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Monday, April 28, 2008

Parrot Heads



Andrew loves Jimmy Buffet. He really is a bonafide parrot head. So when the announcement was made that he would be coming to Houston, Andrew was online the minute ticket sales started. In his true form and with his usual enthusiasm, he purchased eight tickets. When the magic day got here, he still had two tickets left. He wanted to take Alyssa since she loves the music too. I was having second thoughts about letting her go to such an event on a school night until I saw them in parrot loving form.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Eyes


The other day Hunter and Alyssa were mooning each other. I happened to be in the middle of them tending to Palmer. I saw Hunter and in my best non-laughing mother voice said, "Hunter, come here!"

As he proceeded to come he said, "Alyssa was doing it too!"

I replied, "I saw you and asked you to come here."

At which point he said, "I know you saw Alyssa. You have eyes in the back of your head!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Cool Drink


"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." Proverbs 25:25

This picture was taken during spring break. It wasn't a fancy picnic. We didn't even go to the park. The kids wanted a picnic. I just wanted to hang around the house. The car was already a crazy, cluttered mess without all the stuff involved in a picnic/day at the park. Plus it had stormed like absolute crazy the day before and outdoors was a soggy, muddy mess. I convinced them to be happy riding their bikes around our cul-de-sac. I decided to surprise them while they were riding their bikes. Seriously, it was one of the best picnics ever. It doesn't take much. Let me explain.

I've been meditating on this verse for awhile. I love the way it sounds. I love the way it sounds in every single translation of the Bible. The words are pretty to me and they make my heart smile.

This is so true. When I get that unexpected email, pretty card or surprise phone call from a friend I haven't talked with in awhile, I smile. It feels so good to feel loved. It feels so good to know I am on some one's mind. So good.

Isn't this true with our kids also. I have found that mine don't need undivided attention every second of the day. Although I'd love to be able mentally and physically to give them that, it's just not a reality. Sometimes it's the little things that make them feel loved. Just taking a second from the computer, dishes or laundry to look them in the eyes and really listening to what they are saying satisfies them for the moment. I might have a two minute conversation with them listening to their latest accomplishment and telling them how strong and athletic I think they are. I hear them playing together repeating what I've just told them to be true about themselves to their brothers and sisters as I finish my task.

Isn't it like this with the Lord too? As much as I do long for intimate all day long conversation with Jesus, just a word goes a long way. Each time I take time to spend with God, the Holy Spirit whispers to my heart what I already know to be true and I can go about day repeating what he's said, engraving it on my mind and heart.

I'm wired just like my kids, I'm his kid, a word from the Lord, a thoughtful gesture from him carries me a long way. Especially when I need it most.



So remember it doesn't have to take a long time, involve deep conversation or be fancy at all to be a special gift of encouragement to one who may really need it.


"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And then there was J



Last Sunday evening when I got home from my weekend away, Julia was already home and the other children stayed at Gramma's until Monday. It was so fun to get one-on-one time with her. We watched Enchanted, ate hot wings and got her ears pierced. Oh my! I wanted to do something special with her. She was really suprised, excited and very, very brave.



While I was gone, Julia spent the weekend with her Yia Yia and Pop. She attended opening weekend for the Round Rock Express. This is a tradition for her. Since she was two-years-old she has loved going to these games, meeting Spike the mascot and actually sitting and watching the game. Out of all the grandkids, she's the only one who can sit still long enough to finish out nine innings. This is pretty amazing since she rarely sit still in general. I think this year was pretty exciting since she's playing softball herself.



It's been a long season. She's the youngest on the team on top of it being her first year to play. She dreaded every game until...drumroll please. She hit the ball!!! Now she's a pro and can't wait to get back on the field. All it takes is a little success to make life fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Girlfriends


This is part of the group I've talking about. I've known some of these ladies for over fifteen years. I talk to some on a regular basis. I connect with others only on the retreat. Even the ones I don't keep up with regularly, I instantly reconnect with when we get to Calvary. It's really that amazing! Our hearts for the Lord bind us together in such way that we all feel like we've known each other forever. It's a pretty amazing picture of unity that can happen so easily and freely when believers are right before God.

This year was a very special year because my good friend, who I love like a little sister, Bethany danced. As she danced Cindy, her mother, and I wept. She is an incredibly gifted professional dancer who dances for the Lord. But, it was more than seeing her dancing. It was like it was an opportunity to give back to the ladies at Calvary what they have given us. (Yes, I feel like Bethany is mine too.) I know that Cindy feels like the calling on Bethany's life is being lived out because of the intimacy with Jesus that we were introduced to at Calvary so many years ago. I know her mother's heart was bursting with joy and gratitude to God as Bethany was worshipping the Lord with dance last weekend. I know my heart was. As Bethany danced, my heart was also freed of fears that were lurking but never really explained. Because I see Bethany dance, I know God's plans for our life and our children's lives cannot be thwarted. (An issue that was addressed in depth throughout the weekend.)

As I ponder all that we've been through together, I see a beautiful tapestry of life. It is colored with bright celebrations and tinted with shadows of grief. We've walked through graduations, promotions and marriages. We've birthed babies, struggled through infertility and survived horrible divorces. We've raised, released and commissioned children. We've been freed from addictions, healed from deep hurts and embraced higher callings. We've cried together, praised together, laughed together and hurt together. We've shared late nights, long hugs and Kleenex...lots of Kleenex. We've learned from each other's mistakes. We've encouraged each other to advance despite our fears. We've prayed when no one else was praying. We've watched God move in mighty ways through powerful prayers and prophetic releases. We can choose to live with one another as a patchwork quilt, beautiful but sewed together side by side or we can choose to live as a rich, ornate tapestry with our lives woven together in an intricate pattern. These ladies' lives are part of the tapestry of my own.

I just want to take a second and thank God for my girlfriends...girls who love God with their hearts, souls and minds. Girls who will walk the extra mile to be touched by the One only One who can touch our every longing. I love you all and missed every one of you who were absent this year.

"I thank God through Jesus for every one of you...And God...knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don't think I'm not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you." (From Romans 1:8-12 in The Message)

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Carrying Kind




Do you have good friends? The kind of friends who are really there for you, would do anything for you? Do you have friends you can count on?

I have been blessed to have some friends who LOVE me. I mean they believe only the best about me and pour me an extra dose of grace on a daily basis.

My siestahs and I met in college and try to get together at least once a year, preferably for this retreat that I keep talking about.
These lovely ladies know everything about me and yet, they love me. They hear my junk and wade through it with me while holding hands.

When I am too weak to hold my hands up to God, they do it for me. When I am too tired to pack my bags to go on a ladies retreat to receive much needed ministry from the Holy Spirit, they pack my bags, load my car and drive me. These ladies have held my babies and held my Kleenex. I have lived in dorms, apartments and houses with these ladies.

We've been through LOTS together.

Majors.

Singleness.
Careers.
Marriage.
No marriage.

Babies.

No babies.

Infertility.

Divorce.

Uncertainty.

Fear.

Grief.

Hardship.

Joy.

Celebration.

Praise.

Contentment.

Lots.

As I recently studied the story of the paraplegic carried by his friends to meet Jesus in Luke 5, I thought of my gal pals. (I hope you love hearing this story of amazing friendship as much as I do. See post titled "She's Not Heavy...She's My Siestah" from last week.) Do you have friends that carry you to the presence of God? Do you carry your friends into his presence? A good friend is truly a rare treasure.

This man's friends probably heard Jesus was in town, ran to their friend's house, made a extra strong, easy to carry with only minimal blisters stretcher to load their paralyzed friend on and had to probably run or walk as fast as they could to see Jesus.

When they arrived there was such a great crowd, they couldn't get close. They were excited. They were together. They were going to Jesus, the King of Kings, the Great Physician! Hurry!

They couldn't get in the front door because people were pushing. They had to protect their friend.

Love sees with clear eyes and really, what one person's eyes see as impossible, two or three people's eyes see a solution.

The roof!

Nobody was on the roof so they quickly climbed the steps straight up to the roof. They could hear Jesus. His voice was so confident, full of authority and so full of love. Their aching hands and backs suddenly felt better just hearing his voice. They suddenly knew they were doing the right thing by dragging, literally, their friend here to see this man. Who was he?

One friend took his hunting knife and began cutting. As soon as the others saw, they began using their hands to help.

A commotion was beginning to take place inside the house below them. They kept working frantically, excitedly. They were so close. They had to hurry before they were stopped.

As the roof began to cave in and rain down debris on Jesus and his irritated audience, the men began to lower their beloved friend. Slowly. Carefully. Lovingly.

One began to speak. "Jesus, we knew if we could get him close enough to see your face..."

How Jesus must have been touched. Seeing such sacrifice, such unity, such love among friends is rare.

What does Jesus do?

As the friends are holding him with tired, aching arms, raw, blistered hands, stooped, strained backs and expectant, loving hearts, Jesus speaks.

Lungs deflate, hearts race, breaths catch.

Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven."

What?!?

They brought him to be healed. To walk. They had used all their strength on the way there. How would they ever be able to carry him home?

Sins?

Forgiven?

People in the crowd begin to shout.

Insults are hurled.

Again, who is this Jesus?

They came seeking a miracle.

Jesus drew them to their own heart's sinful condition. Yes, they loved their friend. But, they also figured in all their humanness exactly what their crippled friend needed most...That is to walk.

Then slowly the friends began to understand one by one.

They thought their friend's greatest problem was his physical condition.

Jesus showed them it was his attitude about his physical condition. The heart can humble itself before God recognizing who He is no matter what the physical condition.

At those words, the paralyzed man knew who Jesus was. Who Jesus is.

And, Jesus healed him. Immediately he jumped up and began praising God...because he was in His presence, fully healed from the inside out. What a joyful journey home these friends must have had! Their great joy must have fueled the group. I bet there wasn't a sore back in the band of friends.

One of my favorite parts of the the retreats I keep talking about is the journey home. It just flies by as we share what amazing things our God has done healing us from the inside out. We leave each other's presence encouraged beyond measure. We leave with hearts full of priceless treasures amazed again at the goodness of our God.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Toothless Ali


Right before I left town, Alyssa lost her front tooth.
I was really waiting until she lost the other one to post a picture. I love those toothless 6-year-old pictures. I love that silly toothless kid lisp.
I love Alyssa or Ali as she's going by these days. Her most recent nickname is Ali. A regular variation of her name nickname, Ali really could be short for Alyssa.
Gone is Sparky, Zooboomafoo and Jolly; lost forever to grown-up six-year-old maturity or so it seemed. But, just this morning she wrote her name at church...Samuel B. Cookie. (B is for Bunny.) She not only wrote it that way on her bookmark, she insisted on all the teachers calling her that! Her wonderful teachers lovingly obliged. Can you imagine? "Katie, can you say our verse?" "Jacob, your turn." "Ahem, Samuel B. Cookie?"
She still acts like a squirrel at the dinner table and loves speaking like Sylvestor (the toothless cat). In every large family there is always one creative type that sorta brightly colors the picture...Gotta love the Animal Angel and her missing tooth!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pieces of Me

Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far [home] country. Proverbs 25:25

My life is like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are clearly defined in odd, unique shapes. Seemingly at first glance, they don't fit together. But really they fit together perfectly and form a beautiful picture, an original mosaic created by the world's best Artist, The Author of life itself.

Right now, there's no space between the pieces, no room,m no time. They only fit together one specific, rigid way. One piece comes loose and the whole puzzle falls apart.

I've been like a soldier in boot camp, preparing for a purpose worth fighting for, a victorious cause. Training is rigorous. It takes most all hours of the day. There's not much time for anything else at all. As a matter of fact, there are times I downright miss the life I had before boot camp. Because I've gone through boot camp of sorts before I know my life will never be the same. I will become a different person through this process and after awhile my new soldier-lifestyle will be so good I'll no longer miss civilian life.

My life is full of activities and exercises that I will need as part of my new soldier life. Coffee, carpool, softball games, soccer practices, committee meetings, ballet class, Bible studies and real estate...all with a two-year-old firecracker, a husband to help, children to serve, friends to pursue and clients to please are all parts of the picture.

I'd been telling God I couldn't go on like this but he came. He strengthened me, lifted me up and gave me new mercies to complete this season of physical endurance.

I surrendered once again to the Potter's hand knowing the rest of this life pales to forever in eternity. He released me fly, commissioned me to fight and moved me forward in my destiny releasing me to share my story with others on a similar path.

As mountaintop revelation from him is painfully, slowly, awkwardly integrated into my life, my faith will soar, fears will leave and I'll rest by living in a quiet trust.

"From a far off land I summon a person to fulfill my purpose." Isaiah 46:11

Friday, April 18, 2008

Professor Palmer






Professor Palmer Jett, his newly earned nickname due to his infatuation with glasses and his natural posture of pacing with hands clasped behind his back, entertained everyone at the lake this weekend. I was sorry to have missed it. They actually think he doesn't know he's cute...

HELP!!!

I finally updated my template...Like it? Except, I can't view my old one. Well, supposedly, I can. I just don't know how! If I have left your link off, it's because I have to search for it. (This is where you could comment and let me know what it is.) Anyone know how to view the old template? Suggestions would be helpful here. Thanks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

She's Not Heavy...She's My Sistah


I've been talking about this retreat. For over fifteen years a group of friends and I have made an annual pilgrimage to this place. I've only missed one year...last year. It's that good!

The group has varied from year to year but there are a core group of us who have been close friends for years. I tell these girlfriends, "No matter how you have to get me there, get me there!" We've become friends who carry one another to where Jesus is.

I'm thinking this is what the paralyzed man in Luke 5 told his friends. Luke 5:17 tell us Jesus was teaching to a large crowd from many towns "And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick."

Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat. When they couldn't get through the crown they climbed to the roof, removed some tiles and lowered the man down "right in front of Jesus." (v. 19)

Jesus saw their faith, forgave his sins and healed him.

Think about it.

The faith of friends who love you can turn God's ear to your healing!

These guys loved their friend so much they made a stretcher, loaded him on it and carried him. Probably for miles, maybe for hours or days. After carrying him through town after town with sore backs, blistered fingers and bruised shins, they discovered that the crowd was so thick, Jesus might not be able to see their friend. So despite aching arms they climbed to the roof just to get their beloved friend in the presence of the One who could heal him. Wow!

These ladies have saved, borrowed and sacrificed, traveled long distances after long days, given up time with family and weekends year after year all to get right in front of Jesus with me in a place where "the power of the Lord is present to heal the sick."

Luke 5:25 says, "Without a moment's hesitation he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God."

Year after year we all truly pick up what we've been lying on and go home praising God!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

While I Was Gone...

he made it himself: pudding!



Thank you Aunt Tracy and Uncle Matt! The cutest was when I asked Hunter if he had fun with Hazel Claire. He smiled so sweetly and said kind of shyly, "She wuvs me wots!" Thanks for the love, pudding, pancakes and hammocks. You guys are the greatest!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Cup of Tea


Where have I been? I've been here writing in my journal. I've had to escape the clack of the keys, flashing of my sidebar updating and constant announcement that "I've got mail."

I've had a time of returning to the wonderful feel of a pen in my hand, flourishing across a page creating words. Stringing together curly letters to form stories from my heart with my hand.

ahhhhh...

In a place much quieter than standing at the kitchen counter with the laptop I call friend, my heart has needed absolute stillness in the secret place with the One who calls me friend.

Life is moving at a rapid pace filled with so much constraining responsibility. For the last couple of weeks I'd been telling God that I couldn't go on like this. I'd been asking him why he would bless me with so much if I couldn't manage all he'd given me with grace.

One of my daily prayers is that I would be able to drink the cup I've been given with as much faith and grace as Christ did on his lifelong journey to the cross. Remember when he asked God the Father to "Take this cup from me? Yet not my will but thine." I was there. I was almost convinced that I was all wrong for the this job called my life. Needless to say I needed rest. I needed a break. I needed to regain perspective. I needed to rest my body so my soul could see clearly.

This weekend I had the opportunity and privilege to go on a wonderful retreat with a church that the Lord has been using for over fifteen years to grow and encourage me. I found the rest my body and soul were craving. I never leave this place disappointed.

There will be more posts about this weekend coming. Thank you so much to Andrew, Cris and Linda, Dad and Dina and Tracy and Matt for all pitching in so that this worn out mother of four could leave this busy place of life and go. I will be forever in debt to you.

Here was Friday night arriving at a quiet, joyful, sacred place after another crazy, chaotic, tiring day:


When I see you
Just look at you
Tears spring to my eyes.


New hope is born
Life comes to a place
So deep, I don't think
It's ever been alive before now.


As this hope grows
Invading the dark places
Of death and pushing out all fear


Longing is squeezed into nothing.
As my hope is ignited
My dreams take flight.


As you return my gaze
Piercing my stares with your eyes,
Your loving eyes
Embrace me.


Courage returns to a once full
But recently drained cup.
Grace makes the transformation
Quick, painless, easy.


As you take my breath away
With your longing
I lift my hands in praise.


My destiny is fulfilled...
In You