Wednesday, June 30

Pride vs. Confidence

Wow! What a busy summer ALREADY!

I can hardly catch my breath. Have you ever have so many projects going at once that you just flutter from corner to corner in your house and end up getting very little done? Yep, that's me these days. I just need to FOCUS on ONE THING and complete it. Today, *well, actually yesterday... Tuesday has already become Wednesday, and I am still awake!* I didn't work on any of my "projects"... and yet, I am left with a gratifying sense of "usefulness" for the first time in days. That is because *today* we resumed our Tuesday SH classes!

I was so excited to see all of the girls today (it had been 3 weeks.) With Krystal sick, and the Woodruff family heading out for their vacation... it was left up me and Courtney today to sorta "fly solo" on all the preparations. Let me tell ya, I am feeling awful grateful to everyone who has a part in our weekly meetings, because doing all of the work alone is tough! When Zach (our "chef") finally gets back, I just might hug him! That takes such a huge load off of me and lets me focus on the Bible study and craft prep.

But, even though I had a rather hectic morning, all went very well! Today, our group 'subject of discussion' was: the difference between having confidence, and being prideful. Most of these girls have been so beaten down the entire lives, so it's really important that they have mentors to encourage them towards greatness, and teach them how to think of themselves in a positive way. But... while reading my Proverbs this morning I came across the verse "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit." I realized that the girls might be confused about why Scripture speaks of pride as a bad thing, while the world promotes it. Phrases like "Take pride in who you are", and "Be proud of your accomplishments" are commonly used in our society to motivate young people... and yet, they seem to be conflicting with God's Word.

So...I suggested to the girls, that the word "pride" is used in many different ways in our modern culture, but it is important to understand exactly what God was talking about when He said He hates a "proud look". The key point of our discussion came down to this: being confident means knowing you "can do all things through Christ who give you strength", while being prideful means you believe you are better/deserve more than others. I wanted to keep the explanation as simple as possible, and I really think the girls got it. Bro. Woodruff always tells me, "Be sure to keep your lessons very simple- sort of like a Sunday School lesson, because many of these girls have a much lower education than you would expect at their age." Well, I can always tell when I'm talking over their heads. They get a glazed over look in their eyes, or start chatting with one another. So, it's always a relief to see something is really "clicking with them".

It's so easy to get exalted in knowing doctrine... and speaking all of our "advanced Christian lingo"... but, God has taught me some of the most amazing things through simple lessons. As I was talking to the girls today in "easy to understand terms", I felt my own understanding broadening a little. The more I study God's Word, the more I am convinced that He is a simple God. I think it's us humans who make things so complicated. To God, it's all about heart. He knows good and well that when a person's heart is right, everything else just lines right up. If I could just have a pure motive at all times, what amazing things could God do with a vessel like that?

Working with those girls blesses me beyond belief- thanks God for helping me open up my mind just a little more to your ways!

Friday, June 25

A "Microwave" Thought

Our microwave has serious problems. I'm pretty sure it was damaged last year when my sister started a grease fire on the stove beneath. Yeah.... long story, but thankfully we can just laugh about that little incident, because no one got hurt- except the microwave.
Would you like to experience using our microwave? Okay, here we go. Let's say you've got a nice big plate of leftovers you'd like to re-heat. So you cover your plate, slide it in the microwave, shut the door, and press 2:00.

And you wait... and wait... and nothing happens. Well, that's what takes place about... ohhh.. I'd say 40% of the time. NOTHING whatsoever. The screen just continually says

"PRESS START"

And you have pressed start. 3 times.

Another 40% of the time, it's this scenario:
You slip your plate in, shut the door, and press 2:00. Oh, the microwave starts alright... but not on the 2 minutes you requested. The screen now magically changes itself to 3:33. Well, that may work out alright for your large plate... but what if you just stuck 1 little tortilla in there? Burnt to a crisp.

So, of course, you can't put something in and just walk away- no sirree! Your food might end up black and crispy.

Now we're left with the remaining 20%. That's the part where the microwave actually does what you tell it to do. -what a novel concept...

Needless to say, this microwave brings out every one's frustration... but, as I stood in front of it today, trying to will it to do my bidding... I saw myself. No, not just my reflection... I mean ME. And I thought: When we own something like a microwave, we expect it to do what it was created to do. I wonder what God thinks when He asks us to do something, and we go and do something completely different?

Or if we just stand and stare with a blank face... like, "God... that's kinda embarrassing... what will people think of me if I do that?..."

Example: One thing we were created to do is PRAISE HIM. So do we? What about when we're not in church? Am I embarrassed to raise my hands in praise or lift my voice to say "Hallelujah" unless I'm in a church sanctuary?

hmmm....

Another thing we were designed to do is to be in COMMUNION with Him. So, if I don't pray and stay in the Word... how can I be "of use" to Him?

We have procrastinated replacing our microwave because of the 20% chance it will function correctly when we use it. If it doesn't cooperate the first time, we just keep trying. I know God is very patient with us, but, I don't want to frustrate Him. I want Him to be able to use me- not just 20% of the time... All of the time! I want to do what I was created to do.

Serve Him.

Just a little Friday food for thought!






Thursday, June 24

Coffee Shortbread Cookies

Coffee Shortbread

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes EVER! I got this recipe out of Taste of Home magazine years ago, and I can't tell you how many times I've made these! These are easy and so delicious. I'll bet you can't eat just one! :) 



Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (or instant cappuccino mix)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup vanilla or white chips, melted

Directions:

In a bowl, cream butter, sugars and coffee granules. Gradually beat in flour and salt.


On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-in. to 3-in. cookie cutters. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.


Bake at 300° for 20-22 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Drizzle with melted chips. Yield: about 5 dozen
 
 
Picture Credit: Taste of Home

Tuesday, June 22

My heart has been quite heavy all day...

A very sweet sister we know from our church; passed away Saturday night. Sabrina had been battling cancer for quite a while... and the Lord finally took her. Her funeral was held today, and though I was unable to make it, she was on my mind constantly. It brings tears to my eyes to think of her 3 young children being left without a mother to help raise them. Over the past few days I've heard people say things like, "Only 31 years old..." and "It's hard to understand why God would take someone so young who has people in her life who need her." It IS hard to understand sometimes. But, God is God. That doesn't change. His reasoning and His choices are far above our understanding.

As I was pondering this today, my mind went back to a very dark time in my life. Before Benjamin was born, I suffered 3 miscarriages. All within the first 18 months of our marriage. Psalm 56:8 says, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” That scripture certainly takes on immense meaning when you have cried as much as I have. During those couple of years, I wept so much that I thought surely I would run out of tears. To think that God keeps record of each one is astounding to me. He must care for us so much deeper than our minds can even comprehend.

When I was still in high school, my mother gave me a book to read that she said, "changed her life". The book is titled "The prisoner in the third cell", and it is indeed a "life changing" message. The book is very thin, and the story is of John the Baptist and his experience in prison. When John the Baptist was thrown into prison and Jesus didn't SEEM to care, I can not imagine how he must have felt. Reading that story, I always think to myself, "I wouldn't understand either. I would have been confused as to why Jesus would go around healing people all over, and yet, leave me (the one who preached and prepared the way for Him) to rot in prison!" John sent a couple of his disciples to question Jesus and ask if He was "the one" or if they should "look  for another." Of course, Jesus told them to go and tell John the miracles they saw Him perform- that the blind saw and the lame walked... and then He ended His answer with this:

"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."


And whenever I read that sentence for the first time, I just stopped. And I thought,

 "Wow... that has never even crossed my mind before... but... have I ever been offended with the Lord?...

"Am I offended with Him now?"

That's a serious question to consider. I remember lying in my bed while in the midst of losing one of my babies, and I was thinking, "Lord, I just don't understand. You KNOW I've always wanted to be a mother. That has been my number one desire growing up. Why would you continue to take my babies away from me when there are girls out there; getting pregnant out of wedlock and complaining because they don't even want their child?! Why would you let them have a baby, and not me?!" I knew these thoughts were not right. I knew I was offended with the Lord. Did I still trust Him? Yes. Did I still know He was in control? Yes. Was I offended that He would put me through that? Yes. Deep down in my heart, I knew I was.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I talked to Him about it. And I was honest when I prayed. There was no point in sugar coating it with God when He already knew the truth. I would just sob and sob... and I would say, "God, I AM offended... but please help me not to be. I want to trust in your decisions so much that I am okay with you taking one of my precious babies away. I want to realize that every second of life is a GIFT from you, not a debt you owe to us." I would often pray for hours, just crying and pouring out my heart to God... the only one I knew who could heal me. And He did.

I handed Him a heart that was broken into a million pieces. I couldn't begin to put it back together. To me, it looked impossible- and quite frankly, without the Lord, I know I would have wanted to end it all. That is how deep my depression got. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread, and that thread was Jesus. He was the only one who could pull me out of that dark pit of sorrow. He embraced me. I felt Him do it.

There have been 2 times in my life that I can remember feeling a unknown physical presence embracing me, and as I was weeping, curled up in a fetal position on my bed that day, I felt Him do that to me. God had never been more real to me than He was at that moment. Is that why I had to endure the suffering? To draw me closer to Him? I don't know. God knows. God knows the reason. It isn't for me to know. But, as I admitted to Him and to myself that I was deeply offended with the Creator of the universe, He took that away from me... and gave me peace.

I believe that Sabrina had that same peace. I heard her testify in church many times that she was okay with God not physically healing her, if He chose not to. If she was like me, she probably had to remind herself of that daily and accept that peace all over again. Offense has a funny way of creeping back into our hearts after we think it's long gone. For awhile, it was a daily decision I had to make. To say "yes" to my Savior's plan for me, and to continue holding His hand.

When I lost my third baby, I felt an urgency to pray to the Lord for healing, so I did. I believe God provides healing in many different ways. And for me, He led me to the correct doctor to find out what was causing my female problems. I believe sometimes, God provides us with the knowledge to "heal" ourselves. My obstetricians, midwives, and fertility specialists couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, but, God led me to a chiropractor (for a different reason), who found a curvature in my spine that explained my problems. I began receiving treatment, and shortly thereafter, I conceived Benjamin. In a way, I feel blessed to have experienced the love and loss of a child. I now can better understand how difficult it must have been for God to surrender HIS son to a brutal humanity, who would ultimately crucify Him. God's love so exceeds mine, so I imagine that his grief would as well. Perhaps I got a very small taste of His sacrifice, and its significance.



God views death differently than us. I truly believe that. And I truly trust Him.

Today, I am not offended with my Lord.



These are 2 of the best books I have ever read. (Same author) Definitely both on my "top 10" list.

Saturday, June 19

VBS Day 5

Friday-VBS Day 5





Well, it's over. I'm kinda sad, and kinda glad. :) Tired does not even begin to describe how WIPED OUT I am right now! I fully intend to sleep late tomorrow. (It is technically already "tomorrow"... so yes, I'll be sleeping QUITE late!)

(Here's the adorable program my sister Courtney made for our performance tonight. She posted our group picture on the back of each one for the families to take home.)


The kids performed great in our closing program tonight for our 2010 VBS. Of course, there were some mistakes here and there- but that's part of the fun in watching kids perform... all the "surprises" they have in store for you! :) When our buckaroos made their grand entrance "galloping" up to the stage, they all yelled "Yeehaw!" in unison. The crowd laughed and cheered. Well, the kids (who were decked out in their cowboy gear and really feeling the part) were obviously loving this attention, so they "Yeehawed" again... and again... and again. The crowd's laughter only grew.


They knew they were putting on quite a show. Here I was in the back waving my arms like a maniac, trying to get them to make eye contact with me so we could begin quoting our first Scripture, and not a one was looking at me. I guess they were just overcome with giddy excitement and forgot what they were up there for. I gave up and started laughing.



 
Soon, I noticed a hand full of them looking my way, like they had suddenly remembered they needed to do something... so I silently counted them off and began the first Scripture- the rest of the group joined right in once they heard us. But, they were still so wound up on their first song that they got faster and faster... my dad had to just stop playing the guitar because there was no consistent beat to follow. The entire sanctuary was just cracking up. Kids. What do ya do? haha... I'd say the night was a huge success. Getting laughter out of the parents is always a primary goal- so I think we accomplished that one. : P
The program ended with the kids swaying and singing "Happy Trails to You". Too cute!

 


Here are some of the crafts they made this week:

(Getting Benjamin's hand print on this thing was murder I tell you! Murder! :)


Thought these Wanted Posters were so cute!!


Our craft ladies are so sweet! Every year they make all the crafts themselves for the nursery babies so they will have keepsakes to bring home like the older kids! I didn't do any of this! Thanks guys!


 


Some of the kiddos Benjamin hung out with this week:

(a whole bunch of girls! )


VBS, it was a blast! S'long till next year!


Friday, June 18

VBS-Day 4



Thursday-VBS Day 4

Tomorrow is the last day :( It's always kinda sad to see the week end. We took our group picture today and are going to pass copies out to the parents along with the program for tomorrow night's performance. Being the "music leaders", it is also our job to plan most of the program for tomorrow, so that's what I've been working on today. I wrote up a short cowboy skit for a few of the older kids to perform at the beginning- I think it's gonna be cute! Hopefully our "dress rehearsal" practice will go well tomorrow (fingers crossed!)



Yesterday the Bible story was about Zacchaeus, the tax collector that Jesus visited. The lesson was that God can use you no matter what. We asked the kids to name off hobbies and activities they enjoyed, then we helped them figure out ways they could use those activities to glorify God. This subject really sparked interest in the kids. They came alive; yelling out different sports and things and talking about famous people who openly profess their faith and use the publicity they receive as a chance to witness. I could tell they thought that was cool that God would still "let them have fun" while being a Christian. I'm not sure why, but sometimes I think we give children the impression that Christianity is this boring lifestyle, in which you are not allowed to do ANYTHING. Lots of rules to follow and pretty much everything fun is off limits. Well, that doesn't sound too appealing does it? I just believe there is a better way to win souls than that. Jesus compared winning souls to fishing. We're supposed to ATTRACT people to the gospel.



I think it's so important that young people be shown how exciting and fulfilling the Christian life can be. I always remember my parents telling me, if you take something "bad" away from a child, it needs to be replaced with something good- not just left as a void. If you tell a kid, "You can't listen to --- kind of music or go to --- kind of place", but you don't replace it with anything else, chances are, that kid is going to get bored eventually and say, "Well, I'm just gonna go try all this "forbidden" stuff because I'm sure not havin' any fun here!" Right? I think the key is to fill those (what the world would call) "voids", with something way better. Like fun activities and hobbies in which we can still uphold our principles. I truly believe serving the Lord is a BETTER WAY in every way! Not just because of the destination, but because of the journey as well!

ANY WAY...
 After talking about how Zacchaeus collected gold coins from the people, the kids "mined for gold" in our fake stream. I had a troth in the stream filled with dirt and gold colored rocks buried inside. The kids went nuts over that game! Of course, the clean up wasn't easy :) but it was worth it.

There was also a really sweet spirit in chapel service this afternoon- all in all, a fantastic day!




Wednesday, June 16

VBS DAY 3


Wednesday- VBS Day 3

TODAY WAS SUCH A BLAST!!

tumbleweeds

Well, as you probably guessed, I did start out my day right this morning. After that lesson from God yesterday, I wasn't about to repeat my mistake. :) Our song for today was called "Tumbleweed" and was so fun for the kids. It talks about how a tumbleweed has no roots, therefore it's "blowin' anywhere the wind may lead"... and how we must have our roots in the Word of God if we want our life to have meaning and purpose. Each year we have an "ABC's" of Christianity song (A-Admit B-Believe C-Confess), and this one is it. What's neat is I think the kids will remember this one since it's so fun, so it's a great memory tool for them to understand how to become a Christian/lead someone else to Christ. The song is really cute. I'll try to post a video of them performing it later.

Today was our rodeo "field day" so we spent most of it outside. We had "barrel races", "calf roping", sack races, cotton candy, snow cones and a bouncy house. :) It was pretty hot, but the kids were just so excited it didn't rain! (There was a slight chance in the forecast so they prayed extra hard yesterday that the sunshine would prevail, and it did!)

Our "life application" for today was that God has a plan for each one of us. The correlating scripture was Jeremiah 29:11  I have to be honest: this verse is SO popular and used so much everywhere, I've never really given a whole lot of thought to the meaning. But today, as I was explaining to the kids in really simple terms, I realized how comforting it is to know God has a plan.


I had a mentor a few years back that always said, "This is not breaking news in heaven!" Meaning, God is not surprised by anything like we are. He knows our heart and our needs before we even do! He cares so much for us. That was actually our lesson yesterday at VBS. As I was talking to the kids about how much God cares for us, I told them, "He knows your name, the color of your eyes, what you are thinking and even how many hairs are on your head!" I looked over at our row of 4-year-olds and said, "Did you know God knows your name?!" One little boy stared up at me with a look of amazement and said, "Oooooh!" Ha ha... I don't think I'll ever forget his expression. I could tell he was understanding that concept for the first time and he thought it was pretty cool.

It IS pretty cool, isn't it? How much God loves us. I am a firm believer that He wants good things for us. Now, I don't mean it's always monetary or tangible blessings. But, I believe it is sometimes! Why are we scared to say that? Jesus said if we want to give good things to our children, how much more does the Father want to give us good things?

I think when God sees our face light up with a smile derived from pure joy, He smiles too.

The day ended with the most awesome chapel service we've had so far this week. I played "Above All", and the Spirit of the Lord came in so strong. I felt such a strong spirit of worship while I was singing. I still find it a little difficult to play the piano and sing at the same time- it really just takes a lot of practice. I always feel that I'm paying attention to one, while the other suffers. But despite the fact that my playing and singing was far from perfect, when I closed my eyes and just sang directly to the Lord instead of to the crowd, I got so blessed. Almost immediately, lots of kids came down to the front to pray. I was told later that 2 got very close to receiving the Holy Ghost, and a few accepted the Lord into their heart for the first time.

Awesome stuff!




Tuesday, June 15

Benjamin- Today at Vacation Bible School

VBS- Days 1 & 2

Well, it's boots and cowboy hats for me this week at our VBS. Our "Saddle Ridge Ranch" theme is fun (and easy) to work with. Finding props and decorations this year was a breeze. (My parents house is decorated western style down to a cow hide hanging on the wall, so they provided about 75% of our decorations :) Here's an update on how things are going:


Monday-Day 1

When I woke up that morning and rushed around getting us ready to leave, I managed to remember to read my Proverbs. It was not a lengthy devotion by any means, but it was sincere. I knew I needed to gird up my mind, because Satan already seemed to be planting seeds of negativity in my thinking during the previous day's preparations. So I prayed. A lot. While driving to the church we listened to a CD (which we could NOT get to play at home for some reason,) and finally heard a particular song our VBS leader had suggested we use. So we added it to our repertoire for the morning.

Upon arrival, we had all the usual late registrations and subsequently had to figure out the class room arrangements very last-minute... but it went surprisingly smoothly. And despite all the head counting and seat rearranging during our morning music session, the kids were actually paying attention! They seemed to have a blast learning the songs... we actually REMEMBERED how the songs went... and our skit went off seamlessly. The rest of the day was just great!

Tuesday-Day 2

I woke up earlier, determined to be more organized than the day before. I made Benjamin his usual breakfast instead of just "grabbing something to go"... I put more time into my appearance and I was the first to load my stuff up in the car. I felt ahead of the game.
When we arrived and began preparing for our skit and "fishing" game we intended to play with the kids; that's when everything kinda went south. The magnets on the end of the fishing line weren't strong enough to lift the paper clip-tipped fish out of our fake stream (should have tested those...), the fishing line kept getting tangled up, I snapped at my sister like it was her fault and the kids didn't really even laugh at the punch line of our skit.

The rest of day included: eating lunch while every baby present wailed simultaneously, a moment of panic-thinking a baby was choking, & a very mediocre afternoon music practice. The day was just a little "off". Maybe everyone else didn't feel that way. Maybe it was just ME that was a little "off" today. But, I know EXACTLY why: Because I was more interested in being organized and "prepared" today than doing my devotion and praying for God's guidance.


I write this... I admit to this... because, I believe it happens to all of us. We are human. We get caught up with our preparations and forget that only God can really prepare us for something. I'd be lying if I said I always faithful with my morning devotions. I wish it were a one-time decision. I'd be like, "Yes Lord! I want to be in communion with you each morning for the rest of my life!!" But, unfortunately, I may make the right choice one day, then forget about it the next. Perhaps I'm so haughty that I thought, "Well yesterday went great! Imagine what today could be like if I REALLY took control!" Yeah right! Because Brittney being in control ALWAYS works out so splendidly!

Ha... I can't help but laugh at my foolishness sometimes. How quickly I forget that I can do nothing without Christ. So, needless to say, you are all holding me accountable for the rest of this week. Maybe the knowledge that I'll have to "fess up" to ya'll later will spur me on to prepare myself spiritually each morning for working with God's children. I know how important they are to Him. He wants me to take this job SERIOUSLY.

I plan to.





Saturday, June 12

Preparing for our VBS




Here it is again already!
One of my favorite times of the year...
Vacation Bible School!!





Each year, my mom, my sister, and I are over the music time for our church VBS. When the kids arrive in the morning, they all come into the sanctuary for "big group" time with us, which usually starts off with a few shenanigans :) and maybe a skit. Then we overview the theme of the day, learn our song and memory verse, and send them off to their various stations. After a day of fun, we all re-assemble for "big group" (just before parents arrive) to review what we learned that day and have chapel. It's a blast! And it WEARS YA OUT! I am usually SO tired at the end of each day that it's all I can do to get home, clean myself up, prep for the next day, and fall into bed! But, it's so worth it!

Our VBS begins this coming Monday... and why I waited until a few days ago to prepare all of our music is beyond me. I kept telling myself, "Brittney, you need to look at the program info.. you need to make some preparations... you need to get on the ball!" But did I? Nope. Needless to say I have spent pretty much every waking hour since Thursday working on this project.

Isn't that what they call "addicted to drama"? You know, when a person waits till the last possible minute to do something- knowing full well how important it is and that they are creating problems for them self by procrastinating? It's like letting your vehicle inspection sticker expire EVERY TIME- and feeling a thrill when you don't get a ticket for it. (Not that I do that of course..................... at least not on purpose! :)


(noooo.... this is NOT the current sticker on my vehicle! I DON'T live in Denton. This pic is just for effect :)


*or do I????* Maybe subconsciously it's exciting, a little "dangerous". Eh, that psychology stuff probably doesn't apply to me anyhow. :D


Either way, it's almost all done. Just a few more things to wrap up today and I'm ready for the week of "Saddle Ridge Ranch VBS!"







Can't wait!







Wednesday, June 9

Update on our house hunting... after a short rant :)

I feel like SCREAMING!!!!!

... and throwing this sewing machine out the window. I can't seem to get the tension right on the bobbin. My mom just informed me that her machine (the one I'm using) has been having tension "issues" for awhile and she always has to work with it a bit.

Oh, good. It's not just me. Ahhh... well, I had to sit down with a pb&j and some Fritos to blog out some of my frustration before going at it again. 3 Christmases ago, Nick bought me a *brand new* sewing machine.

And it works like a charm.

And it's in storage.

Ugh! I'm so sick of all my stuff being in storage!! But, GOOD NEWS!! We will soon have a home to call our own again and I can FINALLY un-pack all my stuff. (Honestly, don't even remember what I have.) On the bright side, it'll be kinda like my wedding shower all over again! :)

***************************************************

Let me start from the beginning...

When we first got married, Nick and I owned a home for a year. We soon realized that if we continued to pay on that mortgage for the next 30 years, we would never get anywhere financially. The note was so high that we couldn't put extra toward the principle... and do you realize that when you buy a house for $110,000 and you pay the note+interest for 30 years, it's really more like $360,000 you're paying?! Yeah, that kinda freaked me out. That's just crazy. We sold the house.


So... we decided to live "below our means" from now on and eliminate all of our debt. (Dave Ramsey would be so proud... :P )


Move #1
We put everything but the necessities in storage, and moved into my Aunt and Uncle's guest house, which is basically a one-room studio type apartment. This became a problem when I started babysitting Levi. Nick works 2nd shift, so he would be sleeping when the baby got there at 6am... earplugs became Nick's best friend. During this time we house hunted and considered building... We put a contract on some property... but long story short, we backed out. It just wasn't God.

Move #2
After living in the guest house for a year and a half, we decided to move into the top story of my parents house. This was about 4 1/2 months ago. At least we would have 2 rooms to separate the kids from a very sleepy Nick. (And that has definitely worked out MUCH better!) But, it didn't take us being here long before we realized that we NEEDED to have our own place again! My parents have been SO great and it's not that they don't give us our privacy... but 2 families merging kitchens, laundry rooms, garages... etc. Well, it's just hard.

So, we went looking at houses again. We found one we loved!!!

It didn't work out.
Yes, it did!!
No, it didn't.
Yes, it did!!!
Nope, sorry... it actually didn't.

Crazy!! THAT is the 3 ring circus we've been experiencing the past few months. But, you know what? God is SO good! Because, every time something didn't work out like we hoped, I would look at Nick and say, "God must have something better for us!" It's hard to keep your hopes up after getting so much bad news... I really lowered my expectations for awhile. But, God DID have something better for us.

Not long after we gave up hope on the other place, my grandparents asked if we would buy their house. (They are getting on up in years and it's very difficult for them to take care of a big house and property.) It's exactly what we need. In fact, it's a better location than the other place. It needs some cosmetic work and landscaping... etc. We'll be busy for awhile... but, HALLELUJAH!! We are going to have a home again!! AND, it's big enough for our growing family! (No, I'm not pregnant! But hopefully I will be eventually!:) 
I don't think we'd ever have to move again if we didn't want to. -and believe me,
I DON'T WANT TO!

Soooo...things are looking up! I'm excited about the renovating/decorating of our new home. Lots more blog posts to come!!!

Tuesday, June 8

A-line "Necktie Skirt"

  My Sister Courtney...

has a really eclectic, funky sense of style-
and I love her for it! She helps me keep it fresh; and think outside the box when it comes to fashion. A couple of years ago, she had an idea to create a skirt from a myriad of neckties. So, she scavenged through re-sale shops (and stole a few from Dad :) to create this very... unique piece of clothing!

                                                                               
She basically dis-assembled all the ties and used the seam allowances already present to sew them all together. She then put in a zipper and a few darts for the waist. The bottom she left rough. (She didn't rip out the seaming in the tip of the ties so it was already "hemmed".)


She must have grown tired of her creation because she hasn't worn it in a long time... so the other day she said I could have it. I intend to remove my least favorite tie to make it fit. :) Gotta love her creativity!! This one is definitely a conversation starter!


Saturday, June 5

"Provoke not your children to wrath"



When I was a teenager...


...my family took in 2 foster children that were removed from their mother's custody. The mother had cried out to my parents for help, wanting her children to be in the home of another church family. We are so glad we listened to the Lord and said "yes". Of course, the situation was a very trying one for all parties involved. I think the kids experienced something of a culture shock upon entering our home. There were many items of clothing and belongings that my parents would not allow them to bring into our house. They were apart of our family in every way: they were required to participate in our family bible studies and prayer, they were home schooled with us, and they were disciplined the same as us.

There were many conflicts, tears, a few angry outbursts, and a lots of asking forgiveness of one another and learning about ourselves in the process. I believe they lived with us for about 9 months. It seems like longer looking back on it. Their attitudes toward us almost completely changed in that time frame. They have since grown up, and we've seen them on occasion through the years. A week ago, we saw the older girl for the first time in about 2 years, and as always, she ran up to my parents smiling and hugging them. She introduced us to her fiance' and called us her "second family". It was really touching to see how much love she still had for my parents after so long. It made me appreciate them and their example so much.

You would think that after living under their roof and "their rules" she would have resented them. Even hated them. I believe she did go through those emotions at first. But, thinking about the way my parents handled everything and the way they raised me and my sister, I thought about Ephesians 6:4. It says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"

I always think of my dad when I read this, because I think there is a key here that many parents miss. See, whenever my dad told me or my sister we "couldn't do something", there was always a REASON behind it, and not only did he tell us that, he explained it to us. He earned our respect by respecting us enough to give us principles based on reason, rather than Pharisaical restrictions. He always led by example, never expecting something of us that he didn't live by himself. And, he cultivated a love in our hearts for God's Word, by showing us how blessed and happy we would be by obeying it- not driving us away with RULES and RESTRICTIONS. He wasn't satisfied with just outward obedience, he knew he had to win our hearts for us to not "depart" from the "way we should go". (Proverbs 6:1)

Now, I want to be clear about something...when my sister and I were young, my parents ABSOLUTELY taught us to "obey without question". Immediate & cheerful obedience was always expected in our home and that was most definitely my mother's method of child training. But, once we got old enough to understand principles, my parents never left us just wondering... "well what was that all about?" or "why do they expect --- of me?"

Another thing I really appreciated about my dad, is that when the time came and we were old enough, he allowed us to make our own decisions. He taught us how to choose right, then he gave us the OPPORTUNITY to do just that. He knew we'd grow up some day, and he couldn't force us to do anything anymore. He could be estranged from us, or he could be our friend. And that's just what my mom and dad are to me and Nick- some of our BEST FRIENDS.

Mom, Dad...thanks. And I love ya!

Thursday, June 3

Sweet Corn Muffins Recipe

last night...
I made White Chili and Sweet Corn Muffins for dinner- not usually something I make in the summer months, but the weather was stormy and that always calls for some warm comfort food! It was absolutely delicious! I was just recently given the recipe for these sweet (almost cake-like) muffins. They are the best I've ever had! Try them yourself and see what ya think:



Sweet Corn Muffins


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (or from a can, drained)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease or line 12 muffin cups. (I used larger muffin tins and got 8.)




2. In  a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, honey, eggs & salt. Mix in flour, cornmeal & baking powder, blending thoroughly. Stir in milk and corn. Pour or spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.




3. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.




Serve with something hot that'll "stick to your bones", and you've got yourself a rainy weather meal! :)


Wednesday, June 2

Good Times, and Tearful Goodbyes

***pictures have been removed-sorry!!***





Zach Woodruff made this yummy brownie cake for Khadijah's birthday. He is so great! He makes us a FABULOUS meal each Tuesday, and when someone in the group has a birthday, he asks what their favorite meal and dessert is to make it extra special for them! He is such a blessing to us! Most of the girls don't really get an individual birthday party besides what Zachary does for them. I know it makes them feel good for someone to care enough to cater to them on their special day!


***picture has been removed-sorry!!!***


This is me and Monika, the youngest girl in our group. She is a real sweetheart! So impressionable... she seems to soak up every word we say like a sponge. You can look at her face and tell she has not been scarred by life as badly as some of the other girls. I pray for her often, hoping that the seeds being planted in her life through this project will continue to grow and be nurtured by individuals God brings into her life.




The group is constantly changing as some of the girls get moved to different facilities and new young ladies arrive. Yesterday I found out that would be the last time I saw 3 of the girls- they are graduating and moving on. I'm so happy and proud of them, but it was very sad to say goodbye. I had on an old second-hand skirt so we decided to turn it into a "year book" of sorts- a souvenir for me to remember all of girls by. Others may be gone next week without any notice, we just never know. It makes me want to take full advantage of each day I have with them... while at the same time, not trying to cram too much information down their throats!

Dear God, please help me to be instrumental in their lives; sharing your love with them, on a level with which they can relate! Amen.


Try this side dish next time you heat up the grill!

Well, my Internet was down for a few days... We had an amazing storm here Sunday night, but the skies cleared in time for a gorgeous Memorial Day! Blue skies, puffy white clouds, and HOT temperatures. Thought I'd share this yummy side dish recipe with y'all. I got this recipe from my friend Denise Young a few years back at our Family Camp fish fry. Don't think she'll mind me sharing! :)

Here's hoping you have LOTS of barbeque's this summer!



Corny Frito Salad

2 cans of kernel corn, drained
1 small chopped bell pepper
1 medium purple onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
chopped celery
1/2 cup mayo
1 package ranch dressing mix
1-5 oz. bag Chili Cheese Fritos (use Hot and Spicy Fritos for more of a kick!)


Mix first 5 ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix mayo and ranch dressing mix. Stir into veggies and mix well. Refrigerate overnight. Add chips just before serving (otherwise they will get soggy.)
Enjoy!