Friday, October 31, 2008

BFS--Like There's No Tomorrow

Memory Verse: Ecclesiastes 1:13-14
I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Imagine you’re standing before God. There’s no Tomorrow, you can’t go back and finish up what you had planned on getting to sometime in the future. What was that thing that you planned on getting to, that thing that now, you’re standing before God and thinking “I wish I had gotten to that…”
We only have today. Should God take you today, have you accomplished everything that you wanted to, needed to. Have you said all the things that needed to be said? Let’s have no regrets, let’s make sure we get to those things, so that when we’re standing before the Lord, the only thing we need to do is to worship him.. and not regret not getting to that thing on our to do list. Stop - go take care of that thing…. then, come tell us what you choose to share. Don’t embarrass yourself or any of your loved ones
Picture ideas: Be creative, go photograph something that “REPRESENTS” tomorrow. We can’t photograph time.. but we have ways of “showing” time in images.. how do you see “tomorrow”. This might be the only thing you choose to share about if you can’t publicly share what you needed to get done, and that’s alright too. Some things are just to personal.
Share your favorite scripture in your post.
This was a toughie, I'll admit. And it's something I can't fully "do". For three and a half years now, I have struggled with bitterness--not every day, it's something that comes and goes. I've had to repeatedly forgive something that turned my life upside-down, and I'm not sure I'll ever be completely free of the possibility of bitterness and resentment popping up, because it's an offense I can't easily forget. However, over the last few weeks as it has finally sunk in that my marriage truly is healed, I've been trying to figure out just how much control I have over my memory. I wish sometimes that I had the ability to forgive and forget like God does, and I wonder on my bad days why He blessed us humans with such a good memory...clearly the ability to have bad memories called to the forefront of our minds is counterproductive to our battle with evil thoughts?

Pete and I were in the van on the way home from a late-night jaunt to Wal-Mart without the kids (a date?) and as we listened to the silence and the radio, both of us fell eerily quiet. The song we meditated on is Brandon Heath's "I'm Not Who I Was". The DJ on the Christian radio station had read off a quick devotional thought before the song came on about how our worship is just completely unacceptable to God when our hearts are marred by unforgiven offenses and grudges. I've heard that so many times that I hear it in my sleep...but that sentiment, along with the words of this song, really pricked my heart--and it all became very clear to me--that struggle with the thoughts of bitterness, they are WILLFUL. I have control over them, even though it feels as if I don't. I can CHOOSE to think about the things that fill my mind, and I can CHOOSE to eliminate those things that will endanger my soul by filling my heart with just a *little bit* of bitterness.

I can't very well approach the person who I need to forgive again and tell her that I'm just letting go of every thought, that I'm taking back my mind, because I don't have the slightest clue where she is. Okay, well maybe the state...but that's it. And then there's this nagging thought in the back of my mind that forgiveness needs to be given openly and that the person you forgive needs to KNOW they're forgiven. For that, I'm just going to have to trust God to give her that message. I can't do it. But there's the meat of my assignment this week--I am taking back my thoughts. I'm not going to allow my worship to be in danger of being found unacceptable to God any longer. I'm not going to allow myself to be unforgiven of my own sins just because I "toy" with thoughts of unforgiveness toward someone else.

[W]e do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5 and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

As far as a photograph that represents "tomorrow" to me, I didn't have to go far to find it. I didn't even take this photo--it was one of the sample pictures already loaded on my computer's hard drive--but it's just beautiful and it pretty much sums up my feelings about my future. Do you see how brightly the sun is shining through the autumn leaves? Soon those leaves will turn brown, dry out, and fall off...but that sun will keep rising day after day after day. It's much like God's love for us--the foliage of our lives changes, but God's light is always the same.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

No. Way.


Why didn't someone wake me up in September and tell me the calendar was in overdrive??

When I saw this today as I was blog-surfing, I actually spilled my coffee down my shirt in shock. 56 days!!?? Goodness, I'm so far behind the power curve AGAIN! Seriously, how does this happen every year? Tell me I'm not the only one who does this, will you?

Enough already. I have a TON of work to do. Maybe a countdown is a good idea. What's today's topic? Thanksgiving meal planning? Hey, that I can do! Considering that we'll have Pete's dad, his wife, and a couple of extra soldiers from Jon's platoon eating with us this year (Dude, we need a bigger table!), I guess I'd best get going on meal planning anyway! Hmm....a menu, huh? How's this look?

Spinach dip and fresh veggies to snack on
Seven-layer salad (Pete's favorite, no holiday goes by without a request for this one)
Deviled eggs
Green bean casserole (would it be Thanksgiving without it?)
Sweet potatoes with apples
Mashed potatoes
Turkey and Mamaw's stuffing (made with chicken and turkey giblets...sounds weird but WOW)
About a gallon of gravy
Crescent rolls
Cranberry sauce(s?)
Enough sweet tea to float a US Navy destroyer
Cheesecake (another of Pete's must-have's)
Pumpkin pie
Cherry pie

Goodness, do you think that'll be enough food? Maybe I should start clearing out the fridge now! I'm beginning to think that one of the requirements for whatever house we purchase next year is a BIG dining room so we can put a huge-normous table in there and fill it with just tons of people--kiddos, grandparents, SONS-AND-DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW (woah....), grandkiddos....not to mention guests!

It took nineteen years, but finally I'm hosting that holiday I've dreamed of being able to 'do', extended family, AND our kids' friends. I refuse to stress, because this is a huge blessing to have the opportunity to do this! Okay, I'm refocused now. Whew. Deep, cleansing breath. Maybe, just maybe I oughtta bookmark this 100 Days to Christmas countdown?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cleaning House

Two days after we got settled in here in this new 'house', we were awakened way-too-early on Sunday morning to the ear-piercing sounds of sirens. It took five to get us to take notice, mainly because our bedroom window in Germany overlooked a VERY busy highway, and we had sirens blaring at all hours of the day and night, so we'd kind of gotten used to it. However, that night this June was different. The sirens were closer...and as our sleepy eyes finally opened, we realized that our bedroom was aglow with red and blue lights flashing WAY too close. It took approximately two minutes for Pete to be dressed and out the door, partly wanting to assist if he was needed, and partly because, well, he was just plain nosy. The fire that had brought about all of the midnight hubub was quickly extinguished, but the adrenaline running through our systems at that point after having a house fire just two doors down was a BIT too much to allow us to just go back to sleep. The next day, we found out that the fire had been caused by a homemade methamphetamine lab. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Today, four months later, the cleanup crew was finally allowed to start "gutting" the house. Military housing is in high demand, and they really needed to get things wrapped up now that the investigations are over and the family is completely moved out (one spouse to jail, one to divorce court, and the children to foster care, unfortunately), so they brought in the professionals. You know, it's almost comical to watch. The fire was relatively small--it was isolated to the kitchen and it didn't spread past a few cabinets. However, this crew is quite literally ripping everything out of the house that they can possibly take out--cabinets, appliances, carpet--everything. They left no trace of the corruption that overtook the family that lived there previously. The family that will move in when they finish will not have meth-tainted walls, carpets, or air conditioning filters. Their air, their environment, their home will be clean.

Isn't this what we should do with our lives, to completely rid ourselves of sin and allow the purification of God to cleanse us entirely? What good would the blood of Christ do if we refused to let go of the sin that we were enslaved to? It seems so simple. We wouldn't want to live in a house where some atrocity had taken place. No one wants to move in where a murder has been committed. We fully understand this in physical terms, but in spiritual? It's not so easy, and it's a wonderful tool Satan has, that apathy toward the toxicity of sin that we want to hold on to. But why would the Holy Spirit want to move into a heart tainted by sin? When we are buried with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in newness of life, what of the chains we drag behind us? Do we fully let go of them, leaving every trace of sin behind us, or do we hold on "just a little", thinking that it can't hurt us *too* bad, as long as we aren't actually taking part in sinful behavior? Surely we can keep our friends...surely we don't have to change ALL of our habits, make new friends, and leave behind everything that even remotely resembled our former life of sin?

God forbid.

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk , in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened , being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry , and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour , working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers . And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another , tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:17-32

I'm lost!

I want to take my blogging in a different direction(if you read my blog yesterday, you'll notice a BIG post missing but if not, no biggie!), but I just don't know how to go about doing it. I hope you'll all 'scuse me whilst I struggle with writer's block....and creative constipation!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday's Menu Plan

I'm working toward a theme-plan for the days of the week to make my weekly menu brainstorming a *tad* more organized and less haphazard, and it's worked for a couple of weeks, so I think I may stick with it!

Monday (let's try something new!)--Chicken Parmigan and Eggplant Parmigan

Tuesday (comfort food)--Meatloaf, mashed red potatoes, and roasted spaghetti squash

Wednesday (soup/sandwiches)--Homemade clam chowder, cut raw veggies, and spinach dip

Thursday (easy peasy)--Loaded baked potatoes and salad

Friday (pizza!)--well, um...Pizza!

Saturday (kid favorites)--Potato chip chicken, brown rice, and oven-roasted veggies

Sunday (Dad's choice)--Lasagne, salad, and garlic bread

The Simple Woman's Daybook 10/27/08

FOR TODAY, October 27...

Outside My Window... it is COLD today, with the wind chill, it's only 37 degrees! Brr....but I love it! The sky is blue, there are no clouds anywhere, and the colors just seem to be more brilliant today!

I am thinking... that we will not miss days like these after Pete retires from the Army. He got home this morning at 7:30a.m. after a 24-hour staff duty shift, and he has another one on Wednesday. He's asleep now, and the rest of the day will be a bit "off" as a result. We did this for a full year at Fort Stewart, and it was NOT pleasant. As Pete says, he's getting too old for staying up all night. Hard to believe we used to stay up till the wee hours of the morning playing canasta and the guys would still be bright-eyed for the 6:00 formation. Were we crazy, or what?

I am thankful for... sleep! Dare I say it? Shelby slept EIGHT hours straight last night, from 10pm till 6am, and I went to bed just after she did...which means I'm WELL rested today! Woah...I don't remember the last time I could say that!

From the kitchen... I'm going to try my hand at eggplant parmigana tonight. We saw Bobby Flay's eggplant parmigana "throwdown" last week and all of us (yes, even me...and I think eggplant is icky!) have been craving it ever since! Hey, I made spaghetti squash for the first time a few weeks ago and we all (even me....and I think squash is icky too!) loved it, so who knows? Maybe I've finally gotten over my picky-eater phase? I think I'll make some chicken parmigana with it...just in case!

I am wearing... pajamas. Lazy, maybe, but I've not been back upstairs to change clothes since Pete came home. I don't want to wake him up. I guess since my pajamas consist of a tee shirt and knit pants, I'm good?

I am creating... more Christmas presents. Don't make me say what, tho....I don't want to give anything away.

I am reading... Leading Ladies, a study (by I don't remember who off the top of my's upstairs on my nightstand) of feminine "leadership" in the church. Not what you think, and it's very challenging.

I am hoping... that I can remember to get the rest of my pictures printed out this week. I can't finish my scrap projects without them, and I keep forgetting!

I am hearing... silence. In this house, that's deafening! Maybe I need to run the dishwasher?

Around the house... I've got the cold-weather clothing for the girls out of boxes, sorted, and put away, now I just need to tackle the playroom. That room seems to get out of control quicker than any other in the house, but that's okay, nobody "lives" there except toys! At least we've got a room dedicated to playthings, because it sure keeps the rest of the house neater.

One of my favorite things... warm sheets in a cool bedroom. Weird, maybe, but I've got to have a 'cold' room so I can snuggle up in the covers. This time of year is perfect for that!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I gave in. I couldn't justify my apprehension anymore to why Halloween gives me the heebie-jeebies when my girls just aren't afraid of the spookiness anymore, so we allowed them to choose appropriate (read: non-scary) costumes and they're going trick-or-treating this Friday. I have a request from one of the soldiers Jon brought over with him last Friday night for some roasted pumpkin seeds (poor kid is REALLY homesick), so I imagine we're going to be gutting one or two (or all five) of the pumpkins we brought home from Tate Farms last week. Hmm...what else? Oh--Pete gets his yearly clothing allowance this paycheck, which always comes right before Christmas, thankfully. I don't think we've ever used it for what it's supposed to be for, because we've always replaced his uniforms when he needed them, not just once a year. I think Pete and I are going to take a 'date night' this weekend and do the bulk of our Christmas shopping (thank you Wal-Mart for being open 24 hours!) and maybe go see Fireproof. I don't remember the last time we went out to a movie together. Ooh, and Applebees is having a 2 for $20 deal, that would be a nice touch!

Here is picture thought I am sharing... well, two, actually. The first was taken in Oberammergau, Germany this March. It was the first flower I had the privilege of seeing through all the yucky winter weather and snow. It was just beautiful, and I thought that it's bowed head looked to be praying. The second is what may just be the last 'flower' we see this year. Well, in our yard, anyway! These two little celosia plants poked their heads through the landscape rocks a few weeks ago, completely surprising us with their bright red plumage, and they both have continued to flourish, even in the dipping temperatures and harsh wind and rain. Two different seasons, two different countries, two different plants, but one message--God's creation displays His faithfulness to renew life even through the harshest, darkest, coldest days.

A big thanks to Peggy for hosting The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All gone...

I just moved all of my posts from my other blog over here, and shut things down over there. I guess this won't just be 'casual' anymore!

In the line of Fire

**Note**This was brought over from my other blog, so if you read it there, it's the same!

I posted "Refining Silver" not because I simply wanted to piggyback off of someone else's work, but rather because that little story has touched my life in immeasurable ways over the last few years. Did anything strike you as odd about my "Death of Reality" post? Maybe that it was just incredibly self-centered? It was. Go back and re-read it if you're not convinced. That's how I spent the first thirty years of my life--centered on me. I don't think I was ever a really self-indulgent or conceited person, but I still tended to wallow in self-pity.

Did you notice when reading "Refining Silver" whose image was reflected in the silver when it was finished? The silver has no 'image' of its own. Much like a mirror, the only thing silver can do is reflect. See, when I looked in a mirror during the years I was focused on self, I just spent way too much time and energy worrying about what other people saw in me...did they accept me, did they love me, did I do things that made *me* look good? None of that ever mattered. The only image that people should have seen in me was that of the Refiner--the Lord God--and I'm fairly certain that His image was being overshadowed by what I wanted people to see. It makes me ill to look back and see how I was more worried about what PEOPLE thought of me through all of that than I was about the sin that had enslaved me. It makes me even more sick to think that I'd spend another fourteen years stuck in apathy and complacency spiritually before I would finally be "rattled" out of my chains!

I could spend weeks writing about how Pete and I struggled those first few years of our marriage, and how hard it was for us to "make it" when it felt like the entire world was just waiting for us to fall flat on our faces. Maybe later. It's really not important. For all intents and purposes, I really didn't even begin to truly "live" until about 2003. That was a very pivotal year for us, and for me. Things haven't been the same since, and I hope they never are.
On January 19, 2003, Pete and nearly 200 other soldiers piled onto buses and departed Fort Stewart, Georgia, bound for Kuwait...and ultimately, Iraq. For two months, we had semi-regular contact with them, and then, on the 17th of March, I got the last phone call I would receive for nearly two months. Two days later, our soldiers "crossed the birm" and made history, defeating the Iraqi Republican Guard and just about every other opposing force in their path on the huge spearhead toward Baghdad to begin Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those first few weeks of the war were terrifying. I joined the ranks of thousands of other women who had laid awake night after night wondering if their husbands would ever return home; wondering where on earth they were--if they were safe, if they were even alive? I, and probably every other military spouse and child who had a soldier over there at the time like me, was glued to the news, hoping for some idea of what was going on. Hoping to find out something--anything--about the soldier whose dog tags I clung to. I finally got that glimpse when I spied the telltale streaks in the sky that I recognized as MLRS rocket fire. Suddenly, knowing that Pete and "our guys" were at the very tip of that spearhead, paving the way northward, I wished I'd never seen it.

Even though I was fighting my own battle with fear during that time, I had to become something I'd never been before--a mentor. I had, by virtue of my husband's position and my experience with four other deployments, become the person-to-call for nearly twenty spouses and moms. It wasn't a job I wanted, but I got it anyway, and I learned very quickly that God had used those other deployments to train me for THAT one. I can't recall how many hours I spent on the phone, or how many times my cell phone battery ran dead because I was on the phone calming down, consoling, and just listening to the rants and vents of other frazzled wives. I organized meetings, checked up on people I'd not heard from, wrote newsletters, and eventually made the phone calls that ALL of us were looking forward to, telling them that their soldiers were on a plane bound for home. It was surreal, but I learned something huge during that five month nightmare--it was very easy for me to deal with my own demons when I was focused on helping everyone else around me. My problems seemed tiny compared to women who had given birth just DAYS before their husbands left for war. I didn't mind that Pete was giving up his phone time to his subordinates because I knew just how bad-off their wives were back home and how badly they needed to hear from their husbands.

I also learned something else--God USES Christians to minister to others even in the midst of some of the worst trials in their lives. The love of God is not some elusive, mystical power that we just hope to see someday after we're dead. It's real, and it's displayed in the lives of those who "are called according to His purpose". I never really understood what "being called" meant until I had an opportunity thrown right under my nose. It was my choice whether to take that opportunity to minister to others or not. I could have shrunk down into my own little cave and spent the entire time focused on how miserable I was....but I just couldn't bear to look all those women in the face who were turning to me for help and comfort. I could have chosen not to take that "call", but His purpose became so evident, who was I to turn it down?

It was that fire, in 2003, that I learned something vital about the Refiner....He never takes His eyes off of the silver that He is refining, and even though that fire is painful, it is necessary. I would never have become the person God meant for me to be had I led a life of ease. I would not be able to see things from the perspective I have now if I'd not been through the fire.
It wasn't for another two years that I'd learn I had a much greater fire in my future, and a much harder mission to fulfill.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
Exodus 9:16

Refining Silver

**Note**This was brought over from my other blog, so if you've read it's the same!
Refining Silver
Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to read the scriptures, and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." One lady's opinion was that is was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject.
She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her. "But Sir" she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes, madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way that he knows when the process of purifying is complete when he sees his own image reflected in the silver....
--Author Unknown

Death of Reality, Birth of a New Vision

**Note**This was brought over from my other blog, so if you read it there,'s the same thing!

I am a hopeless realist. Some close to me see my outlook on life as pessimism or gloom-and-doom, but I have always considered it far better to have my feet planted firmly on solid, safe ground rather than to be floating around with my head in the clouds, to be carried with the wind like a hot-air balloon. My oldest daughter calls me a bubble-burster because for every far-fetched, dreamy idea she comes up with, I have a realistic response; my [oldest?] son says I'm a downer; my husband quips that I just don't know how to live. Maybe they're all right--but at least I'm living a safe life, right? Wrong. I'm not safe. Things still go wrong; trials still happen; I still get hurt. And as much as I want to believe that my lay-low, even-keel approach to life will help me cope with the inevitable, it doesn't.

One thing is certain--living with my feet planted in the secure, the known, and the familiar has one very ugly consequence--hopelessness. Remember? I said before, I'm a hopeless realist. I don't want to be, but that's where my life has been for as long as I can remember; and it is a very depressing way to live.

I have spent all of my adult life doing something that no one else has ever known about, and few (if any) would guess that I've even given thought to. For the last nineteen years, I have been silently mourning the loss of the potential I had in high school. It's something that seems ridiculous, espeically considering that I can talk (and write) a blue streak about the wonderful opportunities I've been afforded and the blessings I have. The truth is, I really do believe those things are straight from God--but what of my pride? It's a much bigger beast than I admit. I fight it--hard--but it's still there, holding me down like a cement shoe.

Truth be told, regardless of whomever else I have failed, let down, and disappointed with my life choices, I have not lived up to my own expectations--and that fact alone is probably the tap root of the depression I've fought numerous battles with, the fear of failure, the worry that sometimes cripples me, and the anger that spews out of me and wounds those I love the most. My life is not what I expected it to be; it isn't what I hoped and planned for. It's not grandiose, inspiring, or (by the world's standards) hugely successful. My live is boring, it is filled with mundane tasks that are seemingly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Nineteen years and four months ago, I had immeasurable potential. I had musical talent, book smarts, and the drive (or was that stubborn will?) to attain any goal I set before myself. What would my future have held? The Air Force Academy? A top chair in the trumpet section of the President's Own, performing for White House functions, inaugurations, and federal celebrations? A counseling position at a psychiatric hospital? A notable article published in the New England Journal of Medicine? Maybe even the tip of my own personal iceberg when I was fifteen--the honor and notoriety of being the first female fighter pilot to fly into combat? The sky wasn't even my limit. No, my limit was something much, much smaller. My limit took the form of two blue lines appearing on a plastic stick, and something that wasn't in the plan--a family.

Finding out I was pregnant at sixteen is not something I've talked much about. Sure, we got the mandatory premarital counseling before we "did the right thing", and I've had little discussions here and there with good friends over the years, but maybe it's time I admitted something that none of those conversations have ever reavealed about me--getting pregnant devastated me. I put all of my dreams, my hopes, and my expectations of grandeur in a little trash bag along with a home pregnancy test on that day back in June of 1989 and threw it all away. I was smart enough to know that my life had changed forever, and my future was being overwritten; my plans were gone and I had no idea what the years ahead held for me, for my relationship with Pete, or for our child. It crushed my spirit, and it has taken half of my life for me to come to grips even with myself.

It is not easy to admit that my own bad decisions broke my heart as much as they did, and a large part of that is that there is a by-product of those sins. I have an eighteen-year-old son who was the result of that sin, and I have struggled for years with how to approach the regret I have for my sin without somehow making it seem like I wasn't thankful for the blessing that the Lord gave me through it. Is the child conceived in sin still a blessing? HOW? Does Psalm 127 apply only to God's faithful? Does it suppose that only the children of "mighty warriors" are blessings? I don't believe it does. It is my belief that those arrows MAKE the mighty warrior. I see now how God was using that sin of mine to build toward something bigger. He knew my resolve; He knew what my convictions were and He knew that the trial of being challenged with the consequences of my sin was something I'd be able to handle. And God stood right there, silently providing the strength I'd need to get through each hard day, each ugly comment, and the years of beating myself up. God knew. I might not have, but God knew just how that little baby was a blessing, and He gave Jonathan to us willingly, filling our lives more than we ever deserved.

So what's the problem? Well, I just couldn't let go of what "could have been" until I understood what God would take nineteen long and painful years to show me what He wanted to accomplish with me and through me. I still don't know what all He has in store for my future, but I know my potential is far greater now, having been through the trials I've been through, than it was when my life was a blank slate. I know my potential has nothing to do with what I can do on my own. It has nothing to do with personal accomplishments. It's much, much bigger than that, and vastly more important. One other thing is true of His plan: There is far more joy and peace in it than in anything I could have planned for myself, because He is directing my path and every good thing is a gift, given to me by the Creator of life Himself. I couldn't plan anything quite that good!

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard and all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.
Philippians 1:12-13
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Friday, October 24, 2008

Does this mean I'm a grown-up now?

I just had my first official planning session with my grown son about the holidays. Not the usual "what are you going to be heartbroken if you don't get for Christmas", no...this was the real thing. Talking about what he wants to get his sisters for Christmas, what we're getting them, who's going where for Thanksgiving and Christmas, when he and his dad need to put in for leave, how many days they're taking off, who's driving which car....and how many more places we'll need to set for Thanksgiving because there are guys who aren't going home and who don't have anywhere else to go.

Next year, OUR house will be "home" and he'll be somewhere far away.

We're about to add a whole new dynamic to life. I suddenly feel very old.

BFS--Have It Your Way

Memory Verse: Isaiah 40: 1- Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Intro: “Have It Your Way” (Burger King) - As cooler weather approaches and the winter eases into our doors I like to lounge by the fire after a hot shower. I love to make soups that are brimming with a rich and full flavor. In our home there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of soup or and a hot cup of coffee or cocoa on a cold winter night.

Assignment: Tell us all about how your have “your” relaxing time, more especially how during the cooler months you take time to curl up with your favorite movie, book, Bible study, and what your favorite warm drink would be.

I'm still getting used to the new house, a new town, and basically a whole new life, so "my" time is being redefined slowly. When we were in Germany, we had a HUGE bathtub, so it was a nightly ritual almost the entire three years for me to spend a good half hour soaking in bubbles after the girls were in bed. It was wonderful to just lay there and let all of the day's stress ooze into the water....but alas, the tub in this place is barely big enough for leg-shaving, much less relaxing, so I'm on a mission to find a new relaxation spot!
One thing that hasn't changed since we moved is that this time of year, in the little free mental time I have during the day, my mind wanders to those people I miss spending time with. Jill, you and I just haven't had "us" time in so long that it's pathetic! But you know what, best friends are best friends no matter how much distance is between them, and I'll just hold out for New Year's Eve! As the air cools, I'm reminded that the year is quickly drawing to a close, and there are still lots of things on my yearly to-do list that are screaming at me to be done...Christmas presents to make, closets to de-junk, homeschool items I've been meaning to sell for YEARS....and pretty soon we'll begin a new year with another list of things to do! I'd much rather just sit and focus on what "is" in the here and now and let God worry about the rest. That's what I'm reminded of when I see the leaves changing--there are blessings right there every day just like all of those green leaves, but I don't even notice them until it's obvious that they're not going to be around much longer. That fact really came crashing down on us this year as our oldest left home to begin his Army career. Life disappears right under your nose!
It's still not cold enough here for hot cocoa, but I think I could really use a Sonic mocha Java Chiller! YUMMY!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photo Funny

I'm using a photo funny for Just Humor Me this week. When we had Danica's birthday party the other night and told her to "smile!" so we could take her picture with her cookie-cake, this is what she did:

I have NO idea why.

No kid should ever reach adulthood without this experience

I'm thirty-five years old, and I just went on my first (yes, EVER) hayride yesterday. For some very odd reason, I feel my childhood was strangely deprived! Sure, I grew up in South Florida, with the salty sea air, the beaches, the warm weather...but there are things I want my children to experience in childhood, not to wait till they are crusty, old adults who can't see things through the innocent eyes that take in every little nuance of life and cherish it like there were nothing else like it on earth. We had one of those experiences yesterday, when we took a field trip with the homeschool group to a local farm. It was wonderful fun, and we all had a great time--even Kelsey, who unfortunately spent most of the trip shadowed by two teenage boys....I'm going to have to start carrying around that picture of her dad holding a big 'ole machine gun, I think. Do you think this would look good on the front of my diaper bag? It's pink camouflage, if that helps!Being out on the farm really helped fuel my desire to move to the country. I didn't mind the drive out there at ALL...and the wide, open spaces and clean air were SO refreshing. It was wonderful to see my kids enjoying something that children for hundreds of years have enjoyed--things that didn't require wires, batteries, or internet access. No glitz, no glamour, just good, clean fun. They learned that throwing hay at your big sister and having her squeal because she has to pick hay out of her bra is just HILARIOUS (Mom thought so too...); they walked through fields; they picked cotton straight from the plant; they dove into a corn crib and buried each other in dried corn kernels; they got lost in a hay bale maze; they petted rabbits, goats, and a baby calf; they cried when we had to go home because the sand pit was just too much fun to leave behind. They never once complained of boredom or that they were dirty, and I never once worried because one of them was out of my sight. On 6,000 acres ten miles from the city, where were they going to disappear to? The pumpkin patch? Well good grief, Charlie Brown, that's not a problem at all! It was a bit interesting to find kernels of corn in Dani's diaper when we got home, though!

Now I just have to figure out what to do with five pumpkins!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Danica!

Dani is two years old today! We're having her 'party' (cake, ice cream, and presents with just the fam) tomorrow, but of course she doesn't know the difference anyway! She's turned into such a funny, sweet little firecracker over the last two years; we hardly had a clue what we were in for when we met our teeny little baby, but we sure are glad she's ours! Dani loves to do things her own way, which is usually hilarious to watch--kind of like her take on blowing bubbles the other day (yes, you simply MUST taste the bubbles first!):

Happy Birthday, Dani Bird!

Simple Woman's Daybook 10/20/08

FOR TODAY, October 20, 2008:

Outside my Window... It's actually COLD this morning--42 degrees (hey, that is cold by Southern standards)! But the sun is shining and it'll warm up to just a tad over 70 degrees, so we have a wonderful day ahead of us outside!

From the learning rooms... Kelsey will be taking consumer math and chemistry tests today, Morgan and Jamie and I will be working on handwriting skills again and reading more read-alouds, plus creating a chore chart for the littles.

I am thankful for... the two years we've had with this adorable little ball of energy who has a birthday today--Danica! She's healthy, she's a hoot to have around, and we are so glad that God has blessed us with this little quick-change artist who is presently on her third change of clothing today...and it's only 8:30!

From the kitchen... Birthday cake is on the list to be made today, even though we won't eat it till tomorrow. All of the girls decided that our trip to Tate Farms tomorrow will be a great birthday trip for Dani, and we'll have her family birthday celebration after that.

I am wearing... SOCKS for the first time since the weather warmed up in Germany. Okay, so maybe not the first time, but I never wear socks around the house unless it's cold. My native-Floridian feet just can't handle being covered unless there's a very good reason. Today, though, it's cold enough! OH yeah, I'm also wearing yoga pants and a tee, but that's kind of inconsequential. The socks are a big deal!

I am hoping... to be rid of this cold SOON. I'm tired of being sick already!

I am creating... a master craft list for Christmas. Finances are going to be lean all the way around this year, and I plan on making several of our gifts. I've already got the fabric for a new lovey blanket for Dani that will hopefully be cute enough for her to accept as a replacement for the one that she has nearly shredded in the last two years.

I am hearing... the pitter-patter (more like thump-thump-thump-thump) of kittens (and Ty) playing upstairs.

Around the house... for once, it's clean! It did help (?) that I was stuck home from church sick yesterday with nothing to do but clean...and sneeze.

One of my favorite things... waking up to the coos and grins of a warm, fuzzy-headed two-month-old. Sigh......

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Tomorrow looks to be a really busy day! There's the farm field trip, picking a pumpkin, and then coming home to have Dani's birthday party. The rest of the week....well, looks a bit bland! Not much planned, which is probably a good thing.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... Jake shows us there's no shame in showing submission, especially when it comes with the promise of a good belly rub!
Thank you again, Peggy, for hosting the Simple Woman's Daybook! Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The new babies

We're once again a furry family.


Lest you think I've lost my marbles, let me 'splain. There's been a gap in our family ever since Murphy and Cleo passed away, and we've sorely missed having a house full of cat fur. Sure, Ty is fun, and he's a cat, yes....but we've always been a MULTI-cat family. Well, now we are again!

Meet Charlie (orange tabby) and Tucker, born on 8/8/08, adopted by our family last weekend. We're whole once again! Look out, Ty, they're going to be ganging up on you soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Has it been two months already?

Where did the time go? How did that teeny little pink thing we brought home just nine short weeks ago turn into this smiley, talkative little butterball? Shelby is just growing by leaps and bounds, doing new things every day, and she's FINALLY slept a six-hour stretch, three nights in a row! That's a feat our other five kids can't claim that they've done till they were eight or nine months old! What's funny is that even after four other girls, this little girl can melt Daddy's heart faster than an Alabama heat wave! Just look at that little chubster--how can we not melt?

Oh, and for the record, yes, I would have six more if God gave us that opportunity. I'm just thankful that we've been blessed with them one at a time!

BFS--Mmm-Mmm Good!

Intro: M’m M’m Good (Campbell’s Soup)The fall is such a wonderful time of year. The beautiful foliage and cool, crisp morning air is such a wonderful change from the hot summer. I also love the M’m M’m good smell of fall cooking and baking. The wonderful fall veggies, fruits and Thanksgiving foods.

Assignment: Post your favorite fall recipe/recipes to share. I love trying new recipes, do you? It can be baking, main dishes, veggies, dessert or anything else you can think of. There are no limits. Mmmmmm..I can’t wait to take a look at some of those recipes.

Picture ideas: Post a picture of your finished product, or you could just post a picture of the recipe. How about a picture of you cooking? The sky is the limit.

Now this is an easy assignment!! I'm a recipe junkie, and I just love making up my own! Oh, wait...there's a problem, WHICH ONE do I post? I actually made a feeble attempt at a recipe blog a few weeks back, but then deleted it when I realized I really didn't want to share a lot of those recipes I'd concocted over the years! We Southern cooks are funny that way. Not all of us are Paula Deen's who would tell the world their famous fried chicken recipe. Nope, sorry, not even my daughter gets that one! Nor will I share the years of hard work I've put into perfecting my clam chowder. You'll simply have to come over to my house and have a bowl here!

Okay, maybe I need to work on sharing. Here's my recipe for one of our family favorites (and a good one when I have to change dinner plans because I've forgotten to take something out of the freezer...kind of like last night!), my take on Green Eggs and Ham.

18 eggs (yes, EIGHTEEN....I have a big family, OK?)
16oz. package sliced deli ham
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a colby/jack blend in the pics below, but sharp cheddar is my fave)
3 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 medium onion
10 oz. 'brick' frozen chopped spinach, thawed
salt, pepper, and garlic powder as desired

Start by shredding the potatoes and onion in a food processor, then place in a colander with thawed spinach and press to remove excess water. Dice the sliced ham, and scramble the eggs. Mix everything together in a huge mixing bowl, then carefully (this stuff sloshes something terrible!) pour into greased extra-large skillet and bake, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the eggs are bubbling all the way into the center of the skillet. Remove cover and continue baking until the top is just slightly golden. I usually sprinkle just a wee bit of shredded cheese on the top after I take it out of the oven--it melts but doesn't brown!

Serve in wedges with salsa, ketchup (yuck IMO, but my girls love it), or my personal favorite must-have, chipotle Tabasco!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Favorites

I found this over on Behold the Lamb! and followed her source-links to a blog with enough food for thought to last me a year or two. If you want to be spiritually challenged, you just absolutely MUST go do some reading on A Pondering Heart! Anyhoo...Jocelyn turned a tag into a meme, and since Fall is just my favorite season, I just HAD to do this one! Besides, what I was going to blog about today just kind of oozed out my ears this morning! OH well....directed thought is better than no thought at all!

1. Favorite Smell? There really is nothing like the smell of those first crisp Autumn mornings when you wake up just a tad chilly because the windows have been open all night. The smell is unmistakable and indescribable all at the same time...kind of like the smell of rain!
2. Favorite Food? Soups! It's finally 'soup weather', and all of the homemade soups that have felt a bit out of place the rest of the year are finally just right! Clam chowder, lentil soup, French onion soup, tortilla soup....all of them are WONDERMOUS this time of year!
3. Favorite Color? The brilliant red that the trees display when they're at peak color. It only lasts for a little while, but there is nothing else like it anywhere in nature.
4. Favorite Drink? Hot cinnamon apple spice tea.
5. Favorite Treat? Homemade cookies--I don't make many cookies during Spring and Summer (too hot!), but I break out the cookie sheets in September and they stay in service all through the Fall and into Winter!
6. Favorite Place to go? I love to drive around looking at the trees while they're changing, and walking through the woods to view God's canvas up close and personal is just awe-inspiring!
7. Favorite Candy? It's a toss-up between candy corn and York Peppermint Patties. I'm a peppermint patty fanatic, but I balance it out this time of year with candy corn.
8. Favorite Movie to watch? Dunno. I'm not the movie nut.
9. Favorite Clothing to wear? Jeans and soft, squishy long-sleeve tees under a button-up shirt. I love cotton!
10. Favorite Outdoor Activity? Anything! Gotta be outside during the Fall!
11. Favorite Football Team? University of Alabama Crimson Tide, OF COURSE!!!!
12. Favorite Fall Holiday? Thanksgiving, without a doubt.
13. Favorite Haunted place? I don't do 'haunted'. I'd love to avoid Halloween altogether if I could.
14. Favorite Food at Thanksgiving Dinner? Mamaw's giblet dressing, slathered in my turkey gravy.....oh, I could eat my weight in that stuff!
15. Favorite Pie? Cherry!
16. Favorite Fall Hobby? Taking pictures and scrapbooking.
17. Favorite Fall Memory? Umm.......drawing a blank. How can one have a favorite?
18. Favorite Fall Sight? Other than the beautiful foliage ('cause that's a given), it would have to be Thanksgiving decorations finally taking the place of Halloween decorations.
19. Overall Favorite thing about Fall? The weather. I detest the soggy heat of late Summer, and it's just heavenly to have the mercury drop significantly!
20. Overall Favorite Season? FALL!!!!!

Wanna play too? Jocelyn has a Mr. Linky on her post, but if you leave a comment, I'll link you up below. I'd love to hear what you all love about Fall too!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Potty Humor

In honor of yet another hilarious installment of the squatty potty series for Just Humor Me, I just HAD to share this sign we spied outside of the restrooms at Legoland, Deutschland . Nuff said, Heidi?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook 10/13/08

Oops, a day late! You gotta love how these holiday weekends throw off the entire week! Now I'll be saying "What day is it?" till next Sunday rolls around!

Outside My Window... it is beautiful. Autumn colors are starting to pop out of all the greenery, the cool morning is perfect, and the breeze is just right.

I am thinking... that I can't avoid folding that pile of laundry that I've been avoiding since the big 'ole spider crawled off of it onto my hand for too much longer. Surely the spider's gone by now? *shudder*

I am thankful for... God putting us in a perfect place to prepare for Pete's military retirement. His providence becomes more evident every day, and I can't help but smile!

From the kitchen... Chicken and dumplings tonight. With three of us sick (again), some good, old-fashioned comfort food is in order! Kelsey wants to make another apple pie from the two bagfuls of apples we picked from a friend's yard on Saturday. YUM!

I am wearing... Black capris and a tee shirt. Nowhere to go, why get fussy?

I am creating... a grocery list. Nothing fancy today, no crafts--my craft table is covered with laundry that the previously mentioned spider crawled out of just minutes after I removed them from the dryer. It's a psychological thing.

I am going... hmm, nowhere! I don't have to go anywhere today! I guess I'm going to sit on the couch and read to the girls, that's where I'm "going"!

I am reading... Well, today it's Mother Goose; The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature; Eric Carle's Animals, Animals; The Children's Everyday Bible; and maybe I'll fit in the time to read something for myself!

I am hoping... that Shelby doesn't get this cold that Jamie, Dani, and I have been fighting this last few days. There's nothing more pitiful than a sick infant!

I am hearing... the two little kittens we adopted over the weekend playing upstairs with the toys we left up there for them, and the dogs nextdoor barking and pawing at the fence. Note to self: check nextdoor neighbor's backyard proximity to our windows before seriously considering purchase of a house.

Around the house... is a post-holiday-weekend mess. Jon and Pete tore the house and carport apart while the girls and I were at the homeschool group meeting yesterday, and then there's the spider-laundry to contend with. I guess today is a laundry day!

One of my favorite things... is getting Christmas shopping and creating done well in advance. I'm behind already this year! Better get on the ball!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Danica's birthday is next Monday, but we're doing her family party on Sunday, so I suppose that besides the typical household 'stuff', I'll be preparing for her birthday this week! I think a trip to Party City will take care of most of it, but I also have to find a template of a dog'll have to wait till next week to see why! Oh yeah, and I have to go to JCPenney to return this bassinette that my parents bought us for Shelby even though it's perfect, I love it, and we've been using it daily since she was born. Silly product recall--way to mess up a good thing!

Here is picture thought I am sharing... did you know that people who own pets tend to have lower blood pressure than those who live in pet-free homes? There's something very calming and heartwarming about watching kittens play. Who cares if it's wasted time!?
Many thanks to Peggy for hosting the Simple Woman's Daybook. Go check her site out!
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