Monday, April 26, 2010


Are you stressed, overwhelmed, tired, worried, have sick kids, is your husband’s job unsteady, feel insecure, feel unworthy of all you have?

Do you feel like everyone around you has their stuff straight and that you would look like a drama queen if you shared your worries? Do you think we won't understand, we don't care, we’ve never been through this, that our life is perfect. Everyone else is succeeding they have no worries. I bet they never go out without brushing their hair or putting on makeup! They are always positive and never complain. They are too spiritual and I know nothing or not enough.

Ever think these thoughts? I certainly do and imagine many of you do too. We often fall into a trap when we're feeling down about life, business, marriage, raising kids and others. Surely we are the only ones who know what is like right? REALLY?

The truth is more people around you and me are going through something similar. The past couple of months I feel like I am under attack. Not big life changing stuff (that all happened years ago with Taylor’s diagnosis and the loss of our babies to miscarriage) but little things: 4 sick kids, husband with a bad back, trying to lose weight and exercise but sick myself, stress with a busier than usual work and kid schedule and then my nephew’s recent diagnosis of diabetes.

But on the flip side of all the crazy borderline tough stuff – a friend that I have been sharing with and praying for, for 5 years is now asking questions and going to church and I am blessed to be able to see it! What do I have to complain about! God is great! He is mighty! He is bigger than my worries! He will use my struggles to make a difference in the lives of others if I will let him. My job on this earth is not to be the perfect mom, housekeeper, wife, friend, Realtor, daughter, teacher, leader and the list goes on of the many hats we wear. My job on this earth is to bring glory to God and show and share His love with everyone I come in contact with.

Recently our church body has been asked to share their “story”. I have spent many hours wondering how to condense all God has done in my life into a short “story” but ultimately until now I wasn’t sure where to start. I feel God has given me the gift of Faith as I have never questioned the existence or plan of God or God’s provision in my life. I just KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that He is there. He was there when I was making stupid mistakes as a teen & young person, He was there when I met my husband, when our son was born, our daughter, when our son was diagnosed with a life altering and shortening disease, He picked me up and carried me in his loving arms when we lost 3 babies to miscarriage and rejoiced with me when we birthed two more daughters. You see once I allowed Him to join me in this life it was for keeps. For good & bad, happy & sad.

I am completely and utterly blessed that He has brought incredible women to walk this path with me. Women who lift me up and encourage me and who I can do the same with.

Some of you may be going thru a time of evaluation in your life. Maybe you are questioning the choices you have made to become a mom, to leave a career or maybe to go back to one or start a new one. I would say where ever you are in this journey of life that you need a friend to walk it with you. God says in Ecclesiastes 4:10-11 (New International Version)

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

The world tries to tell us that we can be and do it all! But without Christ we are nothing. Without friends we are weak. God put us together in the places we are so that we can help and encourage one another. So reach out to those around you. When you are hurting reach out and let us help you.  GO out into the world and BE Jesus to the World and in return Jesus will bring those that you need to lift you up every time you need it! Don’t DO life alone!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prayer and Our Children

When my firstborn was about a year old, I remember being in a Bible study where the teacher talked about praying with your child/children. She suggested praying with each child before bed, and I remember some people feeling a bit awkward about praying out loud, where someone could actually hear them. If I recall, I was one of those people who felt a bit awkward, but I am a rule-follower, so I decided to give it a try--and it was truly life-changing. Because my daughter was so young, I didn't feel embarrassed or worried about what I would say. I just prayed. It quickly became a habit, and it is something that I still do over five years later. Over the years, I've prayed about future spouses, obedience issues, hurts, learning things, family relations--for now and the future, my children coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior,...anything and everything that comes to mind on a given night. It has been a blessing for me, and I believe it is a blessing for the kids as well.

However, as they've gotten older (particularly with my six year old) I have discovered that I want them to have personal time with God--not just a time where Mom or Dad says a prayer. When my daughter was four or five, we started a prayer journal where she could write down (or have us write down) any prayer requests for herself or others. As God answers a prayer, we check it off--a visible symbol for her of how God answers our prayers. It's also been a way to explain how some things are answered quickly and others we wait for a long time. And, sometimes we've learned God doesn't answer the prayer like we thought He would and that's okay, too.

Another thing I've recently started doing is praying the ACTS prayer with my daughter. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. When we do this, we pray aloud together, taking turns going through each of the four categories. I have heard some of the sweetest prayers during these moments. I have heard my daughter begin to agree aloud in prayer as I've spoken, and I have heard the overflow of her heart as she speaks.

One more thing that occurred just this week was hearing my daughter quote Scripture as she prayed for the first time. I found her reading her Bible after a rough night, and I asked if she wanted to pray. She did, and, as she prayed, she specifically asked for exactly what she'd just been reading (that she would run in the path of God's commands). It was breathtaking to hear my kindergartner pray from God's Word.

I don't know where you are in your prayer life. I know so often I find that I've fallen short of where I want to be, but I also know that prayer changes things--and people. Maybe praying out loud scares you. Maybe you're not sure what to say. Jesus longs to be our friend, and He expects us to talk to Him as such. I'm not asking you to stand up in a room of thousands and pray (unless God calls you to), but I am asking you to consider praying with friends, your spouse, your children....I have seen that by praying with my children, they are already learning the importance of prayer. They will pray out loud at meals--even when we're with friends or family. They hear a siren and pray for the safety of those involved. They pray for their sick or hurt friends. It has already influenced their lives, and it has influenced mine as well.

God longs to hear from you, and your children long to learn from you. Will you talk to Him with them today?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Power of One

"On April 20, 1999, two boys went to their high school with bombs and guns. Their goal was to leave 'a lasting impression on the world'. The horror they inflicted left an indelible stamp on the American psyche."-- excerpt from "Columbine" by Dave Cullen.

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. I recently purchased a copy of the "Columbine" book, which was painstakingly written by the author over a period of many years, and based on hundreds of witness interviews, thousands of pages of police files, and the two killers' own videotapes and diaries.

I have not yet finished the book, but what has already struck me in reading it, is how quickly we as humans, when confronted with an event so tragic, so unspeakably horrible, try to categorize it, explain it, label it, make some sense out of so much senseless violence. This is shown in many ways by the author, as he details how CNN and so many media outlets, got the early reports of this story completely wrong.

I just want to shout out sometimes when reading it, "Wake up people! Evil is REAL and it is alive and well in the world today!" Sometimes the only explanation of such senseless violence and killings is that we know ultimately who is responsible, behind the scenes. We know who is dancing around and laughing in merciless glee at such terror unleashed yet again on another corner of our world.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.-- 1 Peter 5:8-9

I would like to dedicate my post on the blog today to those 13 victims of the Columbine shootings on that fateful day, so many Aprils ago. To one in particular: Rachel Joy Scott.

Rachel Scott was the very first victim of the shootings that day. Though she was only 17 at the time of her death, she had a very strong faith in God and wanted to be a light in the dark places within her high school. To be a light by shining the bright light of Jesus Christ... She wanted to watch out for those who might be bullied, to include those who might not otherwise be included. Rachel often wrote to God in her diaries about wanting to "reach the unreached". She begged God for the chance to show others the way.. to let her life have purpose by pointing others to Him.

Jesus only walked this Earth for a short while, as well. In His days here, He would usually not be found hanging out with the "popular crowd" of the times. Rather, He also came to "reach the unreached", to love the unloveable, to embrace those on whom others had turned their backs. Rachel sought to be like Him.

After her death, Rachel's family found an essay she'd written earlier in the year, for her 5th period class. In the essay, she explained, "I have this theory. If just one person could go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know just how far a little kindness can go."

Her family also found a drawing she'd done when she was only 13 years old, on the back of her dresser. Rachel had traced the outline of both of her hands, and within the outline she'd written, "These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people's hearts."

Many of you may have heard of a program that was started in schools, in Rachel's memory, called "Rachel's Challenge". The program encourages students to reach out to others, to be kind and to show compassion.

On May 6, 2010, an amazing event will occur in our community of McKinney, Texas. McKinney Independent School District now has ten elementary schools that are participating in the Rachel's Challenge program. On the evening of May 6, from 6:30-7:30 pm at Ron Poe Stadium, McKinney I.S.D. will sponsor a "Rachel's Challenge Rally".

If you are anywhere in or around the McKinney area, I cannot urge you strongly enough to attend this Rally. You will see & hear amazing things.. and your life will never be the same. Just to give you some idea, a few years ago, as the first of these Rallies were being held, Rockwall I.S.D. students walked into a rally at their stadium, carrying three miles of paper link chains to an overflow crowd. Each link in the chains represented a kind act that one student had done for another.

Please come. You will be inspired by Rachel's story and by seeing how it has impacted so many students and their families.

Who knows... you just may start a chain reaction...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Temporary Home

Tonight my son shared that sometimes he feels like you’re not real. At first I thought he was saying that I wasn’t real, but he clarified that he was talking about himself! That he just feels strange like he’s not really here. Well, once we got on the same page, a song that I’ve been listening to this week came to mind, “Temporary Home,” by Carrie Underwood.

The words say,
"This is my temporary home
It's not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through
This is just a stop, on the way to where I'm going
I'm not afraid because I know this is my
Temporary Home."
So I shared that with him, and we talked about what that means. That we were made to bring glory to God as we prepare for eternity with Him! Because He sent Jesus to die for our sins, and now He is alive at God’s right hand, we can have eternal life when we believe He’s our Savior. Our bodies are really just our temporary homes, because when we die, we will get a new body and live forever with God.

So the question remains, if this is my temporary home, what do I do in the meantime? Well, many books have been written on this subject. One in particular, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren goes into great detail on the subject. Another helpful resource is Live Forgiven by Jeff Warren (they are not related!).

For my kids, I want them to know first and foremost that they have never lived an unloved moment in their lives. Even when I have “messed up” and made them feel like I don’t love them, God has loved them since before they were born. And because of that they can be free to love others without prejudice, partiality, or restraint (I John 4:10-11, 19). I used to hear my friend tell her kids when they misbehaved, that she didn’t want them to grow up to be “crummy people.” I thought that was so funny, but true. We want them to be a blessing to others the way Jesus, as God in the flesh, was no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11), but had a tender and merciful heart for everyone (Psalm 145:8-9).

The second thing I want for my children is quoted in another popular Christian lyric by Brandon Heath.
“Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see.”
Wait a minute…I want that too! Some days are better than others. I know that I miss opportunities every day to see what God sees, because I am wrapped up in my own agenda for the day, and haven’t allowed time to breathe in God’s perspective or put His priorities first.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's for dinner??

How often do you hear this at your house or just drive yourself crazy somedays trying to figure out what you are cooking for dinner.  If you are anything like me you always have great intentions of cooking dinner so you can have a much healthier meal than going out but before you know it the day is over and you did not thaw anything from the freezer and you find yourself in the car going out to dinner or to pick something up and bring back home.

I just loved Angie's post this week.  This must be the week of "meal planning"!  Since having a baby I do not have nearly the time I had in the past to cook dinner!  I have been learning that I do not have to cook a gourmet meal when I cook - my hubby is just excited to come home and see that I have cooked.  Ever since my little one came along last summer I have been on a mission for quick, easy but tasty recipes!

For months now I have been thinking surely I am not the only one in this boat!  It does not matter if you are single, married, kids, no kids sometimes figuring out what's for dinner is the question of the day!  I have decided I am going to do a few posts (and maybe more we will see) on easy meals so you can eat dinner at home and hopefully be able to spend quality time with your family.

Yesterday, it was not quite noon and I had to figure out what we were having for dinner last night.  I decided we would have "Crock Pot Chicken".  One of the great things about this recipe is that you can use frozen chicken breast and your meal is still ready within 5 - 6 hours (of course the time is according to how fast your crockpot cooks).  Another great thing about this meal is it uses alot of staple items (or staple items in my kitchen anyway).

This is a recipe that I got from a favorite cookbook of mine.  The name of the cookbook is Girlfriends' Collection Cookbook - sponsored by Women of Worth (page 183).  I just love church cookbooks!  They seem to always have the best recipes.  Ok, so here is the recipe for "Crock Pot Chicken".

4 Chicken Breast (you will see that I only used 3 because sometimes the frozen ones are pretty big)
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
8 oz. Sour Cream
1 Package of Dry Italian Dressing Mix
Next, you put the chicken in your crockpot.

I then mix together the sour cream and cream of mushroom and then pour over chicken.

The last step is to pour the package of Italian Dressing Mix over the soup mixture.

This is what it looks like now!

Place the lid on your crockpot and turn on high.  Let it cook around 5 hours or so and check it - like I mentioned earlier your crockpot could cook faster or slower than mine!  I actually let mine go for about 6 hours yesterday and it was great - it may have had less of the sauce/gravy than it would have had I checked it at 5 hours or so....just remember, you want to make sure your chicken is done!

Once your chicken is done you can serve this over rice or noodles.  I like serving it over brown rice. 

I would love to hear if you try this recipe or if there is any recipe you would like for me to share let me know and I will see what I can do.  
Enjoy your weekend and I hope you get a chance to sit around the table this weekend and enjoy a home cooked meal!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meal Planning and Saving Money

As I thought about what to write this week, I realize that one of my biggest struggles is meal planning! I am pretty good at getting the coupons cut, organized and getting to the store to shop (most days,) but I don't always make it home with items that create complete meals. UUGH!
I have mastered the art of getting "Free & Almost Free" stuff, but I am not very creative at cooking. That is a huge weakness in my life. I confess, sometimes I make it home with a lot of "good deals," but not a lot of complete meals.
God wants us to be good caretakers of the family that He has blessed us with. According to a good friend of mine, "meal time" is one of the most important times of the day, that you can spend with your family. Sooooo, here are some of the money saving tips that I have discovered over the years that help me with saving money and creating a complete meal for my family in the process. Let me say, that I am not always perfect with this... life get's busy, and I come up short often, but when I put these tips into practice, I feel very successful, and relieve a lot of stress from my life.

1) Plan your meals out!

I have created a grid with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner across the top, and the Days of the Week down the left column. I then ask each person in my family, "What is one thing you would like for breakfast this week, and one dinner that you would like to have?"
This allows me not to have to do all of the planning. (You would be surprised what they ask for sometimes.) *** This grid also allows me to match my calendar with the day of the week, and post "Eat out," if their is a special occasion that week. (Helps keep from overbuying)

2) Post this chart on the Fridge!
By posting the chart on the refrigerator, this helps with a couple of things. First, it helps you remember what needs to be marinated, defrosted, put in the crock pot, etc. If you are like me, I get home after running children, only to here,"What's for dinner?," and my comment is "I don't know, I have meat, but it is frozen." I don't like it when that happens! It starts this vicious cycle in my head of feeling defeated and feeling like a "bad mom." Second, it is there for anyone in the family to read, ask you fewer questions, and ANYONE can get dinner started, if they know what is on the menu!

3.) Make Your Grocery List at Home!
By creating my grocery list at home, I know what I already have and what I need. I can see if I have pasta already, or if I need to pick up that extra onion. Sometimes, when I get to the store, and haven't made my list, I can't remember, so I buy it "just in case." Also, be realistic! If you know your family needs snacks, and extra drinks or ice cream, put that on the list. Maybe even give it a number. For instance 2 salty snacks, 3 juice/Capri suns, etc.

4.) Look at the Grocery Ads, to See Who has the Best Deals on Your Needs!
This is where I can look at my coupons, match them with the ads, and find the best deals. Sometimes, that means a trip to 1-3 stores. But if I go with my list, coupons and only buy what is planned, then the trip is much faster. I have already made individual lists for each store, and only buy what is the best at that store. When I can't make it to multiple stores, I usually shop at Kroger, Wal-Mart, or Albertson's (they tend to have better prices.) I still look at those 3 ads, to see who has the best sales of the week.

5.) Don't Go Shopping Hungry!
I have spent more money than necessary when I shop hungry! Everything looks GOOD! Even if it means getting something off of the dollar menu somewhere, on the way to the store, DO IT! Better to spend $1 or $2 than the extra 25% that you might spend, just by being hungry.

6.) Stick to the List!
Now that you have done the hard part, try to stick to the list. It helps you be a good steward of both your time and your money. Also, if you are like me, you will probably stay within your budget. ***When you get to the part of the unusual's, like snacks, look around for those things they might have an "in store" deal or something that you have a coupon for. Coupons are seasonal, and this will help give you a variety.

7.) Enjoy the Benefits!
Once home, you have enough food for the week, or two weeks, that you shopped for. (With the exception of milk, bread, fruits and vegetables.) Also, you will have "meal time" with your family, without feeling defeated before you start. Spend that quality time with them, and get to know them and their struggles, friends, achievements, fears, goals and dreams a whole lot better.

As I told you in the beginning, I wish that I could say this happens at my house weekly, but it doesn't. This is my goal each week, and when it does happen, I feel so blessed, and I know that God is smiling, because, usually there is laughter at our table, we are eating a little healthier (most nights,) and memories are being created.

Try it out, and meal plan this week!

Try your best to stick to the list!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How My Undergarments Got Me Thinking

In 3rd or 4th grade, we had physicals at school. I'd heard that the nurse would do a spinal check to check for Scoliosis, which meant shirts had to come off for a few minutes. And I'd also heard that all the cool girls wore bras to the exam. So, I did what any other elementary school girl who had not hit puberty yet would do, I asked for a bra anyway. Because of the coolness factor.

My granny came to spend that Christmas with us. She was a Southern woman through and through...spunky and witty with a little bit of naughty. When I got my first bra, she taught me how to put it on. Her instructions were to place the hook in the front so you could get it snapped, scoot it on around the right way, pull the straps on and then bend over and "shake 'em in there real good." We have a great photo of my first lesson in womanhood as she and I are doubled over in laughter. Well, I'm doubled over in trying to shake something non-existent in there and she is having a hoot.

Last week, I was in the locker room at Lifetime and I realized something. Twenty-two or so years later and I am still putting on my bra the same way Granny taught me. Except for the bend over and shake 'em in there real good" part. That was never a necessity for me.

Putting on a bra is part of my daily routine. However, it was only when I was dressing in front of strangers that I suddenly realized that I have been doing it this way for all these years and I have little skill in doing it the way the cool girls in the locker room can do it. I cannot, for the life of me, get the hook connected behind my back! At least not all snappy like they can. It is quite awkward for me.

Anyway, it dawned on me that I have spent a good two thirds of my life doing it this way and yet I never paid much attention to it. It was just how I did things.

Which leads me to Easter.

How is that for a segue?

I've gone to church all my life. For well over two thirds of my life, I've known the Easter story. Except, for a good part of that time, a lot of my worship revolved around the Easter bunny. Yes, I knew what happened in the garden. Yes, I knew that Jesus was severely beaten before He was even nailed to the cross. Yes, I knew that He rose again three days later and left an empty tomb behind. BUT, that Easter basket did come with some pretty sweet treats. And, when you hear the same story over and over, you can begin to lose the fresh outlook and the passion for what really happened.

In my adult life, things have changed. There's no Easter basket waiting for me in the morning and I now realize that Easter represents the greatest event in all of history. Despite knowing this, how do you make something new when you've heard the same story and read the same verses every spring for the majority of your life?

Not to mention, does anyone else feel like life NEVER slows down? Does anyone else collapse into bed each night and peel herself off the mattress in the morning? Truly, do any of us feel like we've just got a bunch of time on our hands to sit and ponder Easter? Time without kids underfoot? Time without appointments, soccer games, piano lessons, etc. to rush to? Can I get an "Amen" when I say that, in the few times I have completely to myself, I leave the radio and t.v. off just to HEAR THE QUIET?!

How does a heart prepare for a new experience? How does a heart see Easter in a new light?

Francis Chan tells a story about how one worship leader always fascinated him. Her worship appeared so fresh and so full of passion each week. He wondered how she was able to worship like that every week, doing something so routine and, yet, making it new. So, Francis asked and her answer was simple. She said that when she has a really powerful time with the Lord one week, she never spends the next week asking God to give her what she experienced the previous week. Instead, she tells Him, "God, You are a creator. Would You create something new in my worship experience? Would You give me a whole new perspective of You when I worship?"

Wow, that is powerful. If I can acknowledge God's creativity in how He has given us in this gorgeous spring day (and, oh, boy, isn't He so creative with His sunshine, comfortable temps and blooming trees?!), why do I not also acknowledge His ability to create something new in how I see Him?

This week, I'm keeping it simple. I am going to ask God to give me fresh perspective. I long to see the power behind what Jesus did on the cross. This week, I will not think of or approach Easter the way I've done in years past, just because I've always done it this way.

Lord, You are my Creator. Create in me fresh eyes and ears. Wipe my heart clean of how I've worshipped during Easter in the past and let me see the love and the passion it took for You to send your Son to the cross. May it shake me and move me, Lord. Amen.