home about speaking she cares resources contact

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recipes


The long awaited, much anticipated traditional Christmas fare in our home.

I buy prime rib. My good friend, Kyle, taught me to wait patiently until it goes on sale. I haven't even purchased it yet this year because I've been so busy. But I am not worried. Oh no, I am not. Someone always has it at a good price the week of Christmas. Kyle, do you know who?

I usually buy around 8 pounds. We like leftovers. Andrew has requested that I buy 10 this year. Our kids like to eat! Even tonsiless Palmer. He had his tonsils out this morning and just fell asleep crying for a hotdog!

Anyway, I have had better luck with larger cuts of meat anyway. Place the bone side down in a roasting pan. I rub garlic, Lowrey's seasoning salt and pepper on the outside and melt some butter (Hey, it's Christmas!) to pour over the top. About a half a stick or so. I honestly have no recipe for this. I wing it.

Then I cook it. At the start at 450 for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and cook 20 minutes per pound. I insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part until it registers 128-130. Let it stand 20 minutes before carving.

Serve with a mixture of half sour cream and half horseradish.

Sides are my own variation of Greek potatoes. I cut potatoes in eighths. Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Sprinkle season salt, garlic, lemon pepper and oregano. Add a dash of olive oil and some more butter. Yum!! Bake covered for an hour and uncovered until browned. Supposed to be baked at 400 but I have to bake in the same oven as meat.

We serve green beans, salad and rolls on the side as well. I usually buy Rhodes rolls. You get them in the frozen section. They have to rise. They taste just like homemade and are so easy!

I've cooked this on New Year's when we've been gone for Christmas. We all look forward to this meal every year. It's so good. You just have to have the meat thermometer. Don't be scared like I was to cook a huge and expensive cut of meat...just follow the directions and you'll be okay, I promise!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Relationships

You may have noticed that I've been rather silent here lately. I'll just be honest. This year being festive has been one more commitment. One more thing to mark off the list. I really hate that but it seems our daily life is so busy that trying to put up a tree and plan for a holiday in the midst of that has been almost too much at times.

We've battled sickness. We've traveled from Houston to Dallas. We're having our tonsils removed tomorrow of all days! It's been a busy year!

As of Friday night, our tree is decorated, our lights are glowing and some presents are neatly tucked into hiding. I haven't shopped for that famous traditional prime rib dinner that I brag about each year...but I will and I promise to post my recipes soon. Before Christmas and very soon!!!

The sadness and overwhelming feeling that I was "missing" Christmas this year lingered around me. Until...It snowed!

IT SNOWED in College Station, Texas. Snowed for hours. Covering our southernness in beautiful whiteness.

Something about the calmness and tranquility of falling snow and something about the excitement and energy it brings about in children is well...Christmassy.
With the falling of snowflakes Christmas carols started jingling in my heart and visions of sugar plums began dancing in my head.

As our family was having a snowball fight, enjoying the fleeting fluffy miracle, I was reminded that Christmas is all about relationships. As we honor one another by spending time together we celebrate.

Christmas is about the one relationship that made it all possible. So this Christmas season I'm praying you all find the time to rejoice in relationships especially your relationship with the One we worship.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving














Friday, November 21, 2008

Being Known


Ephesians 5:1

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Have you ever asked yourself who you really are? Is the me people see the same me that I know?

Recently I have begun asking myself these questions. Is the me "in the flesh" the same person I am in my heart? Do all my actions and words reflect my innermost attitudes and beliefs? Do the values my life puts forth match the values held in my heart? if they don't, then why?

Often times, we get hurt by others because we've been misunderstood. Someone gets to know us and says we're nothing like they thought.

I want those around me to get a true picture of who I am, what I believe and the freedom Christ has brought into my life. If they don't, my flesh is in control of my life. Not my heart. That would mean my flesh is not free. I want my flesh to experience the freedom, Christ came to give.

Galatians 5:17 says, "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the spirit and the spirit desires what is contrary to the sinful nature." They are in conflict with teach other so that you do not do what you want.

I want to be a person whose outward life reflects her inner self. I want my heart to be expressed. I want to be known.

In order for that to happen I must battle the flesh and its desires on every level. I must continue in this good fight and never give up until that day when I know and ma fully known.

I want my actions and life to fully reflect my heart. 1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tex-Mex Madness


I am posting this in honor of the new recipe I tried last night. It was so yum. My whole family ate seconds. We ate the whole 9X13 pan of this last night. You should try it. So easy and so yum!

Mexican Lasagna
1 ½ lbs. Ground beef
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 large tomato sauce
1 pkg. Taco seasoning
1 pint sour cream
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
10 tortillias cut in strips

Preheat oven to 325. Cook meat. Drain. Add Ro-Tel, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Simmer for 10 minutes. In 9X13 pan layer as follows, tortillia strips, meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers as desired. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Let stand until firm.


Here are a couple other of dishes to add to your family fiesta.


Yia Yia’s Tortilla Soup
Sauté together chopped onion and two crushed garlic cloves in a Dutch oven or soup pot.

Add:
4 oz. can undrained Chiles
1 (14 oz.) can beef broth
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth (can use broth from cooking chicken)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can diced Rotel tomatoes
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Chili powder

Cook 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes add 3 cups grated or chopped Velveeta cheese and 6 corn tortillas cut into strips.

Serve with sour cream, corn chips, grated cheddar cheese and avocado.

Makes 8 servings.

Weight Watcher’s Taco Soup
1½ lb. Ground beef
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can chopped green Chiles
1 envelope Ranch dressing mix
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 small onion
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can kidney beans
1½-cup water

Brown meat with chopped onion. Add all other ingredients. Do not drain the vegetables. Heat thoroughly and it’s ready to eat. Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese and corn chips.

Makes 10 servings.

King Ranch Chicken
Place one layer of corn tortillias on bottom of 9X13. Mix 1 can Ro-Tel, 1 can cream of chicken, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 teaspoon garlic chili powder, and 1 cup baked chicken pieces and spread over top of tortillias. Cover top with grated cheddar mix. Bake ½ hour at 350.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Being Heard

This is the latest edition of my Prodigal Series.


I want to be heard. It's a very big, very real need that I have. Just let me say my piece and I'm just fine. Thank you very much!

I often have the need to vent my frustrations. I fill up to the brim and then spew out my venom on those closest to me. My husband and closest friends can sure get an earful.

Very humbly I am coming to realize that venting and spewing are not my rights. They are wrongs. When I spread my anger and frustrations all around it is inconsiderate sin. If I get all I need for each day from the Lord by sitting in His presence and allowing Him to fill my cup with thanksgiving and praise I will be less prone to spewing. If I only allow encouraging words to come out of my mouth, there is no venting allowed.

Each choice made is motivated by an attitude of the heart. God is much more interested in the posture of my heart than the justification of my actions. The Message says this, "When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'

"But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants..."

When the prodigal comes home the father doesn't even listen to his speech justifying his homecoming or his begging for forgiveness. Instead the father interrupts and says, "Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!"
So stop justifying and start the journey to the father today. He's waiting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So You Say...


Today is my birthday.

I am counting blessings for they far outnumber the years.

I am forgetting where I was and enjoying where I am.

I am loving today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

I am celebrating all I have been given not dreaming about what I have not.

I am loving my family, friends and God today!

Today is my birthday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Forgiven & Livin'


This is the latest installment in my Prodigal Series.

How often have I said, "I just want her to say she's sorry!?" When someone has hurt me, I want acknowledgement. I want her to know she's hurt my feelings and show remorse. I want my feelings to be known and understood. That's all.

It's not asking that much, really. Or is it?

After this admission, the reconciliation will be complete. I will be free to forgive. My feelings will be satisfied. The friendship can go on in an only slightly interrupted way.
If I'm to be more like the father, I'm not only not looking for an "I'm sorry" speech, I'm not even listening when it's coming. I'm way too busy celebrating!

The Message says this, "When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'
"But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants...And they began to have a wonderful time. "

So stop looking for that apology that may or may not come. Stop waiting for that friend to love you and instead love them, forgive them, accept them, bless them. Look toward their heart. Reconciliation is worth it.

The celebration is so much fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bags and Baggage


The bags of which I speak are under my eyes from lack of sleep. I've been catching up with old friends since Tuesday and the pace is grueling but I love it! I've slept through my alarm twice and my house is in piles but the facebook pictures keep coming.

Our youth group is now planning a reunion. My thoughts are filled with...baggage. Seriously as the adrenaline rush of friending all 140 of these people began to fade, my first thought was, "I hope no one sees my car."

The teenage angst, social awkwardness and overwhelming insecurity lies just beneath the surface of my life. My face even broke out this week. No lie. I really thought I had matured.

Maybe in some ways I have. I plan on actually going to the reunion. The shame and shortcoming that would have once kept me away has now given way to love and longing for those who greatly and deeply influenced me for Christ so many years ago.

Unless I lose ten pounds, I may not be going in clothes...See what I mean? Boy, the shallow part of me is buried in a grave to match ready to be unearthed at the ding of my facebook account updating.

Get ready, faithful readers, I'm unpacking my twenty-something-year-old baggage.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I did it!


I joined facebook and I now have a problem. A habit. An addiction.

Call it what you will. I can't log off this thing. I leapt out of bed at 4:30 this morning to check out my new/old friends. In twenty-four hours I have reconnected with over sixty friends that I haven't talked to in fifteen or twenty years. Most from youth group so we were close. They made my life feel like I was part of my own "brat pack" and my life seem like an episode of 90210, big hair style.

The best/worst part is I get it on my phone. ugh! So you know what that means...laundry piled up, kids pulled out ten million legos among other toys, water was spilled and I laughed until I cried over shoulder pads, huge sweatshirts, mullets, MC Hammer pants and perms.

I also cried tears of joy over the possibility of seeing people that I L.O.V.E. that I thought were lost from my life forever. It's nice to know they miss me too and are just as ready to reconnect!
Long live The Heights!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Going Too Far

Before today's regularly scheduled post...go vote if you haven't already. That's all I will say about the awesome privilege we have as Americans. Don't take your freedom lightly. Exercise it by voting today...Be heard!


The third in my Prodigal Series.

"So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off...he ran to his son." Luke 15:20

The question I am asking myself as I read this is, "How far is too far?" In a relationship where there have been hurt feelings, misunderstandings, rebellion, resentment, abandonment and rejection, how far is a long way off? I have studied this, read commentaries, different translations, pondered it, meditated on it and prayed about it. The conclusion I've come to is no distance is too far to mend a relationship.

This is what God showed me on this journey of becoming more like the father.

Friends, we all have them. But the friends I'm talking about are the soul sisters, the ones who get you and even more specifically, the ones who used to be BFF's to you and for some reason a space crept into the closeness. Secrets told, betrayals, bad decisions, sin, jealousy, you know the friendships I mean.

Then you see a mutual friend, "So and so misses you," she says casually. A long way off...

I've begun to use these opportunities to patch old friendships. God is all about redemption and healing. He wants to mend your broken friendships.

"Oh, I could never trust her again after what she did to me. She'd have to earn it back," you say. The world says trust is earned. God says trust like this is a choice.

"I don't want to be around anyone who treats me like that," you say. The world says we don't have to forgive. God says love covers a multitude of sins and keeps no record of wrongs.

"I just can't be around anyone who doesn't believe in me," you say. The world says, "You go, girl." God says don't be dependant on anyone's approval but his.

Make a hard choice. Go find someone who's a long way off and run to them. Go too far for someone you love today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What are ya'll doing tonight?



Come on out to the Keller Williams Second Annual Trunk or Treat


5:30-7:30 in the Crystal Park Plaza Parking Lot (Emerald Parkway and Hwy 6)


We'd love to see you. Call or email me for details.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Waking Up

A final thought on endurance. Waking up, no matter how early, is so much sweeter when you train your mind. I've trained mine to automatically think, "Today is an awesome day. I can't wait to get up and take advantage of every single opportunity God has prepared in advance for me to do good." (Ephesians 2:10)
I learned the wake up thought from Chad Goldwasser, a real estate mentor.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Have a good one!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wide Margins

Third in the endurance series.

Romans 8:6 & 10 "The mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. Your spirit is alive because of righteousness."

I have mentioned creating wide margins in my life to reduce stress. I have adopted this practice lots of places. From giving myself twenty extra minutes on top of what I think I need from soccer games to grocery shopping to aerobics class this is an effective practice.
The only place it has been difficult to achieve a margin is in the mornings. Quite simply, I.am.tired.

I used to get up in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. I could read, pray and clean uninterrupted. It was awesome. I was pregnant. I had babies. I was up at all hours of the night anyway. Then my kids started school. Between dinner and homework I was exhausted. No matter how early I tried to get up, I couldn't.

Literally, could not. I would sleep through my alarm or get up for a few days and then get sick. I could not do without my sleep.

I've read about many successful people lately. From businessmen to inventors to the lady who lost over 200 pounds without surgery, they all had one thing in common. They got up early. By early I don't mean 6 AM. They all got up in the fours. By 4:30 AM, all these high achieving people are awake and reaching for their goals.

When I came to college at Texas A&M, this was a goal of mine. A personal goal. To wake up at 4:00 each morning and begin my day. Back then I reasoned this would give me plenty of study time so I could maintain my active social schedule. Needless to say, a motive like this is less than pure. Ummm, never quite panned out that way.

As a young mother my goal was to rise at four to have my whole house cleaned before going to the gym each morning, have breakfast sizzling by seven and my whole day to do other things...not housecleaning! It never quite happened this way, to say the least. My priorities were a little whack!

I leaned back on the fact that I must be a night owl and hated the heart pounding rush of the morning at any hour. I learned to make time for a decent quiet time. I learned to pick up and check off the list at night. I found time for deeper Bible study in the afternoons when my kids were napping. Until this year. There.is.no.time.

There are no naps. There is always homework, always baths, always hungry people, always a practice, always a game, always a need. There is never time.

That night several weeks ago as I was driving to football practice, I felt the Lord calling me. Telling me to endure. I pushed myself that evening. I went to bed earlier. The list wasn't checked off and the house wasn't picked up. But the next morning I woke up, early. I woke up, refreshed. I felt great. I had an awesome quiet time. My heart was not pounding. I had time. I had found the time I had been crying out for.

I now get up consistently between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning. I am not tired. In fact, I am energized. This is a miracle. A MIRACLE!

I am experiencing peace in every area of my life. I am experiencing freedom that comes as a result of struggling with the frustration that God allows to grow us. Romans 6-8 says our fleshly bodies can be subdued by our spirit man. God in us can reign over our flesh. For me, I believe God showed me this means I can be healthy on less sleep in order to serve Him better. Would you praise Him with me today for this freedom?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fireproof


We saw the movie this weekend. Finally. It is a great drama. A real tear-jerker! The situations could truly happen to anyone and so many can identify with the characters in the movie...all of them.

Although, I feel our marriage is so strong right now and we did reach a point two or three years ago where we just looked at each other and said, "We get this," I found myself really feeling these characters in the movie.

Their feelings, the words they said, the pain in their faces all touched me on a very deep level. I loved how the movie made it so clear that a good marriage doesn't change those emotions. God does. I liked how people's shortcomings were made clear and the distance was only spanned by God's love. I especially loved the main character's relationship with his dad. Special.

I think the world needs more reminders of the fact that marriages are worth the work, worth the determination, worth the choice.

It's a must see and I can't wait to get the book, The Love Dare.

Go see Fireproof.

Monday, October 27, 2008

And on the Eighth Day...


She posted on her blog.


After seven days of errr, rest, I am back in action. Ya'll can pray for me. I was going strong, had this fleshly thing beat. I could get up early, meet with the Lord, have a great day with an awesome attitude and finish strong.


Then, I woke up with a migraine and vertigo. Two days on my back with my head on a stack of pillows. Lord, what are you trying to teach me?!?


I think it's how to make the flesh subject to the Spirit in the realm of illness. At least, some illness. Do I think all sickness is the result of sin in our hearts? No, some is the result of living in a fallen world. But, yes, some is the result of impure hearts and motives before the Lord.


And, that's the disease I want out of my heart and body!!! So, hold on raging hormones, nauseating headaches and debilitating dizziness, this gal's getting up early to meet with her Lord and you can't stop her. nanananabooboo!!


I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Endurance


This is my second post on redeeming time in my life. Click here to get up to speed.

"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Romans 8:20-21)

With four children, life can be rather trying at times. Actually with laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework, carpool, playdates and practices it can be downright exhausting.

I can work steadily in the house all day long and still have dustbunnies, unfolded laundry and only a semi-healthy plan for dinner. Add a few real estate deals, PTO, grocery shopping and weekly Bible studies on top of this and you've got a recipe for major frustration.

This year I've been very frustrated with my schedule. I prayed and prayed about it. Loaded it the way I felt God calling and have felt frustrated ever since. Since spending many weeks meditating on Romans 6, 7 and 8, I have learned to embrace frustration as a way to become mature in my faith. That is, when I'm at the end of myself, I ask God to impart more of himself to me.

Let me explain how this played out in my daily life.

I have to write everything down on my calendar. I'm not neat and color coded with pretty pastel highlighters. I scribble one thing on top of another scratching out as I go, accommodating a crazy schedule and wanting to do more than I should as one person. Andrew recently started reading my calendar each evening for entertainment. It is that.

Seriously, it says stuff like 6-6:45 AM take shower. I timeblock everything from getting dressed and going to the gym to folding laundry and making phone calls. It works.

I have discovered that one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and frustration is to give myself a wide margin. I schedule at least twenty minutes to transition from one activity to another. I write down meetings thirty minutes before they start and add traveling time to each calendar entry.

Because I have been going tirelessly from the time I get up in the mornings until the time I go to bed at night, I have begun to realize this margin should include getting up in the mornings and how I schedule my time with the Lord each morning.

Ooooh. I am not a "morning person." I like to sleep a little later than 6:00 AM. As a matter of fact, I think 7:30 is a great time to get up in the morning. However, that is just not a reality. I have been getting up at 6 or 6:30 regularly. When school started, I began rising at 5:40 each day. My heart would immediately start racing as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. Yuck. I hate that feeling. Even when I've just gotten out of bed I already feel defeated.

Starting my morning with ten deep, relaxing breaths is not my idea of a great day!

I still needed more time. Time to sit in God's presence. Extended time to read and study the Bible. Time to spend in contemplative prayer. More time. But when? How? I began crying out to God on an even greater level. My friends who walk with me know how long I've asking God for more time.

My natural tendency is to stay up later. By 6:30 PM these days it's all I can do to get dinner on and off the table, baths, homework, bedtime prayers, etc. There is nothing left.

A few weeks ago as I was driving to football practice declaring a hiatus on Miley Cyrus for the next twelve hours, I had a thought. Somewhere in the middle of running a race the runner gets tired. Too tired to turn back, he's come too far. Too tired to speed up for the ending's not yet in sight. But by enduring another mile, another leg of the race, another minute of pain, a new level of endurance is reached. By pushing through the threshold, the runner challenges himself by pushing the limit thus forming a new limit. Endurance.

This is key for victorious living.

Endurance.

Tired and thinking I couldn't go on yet knowing I had to finish my day well. This is the current marathon. Pushing through the evening hour to rest would give me the endurance I'd been crying out for. With a new level of endurance would come the runner's high I'd been craving.

Energy.

Focus.

Ability to get things done.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
Stay tuned to find out how endurance and time look in my life today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 4-1-1


Any girlfriend who reads this blog is invited to join my Friday night Bible study. This is a time of living room ministry, coffee fellowship and deep relationship.

We are meeting on the first and third Friday nights from 8:00-10:30. We are studying No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. Beth Moore led it this summer online and we will be using her teachings from the archives.

If you're interested in living life with us in a laidback, casual but intentional way, email me lisa@andrewsmithteam.com or call me. I'll give the address and password...just kidding. I'll just give you the address. Even if you'd like to start and can't come tomorrow (Friday, October 17), we'd love to get you caught up, get you a book and see you next time. We will be doing lesson one for next time so you wouldn't even be lost!

You just call me, girlfriend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"October 15"


Today is the National Day for Pregnancy and Infant Loss. As I read this on Angie's blog, I was inspired to post something I wrote after I lost my second baby to miscarriage.

"Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13 Good News Translation)


The Loss

In the stillness
You are there
Loving Your child
Showing You care

In the darkness
You are the Light
Holding me close
Piercing the night

In the crying
You are there
Saying my name
Wiping each tear

In the sadness
You guide me each day
Holding my hand
Leading the way

In the confusion
You shine clear
Lifting me up
Calming my fear

In the questions
You exchange joy for pain
Releasing Your grace
Cleansing my stain

In the weakness
You are strong
Surrounding my pain
Singing my song

In the silence
You bring trust
Strength to move forward
Each day I must

In the heartache
You comfort my soul
Healing my heart
Making me whole

In the sorrow
You show Your heart
Making mine whole
Where it fell apart

In the solitude
You bring peace
Come by Your Spirit
Emotions release

In Your presence
You make me whole
You restore
What the enemy stole

In Your glory
You will show
Why we must suffer
To be made whole

In Your arms
My pain will flee
I will rejoice
Completely set free

In Your time
You'll come for me
Standing in radiance
With my baby
Along with Angie and the other ladies on Bring the Rain, if you leave a comment here I will pray for you today. You are not alone in your grief.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Feeling


For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)
Frustration.

This feeling has dominated most of my married life. With the changing seasons of life, the systems that once worked for home and time management became ineffective. Once I began serving my family (a very full-time 24-hour job), I could never quite find the time.

Time to play soccer, read a book, bake cookies, have a long conversation, complete chores, make a scrapbook, and most recently have an extended time with God regularly. No matter how much I got done in a day or how early I got up in the morning, I still had a million things on my list come bedtime.

Sound familiar?

Oh, I've had some great stretches over the years. Things have run smoothly for days, weeks, months and even years. But then something out of the ordinary occurs and I find myself spiraling out of control, out of time and frustrated once again. Over the years, pregnancy, sickness and increased responsibility have always edged out the routine cushioned within the constraints of my calender.

I've also come to learn that this uneasiness in my spirit is always indicative of sin in my heart.

Many years ago, I began to cry out to the Lord to redeem time in my life. As I began to do this he slowly began to loosen my tight ten-fingered grip on my own schedule.

The first thing he taught me was to consult him and honor him with my scheduled activities. For me, this meant taking my children out of a Mother's Day Out/Preschool program. A program I loved. I obeyed. I cried. I got tremendously blessed in return. Now I don't commit our family or the kids to anything I haven't prayed about first.

God has taught me to rely on him before anyone else. I went without a land line, cell phone (I actually went without 5 of them because I kept breaking them) or email for awhile. A long while. I learned to not pick up the phone and to remain busy at home. I learned not to indulge in idle chatter and waste time this way. I learned how to be connected to my girlfriends but not spend the day talking their ears off!

I used to only watch TV when I was folding clothes, a reward for unenjoyable work then the writers went on strike. I found I could go for long stretches without any TV at all. Freedom.

When I was in college I taught aerobics. I was used to spending hours a day at the gym. When the kids were younger, I would spend an hour or two each day exercising with friends. I've had to trim down my time spend there to 30 minutes to an hour four days a week.

I quit reading any book but the Bible.

My house doesn't sparkle like my standards do. It does meet my husband's standards.

My grip is loosened. My calendar has less cushion. I still had no time.

Then I stumbled on this verse in Romans 8.

God was actually allowing me to struggle with frustration so that I would long for more of him. So that I would need him more and become mature in him with a character more like his. Instead of fighting the frustration, I began to embrace it. If embracing frustration was the key to freedom from feeling frustrated all the time, then I would sing and dance every time I felt frustrated and overwhelmed. I was crying out to God to bring the freedom!

Stay tuned to see where this led me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Picture Day!


That's right. Today was the day for school pictures at our local elementary school.

My prayer on the way to school was, "Twenty-Five minutes, Lord. Twenty-five minutes."

Twenty-five minutes of stain-free, tear-free, buttons up and cowlicks down. Straight collars and crooked smiles needed for just twenty-five minutes. That's it.

I rejoiced when I learned pictures would begin at 8:10, just twenty-five minutes from the minute we left our house.

8:10 is before lunch when professional Gatorade drinkers have learned how to best maximize red moustaches. It's before recess when master sandbox players have asked to go get water and made mud stains on their t-shirts. It's before P.E. when those future pro athletes have sweated their hair into looking like it's full of static cling. 8:10. Please Lord, just twenty-five minutes.

Why am I a freakishly neurotic controlling monster when it comes to school pictures? Two small reasons.

Number one, I have to pre-pay an exorbitant price to capture said moment and to support the school. Number two, I'm just not always sure what I'm getting. Let me explain.

When I was a kid my school pictures chronicled way more than I ever want to remember. Kindergarten sports my first perm. Not a success. First grade looks like a mug shot with a boy haircut (to fix unsuccessful perm) and white under shirt. Second grade looks like I fixed my own hair. Third grade my eyes are closed. You get the picture.

My children's school pictures would be different. Beautiful. Picturing them in ways they would want to remember themselves and show off to their future spouses and children would be well worth the effort. I would get them up early, curl their hair, coordinate their clothes. Heck, I would even pay $20 extra if that's what it would take to airbrush their imperfections.

So, Julia gets up early. She wears that special shirt from Gymboree. I con her into wearing the big coordinating bow. The compromise. Jeans that were too short and her beloved purple boots. Not just any purple boots. These purple boots are shiny with sparkly flowers and they light up when she walks. They were some boots!

But the glory of the situation was that they were boots. Boots never show in school pictures. Just the face. Hair ranks at the top of the importance list for school pictures.

Imagine my shock and utter amazement when Julia's school pictures came in and she was sitting atop a haystack. Complete with high-water jeans and big purple boots. Remember these weren't vintage-western lavender boots. They were bright, patent, purple, prissy-baby-astronaut-of-the-future boots. And they were right on top of a red bandanna laying on that haystack, in front of that antique wagon wheel.

Needless to say, I've learned to support the school with school picture money and forego the $20 airbrushing add-on.

These are last year's pictures...Just before we buzzed Palmer's hair. All things considered, I think they were largely successful. As for this year's pictures, I'll let ya know.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Posing


I feel like a total poser.

You know, someone who's just not, well, authentic.

I am getting to know all these awesome bloggy people. It's so fun. Really cool how God can use the web to encourage me, connect me and teach me. No, it doesn't take the place of real life but it is pretty spectacular.

Anyway, those who know me in real life know my crazy, forgetful, unfocused and just plain nasty habits. Putting these bad habits in all their badness for the world to see is just a little unnerving to say the least. So, I tend to conquer the yucky and post about the victory. I look amazing. I have it all together. I'm a total poser!

I have a huge mound of laundry on my living room chair. It's laundry from the entire week actually. I rarely make my kids eat breakfast. I use hundreds of dollars in gas running them around in the afternoons and I'd rather pay full price at Kroger and never wait in line instead of cutting grocery bills by thousands over my lifetime by frequenting Super Wal Mart. And, when I hit my head putting groceries in the back of the Suburban...sometimes I cuss.

Shameful, I know but so, so true.

I am a human person. I hate the nasty habits but yet just when I kick one, another rears its ugly head.

Here's another truth.

I still secretly long to be popular.

Yes, I crave the day I have the homecoming queen or the quarterback in my Suburban and sleeping under my roof. I want to be the cool mom. Own the house where everyone hangs out after school.

Mad Libs. That's what $100 at the school book fair buys you. Lots of Mad Libs and Girlfriends books and scrapbooks and diaries.

The questions were fairly easy. Julia chronicled their answers. World-famous violinist or groovy, unknown guitarist? Easy. Guitar.

One day with President of United States or one hour with the Paparazzi? Easy, somewhat shameful but easy, paparazzi.

Flip flops or high heels? High heels.

Clothes or hair? Clothes.

Then the moment of truth.

Would you rather be liked by everyone but never popular or only accepted by the in crowd?

Everything in my head screamed, "Popular! Popular! Popular! In.crowd.No.Question."

You see, growing up, I almost ruined my whole life in my quest to be popular. Part of the "right" crowd. Accepted. Liked. Famous. The kid to be.

Now, as an adult I know that the whole question is ludicrous. The very idea of being popular is that you would be liked by everyone.

I also know that Jesus is all things to all people. Everyone. Every crowd.

I also know that the heart is deceptive and that the true me, the new creation in Christ, wants what God would want for me. The very idea of the in crowd is repulsive to my Lord.

Because this is what the "spirit" me says even though the "flesh" me doesn't feel it. It remains truth.

Therefore, I gave the correct answer.

Good parental reasoning, huh?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This Year's Drive

"Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 11:19

We are currently using this book during our before school devotional time. It is a book published by Child Evangelism Fellowship and has a verse of the week followed by a one page reading with a couple of questions about the verse.

My girls alternate sitting in the front seat and the gal in the front seat gets to read this out loud on our trip to school. We take turns answering the questions and then we pray using the prayer tip for the day.

Last year I prepared a week's worth of verses and devotionals at a time for my kids. They were very specialized for us. If we needed work on our attitude, we chose five verses about attitudes and began our weekly carpool. I loved doing this! I loved preparing for it. I loved praying about which verses and I loved how God gave me just the right things to say and verses to use.

This year is a little different. There are three munchkins to get up, feed, dress and load before this can happen. There are three activities we are participating in each week in addition to our regular schedule. And, I'm finding it more difficult to be as prepared as I'd like each morning. So, I am using some material that somebody else wrote. It's good material. We are now studying the attributes of God. We are defining big words like sovereign and omniscient. We are talking about being holy and sinning and why we really need Jesus. Knowing God's character is awesome. Knowing our need for salvation is crucial. It is working and we are spending time in God's Word.

There is one verse for five days. My kids are saying that is boring but they are all learning the verse. So, memorizing and becoming familiar with scripture is always good. Having less to prepare is helping me be consistent even when I am sickish and don't get up as quickly as I'd like. I want my children to know that no matter how busy we are we can always find different ways to stay in God's Word and we always have time to pray no matter where we are or what we are doing. We keep the book in our car so we never forget it. We are without excuse!

What are you doing to get your kids in God's Word each morning? Please share.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

N-I-N-E

The last birthday before double digits. The last year in the first decade. The end of one thing. The beginning of another. The tweens. Countdown to teenager. Ouch!

I remember nine years ago today. I began the day in the same way that I ended the previous night. Laboring to birth a baby.

I had never known such exhaustion. In an instant all that changed. At 6:17 AM sheer exhaustion instantaneously changed to sheer exhilaration as Julia Christian took her first peek at the world outside the womb, uttered her first screams and gulped her first breaths of air.

She was born, she lifted her little head with her bright blue, sparkling and very alert eyes darting around the room and proceeded to nurse vigorously. She is still the most mature, gifted child who can organize a large group of her peers into order in an instant. She is still all about the food. She'll do just about anything for a dollar or a piece of candy. Still.
Until giving birth I had never experienced such high highs and low lows all in the same day, in the same instant even. I have Julia to thank for that. Unbelievable.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair all day and night for days and nights on end silently wondering if she would ever sleep and secretly hoping she wouldn't so I wouldn't have to put her down all at the same time.

She was the most beautiful baby. Really. I couldn't believe someone as wondrous as her could have my DNA.

Just last week I was sitting in the bedroom in a pile of pictures crying. Julia came and sat down with me and asked what was wrong. I told her I was sad because I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember what Baby Julia looked like. I couldn't remember.

I told her they were also happy tears because although I couldn't remember what Baby Julia looked like, I would never forget how Baby Julia made me feel so much love I thought my heart would explode.

Although I can't always remember what Baby Julia looked like or all the awesome milestones Baby Julia accomplished or all the funny, witty things she said or even the way she looked when she smiled and lit up our lives, I will always remember how Baby Julia taught me that I love being a mom. I will always remember that when Baby Julia was born I wasn't disappointed one little bit in how being a mommy really was compared to how I'd dreamed being a mother would be. It just was. The best.

Even though I made my heart promise it would never forget, time has made even those things fade. But the now things are every bit as awesome. Every bit as enjoyable. Every bit as celebrated. The highs are even higher and the lows even lower. Watching the baby become a child and the child become a little girl is incredible. Watching her personality bud and blossom is thrilling. I still stand in amazement that someone so talented, dynamic and influencing contains my DNA.

Happy number nine, JC!

"Thank God for this gift, his gift...My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." 1 Corinthians 9:15 & Ephesians 3:14-19; The Message

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Very Long Week

Scratchy throats and annoying coughs
Body aches and high fevers
Sleepless nights and restless days

Trailer hitches and fender benders
Muted televisions and broken stuff
Over committing and under planning

Soccer practices and football marathons
Surprise rehearsals and understanding teachers
Gymnastics carpool and accidental naps

Intimate friends and deep conversation
Good coffee and old friends
Birthday parties and girlfriend gatherings

Early mornings and late nights
Messy bedrooms and fast food
Loving family and God encounters

All you who fear God, how blessed you are! how happily you walk on his smooth straight road! You worked hard and deserve all you've got coming. Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness! Psalm 28:1-2

Monday, September 22, 2008

Leaving Home

This post is second in my Prodigal Series. Click the link to get caught up.

Why leave home in the first place?

This parable shouts of the father's amazing character. He even treats his slaves with respect meeting their needs in a dignified manner. (Luke 15:17)

The family appears to be well off financially. The sons both have work at their father's house. The father meets both sons' complaints with gentleness, patience, forgiveness, acceptance and love. So, the big question is, "Why leave at all?"

Did the father have unreasonable rules? Did he require the sons to do too much work? Was his business stressful? Did the sons not have the freedom to pursue their own interests? Was the father too controlling?

Obviously the prodigal wanted to experience an indulgent lifestyle he wasn't going to experience at home. He wanted to live lavishly spending money he wasn't earning on things he didn't need. He wanted to answer only to himself.

Maybe the prodigal left for all these reasons. But, maybe he also left because he felt he could never meet all the expectation placed on him. Maybe the plans his father had for him seemed overwhelmingly hard and like something to which he could never live up, a potential he could never meet.

So he left. Feeling sure he could never show the promise the father felt he possessed, he quit listening. Feeling sure he would never be as serious, hardworking, responsible or successful as his older brother, he quit trying. Left to indulge his own desires. He knew how to do that. At that, he would be successful.

And he was. For awhile. And he enjoyed it. For awhile. Then the money ran out, his needs went unmet, and his father's name was left out of the picture. After all, he had already burned that bridge. He had already taken much more than he deserved. So he worked and eked by barely existing. Stooping to the lowest of levels to do the yuckiest of jobs, he worked. Until hope ignited and he remembered who his father is. A man of character, of love. Hope.

We know the end of the story. We know the prodigal returns home, remembers who his father is and all is forgiven. Relationship restored. Status restored.

I have noticed how the enemy of my heart can do this same thing to me. Taunting voices tell me who I'm not, who I'll never be and how I should just quit trying. The enemy takes a truth, twists it until it becomes a lie and speaks it to our hearts over and over again. He speaks it so much and in such a way that we actually start believing it as the truth.

There is truth in the lie, just not in all of it. Take the prodigal son, for instance. The truth is that the plans the father had for the son were lofty and probably difficult to attain. There was no way the son could attain them...On his own. He needed the father's help. He needed to trust the father and believe the father's way was right before he would ever live up to his full potential of managing his father's estate.

Just like me. I can never live out God's promises in my life...On my own. I must trust that his way is the best and wholeheartedly commit to it.

On our own, our callings in Christ will never be successfully carried into our lives.

But, the truth is this:
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

So if you're far from home or just next door, open your ears and hear his call. If you're scared of failure, embrace Him. He's all we have.

And that's the Truth.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Follow the Leader

***Update: It may take a few clicks but it will so be worth it because it will quickly get me over to your blog. I am so far behind on blog reading. And, then when I read from my iphone I feel guilty because I don't comment. So, take the time to follow so I can comment!!!***

Before reading, look to your right. So, have you all seen this new follower gadget/widget (somebody who's techy tell me what it's called)? All you have to do is click twice and your pretty face is added here and I can read your blogs with total ease. So, come on follow me, if you are here and intend to come back make it easy on yourself. We all know Who's leading, right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tic Tac Toe


Three in a row. Three good hair days. In row. In College Station. No humidity. Fifty-eight degrees at night. Eighty-two in the afternoon. Good hair.

I was tempted today to become furious or just simply frustrated at long, long, looong gas lines, empty, crowded and guarded grocery stores and crazy, bumper to bumper traffic all over town. When that crazy lady in that minivan made me back out of the super skinny parking lot into said traffic in my big ole' Suburban, I was able to quickly change my attitude to one of praise as I looked into my rearview mirror. Good hair.

It may be vain. It may be shallow. But a southern gal knows how to praise God for good hair!
Ahhh, the joys of blowing hair dry and actually getting it dry and having it silky and shiny and smooth with no creams, irons or potions.

So even with sketchy cell service, delayed texts, voice and email messages and many other small inconveniences, I am praising God for the little things like lukewarm pizza due to lines of evacuees (who we are ever so thankful to house), availability of gas slowly pumped into lots and lots of cars and low, very low humidity.

Like I said, good hair.

My in-laws called it a miracle straight from Heaven sent by the arms of God. I can only imagine how wonderful it was to wake up cold with no air conditioning in Houston in September. I can also imagine being cold in Houston in September with no hot shower to warm by bones. So, we southern ladies thank God for remembering us.

No humidity.

Good hair.

Gift from God.

Divine intervention in the midst of natural crisis.

We live in the south where the importance of good and poofy hair is passed from mother to daughter. Heck, it oughtta be a subject taught in junior high school. Southern girls are just like that. Tough times don't seem as hard on a good hair day.

We have our priorities straight down here in the south, ya'll. Yes ma'am, we do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Currently

Ike's gone. My mom's back.

We really had no damage at all. We have power. My in-laws don't have power. They were here all day doing laundry, checking emails, buying gas, using hot water and eating hot meals. All things we take for granted on a daily basis. Pray for their area and others suffering right now.

My mom made it home from Africa. Check her blog for details.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Update: Ike


We are now here. At home. Settled. Tied down. Secured for the storm.

Ike is coming. We've, all six of us, been glued to the computer watching footage of waves crashing over the seawall in Galveston. We might give Galveston a hard time because it has trash on the beach, seaweed everywhere you walk on the sand and not as much to do as South Padre, but we love our beloved quick vacation getaway spot. We are praying it is still there after Ike touches.

We've been to Sam's twice and Walmart once. Ironically, it was much easier to find water than beer. Yes, we live in a college town, the beer cases were empty.

We have bread, peanut butter and ice. We filled two ice chests with ice and then bought more because some other lady bought fifteen bags and two seemed rather pitiful in comparison.

We secured our many outdoor things. Half of our picnic tables and chairs fell apart as we tried to move them. Now we just have lots of wood pieces tied up in a pile.

Everything is cancelled from Saturday night church to Sunday night church. Our church is being used as a shelter. I should have known it was serious when they cancelled football...Two practices, pictures and a game. The soccer coach just called. If it's clear Sunday afternoon we're gonna try and squeeze a meeting in so we don't waste precious practice time on Tuesday.

I'm hoping it's clear. We just might be stir crazy by then.

Did I mention the hurricane party we're having?

Day at the Museum



The kids and I recently took a trip to Austin to visit my dad and the Army National Guard Museum at Camp Mabry.

My dad is a retired Colonel from the Army National Guard. I have really wanted to take this trip for a long time. Somehow the thought of my kids staying quietly together at a museum after riding in the car for a couple of hours deterred me from my goal...

Anyway, I think it's so important to teach them their heritage. They have grandfathers and great grandfathers who fought and made sacrifices for their freedom. I want my children to understand the cost of freedom. It doesn't come cheaply or easily.







We had a great day and I hope they learned a little. The museum was so interesting. My favorite was a display of President George W. Bush's military career.


All in all, a little heat and craziness was a small price to pay for the valuable heritage lesson of our family and our nation.

In the wake of September 11, let us remember and never forget the cost of living in the United States.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take a Hike, Ike!

**Please join us in praying for all those affected by evacuations and for those having to leave their homes behind without knowing if they will be able to return. Please pray for God to lessen this storm and for it not to do the damage that is forecasted.**

The hurricane is coming!
The hurricane is coming!

Those are the shouts my children were making as I picked them up from school. My phone had been ringing with people asking about us all afternoon already.

We really don't live near the coast but we do live close enough that our schools, churches and buses are being used to help evacuees.

All morning Andrew and I talked about the "overreaction" of everyone to this forecasted hurricane.

We were supposed to go to Houston for an event tonight and I have plans with my friend Sunny and her daughter tomorrow afternoon, for goodness sakes!

So, this afternoon when school was cancelled, our event was postponed and volunteers were called to work at our church which is being used as a shelter, I started thinking.

If our country had been this prepared for Katrina lives would have been saved. When we are warned by authorities and do not listen, the effects can be serious. I am confessing my nonchalent reaction to cries of officials to prepare for hurricane season. I am sure this means I live like this in other areas of my own life! Yuck! So, we are now committed to taking this seriously.
Even if not one single person takes refuge in our city's shelters, we are ready to help. We will stay off the roads and secure our loose outdoor items. We will serve those displaced. We will wait and we will pray. We are going to be prepared for a huge disaster even if Ike changes course or dies out because "better safe than sorry."

So, in case you're wondering, we are all fine. We get a day off school to help others who may need us. It is sunny, clear and veeeery humid. The calm before the storm is here.

I think our life is similar. Are we prepared for Jesus to come back for us? Have we tied up loose ends? Have we forgiven our brothers? Have we called on His name for salvation?

So, even if the storm never hits or even if it isn't severe, we will be found ready if it does hit. Whether or not my Savior returns today, I will be prepared!

I found a lesson in this calm. Did you?

Matthew 25:1-13
Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Exchanged


I saw a post here that got me thinking.

Jeremiah 2:11-13
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, O heavens,
and shudder with great horror," declares the LORD.
13 "My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

This has always been one of my favorite passages so I decided to spend some time here meditating, pondering, thinking, seeking.

We have exchanged our glory for worthless idols.

Exchanged. Traded. Given in return for.

Glory. Wealth. God's character.

In us. Traded. For trash.

It's like having a beautiful diamond wedding ring and trading it for one from a gumball machine because we believe it looks prettier, sparkles more or that the person who gave it to us actually loves us more than one who would spend a huge savings purchasing a valuable ring for us.

Many times I have exchanged glory for belonging or acceptance by someone other than God.

I know me. Given half a chance, there are many days I'd trade my glory for a pair of shoes.

Glory for a fit of anger.

Glory for "my rights."

In an instant, a poor choice and all my glory is gone. God is not glorified and I wonder why I feel so empty and dry.

In an instant I am no different than the prodigal who got together all he had and squandered it in a foreign land. Only I am so much worse. I do it minute by minute without even realizing what I am doing. We all do.

This is not a new revelation. Romans 1:25 says, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. "

We have the glory of God in us. God. in. us. Yet, we trade it for so much less.

We give it away only to find ourselves standing, thirsty, at empty wells trying desperately to draw water from dust. Empty. Dirty. Exhausted. Fleshly and unglorified. We search for Living Water in the desert and try to drink from cracked pitchers.
Thankfully, his word says all we need to do is repent and draw near to him and his fullness will be revealed in our lives.

Instead of popularity and anger and shoes, I want to see him. When I seek him, I will find him.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

Monday, September 08, 2008

I AM


Give me a revelation
Please show me what to do
When I feel all lost and broken
I always turn to you

When I seek your hand
Please show me your sweet face
As I fall down on my knees
Lift my hands, receive your grace

I wander so far from home
When all I want is you
How do I get so sidetracked
From your all consuming truth

You've been here all along
Revelation before my eyes
Blind to you, I patiently wait
To hear your voice speak from the skies

I think I need direction
I must be walking not quite right
When all I really need is you
Fresh Revelation in my life