Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti -

I'll be honest, I've been a bit removed from the devastation the earthquake caused in Haiti. I grew up knowing and experiencing the effects of earthquakes. They're not fun. In fact, to this day I do not do well if a bridge sways or in elevators when it feels like it's moving kinda funny.
Ok, this is not about me.
My Uncle Bob Harper (Uncle because he served with my parents as a Southern Baptist missionary in Mexico and we're a family like that) is in Haiti. He is helping set up water filtration systems and translating (French)/teaching the Haitians how to use them.
Please read this update on his daughter's blog. The pictures are heart breaking. The one that gets me is the boy with a toy made out of an empty water bottle. How many toys do my kids have thrown around?
Please pray and give as the Lord leads you. Although we cannot all be there, we can pray for those that are and for our brothers and sisters that are boldy showing Christ's love to their country.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ice cream & Cookies

Ice cream

Chris' Mom shared with me a conversation she had with her Mom on Wednesday. {Gran has Alzheimer's}

Mom: Hey, Mom. I wanted to make sure you had enough groceries to make it through the ice storm that's on it's way. I can go to the store for you if you need me to.

Gran: Let me check.

Gran: No, we're good. We have plenty of ice cream.



Eli had his first experience making chocolate chip cookies last night. He was SO excited. He can give a full roll call of all the ingredients and the mixing process. And, he loved using the Pampered Chef cookie scoop. And, cheering them on as they baked. And, serving them to his Daddy afterwards.

And, he proceeded to call lots of family to share his happiness of baking!

UPDATE: Here's Eli's recap last night: "we put brown sugar, flour, chocolate chips in it, scooped it out on a pan, and put it in the bank." If only that's the way it all worked...

It's the simple things that bring joy. Like ice cream and cookies!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weekend reflections

I have a lot of rambles in my head that I want to blog about. We'll see how the stream of consciousness goes!

First, the weekend didn't go quiet as planned. Oh well. It was full of family and that is always a good thing.

On Friday night the Wood's came over with pizza and music. I don't know why we don't stop planning activities and just say, "Let's just sit around the table and talk." Because, well, that's what we do! Their wedding was Chris' and my first public date. While a bit overwhelming, it is a fantastic memory! We've been through a lot, the four of us. They are some of the bestest friends I can imagine being blessed with. There was a situation a few years back (more like several years back!) and I'll never forget Sara saying (obviously paraphrased), "I never thought I'd laugh out loud and have a good time today. It feels good." And, well, I felt the same way when they left our home. Thanks for the years of memories and encouragement...and laughter! Indeed, laughter is good for the soul!

My Mom also stopped by and brought cheese! Isn't that funny?! I obviously come from a family of cheese lovers! She brought a huge thing of sliced cheese and of cheddar cheese. However, I am proud to say that we haven't opened them yet! She also brought the kids tator tots and corn dogs. And, by kids, I do include Chris. Those are two of his favorite foods!

What I really want to write about is Sunday. We went to Lakeside to witness our cousin Loren's baptism. She realized at the age of 14 that she had not truly accepted Christ as her Savior at the age of 8. I really appreciate this. Her honesty and obedience to the Lord. Many "good" people wouldn't wrestle with the issue, but she faced the facts and is now my sister in Christ! Anyhow, she's now 17 (!) and decided to follow in believer's baptism. I always get teary when I witness baptisms. Anyone else? I can't help it. I'll need Valium when my children are baptised!

Ok, I've totally digressed. A lot of our family came to support Loren. Including her mom. Loren's parents are going thru a very hard divorce. It's not pleasant. It makes me very sad and uncomfortable. Even typing this I just got a heavy feeling rush over my heart. Anyhow, it was the first time many of us have seen her in several months. As I was showering Sunday morning, I found myself praying, "Lord, bring a clear message to her that pricks her heart, and..." Wait. The Holy Spirit totally convicted me. I repented and began praying again, "Lord, bring a clear message to me. And everyone else. We are indeed in need of a fresh Word from you." I was mystified at my righteous thoughts. So silly. I'm thankful the Lord quickly whipped me in shape.

So, we first saw her when we got out of our truck. I didn't know how to act. Seriously. I didn't want to be rude, but loving her seemed so undeserved. I kept telling myself a quote from the movie Second Chance (which is FANTASTIC!), "The thing about believing the Bible is that it says that I have to love you. No matter how I may feel." So true. And, I tried to make my heart obey. I didn't engage in chit chat (again, I felt it would be so fake) and focused my attention on Abi (who was being an angel and didn't need tending to!). But, I was pleased that I didn't feel cold. It is a hard situation. And, I'm not even the closest to it!

Anyhow, it's the Lord that changes lives and that is what we were there to celebrate! When the pastor said to open our Bibles to 1 Peter I about died. You see, I love this book. Yet, I don't love it because it's all about how we live our lives. And, it's very convicting. From the first to the last verse. In fact, secretly, I was glad we don't go to our church's Wed night service b/c they've been going thru 1 Peter! (I really believe in being brutally honest on this blog!)

Anyhow, the sermon was on the portion about women being submissive and men honoring their wives. I do enjoy listening to thoughts on this subject. It's so grossly misunderstood. The thing is that the Lord is a God of order. He has an order for everything. Even the home. It's an order that is a tall that doesn't make since to our sin nature (hence, if you're not a Christian being a submissive wife seems totally offensive). And, one that we can't accomplish on our own. It's through having a living relationship with Christ that allows us to do the impossible. When we are focused on being in His will, in honoring Him, and in obeying Him - well, that's when it becomes possible to be submissive. Not a short term front, but true submission that oozes from our hearts and every pore of our bodies. (Not to mention, the scripture specifically refers to husband's coming to the Lord b/c of their wives actions and not words!)

You see, this is right where I am. We have so much stuff going on in our home, so many decisions to make, that my Type A personality gets in the way of the order God has. It's a tough lesson that I'm still learning. But, the Lord is faithful to mold us- if we make ourselves moldable. This past week I worked on Monday at the schools, but was home the rest of the week. On Thursday night, I offered to work at the office on Friday. Because, honestly, I wanted to have adult interaction and a reason to do my hair! We considered it. But, I felt the Holy Spirit pricking my heart. If I really want Chris to take the lead in our home regarding providing for our family and if I really believe God wants me to take care of the kids...then, I need to stick with it. So, I told Chris to go on. And, you know, my home has been cleaner this week than it's been in a while. Our beds have been made. Counters cleaned off and cleaned. Good meals prepared for dinner. The Lord has given me the joy of caring for my family and home. You see, my nature is to go work and make it work. But, God's order is not my order. It's a tough rub, but He's been faithful when I am faithful. All this to say that clearly the Lord had a message for ME on Sunday!

Lastly, because if you're still reading you obviously have other things you need to do, I want to make note that our family is blessed. So much. So much more than I could say in this mere blog. Our family has reached out to us in this time in ways...well, that are truly from the Lord. We cannot express our thanks enough. Know that we could not make it without your love, encouragement, support, and prayers. The Lord is good. All the time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Family Recap

What a week. It's been long. But, good. But, long.
The weather has been nice enough for me to take the kids out on a walk twice this week. It just affirms that they are getting big. Eli loves to wear his backpack (monkey/dog on the back) and even hands me the leash (b/c I'm not sure what to call it!). And, he keeps one hand on the stroller (which I don't require unless we're crossing the street, but he seems to enjoy it). Anyhow, it's a great opportunity for us to talk about nature and all that God has made. Eli enjoys seeing the kids get off the school bus (one of his most favorite things ever!) and watching them play basketball in their driveways. He's working on learning his address. I vividly remember having to learn my address and phone number in kindergarten...he's 2 1/2!
Abi is changing before my eyes. She got a toy stroller for Christmas and yesterday she discovered that she can push it. It's the first walking she's done without us holding her hands. She's a pro already. And, she's quiet proud of herself. I think she got her Mama's self-confidence. Her brother liked to help her at first, but I think he's realizing that he's got some competition for my attention.
So, I'm balancing myself between Abi learning to walk and Eli learning to use his Thomas the Train laptop thing. So funny.
Chris found out yesterday that the job he applied for had been closed for a few weeks, but the system hadn't taken it off their website. Really? So typical. While it's not the outcome we had hoped, I'm glad we've found out now and can move on. Back to square one. Whatever and wherever that is.
I've just finished another long run. Not the 8 I had originally planned on, b/c I took a few days off this week and I felt that 6 was sufficient. Still long. Still getting stronger. Anyhow, we're off to work at the tax office today. I love tax season! I do! I've helped at my Dad's tax business for 5 or 6 years now and I enjoy it more every year. I have some free movie passes that Chris and I may redeem to see Avatar in 3D. Personally, I want to roll my eyes. Chris is beyond determined that I will love it. We'll see. Everyone hearts it. Again, we'll see.
Time to get clean! The kiddos will be wanting strawberry milk before you know it!
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lessons on frugality

Is frugality a word? Well, the intent is lessons I've learned on being frugal.

This verse is one that I have recently memorized and keep at the front of my heart and mind:

"Better a meal of vegetables where there is love
than a fattened calf with hatred."
Proverbs 15:17
The hard thing about owning your own business is that the income is not consistent. And, Chris' unemployment benefits ran out a few weeks ago. So, these two things can cause a person {me} to want to pull their {my} hair out with worry.
But, the Lord is ever faithful to his children. I have learned a lot in the past year, and especially the past few weeks about how to best, or better, manage the food-money balancing act.
- For starters, Chris and I have to be on the same page when it comes to our finances. It's simply too easy to whip in to Sonic for a happy-hour drink. I mean, what's $1.25? Well, as my grandmother would say, "It's not a good deal if you can't afford it."
- Next, we make (sometimes in our heads) a priority list for groceries. In our home, it's milk and diapers. (I cannot tell you how long we've gone without cheese in our home! It's SO expensive!)
- Then, it's a matter of thinking before acting. How silly is that? But, seriously, I find myself thinking twice before grabbing a paper towel. I mean, a rag will do the job and not create the waste (b/c trash bags are something we have to buy too and I'd rather save the room for dirty diapers!).
- I also am much more aware of my meal planning. Again, simple and silly, but true. It's amazing how many good meals we've had. And, all I had to do was use my noggin and actually USE the stuff in my pantry and freezer! It can be a challenge to cook hot meals when I have two awesome little helpers...but, it's healthier and much cheaper than microwave/box stuff. Plus, there are many life lessons to be learned while in the kitchen with your Mama. =)
- Another ridiculously simple thing I do is simply not throw food away after a meal. And, if their drinks aren't all gone, I put them in the fridge for later. This can make a can of corn and green beans last for several meals. We will eat it until it's gone. Or, they will eat it until it's gone!
- I also push back from the table. One, it's good for my figure and keeps me from being junked down while running. But, I'd rather have a smaller portion so that there are leftovers for the kids. Just writing that makes me feel so old fashion. But, I guess the pioneer women (the real ones, not the new one!) had some things figured out.
- Almost lastly, it's amazing how much money you won't spend if you aren't going into WalMart every 3 or 4 days. Yes, I have a love-hate relationship with them, but I love my family even more. When I know we have $4 to get milk, that's all I get. No hard feelings. It's a choice of showing my family that I love them more than immediate (and temporary) self gratification.
- Lastly, I spend much more time in prayer and in the Word. Proverbs is FULL of daily guidance on how to manage time, money, words, and relationships. And, let's be honest, I need all the help I can get with those! Allowing the Holy Spirit to permeate my heart and mind with His Word is the most wonderful close relationship their is. I'm not quiet sure how to explain it, but He gives me creativity and the courage to press on. His promises are forever and timely. He relieves my worry, anxiety, and bad moods (b/c they are there!) and replaces them with peace, love, and endurance.
I could write on, but I think I'll be done for now. I just wanted to share the really-really's with "you" (whomever that is!). I sometimes get discouraged reading blogs because it seems like "everyone" is eating out, shopping, decorating, taking or planning vacations...when, well...I'm scraping the pan and trying to not use paper towels!
So, here it is. A glimpse of my real life. I hope you are encouraged by God's goodness. After all, that's all we really have!
A little disclaimer: I know the written word can be interpreted many ways. I just want to clarify that I in no way think ill of those that are able to eat out, shop, decorate, or take and plan vacations. This is just a post of where I am right now and on God's provision. Maybe one day soon we'll laugh about these antics over lunch!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The proof's in the zipper!

So, I'm still on target for my first half marathon {13.1 miles} in March. I am fortunate to have a treadmill at home {in the garage} that allows me to log some miles any time {usually after the kids are snoozing}. I'm also fortunate that Chris supports this crazy goal of mine.
This all'd think that logging 15+ miles a week would lead to some weight loss. Well, not this runner. I am wearing two sizes smaller in pants and can wear medium blouses...but, I want to see the numbers go down! Seriously! What has to happen?!?!
I gave up soft drinks about 4 months ago. {Cravings never let up!} I don't do anything really different on my eating. I just try to be sensitive to my running schedule. For instance, tonight I knew I had a run so I only had one chicken tender and just a little bit on mashed potatoes at dinner. After all, you have to eat if you're burning 600 to 1,000 calories per workout. {Yes, I burned 1,042 calories on Sunday!}
Anyhow, I do keep certain goal clothes in my closet in a variety of sizes. I have some great pink pants from Talbots, pink pin-striped pants from the Gap, some skirts, a dressy outfit, and this amazing sundress from Ann Taylor. I got it on our girl's spring break trip to Florida...back before facebook was even thought of!
Anyhow, I keep it hanging in my closet and try it on every 3 weeks or so. Well. Tonight I was able to zip it all the way up! Go me! Seriously! Numbers schnumbers! There are real payoffs to the miles I'm logging.
I can't wait for spring! I'm going to have so many "new" clothes to wear!!!
Until then...I'm facing an 8 mile run on Saturday! The longest I'll have ran yet! Small victories like tonight keep me going!

Ironing in faith

"Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." James 1:6

Chris applied for a job last week. As an act of faith, I ironed several dress clothes for interviews and potentially a new job {with the help of my side kick!}.
Kinda like praying for rain and carrying an umbrella.

Please be in prayer for our family as we're walking through open doors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The face of obedience

Sunday I was fortunate enough to see the face of obedience.

I'll back track.

About two months ago Chris began to feel that the Lord was leading him to get more involved in music. To return to playing his guitar. Chris wasn't really sure what all that was about, but he began playing most afternoons. A few weeks after that, our music minister and his wife retired and moved away. Chris has led our worship the past two weeks.

Three weeks ago, Chris heard God of this City and really, really liked it. So, he looked the song up on his iPhone (not sure how all that works) and began learning it. First, Chris does not read music...never has. Yet, he is capable of playing the guitar and trumpet by ear! Anyhow, Sunday, he led our church in learning God of this City. He is a natural! He wasn't nervous, his voice didn't crack, he didn't have to make up words (like I sometimes do!), and the congregation joined in and sung really well with him the second time through.

It felt like I was holding my breath for forever, and then, I realized that I need to relax and relish what true obedience to the Lord looks like. My recent mantra from the Lord has been "I don't want your abilities, I want your availability."

It does wonders for my heart to see Chris 1) recognize the Lord's voice, 2) be patient in understanding His direction, 3) walking through open doors, and 4) following through with obeying Him.

And, for the record, it's the most attractive thing he can do.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Battle of the Mind

Why? Why are 99% of life's difficulties all battled in the mind? Ugh. It's so taxing.
What to eat? How much to eat?
What to wear? Is it too tight?
What to say? How much to say?
What bills to pay first? How to pay the rest?
How do I get motivated to go run? Am I getting stronger?
Coke? No Coke? {I'm +4 months sans Coke/Dr. Pepper and the urge doesn't give up!}

Anyhow, the life struggle of the mind can sometimes seem overwhelming. This week it's been hard for me to get running. Seriously? I've been training so hard for so long, but I've been so tired this week and my mind has won. Well, except I made myself run 4 tonight and I'm thankful for the push. And, it felt good.

A friend of mine has been blogging lately about sarcasm and the need for truthful words. This has pricked my heart and caused some self-evaluation. As I was reading in Proverbs (b/c it IS applicable to daily life!) I read these verses, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." Prov 12:18-19 And, in this self-eval I'm reminded that what I put in my heart/mind/soul is what is going to come out. And, scripture tells us that the tongue is deceitful. So, I need to be careful not to use "reckless words." I like that term.

Another battle of the mind is spending time in the Word. For instance, it is easier for many of us (ok, me) to talk with friends, facebook, and blog about our issues and then think to ask the Lord for help. Or, we ask, "Why?" Poor pitiful me. I read a quote (from facebook!) from Francis Chan (who I'm dying to read his books!) that says, "The average Christian in the US spends ten minutes per day with God; meanwhile, the average American spends over four hours a day watching television." Hmmm. Why? Why is it hard for us/me to make up our/my mind to seek the Lord? To dive deep in his Word?

Ok, which leads me to another thing I read today in "Feathers from my nest" by Beth Moore...
"We might get away with CliffsNotes versions of the old classics from time to time, but we will be terribly cheated and ill equipped for life if we rely on a CliffsNotes version of God's Word. I was raised on CliffsNotes. My guess is, you were too. ... Without realizing it, sometimes we approach Scripture by reading only what we already believe. ... but, I believe our churches were never meant to be the sole source of our Bible knowledge. We are unwise to hold our church's and denominations responsible for teaching us absolutely everything we need to know about the Word of God. To me, that's a large part of what the "priesthood" of the individual means. (1 Pet.2:5,9) Because Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, not only can we approach God without a human "go between," we can also hear and learn from God in some sacred moments without one."
Wow. That's a long quote. But, it spurs a lot of thought. {My mind must be reeling with all these thoughts!} Especially thought provoking is reading only the part of Scripture we already believe. That's an easy rut to get into. Hmmm.

I have a friend that is going thru a big life change right now and I was to meet with her last week to talk it thru. Well, it didn't end up happening. And, I felt ok about it because sometimes talking about it {w/ girlfriends} is the last thing we need to do. On the other hand, our home is going thru a lot of life changes right now and I scheduled a chat with my dearest friend to specifically discuss some issues on my mind. I think it boils down to wanting to talk to talk, or talking in light of what has already been laid at the Jesus' feet and about the direction He's showing. Does that make sense? Sometimes not being able to talk with each other is God's way of giving us another opportunity to talk with Him first about our situations.

Well, I'm certain that I'm rambling. But, there is a lot to be said about the battle of the mind. I think that's why regular scripture reading and memorization is so important. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your heart. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes on your houses and on your gates."

So, I'm done with this post. The Lord is obviously working on me and my mind. After all, he did create me! Enjoy the weekend! I've got a LONG run tomorrow...definitely a battle of the mind!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mood changers

Here is a quick list of some things that for me are mood changers...

a compliment or kind word
unexpected help
a quiet moment
a phone call with a bestie
Scripture surfacing to the top of my mind
a favorite song
a nap

any probably many more things...
but, this is where my mind ends. Time for rest.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blog to add to your reading list

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law (Kimber and Adam) have just moved to North Carolina. Adam will begin working on his masters while Kimber works to support the cause! {The things wives do!} Anyhow, we are very excited about this new chapter in their lives. They've even began a blog to document their adventures....

Check it out and enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy 1st BDay Abi Jean!

My Mom called yesterday and said, "You need to update your blog. It's been since December 18." I find this very funny because I talk with my Mom atleast 3 times a day! So, she's in the loop! I might attempt to go back and recap the holidays (lots of sickness, but lots of fun too!), but today we celebrated Abi Jean's first birthday (which was yesterday!)! Here's the low down...

I wanted to do a butterfly theme because it's happy and a fresh change from all the holiday red and green. I racked up at the Dollar Tree! Seriously! Who knew? I also borrowed my cousin's book, Hello, Cupcake! It has fantastic ideas with step-by-step instructions. I've got my eye out to find one at a steal. My parents kept the kiddos on Friday, so Chris and I got busy cleaning the house and making candy butterflies! I'm very thankful to have a husband that's not too macho to help me in the kitchen. He loves to decorate, or learn/observe about it. He did compare the process to caulking! Cracks me up!

{SIDE NOTE: Our cousin Bonnie made this barrett for Abi! I love it! If you'd like one for your little one, let me know!}
This morning I ran 5.3 miles (well, 5.65 with the cool down)! Go me! This is, after I frosted a zillion cupcakes, set the table, pulled items out of the garage, put items in the garage, etc. Oh, and a side note, I made a goal to NOT lick any icing off of my fingers. It may sound crazy, but it keeps the caloric and sugar intake down...which means I don't have to run it off! A small, yet important victory!'s where it goes crazy. My parents are having some issues with their home (and they had the kids), so my Mom calls at 12:45 saying she hasn't been able to make it to WalMart to get the stuff she was going to make. I couldn't go, well, because I'd just ran 5.3 miles and need a shower STAT! So, Chris went. Which left me to finish up the house stuff. When I went to get the punch (that I made 3 days ago) out of the freezer in our, well, it wasn't frozen! Trying not to panic, I cleared out my freezer in the fridge, hoping a few hours in it would do the trick. {This reminds me that I need to go put those items BACK in the freezer!} Chris and my Mom (and kids) arrived at the same time, 2:36pm (I remember looking at the clock). Mom got busy making spiced cider...oh, to find she brought the wrong cord. Scratch that. Then, WalMart didn't have pinwheels, so Chris picked up pizza rolls. I whipped up a spinach dip {which made me wonder why I didn't get a regular sized food processer}, then, at almost time to begin I went for the punch.
Mind you, all the guests are here at this point. So, I pour the semi-frozen punch out of the plastic bowl and into the punch bowl. Hmmm. It was like strawberry jello. Seriously. I guess because it didn't freeze it just congealed. Gross, it looked like someone cut an artery in my sink. I thought, "Well, I have 2 liters of 7Up and we can have pink lemonade, water, and coffee." My cousin Bonnie came and took a look at the situation. We both agreed it was not servable. Such a waste. But, she coached me to use a 7Up, a can of pineapple juice (thankfully Chris got an extra one at the store!), and pink lemonade. Ta da! It worked! Whew! That was a close one!

Anyhow, everyone appeared to have a great time. Abi Jean sure did! She's in the midst of teething and her sweet cheeks were as red as could be! But, she didn't let that bother her! She chowed down on her cupcake like a pro! Like mother, like daughter!

Abi Jean was blessed with some great presents! She is loved dearly by so many! We appreciate our family and friends that have been a part of Abi Jean's life this past year. She is a true joy!