The Life Not My Own

Monday, February 27, 2012

One Thousand Gifts: Seth

Last Monday was President’s Day.  I actually almost forgot.  The schools around here weren’t closed, and neither was the ironworks plant.  Except for not getting any mail, it seemed like business as usual.  Only, it wasn’t.

Late in the day, as I started supper, I suddenly remembered.  It hit me like a brick.  You see, I don’t know if a President’s Day can pass without me thinking of him.  After all, every time we drive through Harrison, on the way to visit my BIL or go up to the Fayetteville area, I see the sign for “SKD Motors” and everything comes back in a surging wave.  Even little things stir up old memories: Great Danes, four wheelers, sand dunes.  But President’s Day especially is when it all comes back in force. 

How long ago is it now?  I can’t even remember.  I know I was fifteen.  Seth was barely sixteen.  We’d grown up together really.  Lived in the same neighborhood, were in the same class in school, even went to the same church.  Our moms went to Bible study together.  Driving through the neighborhood, we’d see his mom frequently, walking their enormous, loping Great Dane.  Over the past several years we’d lost touch.  We’d gone to different schools and even moved churches, but I still saw him from time-to-time, and barely a day went by when we didn’t see his mom walking their dog. 

And then came President’s Day.  For me, it seemed like any other day.  We were homeschooling at the time, and my mom probably made us do a little bit of school before we were released.  We might even have gone to a movie.  Really, though, I don’t remember. 

It wasn’t until the next morning when I opened up the newspaper that that particular President’s Day suddenly became burned in my memory.  There, staring at me, was a picture of smiling Seth…and an obituary.

I soon found out that it had been an ATV accident.  Seth and his family had been camping at the dunes in California for President’s Day weekend.  They were packing up to leave when Seth had asked his dad if he could go for one more run.  One run was all it took.  He collided with a dune buggy or something, suffering severe head injuries.  He’d died in his brother’s arms before the paramedics could even get there. 

I don’t remember every detail of how I reacted, just snippets of emotions.  Death really had never touched my life.  Great-grandmother’s had died when I was little, but I didn’t remember much.  The worst loss I’d experienced up until that point had been our beloved dog.  But suddenly, death was very real and very cold.  And, worse, it had touched someone so young.

I dealt with my grief quietly, privately.  I didn’t even go to Seth’s funeral, too afraid to even face it.  But I cried for him.  And I mourned with a heavy heart. 

Somehow, through it all, I learned that everyone’s life is in God’s hands, and that we don’t know when our time on earth will be done.  All we can do is wholeheartedly work at the tasks God has given us for now.

Seth died knowing our Loving Savior, and I have no doubt where he is today.  Seth’s passing proved to be more influential for Christ than his life, and many of the friend’s we had grown up with turned to Christ because of it.  Even today, I still see Seth’s life at work.  All over my hometown, you’ll see bumper stickers bearing the initials “SKD”.  And people still talk about him.   

Sadly, Seth was not the last of the kids I grew up with to pass young.  Many of them, unfortunately, did not know the Lord as Seth did.  Every time President’s Day comes around, I think of this.  I think of how fleeting life is.  I think of all the people who don’t know Him, and my heart is burdened and renewed to seek and save the lost. 

Lord, may I be as much a testament and an shining light pointing to You in life as Seth was in death.      

251. Knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for my life.
252. For the opportunity to be used of God to bring others to Him.
253. For the people God has placed in my life who don’t know Him, but whom He’s called me to reach.
254. Being able to leave my burdens and grief at the feet of a loving, merciful Savior.
255. For music that speaks and ministers to my heart when I need it most.
256. For good times with good friends.
257. For a sunny, Sunday afternoon drive exploring with my husband.
258. For getting to feel little kicks in my belly for the first time!
259. For all the babies due to arrive this spring, summer, and fall!
260. For a life full of memories and events that God has used to shape my life.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Hop Over!

If you guys get a chance today, don't forget to check out Newlywed's Bliss today!  There are a lot of new blog posts up, and today I share about how I get my hubby to eat healthier without nagging.  Check it out and leave your comments!

Also, if you'd ever like to guest post on there, let me know and I'll get you hooked up with Emily.  We'd love to have you!

How’s Your February?


As I’ve mentioned before, last winter was a bleak one for me.  Not that my life was bleak…I was just severely missing the sun.  Before I knew it, I found myself in a depressive state.  Last February, I was right in the thick of it.  I remember one day in particular when I was waiting for my husband to finish work (where I’d been all day too, cramped in a windowless office that I hated).  The blacksmiths had long since gone home for the day, and I found myself running up and down the plant aisles, frustrated, tired, and with a splitting headache…just trying to feel better.

Thankfully, Spring came and I learned to combat my depression better.  All the same, I dreaded this winter…dreading the same thing happening.  I took precautionary measures, but I still feared slipping into that pit once again.

Now, here I am, with February almost over.  Yes, life is very different for me this year.  I’m no longer stuck in that windowless office all day, we have a house to call our own, and a sweet life grows within me.  To me, this winter has even seemed milder…with more sunny days.  But still, the grey days come.  The gloom makes me teeter on the edge of that precipice…dangerously close to falling in. 

One day last week I was feeling like that.  It had been grey and wet for several days.  That day, in fact, it had been pouring cold rain.  Mid-morning, however, the rain slacked and I took the opportunity to take Sam out for a walk…knowing I needed that time. 

At first, it didn’t seem to help.  I took them camera with me, hoping that capturing some of the beauty of the day would cast aside the gloom.  Instead, I became frustrated.  There were beautiful clouds rolling by, but somehow I couldn’t capture it.  I looked out at the hills, barren, grey, empty, and they became bleaker and bleaker in my eyes.  Lord, I prayed, show me the beauty.  And He did.

To my surprise, it wasn’t in the sky or on a far away hill.  Instead, it was right under my own nose.  You see, as my walking path descends into a valley, large rocks line the sides…rocks I rarely notice.  But today I did.  And on these rocks were beautiful mosses, in all different shades.  Water dripped from them slowly, deliberately, peacefully.

On my way back, I found a little rock with some moss on it.  I picked it up and took it home, guarding it carefully each step.  It now sits in a glass vase in my windowsill.  And each time I see it, I’m reminded of what He showed me: that the beauty in winter, the beauty of February, is found in the little things.  All too often, we miss them altogether

So, how’s my February?  Good, I’d say.  I’m delighting in the little things, like a hot bowl of chili, a good book, and a soft, cozy blanket.  I’m trying not to miss out on any of the antics of my pets, any time spent with my husband, or any excellent blog posts.  On those precious, sunny days, I set everything aside and go outside.  Spring is spreading her first warm fingers, but this year I don’t reach for her as my only hope.  I can’t wait for her to arrive, yes, but right now I’m delighting in the season I’m in.  I’m cherishing the moss on my rock…a gift from the Balm of Gilead.

How’s your February going?  Are the winter blues getting you down?

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baby Goals: The Goods

This pregnancy seems to be just flying by.  I’m already 16 weeks!  I guess we’ve just been so busy I haven’t really had time to sit and think about how far away August is.

But, we’re starting to get cracking on our goals to get done before Baby B makes his/her appearance.  The main one?  All the stuff we’ll need…this is our first baby after all. 

We’re kind of minimalists when it comes to baby goods.  We don’t think babies need tons of flashy toys or gadgets.  But our baby’s got to wear something and sleep somewhere!  So, here are the lists of things we’ll
need and want so far:

-Crib and mattress
-Bedding and blankets
-Rocker or glider
-Car seat
-Clothes and supplies
-Some kind of carrier or Moby Wrap
-A baby gate
-A few bottles and a pump (for the days when I need to be away from our baby briefly)

-Play pen
-Baby bath (this really is almost a need…I’m not comfortable washing our newborn in the kitchen sink!)

Some things we might want but don’t really “have-to-have”:
-Bouncer or walker
-Extra toys (I’m sure we’ll get plenty from friends/family, and we’re not into electronic gadgets)

Besides my sister (who just had twins in November), I’m the first to have a baby in a while, so I’m definitely “feeling in the dark” somewhat.  Any advice would be gladly taken!  What are some of the things you use/don’t use?  What do you recommend for different types of baby car seats, carriers, etc?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hearty (and Money Saving) Chili

Chili has always been one of my favorite winter dishes.  I remember my mom making it for lunch on cold, snowy days.  You could smell the delicious smell wafting throughout the house, making us hardly able to wait to eat it.  And it was so good…so filling and warming. 

We don’t get a lot of snow here where I live now.  But that doesn’t stop me from making some chili.  I take the opportunity on any cold or rainy day to make a batch.  Is there anything better than a warm pot of chili simmering on the stove on a chilly day?

Chili has also become a huge money saver for us.  Beans are cheap…especially when you make them from scratch.  Yes, this takes a lot of time and “baby sitting”, but, believe me, it’s worth it.  If you don’t have 3 hours during the week to watch some beans, make a big batch on the weekend and freeze the leftovers.  Trust me, chili gets better with age. :)

For my chili you will need:
-An assortment of dried beans. I use pinto, black, and red kidney beans.
-Ground beef, sausage, or turkey if you like.  Meat really isn’t necessary though, so you can skip it a save a few dollars!  My meat;loving husband has never noticed when I omitted the meat. 
-Olive oil, butter, or some other oil…you pick
-Cans of tomatoes. You can use whatever kind you want, but I usually use tomato sauce and Rotel.
-Seasonings. I’ll get to that later.  You can use whatever you have on hand!
-Extras.  Anything you want!  Bell peppers, carrots, hot peppers, lentils…the possibilities are endless!

What To Do:

1. First, you want pick out your beans.  Dried beans expand as they soak and cook, so you won’t need as many as you think.  One cup is seriously more than enough for my husband and I to have seconds plus tons of leftovers.  I usually don’t even measure! 


You can use any mix of beans you like or have on hand, but I usually use about 3 parts pinto beans to 1 part black beans and 1 park red kidney beans.  I have a little jar I store my little chili mix and and take out the beans as needed.  Experiment and see what kind of beans you like best!


2. Next, you need to soak your beans.  This is essential to the dried beans cooking and not being crunchy!  The best way is too soak them in water overnight, but I usually forget so you can also “quick soak” them by putting your beans in a pot, covering them with water, and bringing them to a quick boil.  Once they boil, turn off the heat, cover them, and let them soak for an hour.  Now you’re ready for step three!


*Note: Be sure to add something acidic (vinegar, lemon juice, whey) to the water you soak your beans in.  This will help break down the beans and will actually reduce the dreaded side-effect of chili later (ahem, gas).

3. Once your beans have soaked, drain them and rinse them thoroughly (again, this reduces indigestion). 


Then put them back in your pot, cover them with as much water as you can fit in the pan, and bring them to a boil. 

Let them boil for 1-2 hours or until they’re tender.  You can check this by skewering a few with a fork and trying them.  Nobody wants crunchy beans in their chili!  Once your beans are cooked, drain them again. *Note, if you want to add lentils (or another grain) to your chili and save time, add them in with the beans for the last little while they cook.  They’ll already be cooked and mixed in with the beans for later!


4. Now it’s time for the fun part.  Heat about a tablespoon of oil or butter in a big pot on medium-high.  Chop up your onions and mince your garlic and add them to the pot.  You want them to be nice and tender!  Also, add in your ground meat (if you want it) and brown it.  This is also the time to add any extra vegetables you want to sneak in.  I usually chop up red or green bell peppers, and even carrots.  If you have any hot peppers on hand, now would be the time to chop those up and add them as well.  Adding fresh hot peppers really makes a chili delicioso!


5. Once all your veggies are tender and your meat is cooked, add the drained beans into the pot. 


Then add a couple of cans of tomatoes.  I always add at least one can of Rotel and one can or tomato sauce.

Add more as needed.  Some people like their chili thicker or more watery than others, so it’s entirely up to your tastes.


Turn the heat down to low so that the chili will just simmer.

6. Now it’s time to add your own “flavor” to the dish.  I never use the pre-mixed seasonings they buy at the store.  Not only can you not control what’s in them, but it’s also a tad bit cheaper to make my own.  Plus, it’s fun!  I don’t premix anything…just throw in what looks good.  Usually, I use about a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon each of paprika and cumin, and about 1/8 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. 


Then I just add what looks good!  I usually add in salt and pepper, oregano, and cinnamon.  Really, though, you could add whatever you want.  Just don’t overdo it!  Add a little at a time, taste it, and see.  Remember, you can’t go back!  For a little extra you could even add in some honey or chocolate.  This gives the chili a little sweetness and richness.  Make the chili your own!

7. Now, let the chili simmer so all the flavors can meld together.  Usually 20-30 min. is good enough, but you can let it go as long as a few hours.  Just be sure to check it every once in awhile so that nothing burns!


8. Enjoy!  Chili is great with corn bread.  My husband also likes to add fritos, cheese, and sour cream.  Remember, making chili is all about individuality, so experiment and do what you and your family like.  Have fun with it!  Trust me…you cannot mess up chili…it’s impossible!

What’s your favorite chili recipe to make?   


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making Lemonade

Last week sure was a “lemon” of a week.  It seemed like everything was going wrong, we were tired, and ever busy.  Most of my meal plans went out the window, we found ourselves having to eat out a lot, and Thursday night we even went to good ol’ KFC for dinner.  Yeah, we were that tired. 

Thankfully, we had the end of the week to look forward to and a blissful weekend away from it all in Little Rock.  Only problem was, it seemed like it would never come.  But it did come and Friday night we finally rolled into Little Rock, tired and ready for the cookie waiting for us at the hotel. :)

Andy found a great deal at the Doubletree on the waterfront in Little Rock.  Our room overlooked the river!


Saturday was kind of a grey, dreary day, but we made the most of it.  We started off with a breakfast that we definitely couldn’t get at home…gourmet versions of Eggs Benedict at The Delicious Temptation.  Andy got one with avocado and tomatoes, and mine was with crab and artichoke hearts.  Unfortunately, they were so good that I didn’t get a picture of them.  And so, you are left with a picture of my thoroughly delightful hot chocolate. :)


Then we headed out to the Pulaski County Two Rivers Bridge.  This is such a neat island-turned-park in the middle of the city.  There are miles of paved walking and biking trails.  It was gorgeous!  Can’t wait to bring our baby back here…








This day really was the epitome of winter in Arkansas…grey and lifeless.  I’m learning to like it, although my heart still sings every time the sun peaks through!

Then it was off to Conway to meet some friends for lunch and frozen yogurt.  Sorry, didn’t take any pictures.  We ended up having the frozen yogurt with my in-laws too, who were in town for my BIL’s basketball tournament.  Some “weekend away”, right?  Really, though it was fun.  Afterwards we went with our friends to Target to check out baby stuff.  It was fun and slightly overwhelming.  I also got my first real maternity outfit…a cute summer dress that will be great for this spring/summer.  Pictures to come!

Finally, we headed back to Little Rock.  We planned on going out to a nice dinner and seeing “The Vow”.  Apparently everyone else had the same idea, though, because the restaurant waits were crazy.  We ended up deciding to wait-it-out at Olive Garden and see the movie in the morning or another time.  Boy was that worth the wait!  Have I mentioned how lacking our dining options are up in the hills?


I’m really starting to look (and feel!) preggo:


The next morning we had an unexpected wake up call at 5 am…the fire alarm!  After an hour down in the lobby with rumors circulating, and laughs abounding at how certain people choose to “evacuate”, we finally got to go back to our rooms.  Some kids had pulled the firm alarm on the 7th floor.  Yes, I know, wonderful. 

Later that morning we awoke to a perfectly beautiful, sunny day.  We decided to head back home, since everything was closed and Andy was rearing to work on his jeep some.  It was gorgeous though!


And so, that’s how we took all the lemons from last week and made lemonade.  And boy was it sweet!

Check out Rock This House today…there’s a bunch of new updates!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

One Thousand Gifts: A Weekend Away

This past weekend my husband and I took a weekend getaway as a late Valentine’s Day.  Thanks to an amazing deal on Priceline, we were able to get two nights at a nicer hotel in Little Rock on the riverfront for a great price.  We didn’t know how many trips we would be able to get in before the baby comes, so we took this break.

It was well worth it. 

Pictures and more to come, but suffice it to say, we needed the break.  It was so great to just have a weekend for the two of us.  Sometimes, when life is busy and crazy, you just need that time away.


241. Being able to find a great deal on Priceline.
242. Spending two whole days with my best friend.
243. Not having to worry about anything “back home”.
244. Planning for Baby Baker together.
245. Meeting up with friends for some yummy food and frozen yogurt.
246. An absolutely gorgeous, clear Sunday…after a long time of grey.
247. Bright red cardinals in my bird feeder, adding color to dreary days.
248. God’s resolving problems better than we could imagine.
249. Being able to trust Him always.
250. Getting back into the “swing of things” after a time of rest and renewal.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Word To Single Girls On Valentine’s Day

Waiting.  We’re always waiting.  Waiting to graduate.  Waiting for summer.  Waiting for the “perfect” job.  Yet, no one knows about waiting more than a single girl on Valentine’s Day.

I remember how it was.  The ache deep in your soul…the longing to have your own special someone.  Many a Valentine’s Day I’d sit and mope, checking the mailbox for a Valentine that never came, looking longingly at the beautiful roses at the store. 

Now I am married.  I am no longer alone on Valentine’s Day.  Looking back, I see how I squandered the single days I had.

I married young, I’ll admit it.  That was simply God’s plan for me.  And yet, it pains me each time a single girl compares herself to me.  “When you were my age, you were already engaged”…”how old were you when you met Andy?”  Don’t you see the folly in comparing yourself to others?  God’s path for their life is NEVER His path for your own!

I look at my sweet sister, Hilary, a recent college graduate and, quite contently, single.  Yes, she longs for the day when she’ll meet “Mr. Right”.  She waits patiently for God to craft her love story.  But she doesn’t mope or feel sorry for herself.  Instead, she delights in this time.  She lives each single moment to the very fullest, following God wherever He leads.  Can anyone feel sorry for someone like that?

It’s true, you may never be “single and content”.  Sometimes it’s hard to trust that God has a plan and that He’s crafting your love story in His own timing and way.  And sometimes it’s hard to be happy on Valentine’s Day.  The real question is not “are you feeling blue?”, but “what are you doing with the time given to you?”.

My advice for a single girl on Valentine’s Day?  Seek out your First Love and His will for you, here-and-now, and do it with all that you are.  The more you do before you’re married, the more you’ll benefit your husband after.  Money, skills, knowledge, experiences…none of these are brought to a marriage in vain.  Look for ways to serve others, while you have so much free time.  Go to college, take an art class, get a job, start a home business…just do something

God did not intend for us to waste the years before we’re married.  He doesn’t want us to just sit around waiting for a man to come so “life will start”.  Stop answering the question “what are you called to be?” as “a wife and mother” when that’s not where God has put you right now! Yes, that may be where your heart longs to be eventually, but that’s obviously not how He wants to use you right now.

A girl who’s using all of her time and energies to the fullest has no time to mope or cry.  Yes, there may still be an ache in her heart, but she does not dwell on it.  Instead, she uses the time given to her to the fullest. For a true man of God, that kind is a very attractive thing.  

This Valentine’s Day, if you have no Valentine to love, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself.  Take the longing in your heart and turn it into something productive.  Show love to others.  Bake someone cookies or go visit people at an assisted living home.  The less you focus on yourself, the easier the ache will be. 

Love and marriage are very good things.  I am so incredibly thankful for the blessing of my husband.  Yes, it’s worth the wait.  Bless your future husband by delighting in the now.


One Thousand Gifts: Valentine’s Day

I know a lot of people who hate Valentine’s Day.  Either they’re cynical about love or they don’t believe that buying expensive flowers and chocolates one day of the year can strengthen a relationship.  In a lot of ways, they’re right.

The first people have seen marriages based in “love” crumble and fall apart.  They might have even experienced it themselves.  The truth is, love and marriage is hard.  It takes a lot of work and sometimes can be downright messy.  And it’s worth it.

As for the second people, they’re right too.  A marriage that’s dying cannot be saved by boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  Instead, it takes daily work and self-sacrifice.  It takes giving everything you have and showing your love for your spouse in a million different ways.  But that doesn’t make Valentine’s Day an less important.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love.  It’s a day to enjoy having a “sweetheart” and make the extra effort to be romantic.  While it can’t be the foundation to a marriage, it’s nonetheless important to celebrate together.  What a great opportunity to just stop the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and reflect on your marriage and your love?

231. Another Valentine’s Day with my soulmate.
232. Little seedlings in my “window garden”…I couldn’t wait any longer!
233. An abundance of south facing windows to let the sun in on my growing number of house plants.
234. Finding joy in the here-and-now.
235. Another good doctor’s visit.
236. Getting to hear my sweet baby’s heartbeat again!
237. Looking forward to learning the gender is just five short weeks.
238. Hearing God speak to me in the smallest, everyday things.
239.Learning to trust God through everything.
240. Having so many people who love me in my life.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Our Crazy Garden Adventure

I’ve always dreamed of having a big garden.  For the past two years, I’ve lived out my dreams in little pots and containers.  This year, though, I’m going to have a real garden.  And I mean, a big one. 

Why we suddenly decided to make a huge 20’x40’ garden the year our first baby arrives is beyond me, but we’re determined to do it.  We have a nice spot picked out, although it’s far from ready.  We’re mixing some of the back-to-Eden concepts with a raised garden bed, so we still have to build the beds, get a layer of top soil, and then add several inches of wood chips.  And that’s all before planting.  Yep, we have our work cut out for us.

This is the garden spot right now, just for future reference:


Thankfully, though, I have my amazing husband on board.  Not only is he okay with it, he’s excited as well.  Our ultimate goal is to be able to grow the majority of our own produce through seed-saving and non-GMO practices.  Andy also wants to grow tons of peppers and create his own “seasonings”, while I want to can innumerable jars of tomatoes, since we use those so much.

I’ve already had the majority of my heirloom seeds come in, so I’m twiddling my thumbs until it’s time to actually plant them.

This year we’ll be trying to grow:

-Winter squash
-Pole beans
-Summer squash
-Beans for drying
-Potatoes (red and russet)
-Sweet potatoes
-Red Cabbage
-Green Cabbage
-Four varieties of tomatoes
-Two varieties of bell peppers
-Four to Six varieties of hot and sweet peppers
-Herbs in a different area of our yard

Yes, we have gone slightly insane, but I think it will be really fun.  What a better thing to devote your time and energy to than a garden that provides for your family, right?

Do you have any plans for a garden this year?  What will you be growing?


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It’s Not My Body

From the beginning of creation, women have been experiencing the wonderful gift of pregnancy and childbirth.  They’ve marveled as their belly grew, and at the love they felt for the child the first time they held them in their arms.  But somewhere along the way, they decided that their body, this miraculous creation of God perfectly made to form and nurture the tiniest life, was theirs to control.  They decided that, because the tiny life within them was still a part of them—still within them—that they had the say-so to keep or end it.  And so many women do.

I am a woman.  I know what it’s like to be a woman.  I know how we think and how we multi-task.  I know how we have dreams and aspirations.  I know that a baby can be unexpected and unplanned, ruining our plans and our dreams.  But I also know that life is an incredible gift, not to be taken lightly.

For years we women have been lied to.  We’ve been told it’s not a baby—that it’s just a tiny clump of cells.  We’ve been told that we shouldn’t bring an unwanted baby into this world.  We’ve been told that it’s better off for the baby.  We’ve been told that it’s our choice. 

I’ve never been in the situation of even considering an abortion.  I’ve never been pregnant and unmarried, been financially unable to support a child, or been raped.  But I know people who have.  I know the fear, the guilt, the shame, that comes with those babies.  I know the pressures that society, friends, and family puts on you.  I understand why the easy road would seem to be simply “taking care of it”.

But I’ve also seen the tiny life within me on a screen, only eight weeks after conception.  I’ve seen it’s little heartbeat, and it’s sweet little head.  I’ve seen it kick and move, full of life.  I’ve heard the sound of the tiniest heart pumping blood, pumping life, through its little body.  I’ve had a glimpse of what life truly means…to be knit together in your mother’s womb.  And I know that each tiny life is a miracle, crafted special and with its own plan for its life. 

I know too that it’s hard.  A baby could change your life forever.  But what about adoption?  What about all the wonderful families out there that are just aching to make the baby growing inside of you their own?  Yes, there will be shame and guilt.  No, you can’t hide a pregnancy from the world.  But isn’t it worth it if only to give that tiny life a chance to blossom and grow?

You may say it was all a mistake or, if you were raped, that this child growing inside of you could be nothing more than a monster.  You don’t deserve this.  But, then again, neither does your child.  It doesn’t deserve to have life snatched away from it without even being given a chance.

No matter the circumstances behind its conception, a baby is still a baby.  It’s a helpless, fragile life, depending on you to care and nurture it…depending on you to bring it safely into this world.  So I ask you, knowing the miraculous work inside of you, can you still say “it’s my body”.  Don’t you know that you were intricately woven and fashioned, just as this small child is?  Who are you to stop this process?  Who are you to end this small life?  No, it’s not, and should not be, our choice.  It’s not our life to choose.

Sweet child, growing within my womb, know that I will always nurture you, guard you, and protect you, because you cannot yourself.  And with tears in my eyes I pray for the millions of little ones who will never know this love…never know the sacrifice that not “taking care of it” is.  May they be safely welcomed into the Father’s arms, who cares for even the tiniest life. 

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Monday, February 6, 2012

One Thousand Gifts: My Sister

As many of you know, I have been blessed with three wonderful sisters.  Whether by blood or adoption, they are all my beloved sisters…a tie that only God can knit.  Today, I’d like to share with you about one of them.

Hilary and I have always been best friends.  We are less than two years apart, and so we found ourselves doing everything together growing up.  Even in high school, we played the violin in orchestras together, and made it to All-State together.  We pretty much had the same friends too. 

When I graduated from high school and went to college, things changed a little, but not much.  I still lived at home, so despite our differing activities, we still did a lot together.  When she entered college, she decided to major in Elementary Education…same as me.  Lest you think she was copying me, Hilary has always been her own person.  She’s independent and strong.  The fact was that it seemed like God was leading us on the same paths. But some days, it seemed like she would never be able to carve her own differing path.

And then I met Andy.  Unfortunately, as anyone who remembers their friends and sisters meeting someone, other relationships change.  Hilary and I were still best friends, but there was someone else in my life now.  And that someone happened to steal me away halfway across the country.  For the first time, Hilary was alone.

Over the past year and a half since I got married, I have proudly watched as Hilary struck her own path and became a woman.  No, it was not the same path as mine, and it’s had lots of bumps and holes along the way.  But she’s shown herself strong and incredibly grounded.  She’s gotten to do things I never did.  She’s taken a mission trip to Ireland, became a leader in various college groups, led worship at church, organized a whole VBS, became a wonderful nanny, became a prestigious Rodel scholar, and, in December, graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education.  Oh, and did I mention she’s only twenty?

It’s amazing for me to watch Hilary’s walk with God.  She’s so in love with Him…so hungry for Him.  As she sought out God’s will for this next phase of life, she faced many tough decisions.  Should she teach?  Pursue a masters in Biblical Studies?  Attend a Bible college?  Go on a long-term mission?  Ultimately, she made the decision to follow God’s will. 

Starting today, she begins a two-year program at Calvary Chapel Bible College in California.  I’m so excited for her as she enters this new phase in life and seeks a deeper relationship with Christ.  I don’t know where God will lead, but I do know that she is right in the center of His will. And I couldn’t be prouder.

221. For three wonderful sisters to share life with.
222. Watching God lead every one of us on His own unique path.
223. Having fun becoming aunts together.
224. For all the wonderful “almost sisters” in my life.
225. Getting to spend time with friends and family.
226. Spending time teaching young minds.
227. Another baby appointment today.
228. Much prayed-for blessings coming true.
229. The wonderful gift of a bright sunny day.
230. Getting to watch my sisters become amazing women of God.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Chicken Friday

Around our little town, "Catfish Friday" at the Valero gas station is pretty much famous.  Even my great-uncle heard about it when he came to town.  Why Southerners are obsessed with catfish, I do not know, but apparently the Valero fries it pretty good.

A couple of Fridays ago I was subbing all day and my poor husband had to fend for himself for lunch.  He doesn't like me to pack him a lunch, because he doesn't like eating at work (being a boss means lots of lunch interruptions).  Usually, though, he doesn't have time to go home and heat something up either, despite working 1/2 a mile from our house.  So, his normal lunch when I'm gone is some kind of lunch meeting.  This particular Friday it happened to be a late lunch meeting (as in, around 3 o'clock).  For some reason they had their meeting at this same Valero.

Since it was Friday afternoon, the Valero already had their "Catfish Friday" stuff out.  What neither of us knew (never having had a desire to attend this infamous feed-your-face fest) was that they also have chicken.  According to Andy, it's really good chicken.  And it's a buffet, so they have really good vegetables and sides too.

For some strange reason it was determined that this Friday (today), Andy and I would be going to what we now called "Chicken Friday" at the Valero.  Maybe it had to do with having a long week.  Maybe it had to do with a billion little stresses.  I don't know how, but somehow "Chicken Friday" was set in stone.  Sometimes you just need something to look forward to at the end of the week.

That being said, happy Friday everyone.  The weekend has finally arrived.  And, yes, so has Chicken Friday.

What are your plans for this weekend?  Anything special to look forward to?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Passion 2012

I know, it’s been almost a month, but I’m finally getting around to writing about Passion 2012 in Atlanta.  Not that it wasn’t amazing or exciting…I’ve just been busy!

A little over a year ago, my husband and I felt led to start working with the college ministry at our church.  Most of the college students in the class were kids that had grown up here and either stayed here to go to college, or left but came back for breaks.  Since neither of us grew up around here, we didn’t know the majority of them.  The big trip to Passion 2011, an amazing college conference in Atlanta, was coming up and we thought that it would be a great opportunity to get on board.  One of my sisters from Arizona was also signed up to go with us (no one she knew was going).

A couple of days before we left, however, Andy decided that, with work and all, he really couldn’t go.  So, I went with out him and took my sister.  It was an amazing four days, and learned a ton, but something was missing…Andy.  Not only was I lonely without him, it was just plain hard to take back what I had learned and share it with him in a way that would have had the same meaning had he gone himself!

A wonderful year passed, in which the college ministry was growing and we were loving working with the kids.  Passion 2012 came up and, this time, Andy got to go!  So, at the beginning of January we loaded up three vans and headed east. 

There are so many things I could share with you about our trip.  If you’re not familiar with Passion, it doesn’t have an equal.  It’s chock full of inspiring speakers, music, and encouragement to step up and make a difference in this world…despite only being a college student.  Not that adults can’t get anything out of it too…it’s just geared for 18-25 year olds.

The overarching theme this year was “Do Something Now”…an aspect they’ve always had but that took center stage this year.  Did you know that there are over 27 million slaves in the world today?  Yes, 27 million!  And guess what, before you dog on college students, they were able to raise almost 3 million dollars at Passion this year to free these slaves.  3 million dollars!!!

What hit me the most about Passion was not that, yeah, it’s awesome that all these college students got together to give money and praise Jesus, but the thought of what am I supposed to do about what I’m learning

Most Christians in America live in a bubble.  Somehow we think that if we’re going to church twice a week, paying tithe, and leading a Sunday school class that we’re somehow serving the Lord…somehow living how Jesus wants us to live.  But is that what it’s all about?

Sure, it’s great to serve in the church and, yes, many of us work hard for our “easy” lives full of nice houses and clothes.  But people are dying each moment and going to hell, and there are 27 million slaves in this world needing the hope of Jesus.  So what are we going to do about it?

For Andy and I, we left Passion examining our lives and our goals.  We felt like much of our own lives and what they about is a waste.  We have so many opportunities around us to reach out and spread Christ’s name.  And yet, do we?  And, compared to so many in the world, we have been incredibly financially blessed.  But do we covet things and call them “needs”, or do we use the money God has blessed us with for His kingdom?

Before Passion, I had been really wanting some new brown riding boots.  I’d been looking everywhere for a good pair, and I’d been saving up my money.  At Passion, it seemed like every girl around me was wearing brown riding boots.  And yet, here I was, without them.  But as Passion progressed, I suddenly realized how foolish my coveting of those boots was.  I started thinking about how much the money I would spend on those boots could benefit someone in need…could help free someone from slavery…could help bring somebody to Christ.  All of a sudden, those boots seemed very insignificant

There’s nothing wrong with looking nice and getting new things.  I, myself, am a firm believer in representing Christ by dressing nicely and with thought.  But how many things do we really need?  How much could we actually go without?

One of the speakers, Francis Chan, spoke about taking the Bible literally.  One day he was reading the Word and stumbled upon the parable of the feast.  He realized that that’s what God wants us to do…and so he did.  He and his wife found poor, destitute people and invited them to an incredible feast.  His wife took them shopping and bought them new clothes, and they were thoroughly pampered for the occasion.  Everything was planned to a “t”…a dinner party nicer than many of us have come to.  And what an incredible witness?  Isn’t this how God wants us to live?

Dare we live boldly for Christ and reexamine our very lives and what they revolve around?  All the answers are not found in the traditions of the church.  They’re found solely in God’s Word. 

Just a little food for thought.   

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