Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birthdays, Vacation, and Other Thoughts

Bruce and I were talking one day in the car about one of his old boss ladies he had at PPG more than ten years ago.  He thought the world of her.  Anyone we have ever met that worked for her at PPG has nothing but good things to say about her.  That same day, not long after he had mentioned her and told a funny story about her, we walked into Sweet Frog of Shelby and guess who was there.  That's right, Fanny and her daughter Chamile and Fanny's 92 year old mother.  They were celebrating her mother's upcoming 93rd birthday with some frozen yogurt.  Fanny mentioned they were going to have a birthday party for her with six generations of the family there to celebrate her life.  They were looking for someone to take pictures.  Can you imagine my excitement when she said that?  Of course I volunteered and told her I would be very happy to take those pictures and she graciously allowed me to do that. 

Blogger wants you to use Google Chrome to upload pictures and I don't like Google Chrome, so I uploaded one to Flikr.  You can click here to see a picture of the Birthday Queen and nine of her children.  The tenth child is her great grandson standing in place for his grandfather.  What a wonderful blessing it was to share in this celebration and with this family!  Bruce and I left in tears and after getting to know this beautiful, elderly lady, we realized why Fanny and the entire family of about 200 that showed up were so wonderful to be with.  She is certainly the heart of her family and they love her a whole lot.

The day after the party our family loaded up the rental car and headed to the beach for vacation.  What a great time we had!  And it was a relaxing time too.  We always love to go the week following school being back in session.  Everything is quiet and calm and we pretty much have the place to ourselves.  The Jacuzzi was the BEST!!  I asked my chiropractor if it would be ok to sit in one while we were away and he said absolutely as long as it wasn't longer than 15 or 20 minutes.  So I did every night.  We'd go to the indoor Jacuzzi, where I'm POSITIVE no one else in the hotel knew about, and while the kids played in the indoor pool Bruce and I sat in the Jacuzzi and just relaxed.  That was the last thing we did every night and let me tell ya, I slept like a rock.  Now if I could just talk Bruce into putting one in here at home I'd be set! 

Things seem to be progressing with my treatments.  They've started a new therapy on my neck which is very uncomfortable and causes a lot of pain right after both in the neck and my head.  Icing and drinking water seems to help.  But they strap my head and chin into this contraption that's really nothing but a metal bar that my neck "rests" on and I pump up the bar three or four times, hold it for a few seconds, then release it.  This goes on for about five or ten minutes.  Then at home I have a triangular shaped pillow I have to do an exercise on each night that is basically working toward the same goal as the contraption they use at the office.  The pillow sounds comfy, I know, but trust me, it's not really that kind of pillow.  But it only takes 15 minutes of my evening and it's working to help relieve some stress in my neck.  So...  there ya have it. I'll admit that I am tired of going back and forth to the office.  I'd like things to be back to normal.  Right now I have about eight more weeks ahead of me.  So we'll see how things go after that.

And Lord willing, by this weekend or some time next week, I will have the check for my totaled vehicle in hand and I'll be able to pursue a new car.  Driving the truck is ok, but I'd prefer to be back in a car. 

I haven't talked to Justin today but he was very sick last night.  Poor guy has the stomach virus, along with his girlfriend and several of their friends from her church.  Last night he was lookin' pretty rough.  I sent him home with some Sprite, a small container of homemade chicken pot pie (just in case he got hungry) and a container of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Maybe the ACV helped.  I don't know.  Usually you need to take it right when you start feeling sick or have been around anyone that is sick.  It may have been too late for him.  Praying they're all better soon.

It's almost 1:30 and Harrison just finished his school work.  We've had a great first week of school so far even though our days are beginning a little later than they should due to doctor's appointments.  But it's all good.  We're on our way to buy a new tie for church, drop off the picture CD for Fanny, and then get ready for church.  Looking forward to services tonight and Lord willing, going to the Cleveland County Baptist Camp Meeting the rest of this week. 

God has been good and He has been faithful.  I am blessed with His goodness and so very undeserving. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Welcome Back to School

Today was our official first day back to school.  We have started our eighteenth year of homeschooling.  Praise the Lord! 

Two students graduated and one beginning high school this year.  This is the first of the last four years.  I admit I have my failures.  One is math.  Oh dear.  I have always despised Math and thank the Lord for my brother, John, a Math WHIZ, who has always been there to help us when we needed it.  John's symptoms of MS increases daily and I hate to bother him.  So this year we decided to use a Math on DVD with an actual Math teacher.  Harrison is happy about it and to be quite honest, so am I!  We had to begin our day without that Math, though, because the company I ordered from got my order mixed up with another lady's order.  I was bummed when I opened the box and saw it was not my order.  But they assured me they would have my order here soon.  So Lord willing we shouldn't be too far behind.

SIGMA and Patch started at church for the school year.  So Harrison is in fifth gear, full speed ahead, to be number one in points.  He is bound and determined to take it this year.  We'll see. 

Hannah is still working at the day care.  She is now one of the teachers in the two year old class.  She's also still taking classes at the college.  She's a busy girl these days.  Barely see her anymore, but she's really happy where she is right now.

Justin is still working in Gaffney.  We're having a house warming party for him...FINALLY...this month.  He has everything he needs for his home, but he has some maintenance to do on the house so he's asking for Lowe's Home Improvement gift cards.  He is also seeing a beautiful, Christian young lady named Brittany.  They are planning their future together and we are very happy for them.  Their picture has been added to my sidebar.  We are very excited to see what the Lord has in store for them and are so blessed God sent her to our son and to our family.  We love her a whole lot! 

Bruce and I are still SIGMA sponsors, but we are on a "break" this year while another couple who hasn't had a team in a few years steps up and sponsors a team.  We're so happy they've been added back this year.  And we're also thrilled that Justin's buddy (my other son) Jeremy and his wife, Ashley, are sponsoring a team this year too!  They are a young couple with a strong desire to serve the Lord and be used and I know the Lord will use them with the teens this year.  It's going to be an exciting year for our youth group having new sponsors and Brother Johnathan and Mrs. Jennifer as official youth pastors.  Still cheering on that decision! 

We have many blessings before us.  But we also have burdens.  Please be in prayer for a little boy named Asher.  He was diagnosed last week with leukemia.  His treatments have started so he's going to need a LOT of prayer as he goes through those.  Also, the Justice family are in GREAT need of prayer.  A piece of furniture landed on their two year old, causing bleeding on the brain.  When testing for brain activity this morning they did not find any.  They removed her off life support shortly after.  I'm so broken hearted for these families and what they are facing with their children.  God, in all His wisdom, knows what is best for our lives.  Praying as these parents go through these fiery trials.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Red Light, Green Light

So, I was in an accident last Friday.  I was coming home from the grocery store, buckled up and waiting for my light to turn green.  It did.  I started to go and turn left onto the highway when someone sped through a red light and hit me on my side of the car.  He shoved me into a large delivery type truck and let me tell ya, that was a scary ordeal.  Oh, and air bags hurt.  They also release a nasty smoke and it stinks. 

I can't talk about what is going on with all of this right now, but I will say we need a lot of prayer and some needs met.  LIKE A CAR!  Pray we're able to get one soon and make a good decision on purchasing a new one.  We have a good friend who is a dealer and is keeping an eye out for us.  Thankful for someone we both trust and has a good reputation with his vehicles.

I'm seeing a chiropractor for the first time in my life.  Talk about conquering your fears!  I do not like being touched, much less pulled, twisted, and stretched.  But you do what you feel you need to do, right?  It's definitely been a different experience for me.

That's the bad news.  The good news is, for the first time in fourteen years, I am finally under the weight I was when I had my first OB appointment with Harrison.  Gives me a positive boost in the arm to keep trying and set a NEW GOAL!  I know with the help of the Lord I can do this.  If I left it up to just me, I'd be in the closet downing twinkies.  Just sayin'.

Looking forward to beginning a new SIGMA year with our youth.  We're praising the Lord for answered prayer in our youth department.  We officially have a youth pastor!!!  Brother Johnathan and Mrs. Jennifer have been working tirelessly with the youth group the last couple of years and God opened the door for our church to take them on full time.  We could not be more pleased.  The youth love them both and I'm sure it will be a great year.

And that is all for tonight. I've iced my shoulders and now it's time for medication and bed!  Early appointment in the morning.

Hope y'all have a great night!!  :)

Genesis 22:14 "Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sleepless In Carolina

So here it is 1:16am and I'm up, can't sleep.  What do you do when that happens?  You blog.  After all, it's been nearly two months since I blogged anything. 

Here lately it seems the sleepless nights happen more frequently.  Along with hot flashes, mood swings, and other weird symptoms of becoming an older woman.

I really haven't had any "burdens" on my mind, but it just seems that as soon as I lay down to sleep, no matter how tired I feel, I just can't seem to go to sleep.  My mind begins processing things and thinking about things and I find myself carrying on hypothetical conversations with people.  Something my dad used to do all the time.  Usually while he was shaving in the mornings.  Very interesting conversations, that man had.

Tonight I went to bed and just laid there, tossing and turning. So I figured if I was going to be this awake, why not be productive.  Folding laundry and washing and drying more laundry seemed like a good idea.  Cleaning counters and appliances was a good idea too.  But here it is in the wee hours of the morning and I really, REALLY need the rest. 

See, our youth group's summer camp was sadly cancelled.  To make up for that, our church is giving them a mini camp for the next few days.  They spent the night at the church tonight and I'll meet some other ladies in about five and a half hours to cook breakfast for them.  They'll have a fun day of devotions with Brother Johnathan, volleyball, water games, and other sports, followed by lunch, some quiet time, getting showered and dressed for supper and then a chapel service led by one of our mission men, called to preach.  It's going to be a really good day and I'm looking forward to it.  Then early Friday morning they'll load the vans or bus and head out to Paramount Carowinds, an amusement park here in NC.  I know they'll have a really good time. 

I wish I could go.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE riding rides.  But my ankle would not make an entire day walking/running back and forth to different rides in the park.  I was told about ten years ago I needed an ankle replacement.  I've been putting it off and putting it off and it just seems like here lately it's getting worse and worse.  I'm just about ready to make that first appointment and get the ball rolling on this.  Really the only thing holding me back is the 20 week recovery.  That's right.  TWENTY weeks.  Twelve weeks of NON-WEIGHT bearing recovery, followed by eight weeks of slow to intense therapy.  In case you haven't done the math, that's five months.  FIVE months.  So just pray I'll make the right decisions about all of this and do it in God's perfect timing.

Over the last several months I've needed to scoot up a little closer to the Lord. I've been hurt by people close to me and my children have been hurt by others as well.  At first I was just mad all the time.  The flesh was very unruly.  I had to earnestly pray and try desperately to ignore certain behavior.  But one thing I learned through it all is that God is still good and God is still on the throne.  What I THOUGHT I wanted Him to bless us with, He took away.  But I didn't see that He took it away right off.  All I saw as we were going through some things was a wall being built by human hands.  It wasn't until later that I saw it was actually a hedge of protection God was building to protect my children and my family.  It was THEN that God was able to move in MY heart and show me that MY wants are not always HIS wants.  And that if I truly wanted HIS will for my life and the lives of my children, then I have to trust Him.  So I purposed in my heart that's exactly what I'm going to do.  Simply trust Him. 

Since then, God has opened so many doors for my children in their lives.  I've just sat back and watched the blessings pour out over them.  It's been great just resting in the Lord and knowing He has everything in their lives...and mine...under His control.

I am so excited to see how God is orchestrating some things in our home right now.  But again, I'm praying and trusting that His will be done and that whatever He chooses will be what I choose, because I want what HE wants. 

It's never an easy thing to put our full trust in the Lord.  But once it's there, man it's good.  It's like it all just falls into place and usually like you never imagined...but BETTER!

Proverbs 3:5&6 comes to mind, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Love Beyond Measure

Crossroads Rescue Mission had their annual jubilee a couple weeks ago.  During one of the meetings my Pastor's wife approached me to say a church in Polkville asked if I would speak at their ladies meeting.  I told her yes and then kind of panicked.  I had a busy week with jubilee every night, photo shoots during the days, and lots of editing!  My study time was limited, with only a week from that Saturday.  So I cancelled photo shoots and went off facebook the next week while I studied my lesson. 
Monday was great and then Tuesday showed up.  It was one thing after another.  It started off with a phone call that morning, followed by news from my son that sent my blood pressure through the roof, followed by my husband doing something really crazy that did not help the situation, followed by my youngest son doing something crazy too.  I felt like my head would explode.  It suddenly occurred to me that it was the devil working against me over this meeting.  So I went to my room, sat on the bed and took a deep breath.  I prayed, Lord, I really need something from you right now.  And He told me exactly what to do.  By this time, Bruce was sitting quietly in the living room.  After all, he knew I was upset.  Pretty sure the slamming of kitchen cabinets, mumbling and throwing dish towels gave my bad attitude away.  Anyway, I walked up to him and said, "I'm gettin' outta here.  You wanna go?"  He said, "YES!"  So he put his shoes on and met me in the car.  We drove quietly, him never asking me where we were going.  He was just along for the ride.  No doubt, in hopes, to make me happy.  I pulled into Ruby Tuesday and he said, "We already had supper.  Are you still hungry?"  "Nope," I replied, "God said eat cheesecake."  So we did!  And it was wonderful.  We sat across from each other laughing and talking and enjoying the best cheesecake I've ever had.  It seemed like all the worries and anger just melted away.  I suppose the moral of the story is, when you're having a really bad day and you know the devil is attacking you, God will help you through it and help you to see what's going on and He will tell you what to do.  And if you're as fortunate as me, He'll tell you to go eat cheesecake.  :)

As I was studying for the ladies meeting I tried to focus on the theme of "Love Beyond Measure."  When I think of love beyond measure, I only think of God.  As humans, our love is very much measureable.  God's love, however, is eternal.  Non-ending.  It can not be measured!  I John 4:8 tells us, "...for God is love."  God IS love.  He loves us when we're obedient.  He loves us when we're living right and doing right.  But when else does He loves us?  Is this the only time He loves us?  When else does God love us?  I ran across a quote online and I couldn't get away from it so I drew my outline from it. 

God's Love Beyond Measure:
  1. God loves the Flawed.  Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  That word "commendeth" means to entrust with care of preservation.  At the time of Christ's death, I had not committed one, single sin.  I wasn't born yet!  But He looked ahead in time and saw me in my sinful state and He preserved that love for me by shedding his blood for me anyway.  That's love.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it's not about our works.  Are you kidding me?  We are flawed to the very core of this flesh.  Of COURSE it's not about our works!  It's about HIM and what HE has done because of His love for us!  And He still loves us today, just as much as He did yesterday and the days before that, and the day He gave His very life for us.
  2. God loves the Rejected.  Romans 8:35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"  Jump down to verses 38 & 39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  You may feel that God cannot or will not forgive you of something.  You may feel rejected because of past sins in your life.  But these verses tell me there is nothing, not one thing, that can separate us from the love of Christ!  There is no sin so great, the grace of God cannot cover.  He will take us just like we are and loves us too much to leave us as we were.  He can and will make something great out of us, if we let Him.  The world may reject us and throw us to the side, but GOD will never do that.  You may even be rejected for what you stand for. Luke 6:22 says, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake."  Hey, when we are rejected for His name's sake, we are BLESSED!  Because He is on OUR side!  Romans 8:31 says, "...If God be for us, who can be against us?"  Being rejected isn't so bad, really, because we KNOW we're on the winning side!  And He NEVER rejects His children!
  3. God loves the Awkward.  You may feel awkward because you can't speak your thought clearly to others.  Or maybe you have a disability that holds you back from serving in a capacity that others without your disability have no problem.  You know Moses had a speech impediment.  Most scholars believe he stuttered.  But God used him as the most influential person to go up against Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel through the desert to their promised land.  One of the greatest men of God I know stutters.  But yet he is doing a work for the Lord that amazes me on a weekly basis.  Don't allow your awkwardness or fear of what people think of you keep you from serving the Lord.  Psalm 118:6 says, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear: what can man do unto me?"  The Lord loves you and wants you to tell others about His love.  You may seem awkward to others, maybe even to yourself.  But God loves you just the way you are and He wants you to share His love with others.
  4. God loves the Sorrowful.  Sorrow is a more intense feeling than sadness.  We can feel sad over many things, but sorrow is felt down deep in our soul.  It is said that sorrow lies somewhere between sadness of accepting a circumstance and distress of not accepting that circumstance.  Maybe you are sorrowing over something or someone in your life.  A death of a spouse or a parent.  Maybe you are sorrowing over a wayward child or friend.  The Bible says in II Corinthians 1:3-5 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."  We sorrow, but GOD can and will bring our comfort and then we can turn around and help those who are going through their own sorrow, because of what Christ did in us through our own sorrow.
  5. God loves the Broken.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 147:3, "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."  I have felt broken and in pieces and like I would never overcome the hurt caused by friends who said they loved me and would always be there for me.  I have been broken over having to cut people out of my life who had turned their backs on God or were going in the opposite direction of where I was going toward God.  And sometimes that happens.  Sometimes you'll have that.  I have been broken over circumstances beyond my control that may have caused hurt and pain to someone else besides myself.  But by leaning on Christ and His love, I have experienced His healing power and experienced Him taking those broken pieces of my heart and mending them back together.  It was not an overnight experience.  It took a lot of time.  A lot of prayer.  And a lot of hiding myself in God's Word.  You might feel broken and lost and like you'll never be the same, but God will heal your broken heart and He will bind up your wounds, the way only He can. 
"Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely.  Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly.  Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely...He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken."