took of all three ladies right before Beth spoke Saturday afternoon.


Travis Cottrell led the worship which was GREAT. 9,000 women praising God together is such a special time. I love this picture because of the words behind him. The plastic framed boards were put up all over the venue for the women to write sentiments on, then an artist painted the hand of God over them all. It was a beautiful site to behold.


After the conference was "officially" over Travis and part of his worship team sang some good old fashioned Southern Gospel songs. Right after this Beth, Kay and Priscilla participate in a Question and Answer session. It was full of laughs.


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I checked Travis Cottrell's blog after the conference to see his wrap up, he and his wife were posting a daily favorite ornament pic and I thought that sounded totally fun....I thought I would take that idea and bring it here and post some of my favorite Christmas Tree Ornaments. I don't expect to do it daily, but here and there will post some of my fave's before Christmas.
My favorite ornament of the day for today is one of Rob's and my first ornaments. This picture was taken of us before we were married. We both have quite a bit more hair ; )

December 03, 2009

Deeper Still Conference Starts Tomorrow OKC

This time tomorow I will be on my way with 4 other women heading to Oklahoma City for the Deeper Still Conference. Can you believe it? I can't, I bought my tickets about 10 months ago and have had this weekend in the back of my head all year long. Not letting myself think about it too much because I might not ever sleep if I did. These 3 women, rock my world. They have allowed God to bring His message through them, back to the bible basics and bring the messages in a way that there is life application all throughout. The knowledge that I have gained through bible study has blessed me so much, and this group loves scripture so much it makes study fun and challenging at the same time. I can not wait!! Yes I am a bible study nerd and am not ashamed.



Grabbed these pics from Priscilla's blog at Going Beyond Ministries. Rych is the photographer on all of them.

December 02, 2009

Cranberry Salsa Recipe

Wednesday. Woke up to some lovely snow this morning. It is such a treat for us to have snow on the ground. Here is my backyard.


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I loved that Rob had 4 days off...in a row. It was the best Thanksgiving ever. Although, during the Thanksgiving festivities the kids were chasing each other and running around. Jack fell down and hurt his foot. I took him to the doctor on Monday and after xray's they called and said some of his bones in his foot were broken. After being re-xrayed at the orthopedic's office the next day, the doctor said that the bones are "buckled." Here is the xray.

Jack doesn't need a cast or a boot, he just can't run or do any sports for 3 weeks until it heals up. It is quite painful for him to walk on it, but he is certainly a trooper.

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I hosted bunco on Monday. I made some yummy food. Several girls wanted the Cranberry Salsa recipe so here it is:
Cranberry Salsa
1 bag fresh Cranberries
1 small purple onion (chopped in quarters)
2 Jalapeno Peppers, I used 5 small ones. I just cut off the stem and did not seed them. Recipe calls for seeding.
2 T. Cilantro (I added double the Cilantro because I love it)
1 Cup Sugar or 20 Equal Packets (I used sugar, but will try Stevia or Splenda some time)
1-2T Lime juice
Combine first 4 ingredients in food processor, adding Cilantro last.
Once all chopped together in food processor then add 1 cup chopped Pecans, sugar and lime juice and mix together.

I let this sit in the fridge overnight. Then serve over Cream Cheese with Wheat Thins or another cracker to dip with. This recipe makes enough Cranberry Salsa for 2 blocks of Cream Cheese.

This is the perfect combination of sweet, tart and spicy.
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November 23, 2009

Extra Thankful Thanksgiving.

Monday morning, the week of Thanksgiving. The kids all have early release today and tomorrow then they are off for Thanksgiving. We will celebrate Thanksgiving with the usual suspects, all the family from here, extended family and our New Mexico family who drives in. I am extra excited about Thanksgiving this year, this is Rob's first year in 18 years that he has not worked 20 hour days at the bakery leading up to the day of Thanksgiving. He said to me yesterday, wow, I can see why so many people like Thanksgiving now. The holidays for us have always been stressful because of Rob's work schedule, this year now that he is at DRI has opened some space up in our life for family time and time to do the holiday planning together. I am extra thankful this Thanksgiving.

I was telling my sweet friend Yvonne yesterday I had no real inspiration for our family Christmas card this year. I generally start thinking Christmas card idea's up in September. Here we are the week of Thanksgiving and I hadn't come up with a new idea. Yesterday was a nice warm day, and I really wanted to grab a couple of pics of my kids before the weather cooled off. They are so much more pleasant when they are not freezing cold and their mother has a camera in their face. I had exactly 6 minutes to shoot our Christmas card pic yesterday due to our schedule, and it all came together. I created our card and ordered them last night. Whew!! It all came together quickly. I wanted my kids to wear clothes that they loved, not necessarily matching for the card, Jack's clothes for church yesterday were totally classic Jack, plaid shorts, totally different color plaid shirt, and his purple high tops. I loved his ecclectic look, Derek had put on a Bears shirt in honor of the game last night, and Sophie found a casual outfit. I loved the personality that comes through. The last couple of years we have done a family pic for the card, but this year decided it was easiest just to use a pic of the kids. As we were driving down our street to take the pictures, Jack says, "What is dad not coming? Did he not make the Christmas card picture this year?" I laughed. Told Rob that and he laughed too.

Books, I can't seem to get through a book here lately. I am reading a couple, On Writing Well, is the book I have next to me right now. I think I will be taking tomorrow morning off to do some extended Bible study and have some personal time just reading and hanging out before my kids are done with school this week. Today is going to be a bit crazy, so I might as well get as much done within the craziness today and rest tomorrow.

I did do my study this morning in the book of Mark. Mark is a special book for me for several reasons, but today my reading was in The Message version. I feel like I am reading stories I have never read before when I read The Message, it is a great way to read the stories of Christ, and the stories in the Bible, they seem to be a bit more accessible in todays common language.
I have a Message/NIV Side by side Bible. So I often read the Message side then re read it in the NIV to remind me of the version I am more familiar with. I love having the two versions right next to each other.

I will leave you with the words of Christ as spoken to the woman who touched his robe from the Message. Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague."

I find it interesting that she was healed, but Jesus then said "Be healed of your plague." She was already healed, but I think that Jesus was reminding her that she should choose to move on from the negativity she could carry around with her, the feeling of brokeness from her past. He told her to live well, live blessed. That's a choice isn't it? Praying that today I choose to live well and live blessed. Thanks be to God.

November 13, 2009

Supernatural

Friday afternoon. Waiting for some pics to download on my computer thought I would share a bit of what I heard Priscilla Shirer say this morning on a live feed through All Access with Lifeway. There is a Women's Ministry Conference taking place this weekend, and today's events and backstage happenings are on live feed for all of us to watch. Here is the link. There is a schedule of events on the All Access Lifeway site, the other main speaker for today is Kelly Minter at 7:30pm, check your time zone with the Lifeway site if you are going to try and catch this, would hate for someone to miss it because of a time zone difference.

Priscilla spoke this morning as the main speaker. She was addressing a crowd of women who work in ministry for the most part I assume, but the information shared was a blessing for all women. I loved several topics she addressed. The theme of her talk was God's Supernatural Anointing. I was working as I was listening so I didn't take notes, but one of the other women who was live streaming did take notes and she was gracious enough to pass them around to all of us that asked for them. I thought I would post them here. Thanks Stephanie.
8 Princples to live/lead by:

1. Super natural abilty to handle task @ hand
2. Super natural authority. God in us ministering. Only Gods authority can change a life.
3. Super natural vision-pray for the real issues
4. Super natural endowmnet of God's energy. Priscilla prays Romans 12:12 before she even gets out of bed
5.Super natural priorities- Can't give what we don't have inside. If you aren't careful "things" will take your attention. Spend time w/ God.
6. Super natural focus- If the Father ain't doin it I ain't doin it! Focus on what God has put on your plate. Don't go the wrong direction because you are embarrased. You don't answer to others.
7. Super natural compassion- Lord give us soft hearts
8. Super natural humility

I will enjoy going back through those notes. A couple of things that I took to heart that Priscilla spoke on: Figure out your focus. For me that is mothering and wife-ing...even if I am asked to do something that is good if it doesn't allow me to keep my focus on my family then it is not the season to take it on. I have started working with some new ministries as of late, and also planning to go back to school. That meant I needed to end my time with some other ministries and parts of my business. I don't think that it is ever God's intention for us to be so busy doing His work that we don't have time for Him or those He has entrusted to us.

Another area that Priscilla talked about was something that I feel so passionate about. Private ministry to others. She said that we are not fully embracing God's plan for us, any of us, if we are only working in the public area's of our lives. There are so many opportunities that God will give us to embrace a job He has for us alone, where we are tending to the needs of His brokenhearted, by feeding the poor, clothing the needy, ministering to the abused, raking leaves for a widow, mowing a lawn. A ministry that is personal not public. I would say that I feel this call from the Lord more and more. What I do with that call is between God and I, but I always pray for a heart that breaks over what breaks His heart and that I will bow my head to Him and where He calls me to be. These are the moments that I feel closest to God, the moments that if I close my eyes I can almost think I am in heaven and that bring tears so readily. Privately doing God's work is where my heart feels like it will explode with gratefulness and thankfulness that I follow Him and that He allows me to be a tiny little part of His glorious plans. If anyone who is reading this is feeling burned out on church, and wonder if that is all there is to following Christ, I say to you now, that church is what feeds us and gets us ready for ministry, it has not and never should be the center of our focus, Jesus is the center and how we choose to follow Him is the adventure of Christianity. Praising the Lord for the adventures of following Him here on earth.

November 11, 2009

Good Times

Wednesday night. Kids are asleep, or at least in bed with eyes closed. I have just finished downloading and editing some pictures I took yesterday at Disability Rescources Inc. during their big day of ribbon cutting and wonderful words shared with all of us onlookers. Rob has been working at DRI (Disability Resources Inc.) about 10 months now and he loves every minute of it. I love that he is there, and working with such a great ministry. Serving those precious souls is a gift. Before we knew he was going to work with the "folks" I had read Henri Nouwen's book called Road to Daybreak, I have already talked about it here, but it is the story of one of the greatest modern day theologians who led ivy league colleges in their theology dept's, but was not satisfied in the life of academia and spent time finding out where God would have him be. He found his way to Daybreak, a home for the mentally and physically disabled in Canada. The man who had the world at his fingertips, left it to become a servant to the least of these. I am proud that my husband has a job that he is able to serve and love God's precious people.
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As I write this I am listening to Switchfoot's new album. It is wonderful. I have never owned a Switchfoot album, but have loved the lead singer's lone music he has put out over the last year, Jon Foreman. His music makes me happy.
Switchfoot has a harder rock sound to it, somewhat comparable to U2, The Cure....with Jon Foreman's great lead vocals.

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As of yesterday I am officially a registered student at ACU. I start up in January with 12 hours. My first semester will be filled with Acts-Revalation with Mike Cope, Sociology, Environmental Science and Adult Learning Theory (required). I can't wait for January. One of my friends at church tonight told me I should scour the internet for scholarships, especially geared toward returning students. I have no idea where to begin with that, and with all the scams out there would be hesitant to chase anything down without someone's initial recommendation. If you have any advice in this area would you leave me a comment...pretty please?

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GLEE is all the rage right now. I watched the first episode, not even all of it and it didn't jump out at me. Someone twittered about the soundtrack yesterday which got my interest, so I revisited the show watching the last 4 episodes on my computer while editing last night and today, some of the story line's I could do without, but the music is wonderful and the fact that one of the episode's had Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline in it, made it even more fun. Thanks to my dad I am a huge Neil Diamond fan and can be found singing along to Cracklin' Rosie, Sweet Caroline, America...on a pretty regular basis. Neil music makes me happy. I surprised my dad and took him to see Neil Diamond for one of his birthdays about 25 years ago, it was a great show. So back to Glee....I think I like it ; )

November 09, 2009

A Blog From Down Under

One of my most favorite blogs to read is from the land down under. I have linked it a couple of times from here. It is a blog that is filled with emotions, from highs to the lowest of lows. The photography is beautiful in every way. Many times my heart hurts when I read this blog, but I am drawn to the rawness of truth that the writer so eloquently shares. The mom/photog who rights this blog has counted several hundred days since the passing of her sweet Ava girl. The post today is about her Ivy girl who experiences Disney and becoming a princess which reminds the mama of her first princess Ava.

Click here to travel to the blog down under.

South Beach

Monday afternoon. Was blessed to spend today over at some friends house taking pictures of them and their sweet baby Gentry who is just a couple of days old. It was sweet. It will take me a couple of days to blog those pics because I have some other editing I need to finish up first, but I am sure I will link over to my photog blog from here when those images are up.

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Looking forward to tomorrow, registration for my classes for spring at ACU.

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South Beach...I don't talk about dieting or weight on here hardly ever, maybe never. Beginning in my early high school years I became anorexic/bulimic and lived in that place until my late 20's. When I decided to get pregnant with my first child I felt like there was no place for that in my life, not that there was before that, but it became very clear that health was more than being a size 6-8. After I stopped that harmful behavior I became pregnant and then gained weight during my pregnancy. I have never gotten back to where I feel I am at a healthy weight. I have always had a love/hate relationship with food, I don't ever think I have been a classic overeater, but I have not chosen good healthy options as a rule. God has put on my heart over the last couple of years that part of me being who he has called me to be I need to make healthy choices for food. Not live in sugarland which is where I loved to be. Empty carbs, sweets, pasta, breads....I was being called to make some changes but never felt like I could not be ruled by the sugar monster. As I tried to make healthy choices I tried a couple of diets/plans that kept my focus on food, which brought back a lot of the feelings from my teens and 20's. Food was the focus, how many points? How much can I have? I knew that God was calling me to focus on Him not on following a structured plan. With this new determination and the knowledge that I have all the classic early signs of being a diabetic, borderline gestational diabetic with both pregnancies, where I carry my weight, and just the way my body reacted to sugar, I started South Beach probably 4 or 5 weeks ago, it is a low glycemic program. The first two weeks are somewhat limited, no fruit even, but the foods that allowed were plentiful and nothing had to be measured. I surprisingly got through that first two weeks with very little pain, and now still feel good about following the guidelines. I chose not to weigh myself as a guide, my guide would just be my abiding to God's plan for me. Weighing myself always messes with my head and in reality my devotion was to God and to be healthy not to be a certain weight. That has been the biggest blessing. I don't give the scale the power of affirmation or tearing me down, I just follow God's leading and choose food from the South Beach plan. There is no weighing food, no measuring...just healthy choices that keep my blood sugar level even.
I am a place now that sugar is not my king anymore, and it feels pretty good. Mostly it feels good that I am following God's leading and choosing to be obedient. I continue to lean on Him for self-discipline, and am grateful that He loves me no matter what I eat, but God is always refining me and I always want to listen.

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November 05, 2009

Baby Gentry's Slideshow

Here is a link to some My First Day pics I took of Baby Gentry today. Allison and David are in l.o.v.e.

Here is the link to the slideshow.

November 02, 2009

Fall Pic, Facebook Etiquette, Upcoming Movies I can't wait to see.



This picture is from this time of year 3 years ago. Wanted to put up a fall pic and this was the first one I came across. That is one cute bald head!! A whirlwind of life happened in a short period of time. Thankful for the fall, the colors, the leaves, the anticipation of seeing family and cooking a big dead bird.


Monday night and I am done worn plum out. Seems like it has been a busy couple of days. Looking forward to a slower week ahead. I went up to ACU today for two meetings, the first was to confirm my classes for Spring. The BAS (Bachelor of Applied Studies) dept. has to register me this first time. So I confirmed everything with my admissions counselor and I think we are good to go. She will register me at 3pm on November 11th. I will take a full load, but the one class she was concerned as to whether it would have any spots left is Mike Cope's Acts to Revelation M-W-F. Hoping that it will be open, would love to take a class from Mike Cope.

One of the reasons we are worn out around here is that one of our friends passed away Friday. He went in for a routine colonoscopy and there was a mix up with communication and he was told to go off of ALL his meds. He did as he was told, but there was one med that his heart needed and he shouldn't have been instructed to be off of it, and he had a heart attack during the procedure. He spent all week in the hospital progressively getting better all week then his oxygen levels dropped suddenly on Friday night and he passed on. Tough times for his wife and family. Hurting for them.

I was wondering what you thought about using facebook to notify people of someone's death. Someone at church on Sunday was incensed that he found out about his friend's death on facebook. Rob was up at the hospital the night our friend passed on and called me to let me know what had happened. Truthfully I knew a lot of people would want to know and thought about posting it. But I didn't feel comfortable with that avenue. I thought, people will find out in due time and didn't post. When I woke up the next morning it was on facebook and the news was traveling. I was glad to see that someone had posted it because it allowed for an immediate outreach to the family. Most people wouldn't have known until Sunday at church or if they read the paper. So I was glad it was out there, but didn't feel comfortable posting it myself. What is your take on facebook in a circumstance like that? Inquiring minds like mine want to know...

Rob and I took the kids to see This Is It, Sunday. It was l.o.n.g. but quite interesting. I was ready for it to be done about a half an hour before it was, but it was still good to hear some songs and see the process of rehearsing a concert and what all goes into that. Derek who takes no dance at all, would never take dance, has the moves. He could pretty much recreate several dance routines just from watching it once. He has his daddy's motown moves in him.

The best part about the movies right now are the previews, looks to be a promising holiday season in the theatres.

I am looking forward to The Blind Side, comes out Nov. 20th, has Sandra Bullock in it as a rich wife who takes in a poor homeless kid and his life after that. Bring your tissues...I have cried through EVERY preview I have seen for this movie.
Here's a link to the trailer. Tissues, I tell ya!!



Then there is a Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker movie, Did You Hear About The Morgans? which had us laughing out loud in the previews. A couple going to marriage therapy witness a crime and are put into a witness protection program. Can't wait.
Here's a link to The Morgans.

October 29, 2009

Tech Tip, Thanksgiving Blessings, Christmas Savings.

Thursday morning. Computer work this week. Two weddings in a row keeps me busy for weeks on my computer. I found out this week that I can register for classes at ACU Nov. 10th, so excited about that. What else is going on with us? Derek's last football game is Tuesday at home. He has loved football, he will try out for basketball next week I think. He hasn't really played alot of basketball, but I am glad he is trying out for the team.

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The Friday morning woman's bible study will finish up in the next couple of weeks. This study has been wonderful, it is called Return to the Garden by Kay Arthur. Most of us in the class had no real biblical specifics of how important our s*xuality is to God. It brings new and truthful light to s*xuality, it is the polar opposite of what is around us in the world. I recommend this study to every woman, high school age and above. I will adapt this study for my kids and will spend time in the word this coming summertime going over God's perspective about s*xuality. Rob and I do talk to our kids about s*x, but this study will allow us to arm them with the Sword of the Spirit, not just our own opinions and information.

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My Tech Tip for the Decade:
Do you have an iphone? Did you know that you are safer from being hacked when you are on the 3G network verses wi-fi. I heard this a while ago and turned off my wi-fi.

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The Thanksgiving thanksgiving. I know some families who go around the table and share what they are thankful for each Thanksgiving. Coffee Group travelled to speak at a ladies retreat a month or so ago, and that group of women had a great activity in the evening. They shared why they were thankful for the person sitting next to them. It was a sweet time of blessing. If they didn't know the person sitting next to them, then someone else spoke about them. As I was pondering what we could do differently this year for our Thanksgiving I thought that activity might be a great one to include.

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Holidays are right around the corner. If you have a techy person in your family (aren't we all techy people now?) then a great website to subscribe to is buy.com . They will give you weekly updates on some great buys from t.v.'s to camera's, hard drives to flash drives, gps systems....some of the items are overstocked, some are refurbished, there are great deals to be had. I bought a digital photo frame which are normally quite expensive earlier this year, regular price it was over $100, I bought it for $29.99, I bought a flash drive last year for a great deal. Yesterday I saw that they had a PC Laptop for $299.99.

October 26, 2009

Congrats Scott F.////My Tom's Personal Photo Shoot

First off I want to congratulate Scott F. in the random drawing for Max Lucado's new book Fearless. Scott, email me at marcelain5@sbcglobal.net with your mailing address and I will get your new book out to you a.s.a.p.!! Sandy is an inspiration to me too! Thanks for your heart for your family and for the cancer world with all of your work fundraising for a cure. God bless your sweet family.

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I loved all the personal entries talking about who inspires you. I appreciate you sharing and have prayed for all the persons you shared with me.

Amber and Jana, I celebrate with you the work of the Holy Spirit that keeps all of our eyes on Christ and the power of His calling to each of us. You two are amazing examples to me.

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Another Inspirational topic! Tom's Shoes......I have written about them on this blog, I have a link on the sidebar, I post their info on Facebook, but have I ever bought a pair, no. Truthfully I have gone to their site probably a dozen times and have even put a pair in the shopping cart, but then delete them, and put off buying till later. Mostly because for me to spend $50 on a pair of shoes, and not be sure if they will be comfortable and give my over 40 year old feet good support would be unwise. The older I get the pickier my feet get about my shoes. But throwing caution to the wind after asking several people over the last year if their Tom's were comfy and had arch support, with positive feedback, I gave in and bought my first pair of Tom's last week. Well good googly moogly they came in today and they are on my feet right now and my feet love them.

I was so happy to receive them, and so glad after waiting about two years to have my own pair of Tom's, that I decided they needed their own photo shoot. Thanks to Jana for the lovely blanket I used as a backdrop for some of these images.

I have given my Tom's their own name, they are called "shiny." So here is "shiny's" first photo shoot. Don't my feet look happy? There are lots of colors to choose from, from a simple canvas to these glitzy glittery wild Tom's I bought for myself, and everything in between. The best part of Tom's is that for each pair purchased a child in a third world country will receive their own pair.











I love my Tom's.

October 23, 2009

Fearless Giveaway!!!



I bought my copy of Fearless a month or two ago, just after it was released. Yesterday, I received a copy in the mail from a conference I had helped out with last month. So what will I do with the second copy? Give it away of course. Max Lucado books are always chock full of great stories and scripture. This book helps us focus on God's plan for our lives, the most common command in scripture: Do Not Fear...280 times I think, going by memory here. How would it feel to embrace the adventure God has put in front of you and not allow fear the final word.

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So how do you put your name in the pot for the book?

Who do you know that faces fear with bravery? It could be someone who is alive or who has died. A martyr, or a family member, a founding father, a bible character, political character. Who inspires you?

List a name and it can be that simple or you can tell me about why that person inspires you.

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I will select a random winner on Monday morning 10/26/09. Once the winner is selected then I will announce it on my blog and you can email me with your mailing address.

October 21, 2009

A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - Book Review


Just finished Donald Miller's newest book, no surprises, I loved it. After reading "Searching For God Knows What" which I loved and have text highlighted throughout from start to finish I just didn't know if his books could get any better. You might be familiar with his first bestseller, Blue Like Jazz. All 3 books have been exceptional.

This book was his easy to read conversational style. Which in some ways is a bit frustrating because when you get to know someone well through their writing you actually feel like you know them, like they should come over to your house and hang out with your family and serve them bread pudding or chilli or something. Maybe a holiday invite or at least a Christmas card. But then you realize that your new friend will not be playing farkle at the dinner table with your loud and fun family and it is like you have lost a friend that you never really had in the first place....like I said, frustrating.

The book was wonderful, and quoting about 10 people who read it before me but told me about it..."inspiring." In this book Donald has shared how it feels to be watching life happen around you but not engaging in it yourself. He talks about how he lived a lot of his life in the movie theatre or in front of the television and living adventure through what was happening on the screen in front of him. When one of his books was chosen to become a movie he becomes friends with the screenwriters, then familiarizes himself on the elements of movie making. Through that process he realizes that he can apply some of the elements to making a good movie to his own personal life and that is what this book is about. He shares with us his journey of facing his fears, reconciling broken relationships, biking across America, kayaking for days...bits of adventure that he has purposefully placed in his life to live and not just be a spectator. Along his journey he helps us define some things in our own lives that can be changed, sparks ideas of making memories with our children, families and friends. The stories of his friends are amazing. This book caused me to look at my life and be mindful of the choices I make, especially in regards to my family. Am I creating a story in our family and in our faith that will cause my children to want to engage in those things, or am I not giving them a story interesting and engaging enough that makes them feel alive, like they are living and serving and helping and loving so they don't go off on a story line that would lead them away from us, because it has adventure.

The quotes were numerous that I highlighted. I put a couple on twitter just to get them somewhere I could look back on. I loved this book. I loved it because it was well written, engaging, funny, tearful, authentic, truthful, and yes, inspiring. Loved this book immensely.

October 18, 2009

Jack and Oreo

The other day I was taking some pictures and when I came home Jack was sitting out front cleaning out the hamster cage. Yes, Oreo is still with us. The posts have been nill on Oreo since we found a cage that is the fortress of all hamster cages. He hasn't snuck out of his cage, nor has he eaten any shower curtains since we found his new home. 4 hamster cages later and we found the one he cannot foil. Although he tries every day to chew his way out, but no go.

Truth be known none of us, except Jack, really enjoy Oreo. But Jack is his champion. Jack has pled his case to stay on more than one occasion when all of us were ready to give him away, or give him his freedom. Jack has taken on full responsibility of Oreo, one of his weekly duties is to hose out the cage, dry it and put new bedding down. Here he is taking care of business.

October 15, 2009

October 12, 2009

P*rn on your iphone/itouch/web access phone and my story.

2nd post today. Sometimes I don't have 2 posts in a week lately, but thought I needed to blog about an article I read on-line
here.

Urg.

I have an iphone, I do love my iphone, but I recognized very quickly that it is not really a child friendly phone. The fact that I can get any you tube video or have entire web access on it with a quick touch of a finger made me realize very quickly to tell my kids they are not allowed to just get on you tube and surf on my phone, just as the rule is with our home computer.

P*rn is everywhere, it is at each turn, it can be in our living rooms depending on what you can watch on your TV, it can be in our offices on our computers, it can be on our phones. As parents we have to be diligent about the safe guards that we intentionally put into place for our families.

Some of my friends think I am a bit overboard about what I wont watch, and what I wont let my kids watch, but I don't think I am. I know that everyone is different, and God's leading in our lives are not black and white and the same for every person. I know people who I respect and who have a great walk with the Lord who go to see R Rated movies. I know some people who wont let their kids watch a Disney movie, or for that matter any movies or any TV at all. Both of these groups have the right to choose, and both are doing what they think is right for them. No judgement there on either part. But for me God has set a line that is pretty clear, anything that gives me that sick feeling in my stomach when I watch it is off limits. If it is a television show then I turn it off or turn the channel, for me that is shows like Grey's, Desperate Housewives, all of which I watched the first season of, and didn't listen to the queasy feeling I got when I watched them, but after a season I knew that I was being disobedient and just didn't turn them on. For movies, I don't go see R movies unless I know for a fact that there is no nudity, limited language. Which means that I can pretty much not see R movies.

Over the last month God has brought back some vivid memories of when I was a little girl. Memories that were always there, but I never really saw a connection to some of the stuff that happened in my life. Some of the connections I made in my thinking of the opposite s*x. My earliest idea of what I wanted to be, look like, the power of s*x, came from p*rn*graphy. My dad was a regular reader of Pl*yb*y, and he had no real shame about it, his conscience was quite seared. He left his magazines around in his and my mom's room and then the stack was always under the cabinet in his bathroom. Those pictures affected me in ways that I didn't really understand at the time, I just knew that a woman's body was important, and that it was very important to be alluring in a s*xual way. Looking back I can see the multitudes of ways my being was based on those magazines.

I am sorry that my mom was disrespected in such a way, as to have to share her bedroom space with those magazines, she just accepted that from my dad, and she was worth so much more than that.

God is bringing back some creepy crud from my background because it is time for me to deal with it. I have spent a lot of time dealing with this with God's help in the last couple of weeks and thought I needed to share this. Why? For goodness sake you might wonder? Because just about every time The Coffee Group has travelled to speak and share our lives with women at Ladies Retreat's, even though this is not an area we touch on, wives will speak privately with us and have tears in their eyes because of their husband's p*rn habit. Each are living in a little quiet cell feeling like there is something wrong with them, they aren't good enough, they haven't done the right thing, and they are confused.

We are all living in little bubbles if we think it is not happening in great multitudes around us. We are also living in bubbles if we haven't talked to our boys (and girls) about the subject of guarding what your eyes see. We have to warn our kids that this crud can affect their entire lives and to be on guard and diligent in their awareness for that roaring lion who is walking back and forth trying to take the innocence of our kids away from them. Mine was taken from me in this area before I can even remember how old I was, I pray that I can help my kids and not hurt them in this area.

The most important thing is to start communicating with our children, talk about when s*x is good, talk about when it is bad. Keep that line of communication open as often as possible. Our kids are being inundated with so much junk at school, in fact the link above of Vicki Courtney's blog, tells the stories of iphones with p*rn being passed around on the school bus on the way to her kids Christian school. Get educated on this subject and start talking to your kids. Save your little girls and little boys from the lies and brokenness that comes from p*rn.

What resources are out there if p*rn is already affecting your life? Focus on the Family has some good info, but I believe that counseling, accountability, prayer and calling on pastoral help are probably the most result oriented ways to make changes. For someone who struggles with my weight, I can only think it is just as difficult for me to say no forever to junk food, as it is for someone who struggles with this habit. But God is available and if a man or woman is struggling with p*rn then they can over time with God's help take back control in this area. Go talk to your minister, elder, or a counselor to start. If you are a wife of someone who struggles with this, then Christian counseling will help you understand and not feel like it is all your fault. I believe that as in any area of our spouses lives that sometimes we are not the best accountability partners, and this would be one.

Shine the light on sin, no matter what it is will help. I know it is easy for me to say when it is an area that is not my struggle, but as someone who has struggled in so many other areas I can say with 100% of my heart, it wasn't until I told my story that I started being released from the power it had over me. I think it would be powerful for someone who had time and space between where they are now and from when it was a struggle that had hold of them to testify publicly at church to the darkness that came with this struggle and the healing power of God. For someone who has never voiced it and is currently struggling a more private and nurturing environment would be that place, with a minister, counselor, elder, trusted mentor.

Together through prayer, communication and God's leading we can help our kids become strong in their faith and not fall down this path. For those that struggle with this, stand up, take your life back and call on the Lord, then take the next step.

In great reverence, humility and love.
tammy

Revolve - done, Deeper Still - Soon, Thankfulness.

4 Real. That was the theme of the The Revolve Tour this past weekend in Ft. Worth. 2 days of great music, talks, drama's and thousands of screaming girls. I really felt like Sophie and I needed some alone time together, alone in the midst of thousands, but it was wonderful. We left for Ft. Worth on Friday early afternoon and checked into our hotel just in time to freshen up and walk over to the Ft. Worth Convention Center. I didn't know what to expect, but it was amazingly fun. Sophie had a great time as well. I just loved being with her, she is fun, laid back, always has a smile...she is easy to be with. The Revolve Tour will be back in the Dallas area, Garland to be exact, in January 2011. Next time we are hoping to get a big group of mom's and daughter's together and go as a group. Some of the highlights for Sophie was to hear her new favorite singer...Brit Nicole, and she loved the talk of a girl named Jen who was singing on the praise team. Jen was elected Homecoming Queen for her University in Indiana, and Saturday was their homecoming game and parade, she missed it all to be at Revolve. My favorite part was listening to Jenna Lucado. She was easy to listen to, she had a great talk and she was totally fun and laid back, and Chad Eastham did a couple of talks from the guy point of view. He had great insight and the girls really enjoyed hearing what he had to say, so did the mom's. I couldn't recommend this tour highly enough to anyone who has a teenage or pre-teen girl. It was an investment in character and their walk with the Lord. LOVED IT!!!

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A conference for the Women is coming up in Oklahoma City, OK December 4-5,Deeper Still with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore. Two whole days of praise and worship and some fresh words from the Lord delivered by these amazing women. Each one gifted in sharing the truth's of the Lord, each of their talks based on and filled with scripture, I CAN'T WAIT!!

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Thanks for all the encouraging words on my previous post. I had been fighting the feelings of fear for a while and thought I just needed to be real about it, face it, and let the Lord work which He did. Through the words left as comments and also through the face to face interactions from friends speaking truth to me. I am excited to hop on the path of education on the back of that bicycle built for two with God in the drivers seat.

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The holidays are right around the corner. On Sophie's and my drive back to Abilene yesterday morning I put on a Christmas CD I have had in my car since last Christmas. The cold and rainy weather that we drove through on most of our trip was screaming Christmas to me. This morning I was wondering what is it that calls me to Christmas time in my heart months before the holiday is even due, every single year. The remembrance of the birth of Jesus brings about such warm and fuzzy feelings to me, it leads the way to family time, hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, and people of good cheer all around. I love Christmas time so much. Counting down the holidays until I can be legit in my Christmas music.

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The kids are out of school today. I am so excited to have a day to hang out with them. Derek has football practice but other than that we will be at home spending some good (cleaning and organizing) time together.

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October 08, 2009

I'm Scared..

The closer I get to actually officially registering for classes as a college student at ACU the more sick to my stomach I get. I have re-thought my decision about a hundred times. Each time thinking about why I shouldn't go back to school as a full time student, then reminding myself that the pro's are overwhelming on the go back to school side. I think I am afraid that I am not going to be smart enough. In the last 12 years since I started having kids God has blessed me with wisdom and common sense that is such a blessing, but the "smarts" seems to have gone out the back door, or maybe I should say that my memory has gone out the back door. I really am afraid that I wont be able to do well. But as the fears start to choke me, I remember that nothing is impossible with God. I can be smart again, I will just need to dust off that part of my brain. If something frightens me then I generally will face it head on, and that is what I need to do in this situation. I ordered a couple writing books that Donald Miller recommended, thought that they might help me when writing papers for school.

I opened up the first one today called The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield, the page that opened first was page 40 and this is what it said:

"Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.
Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance....

So if you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do."

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Big breath....go back to school.

October 07, 2009

The Way Of The Heart - Henri Nouwen

About 3 pages away from finishing The Way Of The Heart by Henri Nouwen. Subtitled, "Connecting with God through prayer, wisdom, and silence." This was a small book to read with much to think about within the pages. Maybe one of my favorite quotes from the book,

"There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing. We simply go along with the many "musts" and "oughts" that have been handed on to us, and we live with them as if they were authentic translations of the Gospel of our Lord."

A couple more quotes that resonated with me.

"Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self."

"We have, indeed to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose Name we minister."

"When I visited Mother Teresa of Calcutta a few years ago and asked her how to live out my vocation as a priest, she simply said: "Spend one hour a day in adoration of your Lord and never do anything you know is wrong, and you will be alright."


"...ministers frequently find themselves in fierce competition with people and institutions who offer something more exciting to do than they do.
But our task is the opposite of distraction. Our task is to help people concentrate on the real but often hidden event of God's active presence in their lives. Hence, the question that must guide all organizing activity in a parish is not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence."



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I loved this book for so many reasons. It is based on the experience of St. Anthony and the Desert Father's, men and women who were called to solitude just hundreds of years after Christ walked the earth. Being called into solitude for 20 years is not realistic, nor even appealing but there are some things that we can learn from these that have gone on before us.

Most of all I think this book has reminded me to the importance of not allowing busyness to take over. If I were to look back on my life in 20 years or 40 years would the activities that I participate in whether meaningful or not have brought me to the place of character formed through Christ that I wish to be. Will I have ridden the escalator of life up, then down, then up again, with no thought to what I will have put in my days. And will my kids have grown spiritually and in love for others through intentional impartations that I have allowed into their lives.

I hope to teach my kids about silence, solitude and prayer I wish Henri Nouwen would have written a book for teen/pre-teen crowd : )

I also want to address the last quote from the book about Ministers being in competition with all of our distractions, it does seem like churches as a whole are leaning to the "place to be" with all the different events going on. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, so I don't want that to be what comes across by putting that quote up on my blog. I think that we are all human and we are doing the best we can, but it is the own persons responsibility to have discernment about where they are being called to spend their time. Once we come to know Christ and have been saved we have His Holy Spirit indwelling in us that can lead us to where and what we need to be involved with. I just need to discern what I am being called to participate in. There are places we are called to serve, but Christ will never call us to serve so much that we have no time for Him. If our busyness is keeping us from times of solitude, silence and prayer where we can hear God in the silences to be refueled by Him every day in order to be an effective disciple filled with His love and forgiveness for others, then we can take the opportunity to pray to God to and ask to be guided in such a process.

Times at church for me are about serving, fellowship, spiritual education, a place where iron sharpens iron, but the transformation to become who God calls me to be takes place in the quiet times with Him, in His Word, prayer and solitude.

October 05, 2009

Free Screen Saver / Print



I took this picture a couple of weeks ago and decided to make it into a screen saver/picture to be framed. I put one of my favorite prayers on the picture. Feel free to take this image as a screen saver, or you can grab it and print it out, it is sized as a 5x7 for printing. This prayer is an ancient prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

October 03, 2009

What Difference Do It Make?



Just finished reading What Difference Do It Make? Great book. This book is a follow up to Same Kind of Different As Me written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, which is my most favorite book I have ever read. There are so many reasons I love Same Kind, but one of them is that God is weaving an incredible tapestry of His love for His people, and this book shows that the ripple of one Miss Debbie has changed thousands of lives, not least of all her husband Ron and Denver. But this isn't a review of Same Kind, it is a review of What Difference. This book brings light to what has happened since people read the first book, lives changed, stories of a little girl that collected money for the homeless to grown ups making a difference. This book has some more Denver wisdom in it. I love that Denver has such clarity about our callings as Christians. He doesn't let anything materialistic or selfishness come between what he believes is his duty to share the love of Christ with others. He says it straight. He comments that after reading the book Same Kind that many people have "felt led by God" to help the homeless and less fortunate, and that is all well and good, but that he doesn't think we need to wait on "a calling" to help those that are needy, scripture clearly states that what we do for the least of these is like serving Christ himself, and what will those who have never helped the needy say when they are in front of the Lord on judgement day? I didn't feel led to help the needy. When Denver speaks truths like this he comes at it from such a perspective that makes me feel inspired and not belittled. This book gives a first account detail by Ron on the journey of forgiveness for his own father, not an easy journey but one well worth it. I loved this book as a follow up, I probably wouldn't recommend reading it unless you had read the first, although they tell you in the beginning that there are certain snippets of info given to fill you in a bit on the story along the way. The first book is so rich in every way I wouldn't want a person to miss reading it....but if you have read it, this is a great book with the rest of the story.

In our town of Abilene I know that many people have been blessed and moved out of their own comfort zones after reading Same Kind. In fact I am taking pictures of a wedding in a couple of weeks for an amazing bride and groom. After reading Same Kind this bride and her future husband have given up their careers and are attending missionary school to be equipped to share the love of Christ as a vocation. I am thankful to know them and see how God is using them now and will use them in the future to share His love among His people.

Last year Ron and Denver came to Abilene Christian University to speak and I was SO blessed to take some pictures of them while they were sharing their story.
You can see the entire post and pictures here.

Another post I have written on Denver and Same Kind is here.

Denver on people.

.....And needy people don't need no perfect people neither. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He sent Peter right along, knowin Peter had a bad temper and a potty mouth and was gon' deny Him three times. He sent John and James even though they was full a' pride and fightin over the best seat at the table. He even sent Judas, knowin Judas was gon' betray Him. Even though Jesus knowed all a' their sin and weakness, He sent 'em anyway.
Listen, if the devil ain't messin with you, he's already got you. If you is waitin to clean up your own life before you get out and help somebody else, you may as well take off your shoes and crawl back in the bed 'cause it ain't never gon' happen Jesus Don't need no help from no perfect saints. If He did, He wouldn't a' gone up yonder and left us down here in charge.

Denver Moore from " What Difference Do It Make?"

September 30, 2009

Tell Me More & Me Too

Tell me more. One of the presenters at the Centerpeace Conference that has been working with support/recovery groups at his church for years gave us those 3 words. If someone is sharing a struggle of whatever kind, "tell me more," is a way we can support them, allow them to share, and not be filling them with empty words that are SO tempting to utter. I'm a fixer. I have always been a fixer. One of the places in my life I have had to give over to the Lord. It's o.k. to be a fixer on some levels, household items that break, they need to be fixed, but when it comes to people, I can't fix them even if I have the best intentions. I had to learn this "not fixing" mindset when I had kids. Natural consequences are important for them to experience. They will never mature into teens and then adults with their own thought processes if I am "attempting" to fix all their stuff for them.

God has taught me oceans of information through my own rebellion to Him. What helped me find Him? Love from his people, consistent prayer from my grandparents, and most of all the Holy Spirit. What can we do to help others who are struggling? We can journey along beside with agape love, allowing them to be authentic and truthful without judgement on our part, loving and praying for them.

Another class I went to talked about the "me too." My struggles might not be the same as the people God will bring into my life, but confession is the great equalizer. Take an opportunity to confess what is going on in your life with those you are journeying along with so they know that you are not perfect, that you are not holier than thou, that you are safe and welcoming to them. For those of us who have made mistakes in our lives it might almost be impossible to open up and be vulnerable to someone who appears to have never made a mistake.

The day I opened up with my testimony to my church years ago was the very day I started to know people's hearts that were around me. I always knew them in a pass in the hall kind of way, but never knew their hearts. That day I became a safe friend to have. This is exactly what I spoke about at the retreat a couple of weeks ago. Freedom from the mask, was the title. In my talk I read a story about a girl named Rachel who was a ministry leader, had been given gifts from the Lord to serve her church family, but always felt lonely. She had plenty of people around her but she was lonely. After talking to her pastor she came to realize that she presented the "I have it all together facade" and no one felt comfortable being authentic around her. She confessed that in her church and before she knew it she had real relationships for the first time.

I think we have to see that Satan wants to keep us afraid of what people will think when they become an authentic individual. I know that is what kept me in my jail cell of fakeness for so long. I was so afraid people would turn away from me. Isn't it funny how even in our adult years we allow what others think of us drive our actions? During the Centerpeace Conference I was able to watch silently as parents shared their fears about what their church family would think of them if they knew their child was living a h*m*s*xual lifestyle. These parents were suffering in silence, afraid to even tell their small groups. With tears in their eyes and streaming down their faces they shared that they were afraid to tell their friends. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to live like that? We have failed the people around us if we don't make it a safe place for them, a soft place for them to fall. Satan is stealing from us the gift of community if we allow him dominion in this area over our lives, and he is keeping us from the full blessings of of God just waiting for us to be truthful with the people around us. When God chased me down and allowed me no rest when the opportunity came for me to share my testimony publicly I chose to honor where God was leading, all the while believing the lies that I was giving everything up to be faithful to God. I thought I wouldn't have a friend left once they knew I had abused drugs/alcohol/my temple. I took that step of faith, and then the lie was dissolved, because as I said earlier, that was the day my relationships started becoming real and authentic. I had believed the lie and it kept me miserable for years until that day. I also want to say that there are some people who probably did walk away from me at that point, but that is o.k., God has a work to do there. I wanted to follow God more than I wanted to hold onto the facade.

Tell me more, and me too. 5 very important words to be a blessing to those around you.

September 29, 2009

Be The Gospel; Let the Spirit Work


Last weekend was the first Centerpeace Conference. It was such a blessing to attend. The conference was for people who are struggling with unwanted same s*x attraction, their families and friends, and those who want to know how how better to minister to all the above. I attended several break out sessions that were part of the "Bridges" track. Those of us who want to reach out, share the love of Christ, and learn how to do just that.

It was a privilege to listen to the stories and hearts of those who shared their lives, whether they were on the stage or in a classroom and asking how to navigate through unclear waters.

I have written paragraph's here, but nothing seems right. Just read the sign and go with it.

September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur - The Holiest Jewish Day of the Year


Thanks to Wikipedia here is a bit of information on this day with amazing history.
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎, IPA: [ˈjɔm kiˈpur]), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for religious Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximately 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days.
Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one's self absolved by God.
The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. Unlike a regular day, which has three prayer services (Ma'ariv, the evening prayer; Shacharit, the morning prayer; and Mincha, the afternoon prayer), or a Shabbat or Yom Tov, which have four prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf, the additional prayer; and Mincha), Yom Kippur has five prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf; Mincha; and Ne'ilah, the closing prayer). The prayer services also include a public confession of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Yom Kippur is considered one of the holiest of Jewish holidays and it is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews fast and attend synagogue on Yom Kippur, where the number of worshippers attending is often double or triple[citation needed] the normal attendance. Many other Jews choose not to fast[1].

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As a Christian I can learn so much from the Jewish traditions. This is a powerful day. Thank you God for all those who have prepared the way for us today.