Friday, September 28, 2012

A Shout out to Sisters!

I want to say thank you, God for Sisters. I have been so blessed and moved by seeing the power of these women relationships. Whether a sister by family or by life, God sure has given me some amazing gifts.

So, Thank You, Father for ...

... my little sister Erin. She knows me and loves me. She is my confidant, my sounding board, my counselor, my heart. My memories start when she was born. I cannot imagine life without her.

... my Mom and Aunt Sue. Even now, as Mom goes to care for Sue, not hesitating to go immediately when called, they show the precious bond they share as sisters. They are a example of love, of sisterhood.

... my Mother-in-Law and her sister. The joy that they share in being together is so evident. The strength and comfort they give to each other through all things is a beautiful demonstration of why God made sisters.

... my many Sisters in Christ. I would not survive life without these amazing, strong, beautiful women you have placed in my life. I am so privileged to be surrounded by women that love you, Lord and love their families and love me for who I am, warts & all.

Thank you, Father, for all these beautiful gifts, these priceless treasures, these sisters that help make me who you want me to be. Amen.

Proverbs 27:17

New International Version (NIV)
17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Family of God

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God.

You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here,
It's because we're a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

- Bill Gaither

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Demon Lady

You know... the great thing about me being a deadline-slacker is that you guys just NEVER know when you're gonna be surprised with a post! Haha! (That's my way of saying "Sorry that I'm always late with my posts!")

But once again, I found myself on Wednesday night mulling over my options of topics. I opened up Word doc after Word doc searching for something to say that was read-worthy. Most everything though ended up being a blatant copyright violation of my bible study book from MomMatters (Real Moms... Real Jesus) or my Wednesday night study (Transforming Prayer), so I just kept plugging along.

(Ironically, I started a really good one on Not Being Motivated To Do Anything... but then I wasn't really motivated to finish that one either.)

But I'm glad because had I posted on time I would have missed today's topic (or it would have had to wait a month)! So here we go...

Sunday mornings are always so decadent. I mean... the sheets always feel so much better. The bed is always warmer. That cup of coffee is always so much more relaxing. The shower water is always just the perfect temperature. Outfits are more fun on Sundays cause you know that you can wear those new heels that would kill you if you wore them to work all day. Speaking of work... no one's going to work, no one's getting up and rushed for school. It's Sunday... we can just... take it easy. take it slow. take it.........








EVERYONE. CAR. NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now then... I'm sure that only a few of the women reading this blog have ever, ever had a Sunday morning like this one. I'm sure that most everyone reading this has nice, calm, sweet, precious mornings before church where children say "Thank you" and "Please" and dress themselves without being asked in entirely church-appropriate matching clothes and their husband makes breakfast for everyone in your spotless kitchen while you calmly shower after having had a piping warm cup of sugar-free, fat-free, calorie-free mocha latte on your porch.


For the few of us that tend to have more Sunday mornings filled with chaos and anger. This post is for us.

You see, I realized about a year ago that every. single. Sunday. morning. went just like the crazy one above. And I hated it. I mean... I loved church but the getting there was a total beating. I was yelling at my kids getting ready. I was yelling at my kids getting in the car. I was yelling at my kids driving to church. I was growling at them through gritted teeth masked in a smile once we got to church. And I was angry, stressed, and frazzled when I got to the sanctuary.

And I knew that something had to change. If I kept that up then there was NO WAY that my kids were going to want to go to church when they were teenagers. And I so desperately want my kids to want to go to church when they are teenagers.

So I really sat back and evaluated... why? Why am I so stressed?

Well... because I need to be on time. And well... I'm not exactly prepared on Sundays because, ya know, it's like... it's like the weekend still.

And it hit me that Sundays for my family are the single most important day of the week for me to be organized. ready. prepared. and not rushed.

So I sat down and made myself a little checklist of all the things that I needed to have ready on Sundays. And I backtracked how long it really takes my kids to eat breakfast. And how long it really takes me to get dressed. And how long it really takes to load up the car. And then I added ten minutes to each of those. Because Sundays... are not a day to rush. They are a day to relish and envelope ourselves in the presence of God. And being super prepared has made all the difference. 

I get diaper bags ready the night before. I double check everyone's badges the day before. I decide what we are having for breakfast the night before and then I plan a backup breakfast in case everyone decides to be picky. I play dress-up on Saturday afternoons and decide what I'm going to wear the next day... and then, I come up with a back-up of what I'm going to wear when inevitably someone spits food on me or swipes me with a marker. At the same time, I plan out what the boys are going to wear. I wake up extra-extra early to shower and style my hair. I do not plan on my husband having to do a lick of helping out on Sundays... because I want him to have a God-focused morning as well.

I do all of this because I want for God to be their focus. to be my focus. I do all of this because I want for Sundays to be our favorite morning. I want for Sundays to be the days that my kids remember when they leave to go off to college so that they seek out the same wonderful experiences. I want for Sundays to truly, truly be SONdays in our family.

And as my last little caveat... you should know that this morning I did NONE of the things that I recommended above. And we were running late. And I was stressed. And I had to bite my tongue a zillion times. And I honestly didn't even THINK about Jesus until about 10:47am at church even though we got there at 8:53am.

And well, that demon lady that I turn into... I'd rather save her for Mondays.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Halloween pumpkins and knitting

So what do those two things have in common, you ask?  To most people - probably not a lot.  But for me, these two things changed my life.  God used these two simple things to help me find a new purpose. 

About 5 years ago, I went into our walkout attic looking for our Halloween decorations.  Unfortunately, they had been pushed into a back corner where the attic wasn't completely floored.  I was determined to do my decorating and balanced on the slats while tugging at the box.  Well, you guessed it - I lost my balance and my flip-flopped foot slipped very nicely between the wooden slats and through the ceiling of our garage.  No major damage to me, just a scraped up leg.  The garage ceiling was a different story (and hubby was none to happy with me, suffice it to say).  About 3 weeks later, a large knot came up on my calf and this led to the diagnosis of a MRSA staph infection and over a month of treatment and multiple surgeries to get it under control.  During this time, I was bored senseless and extremely antsy from all of the medications I was on.  My mother-in-law rescued me one day by bringing me a "Learn to Knit" book, a pair of needles and a ball of yarn.  I spent the next several days, pouring over the book, ripping out stitches over and over again, until I FINALLY GOT IT!  I had learned to knit! 

Over the next 9 months, I worked more and more on my new obsession until I could make a scarf and hat that my family wouldn't be embarrassed to wear.  About the same time, 2 moms that I knew were diagnosed with breast cancer AND I read a Debbie Macomber book that introduced me to the world of knitting for charity.  Why had I never thought about this before?  What a great way to take what had become a passion for me and use it to bless others?  God began to, not so subtly, push me towards doing something for these moms as they underwent chemotherapy and lost their hair.  And, if I could do it for them, why not do it for others as well.  After much prayer and arguing with God ( yes, you can guess who won that argument), the group known as Yarns of Hope was born.  It started out one September morning in Saxby's Coffee with myself, my mother-in-law and 2 of my best friends that I bribed with coffee to show up.  Lo and behold, there were actually 2 other ladies who showed up as well.  These humble beginnings have led to a membership of 100+ ladies and 2 cancer centers and 2 hospitals where our items are donated.  Over the last four years, 3000 plus hats have been donated to cancer patients who are in need of a little warmth and hope.  We have also sent hundreds of hats on mission trips, donated numerous baby items to local NICU's and started a Knitting Club at Finch Elementary. 

So, long story to say, God took a bad situation (my clumsiness) and turned it into a blessing. He gave my life a whole new purpose, when I didn't even know I was looking for one.  And, trust me, what He came up with is so much better than I could have ever dreamed of or managed on my own.  I would have been happy with making hats for my friends.  But, God had much bigger plans for this group.  You see, when each of us ladies makes a hat, scarf or something else to be donated, we are blessed just as much as the person that receives it. 

I am writing this story not to toot my own horn but to tell you how God can use each of us if only we are obedient and listen to His calling.  I wasn't looking to start a charity knitting group, but God knew there was a need and many other ladies who were also looking for a new purpose. 

How can you let God use YOU today?  Does God have a new and improved Purpose for your life?  If you dare - pray for Him to reveal it to you!  You just might be surprised.

Romans 8:28 " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sweet And Salty

My friend Gretchen and I are a perfect combination of sweet and salty. As often as possible, she and I have "patio time". We pick an evening and get our families all settled. Then, we get together, share snacks, and solve all the worlds problems, as we relax in the beauty of her backyard. Believe me when I say...It. Is. Bliss!

It always makes me giggle when I see the goodies that she and I bring to "patio time". Gretchen always provides something salty, while I usually bring something sweet. Together, we have a delightful mix of flavors. Recently, I saw a product on the grocery store shelf that would be a great addition for "patio time". It was called "M & M's Sweet and Salty" and would satisfy the cravings of both me and my precious friend. Not only did the contents contain chocolate M&M's, but also salty pretzels and nuts. To be sure, it is perfect combination! In truth, our words should be sweet and salty as well.

The Bible teaches us that "pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones". (Proverbs 16:24 NIV) More times than I can count, the sweetness of a kind word from my friend has pulled me from despair. The encouragement one finds in such words cannot be measured, only experienced. For pleasant words are sweet and bring healing to a heart battered and bruised by life's tribulations. Without question, the LORD desires that our words be sweet.

Furthermore, I can always count on Gretchen to hold me accountable with the truth of God' unfailing Word. The transparency and honesty I experience with her leads me to seek truth about who I am in Christ, rather than the lies of the world. For my friend's words are not only sweet, but also filled with salt.

Historically, salt has been used both for flavor and preservation. Scripture instructs us to " have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other". (Mark 9:50) As Christians, our conversations should be seasoned with love and bring us closer to one another in the LORD. Our words should both comfort and challenge us to be more like Christ. Going further, the words we choose should preserve our relationships and cause us to thirst for absolute truth as we humble ourselves before God.

Words are powerful tools. Daily, we use them to either build up or tear down those placed in our circles of influence. If we are wise, we will choose to speak truth with love. For it is those types of conversations which best illuminate the love Christ has for us and our need for His forgiveness and grace. The best friendships are both sweet and salty. Maybe the makers of M & M's are onto something good!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.  I Thessalonians 5:24    

For the past two years, I Thessalonians 5:24 has been one of my "go-to" verses--a verse that I cling to when things get tough.  Our family began the adoption process on August 16, 2010--over two years later, we are still in the process.  So, as the weeks turned into months and then the months into years, this verse has reminded me again and again of God's faithfulness.  He promised this child to us, and He always keeps His promises.

There have been countless instances in the past two years when the Lord has reminded us that He is with us on this journey, that He in fact is guiding and directing us on this journey.  Two things in particular have happened lately though, and I have been blown away by the Lord's goodness, by His love for me.

Five weeks ago, I received a phone call from a friend from my college days.  We hadn't talked in about a year and a half, though we've kept up with each other some through Facebook and blogs.  When she called, for some reason I thought maybe she was going to say she was in town (she lives out of state).  I was wrong.  Instead, she called because, through a series of events, she had inherited a significant sum of money.  She was calling because she wanted to give that money to us for our adoption.  I was amazed, surprised, and thrilled--but I also knew it would probably be two more years before we'd need that money since adoptions have slowed to a snail's pace in Ethiopia.  However, as I said, I was so grateful and felt that the Lord was confirming again that we were doing exactly what He wanted.  It was the reminder I needed that He has every detail taken care of, and I simply need to trust and obey Him in His perfect timing (easier said than done, I know!).

Then, two weeks later, on August 16, 2012--two years to the day since we began the adoption process (and also my birthday)--the Lord overwhelmed us in an instant.  In an incredible turn of events, we were matched with a child.  Suddenly our adoption was no longer years from completion; rather, now it's only a few more months until we can bring her home.

Upon accepting our referral, we owed our agency $7400--did I mention that the amount my college friend had given us was $7000?!  The money I thought we wouldn't need for two more years we suddenly needed two weeks later!  What I thought was a nice reminder from God that He was with us in the long wait was so much more than that--it was the funds we needed to move forward as the Lord prepares to bring our daughter home to us!  It was Him making a way for His plan to be fulfilled.

It was as though I could hear the Lord saying, "See, I told you.  I am faithful.  I will do it."  His goodness and mercy astound me.  We are so undeserving; yet He has chosen to bless us in this way.  He has proven Himself again and again, and, He has shown us how much He loves each of us and how very clearly He is involved in our lives.  He is faithful.  If He calls you to something, He will complete it.  I can't promise it'll go exactly how you thought it would (adoption certainly hasn't for us), but I can promise that the Creator of the Universe knows what He is doing.  And if He says He's going to do something, He will.  Even if we are unfaithful, He is always faithful.  And He never breaks His promise.  He is so very good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Making Connections

Our pastor has begun a new series about the importance of going to church.  I have loved it so far, but I am also a proponent of going to church and getting connected with people.  I have done a lot of thinking about this recently and wanted to share a few things with you.
We are fairly new to the area - here just two years.  We came from a place where we had been for 8 years and were deeply connected at our church and school.  It is hard to leave a place like that - especially when, growing up, you never lived anywhere longer than 3 years!
When we moved, I wanted it to feel just like other places we left, where we could jump right in, make connections with people, and feel like we belonged.  But, alas, that wasn't to be.  You don't have instant friends.  People don't know your experiences and what you have to offer.  You are not asked to help take a meal to a family in need or to fill in somewhere.  I wanted people to instantly love me and take me in, trust included.
But coming to a new place, I have learned the learning to fit in aspect comes mostly from within.  You have to spend time with people you don't know.  You have to reach out to people.  You have to volunteer for things. Sometimes you have to overlook first impressions, or second, or third.  You have to push through, even when you think no one notices you.  You have to be persistent in situations, because life is busy for everyone.  You HAVE to step out of your comfort zone!  And you have to trust people you don't know.  It is NOT easy!  And this is all within a body of believers!  WOW!  No wonder so many people don't connect and stop coming to church.  They are waiting for someone to reach out to them.
I have been challenged and I am challenging you.  Reach out to people you meet.  Try to remember names (that is a hard one for me).  Be the one that makes an effort first.  Make a connection with someone you don't know very well (even if you are new, they might be new too).  Even an email or message on facebook helps with that connection (just don't let it be the only connection).
What can you do this week? How can you be the hands and feet of Christ to someone around you?