Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Contest Winner!!!!!

Well, I have been absent for a few days, but I'm finally back with the lucky winner of my tongue twister contest!!

Drum roll please.............

And the winner is............

Sonya over at "truth4thejourney". You can read her fine blog by clicking on the link to it in my sidebar. Her tongue twister that tickled the tongue of my little guy was "Six slimy snakes slid slowly southward".

Sonya, just email me and give me your mailing address and I will get the book "I Hate Whining Except When I'm Doing It" by Sheila Rabe out to you ASAP! With six kiddos of your own, you will love this book. It is a myriad of lessons learned at the knees of our kids.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow. I've been working on a series of posts discussing the topic of learning to live a life of simplicity. I think you will enjoy it.

See ya soon!
Love and Blessings,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters can be tremendous amounts of fun. My six-year-old son, Austin, and I have discovered that this week as we have used tongue twisters as part of our homeschool. It is quite humorous to listen to a young child attempt to say the jumbled up words without getting off track. We have laughed at each other many times during this course of study! I have found that moms can’t spill out those tangly tongue twisters much easier than the child can! Twisted words are not easy to say!

Taming the tongue is not an easy task either, but a necessary one none-the-less. The Bible speaks on many occasions about the words that exit our mouths. We are warned repeatedly to take heed when it comes to conversation. Have you ever spouted out something and then stood in disbelief at what you just heard coming from your own mouth? I certainly have. It is not a good feeling to regret the words you have spoken. Self-talk is no different. Sometimes my words hurt me as much as anyone else. We are to speak good things about ourselves to ourselves, even if we don’t feel like it. That is one way we can tame our tongues.

I have quite a sense of humor. Often times, what starts in my mind as a funny thought, makes it’s way through my mouth and ends up not sounding so uplifting upon being born into the world and landing upon the ears of someone else. Not everyone shares my sense of humor thus; I have had foot-in-mouth disease more than one time. Thinking about the outcome before we speak is another way to tame the tongue. How will my words actually come across sounding to the other person?

The bible tells us in Luke 6:45- “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” (NIV) Now I’m not insinuating that just because one may make a conversation blunder that one is evil. In that case, I would certainly be in big trouble! But, what we think is a large part of what eventually flows from our mouths.

Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV)
What are we thinking about? In Romans 12:2, we are told “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

Is it going to uplift another person if we speak it? If it won’t, then it is probably not God’s will that we say it. If no good thing can come from it, just keep it to yourself. Even better, do not even think about it. Ephesians 4:29 is one of my all-time favorite verses. It says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV) Wow! Do my words benefit my family? Am I uplifting my friends when I talk to them, or am I dragging them down spiritually? Those are tough questions. I can honestly say I try hard to be a lifter-upper instead of a bringer-downer, but when things get tough for me, do I complain too much?

Maybe we all need to pray this prayer:
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3 NIV)

Is what I have to say honoring God? “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so; let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2 NIV)

In essence, it all boils down to this: We are to be focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, not the things of this world. By doing that, we can be assured that the words coming from us will be uplifting, loving, and beneficial to everyone who hears our voice.

Everyday, I say this Psalm aloud when I wake up:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV)

Understand, I do mess up almost every day, but at least I am asking God to help me along the way. I believe He hears my petitions and forgives me when I miss the mark. He will do the same for you.

Just for fun, I thought I would share some of the hilarious tongue twisters Austin and I have penned over the last few days.

Baxter bought big beautiful brass bottles at the beach by the bay with his best buddy, Babar.

Tom tossed Teresa’s tooth to the trash Tuesday.

Gwen gave her guitar from the garage to Gilly Gasrrison.

Ancient armies attacked angry apes.

And, last but not least, here is a tongue twister that my oldest son, Chase (now 18) and I made up when he was a little boy:

The lion roared in World War One.

I bet ya can’t say that one ten times fast!

****Today in your comment, leave your favorite tongue twister; better yet, make one up! It’s lots of fun! I will reward the one who makes Austin laugh the loudest with a copy of one of my favorite books: “I Hate Whining Except When I’m Doing It” by Sheila Rabe.

I’m looking forward to reading them!
Have a blessed day in The Lord!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

God In The Chaos....This Is Only A Test

My "motif" around here is finding God in the chaos of life. Well, boy howdy (as my friend Joanne would say!), have I had an abundance of opportunities to "find" Him lately! Testing ground, indeed!

Yep....I found Him when I had a large stack of bills piled up on my kitchen table, staring at me profusely, waiting to be paid. Not enough funds to pay them within our reach, but He came through as always.

I found Him again while lying in the hospital last week for 24 hours, thinking I was having a heart attack. I think I had a mental breakdown lying in that hospital bed Thursday morning. Turns out, it was only stress and anxiety. Imagine that!!

I most assuredly found Him this past weekend at the wonderful women's retreat I helped plan and was privileged to teach for. It was one of THE most AWESOME experiences in my life...EVER!!!
If you were there, Just know that I love you and enjoyed every last minute spent with you.

I found Him again Monday morning when I woke up with a horrendous toothache, no... make that a horrendous throbbing entire face ache and headache... only to find later that I had an abscessed tooth and needed an emergency root canal that afternoon.

I found Him as I laid in bed for 3 days on pain meds and strong antibiotics, looking back over the past couple of weeks and sensing God's hand protecting me through it all.

Today, I am back to normal, well... as close to normal as I ever get (I can hear you snickering Dana, Julie and Tanya!)...and reflecting on what God has accomplished in my life.

Ironically, I taught at the women's retreat on the subject of God's Peace and God's Provision. Isn't that funny? Leading the sessions was as inspiring to me as it was to the women listening to the words spewing from my mouth. That is, of course, because they were the words God had given me; Not words I had randomly selected within my own ability. He even gave me the extra true life examples (that I COULD have done without) to bring the point home.

Thank You Father for Your unfailing grace, Your timely provision, never a minute too late, and your unending love.You gave me peace in the middle of my chaos (after I had my nervous breakdown) in order that I might serve You better. It was only when I tried to figure everything out for myself, that fear overcame me. May I remember Your wonderful works in the future when I am tempted to fall to the wayside, filled with worry and despair.

May you, my friends, remember that He has it all under control. No matter what you are facing, God has great plans for you and He WILL bring them to fruition!! Walk in His peace today. Read His word and take it into your heart of hearts.

I think I passed the test. Because:

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for what I have not seen.

Love and Blessings,

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who Is Watching You?

I was watching Dr. Phil a while ago, and the theme of today's show was people getting caught in unflattering situations that later come back to haunt them. Funny how that was the topic of the day. I ,myself, was caught earlier at the grocery store in a not-so-flattering situation. Allow me to explain.

My six year-old son had been particularly mischievous all day long. He had talked back to me in a negative way several times throughout the day and I had corrected him over and over again. I had just about had it up to my eyeballs, I tell ya. I was on the verge of pulling my hair out between trying to bargain shop and stick to my list in the midst of keeping him still and obedient. It was not a good combination.

Now, I know many of you have an abundance of kids to drag along on your shopping trips, and I only have the one. But, sometimes, just as any child can do, that one can act like an army of 100. Anyway, by the time I had made it to the car, I was at my wit's end.

We were at the type of store where one bags their own groceries. I always wait to do that when I get to my van. It just seems easier that way for me. So, I had the back of the van raised, and I was attempting to bag everything and place it where it would not roll around or get crushed on the ride home. Austin usually takes the buggy back to the storefront for me and takes the quarter out. (That is how they keep the buggies from ending up all over the parking lot.) But not today. No sir. Today, I had instructed him to just get in and buckle up.

Do you think he followed directions? Absolutely not! He knew he was in trouble because of his disobedience inside the store, so he was trying desperately to "help" me get everything situated in the van. I insisted over and over again that the best way he could help me would be to just GET IN HIS SEAT AND BUCKLE UP!!!!!##%%&&***!@@!!

He finally obeyed, and as I finished my task at hand, I sensed someone standing behind me. As I turned around, I saw a very polite looking older gentleman standing there with a quarter in his hand, waiting patiently for my buggy. He smiled and said, "I thought it would help you a little if I took your buggy for you. It seems like you are having a rough day."

I gladly gave him the buggy and thanked him for his kindness and patience.

Smack me down! I never even thought about the fact that someone may have been watching me. I began to wonder how rude I must have appeared to onlookers as I lost my patience with my young son. Granted, most women would totally understand how a mother can get slightly irritated in that situation, but, what about the person who may have been watching me from a distance who had no idea what I had just been through inside the grocery store.

What about the person who may have noticed the fish emblem on the back of my van, not to mention the "fear not" sticker. I obviously was claiming to be a Christian, but was I obviously acting like one? Probably not. I had a bad attitude and I let it show.

What a revelation I had today. How often have I acted rude or self-absorbed, oblivious to the fact that someone was watching me? Probably way more than I care to admit.

Dr. Phil advised the guests on his show today to always be aware at all times of who may be watching you. One of the young ladies he talked to made the statement that she had never claimed to be a role model. She couldn't help it if someone caught her off-guard and photographed her doing something not-so-nice. Well, as Christians, we are role models, like it or not. People are watching. We live in glass houses and we need to be good examples of what Christ can accomplish in a person's life. How else can we win souls for His kingdom?

We have no excuses for acting less than desirable. No matter what, God sees us. He is not waiting up there with a big stick to swat us when we misbehave. Thank goodness. Instead, He is saddened by our wrong actions. That hurts me worse than the big stick would.

I am, above all, an example to my child. He has been placed in my care by God and I am to raise him in a Godly manner. I think I failed to leave him with a good impression earlier today (not to mention the poor man who waited on my buggy.) Even when Austin is testing my patience, I am to remain calm. I am to guide and lead with a loving and stern hand. I am to respond in a God-honoring way. I am to hold onto my peace.

"Be shepherds to God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; ....not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. " (1 Peter 5:2-3 NIV)

Next time I am out in public (or in the privacy of my own home) I will be more aware of who is watching me and attempt to act in a manner that makes God want to smile instead of frown.

Think back through your day. Did you do or say something that could possibly hurt your witness for Christ? Usually if we have soiled our witness, we have hurt another human being in the process; no matter how small a blunder we have made. Don't condemn yourself; God doesn't. Just learn from your mistakes.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1 NIV)

"For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (Psalms 1:6 NIV)

""From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth- He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do." (Psalms 33:13-15 NIV)

" And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you."
(Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV)

Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Celebrating A Life

I have been asked again to do something that I have done many times before, but it never gets accomplished without tears and trembling. I must say it is one of the most difficult challenges ever. It is:

Singing at the funeral of a loved one.

Many times before, I have stood beside my sister, or my husband, or my brother-in-law and struggled to belt out a touching tune for those hurting onlookers in the pews. I always attempt to stare out above their faces. If I look at their expressions, I begin to loose control. I tend to be an overly-emotional person anyway. This particular circumstance just pushes me over the edge.

As I have mentioned so many times before in previous posts, our family is very close. We are tight-knit and loosing one of us is almost unbearable.

This past weekend, as we were heading down the road from Tybee Island after a relaxing day on the beach, I received one of those phone calls that you never want to get.

"I have some bad news", my sister said from the other end of the line.

My heart sank imediately as I feared what she would say next.

It seems that my cousin David's father-in-law had suddenly passed away about thirty minutes earlier. He had been enjoying a nice meal at McDonald's with his wife, Vera, and, Haylie, a precious little girl they keep, when he just collapsed and fell from the booth where they were sitting together.

He never regained consciousness.

I couldn't believe what my sister was telling me. It just didn't seem real.

I began to think of all the special times we had shared together at the beach, family gatherings, Christmas, and backyard bonfires. How could he be gone all of a sudden? It was unfathomable.

I remembered the last time I had seen Bill a couple weeks earlier. I had been with my cousin, Timmy, and his new baby girl, Marissa, trying to help out when Marissa's mother was in the hospital. Bill was sitting at the dining room table while we were all in the living room. As I walked through the dining room to get a bottle ready for Marissa, Bill had said, "I just can't take all the noise. I need to be in here a while where it is quiet."

I laughed and said, "You know how we are around here! Never a quiet minute!!"

He laughed too. He knew I was right.

Later, I rummaged around the room where Bill was sitting trying to find the cat litter. I was going to help out Timmy by changing it for him. One less chore for him, I figured, since he was traveling back and forth from the hospital so much. Bill got up from his seat and helped me search. We laughed again when we finally found it right beside where he had been sitting. If it would have been a snake, it would have bitten us!

I remember that Bill loved to get out in the ocean. Sometimes I would sit and watch him from the shore, a little afraid at how far out he was floating. But, I knew he was enjoying it so much. You could just tell by watching him. He had no fear at all. He seemed perfectly peaceful as he flowed, enveloped by the waves of the sea. He rode along smoothly with each and every rise and fall.

Tomorrow as I stand beside my dear sister once again and sing the words to "Beulah Land", I will look above the faces of those I love so much and think of Bill, sitting at the dining room table in the quiet. I will picture him at peace, riding the waves away from all the noise and standing in the presence of our Lord and Savior. He is now flowing along in the midst of a love like we have never known before. In a way, I envy him.

I'm sure he will have expressions of joy spread over his sweet face as he listens to us sing. Maybe he won't even notice my whimpers as I try to hold back the tears.

We love you, Bill. We will miss you. And, we look forward to the day when we can celebrate being together with you in eternity.
Bill and Vera

I'm kind of homesick for a country

To which I've never been before.

No sad goodbyes will there be spoken

For time won't matter anymore.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.

And some day, on thee I'll stand.

There my home will be eternal.

Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

I'm looking out across the river

Where my faith will end in sight.

There's just a few more days to labor,

Then I will take my heavenly flight.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.

And, some day, on thee I'll stand.

There my home will be eternal.

Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. ( 1 Corinthians 2:9)

I ask that you pray for my sister, Melanie, and I as we sing tomorrow at 2:00 EST. Lift up Vera (Bill's wife), Their daughter Pam and her husband David, their sons, Jason and Mark, and their grandchildren. And all other members of the family as we celebrate the wonderful life of a good man and the blessed privilege we had of him gracing our lives with his presence.

Love and Blessings,


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When God Is In The Room

We have just returned from a trip to Savannah, GA. My husband's family lives there and we went down for a lovely visit.

What fun we had! We, along with our two kids, piled into the van for the long 5 hour drive Friday evening. It is so unusual for our 18 year old son to travel with us anymore, so we thoroughly enjoyed our time together as a family.

Our 6 year old sat in his carseat all the way, listening to his ipod, coloring, and singing slightly out-of-tune while wearing his headphones.

Our 18 year old sat listening to his ipod, no singing (just air guitar and tapping), mostly snoozing, and reading occasionally from his college textbooks.

Hubby and I talked about our future, listened to our favorite cds, and discussed how wonderful it was to have both our boys with us on the trip.

We pulled into my brother-in-law's driveway at exactly 12:10 am. As tired as we were, we stayed up a few more hours talking and laughing. It is good to be with family, talk about old times and catch up on new ones.

The next day we spent exploring the river front in downtown Savannah. On Sunday, we spent the day relaxing and playing at the beach on Tybee Island. Nights were long and enjoyable as we ate and ate, talked and talked, laughed and laughed.

My mother-in-law lives with my husband's brother and his family now. She has suffered many strokes and they kindly took her in to care for her. She is living like a queen, I tell ya! She has her own private area of the house, gets lots of attention and eats well! She walks a mile or two every day and has made new friends in the neighborhood.

She sometimes tends to get her words mixed up when she speaks. She knows EXACTLY what she is trying to say, but we have to decipher it. It's kinda like playing charades. We all spout out different words as we attempt to finish her sentences for her. It is quite comical, really. Even she laughs!

Saturday night, she kept telling us the same story over and over again. It had gotten to the point of being annoying. She just wanted someone to acknowledge what she was saying. We had been, but she was so busy telling us her version, that she never once heard our acknowledgement.

The main point of her story was that "God is in the room." It took about ten times of her saying it and my brother-in-law shouting it back to her before she finally just let it go. It was hilarious! I have never seen my husband laugh so hard in our 30 years together! She joined in our laughter as we all tried desperately to catch our breath from lack of oxygen! Laughter truly is THE best medicine!

And, yes, God was in the room. His presence was felt as we shared life with family that we seldom get to see.

His presence was felt as we explored Savannah with our unusual little group which includes my brother-in-law, his wife, his middle daughter Melissa, his youngest daughter Jamie, now 25, who has downs syndrome, my husband, myself, our 6 year old, our 18 year old, and the one who started it all, my mother-in-law. We joked about how we all need to tie ourselves together with a long rope on these journeys so we would not keep getting lost from each other in shops and when crossing streets!

God's presence was felt as we rode to Tybee Island listening to Jamie sing the touching words to "I Can Only Imagine" and "How Great Is Our God" as the music echoed from the radio. It brought tears to my eyes.

God's presence was felt as my sister-in-law prayed with me about some difficult decisions we are facing just before we left to head back home.

We decided that we needed a tv crew to follow us around and we would probably have the highest rated reality show on television!

We could show the world how it really is when "God Is In The Room" or on the beach, or leading us down the streets of Savannah, or riding with us in the van.

Yes, God was with us as we pulled into our own driveway yesterday evening and saw a newly placed "for sale" sign in our front yard.

And, God will be with us as we face whatever He has in store for our future.

As the saying goes, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future."

God is in the room. I am listening and I am following. I am feeling His peace and thanking Him for a wonderful weekend. I am thanking him for family, health, and a future full of good things.

Do you feel Him, too?

Love and Blessings,