Monday, July 30, 2012

Putting it all out there

Just so you know, this post is kind of all over the place. Consider yourself forewarned. :)

I laughed out loud not too long ago when a friend told me she thought my kids were perfect. To set the record straight, they are not, but I am not either. Not even close.

We all struggle. It's funny to me to think anyone thinks I have it all together, or for that matter, that my kids do. I yell at my kids too much, don't do laundry as often as I should and certainly don't fold it and put it away in a timely manner. Sometimes the dishes in my sink are there a couple of days, and I spend too much time doing nothing of importance and worry about what I need to be doing. I don't cook often enough, my flower beds are atrocious, the shrubs are overgrown something fierce, and I don't exercise like I should. I eat too much and feed our children pizza way too often. I have boxes that haven't been unpacked since we moved here 6 1/2 years ago. I love my kids, but I would like to pinch their little heads off when they whine and complain, pick on each other, roll their eyes, speak with a sassy tone, or pout.

I don't want people to think we're perfect. It's easy to make judgements about people and families looking on from the outside. I think we all get caught up in the trap of  making judgements about people, whether in blogland or real life. But no one is perfect. We are all trying to get through each day. Some of us have it more together than others, but no one has it all together all the time...no one.

A few months ago I was in my Zumba class, and we started dancing to a song by Gloria Estefan, "I Just Wanna Be Happy." Happy, joyous and free, she sings. I almost broke down half way through the song, because I realized that was me...I just wanna be happy. I just want my kids to be nice to each other. I just want to be more patient and slower to get irritated. I just want my third child here with us, healthy. I bit my lip and got through the rest of the song and class without sobbing, but it was a definite revelation moment for me.

We try to have a good time at our house. We like to laugh and kid with each other, but we certainly have our flaws. I am selfish and like to have things my way. I teach the children the importance of sharing, yet find it hard to share myself. I am impatient and get frustrated easily.

Not too long ago Kelvin and I watched the documentary, "Forks over Knives," and while I thought it was good, I struggled with the last bit of the movie which said, "Eat to Live," not "Live to Eat." I'm Southern. Down here, our lives revolve around food. I enjoy being in the kitchen, trying new recipes and cooking with my family. I really want to be thin, but I really like to eat too. I like food...a LOT! I don't know about the saying, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." As much as I would like to agree; I beg to differ. The person who wrote that little ditty just hasn't tried my shrimp and grits recipe from the chef in North Carolina or the Asparagus Carbonara I made last night or Grandma's fried shrimp or Classic Cafe's Tollhouse Pie, for goodness' sake! To say nothing of Susan's coconut pie, Miss Patsy's, well anything Miss Patsy makes, Mama's pot roast, Marvin's ribs, the chicken friend oysters at Branchwater Tavern, the butterfly steak at America's, or the crab cakes at Capital Grill! Not to mention the fried green tomatoes at the mom and pop place between here and North Carolina, the etouffee at Poches in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, or the veggie omelet in Ouray, Colorado. I need to move on, because I'm starting to get hungry now, and it's bedtime.

I guess the bottom line is as much as I was flattered my friend thought my kids were perfect and we were the happy little family, we struggle, just like everyone. Just know, when you see us walking up to the doors of the church building, we probably griped at the kids while we were getting ready. And I'll bet if you're honest, you did too. :)

Have a great weekend! Eat something yummy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dance as though nobody is watching

*******Updated to add video*******

Carleigh has been asking for a couple of years now to get back into dance. She took for a couple of years, then I just got too tired to take her to lessons and do the whole "dance thing" after Emma got sick and passed away. Well, she has continued to ask to dance. I registered her for a dance camp this week. She has thoroughly enjoyed herself. Of course, I think she looks beautiful when she dances and is loaded with talent, but her teacher said she thinks Carleigh has a lot of natural talent too. :) I see dance classes in our future. Today is the last day of camp, and the girls are performing for the parents. I can't wait to see her! Hope to post a video later.

**********Video**********

Carleigh is the one in the dark pink tank top and bright yellow shorts. :)
On another note, remember the "awesome deal frame" I posted about several months ago? The one that was regularly like $94 and was clearanced for $6? Well, today I started working on the project I had in mind. Then things didn't go quite as planned, so I scrapped that idea and decided to do something else with it. I will post a photo when I'm finished. Can't wait. Don't you wish you didn't have to wait to complete projects? Patience, ugh!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I don't understand

There things in this life I don't understand...

Why does God heal some and not others? There is so much sadness. Why do children have to suffer? There are so many children who are sick with so many different diseases and cancer and horrible things. Why are so many children dying? Parents all over the world are devestated because they have had to say goodbye to a child. Why?! Why does a very Godly man, healthy, with a clean MRI one month, have to suffer with a stage 4 geoblastoma tumor--and all of the uncertainty, memory loss, chemo, radiation, and other loss that goes along with it--the next month? Why does my sweet friend who has lost both parents and her precious husband have to be dealt the extra burden of poor health as well while trying to raise her precious children alone? Why have the children of Haiti, and all the people of that country and so many more for that matter, had to suffer such devastation? Why do men and women all over our country have to deal with complete loss of retirement money and companies that have been a source of income for so many for so long go out of business? Why do I feel like my head is spinning out of control? Why does my mother-in-law have to finish the rest of her life without the man of her dreams? Why do happily married couples have to suffer through prostate cancer? Why do people have to be so mean to each other? Why can't I be a consistent mom who doesn't yell? Why did Eve have to take a bite of the forbidden fruit for crying out loud?!? Why didn't Adam stop her? Why do men and women, especially married men and women, beat each other down instead of lifting each other up? Why can't we love others and treat them the way we want to be treated, living the truth Jesus laid out for us so long ago? Why do people steal? I mean taking something that doesn't belong to them be it a purse, out of someone's car, or a broker spending monies that don't belong to them is just wrong. Why can't we love and be content with what we have instead of always wanting more? Why are 30,000 girls, even as young as three, enslaved in sex-trafficking in Cambodia? Why have we lost the concept of customer service in this country? Why do employees think it is okay to talk on their cell phones when they are trying to provide a service to a customer? Why do they look bored and stand there doing nothing when they should be thankful for a job and busting their rear ends finding something to do? Why do I hear foul language coming from their mouths when they are working? Why can some people play the "system" so easily and never feel like they are doing anything wrong by sitting at home driving their fancy cars and wearing their fancy clothes, talking on the newest, coolest phone, while others are struggling to make ends meet and their kids are hungry but they don't "qualify" for any help because they are busting their backsides at their job and make too much money?! Why are there girls delivering babies in junior high school bathrooms and putting them in the garbage can when couples who would give anything to have a baby can't? Why do people like my sweet friend who wants a whole house full of babies have to have an emergency hysterectomy after delivering her first baby? Why do people trying to get their finances in order get a stupid fine for having a garage sale for not getting a permit and the neighbor down the street has them all the time without getting the said permit and never gets caught? Why do I care? Why do innocent people in a movie theater have to lose their lives?

WHY?

I am struggling with life right now, or have been for a while, really. I know there are no answers to my questions on this side of Heaven. I think I wish there were, but I don't know if my mind is big enough to grasp the bigness of it all. There are so many things that my puny brain doesn't get. I love to hear stories of how Emma's life impacted someone positively, but it is also painful at the same time. I mean, God is pretty big, why couldn't He have used something else? I really miss her and what should have been. She was diagnosed with Batten Disease on this day, 2008. Sometimes I think God must laugh at my lack of faith to know He does have a plan and He is in control despite my lack of understanding. I wish it were enough for me to just trust. I guess it has to be for now.

I found this post in my drafts last night and worked on it a little bit. I started it several months ago. Funny how I am struggling with the same things still today.

"Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise." Jeremiah 17:14 (NASB)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Awesome Opportunity

The kids and I participated in our church's Vacation Bible School a few weeks ago. I had the privilege of leading worship every morning for the kiddos. I worked with a band made up of some of the most wonderful young people you'll ever meet. One of the guys, Michael, shared with me what God is doing in his life. I was very moved and inspired to partner with him in his ministry efforts. Won't you take a few minutes to read his story?

Because of my love for the outdoors, I studied Environmental, Soil and Water Science at the University of Arkansas for the last four years, and have recently graduated. During my junior year I met students and staff members involved in a Christian organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. Through them I came to a better understanding of my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. As I grew in my relationship with the Lord, I learned how to share my faith and help new believers grow in their walks with God. It has been exciting to see God use me to reach others with the Gospel. I have realized that people all over the world need to hear about Christ’s love for them.

During this last Christmas break I attended a Campus Crusade for Christ conference where God moved in my life in an incredible way. For the first time, I felt like I finally understood the vast depth of the Gospel, and I was immediately crushed by it. At that moment my heart truly understood the division that our sin creates between man and God. I then saw just how great Jesus’ love is for us, that He would die for us while we were still in sin, and reconcile us to the Father. Throughout the rest of the week at the conference God had the full attention of my heart, and He began a life changing work in me. He took my own heart and desires from me, and replaced them with His own heart desires for the world; that His name would be made known among all nations.

This new heart for missions led me to Ethiopia in March with a small group of students from the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry at our campus. Having never been out of the country before, seeing people of another culture, language, and nationality worshiping the same awesome God in their own language struck me greatly. I also got the opportunity to speak with several Ethiopian college students about the Gospel, and even led one of them to Christ! One student even said in his broken English, “Thank you so much for coming all the way to my country to share this with me.”

It was my experience in Ethiopia that really finalized my desire to begin full time ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ for the next year in a foreign country. After several months of prayer, God has led my heart to serve His kingdom in the region of East Asia to reach college students. Evangelistic Christianity can be risky in that part of the world due to the current political regime. Nevertheless, I am convinced this is where God wants me to be for the next year. I can think of no safer place to be than in the center of His will.

My goal is to leave for East Asia on August 29th, but before I go, I have the challenge of raising my financial support. Like many other missions organizations, Campus Crusade for Christ workers must raise all of their financial support. As I take this large step of faith to serve the Lord in ministry, would you prayerfully consider joining me as a partner in ministry by financially supporting me?

There's a few ways you can help out! I will gladly meet with you if you would like to hear more about my ministry. Or, if God has led you to the decision to join my ministry, an online method of giving is listed below! My greatest need at the moment is monthly partnership; however, I know not everyone is in a position to do so. You also have the opportunity to give a one time gift as well. Please seek God's guidance for your decision in prayer.

Campus Crusade's online giving center can be reached  at https://give.cru.org/give. At the online giving center, you can setup monthly giving, or give a one time gift. Enter my number 0661749 in the search box, and you will be directed to my staff page. Because I will be in a Closed Country, no personal information of mine can be associated with Crusade on the internet, so just double check that you entered my staff account number correctly. It should say "International Staff" in large font. There will be a large yellow "GIVE A GIFT" link, which will direct you through the process of setting up an automatic draft or credit card monthly gift, or one time gift.

Thank you for considering my need!
Yours in Christ,
Michael

Thank you for taking the time to read Michael's story. It's such a breath of fresh air to meet young people today who are not consumed with themselves and can actually carry on a conversation.

In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Sometimes, I think God allows us to go by providing others with the means. What a blessing to be born in a country that is not under oppression from a government that does not allow them to worship the one true God. Thankfully, Michael is going to tell others. I pray their hearts will be open to His message. Please pray along with me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JULY!

Well, it looks like I will only post once a month this summer! Holy cow! I can.not. be.lieve. it is already July!! We are having so much fun. I can't stand to think the summer is halfway over. Ugh! We spent last week at the beach. I miss our beach house SO much. I loved every minute we were there. The house we rented with some childhood friends was just perfect. Practically every house down there is new since Hurricane Ike reared its ugly head, and this little jewel was adorable! I am even more inspired to redo around our place now. I wish there was a way to get rid of about 75% of our stuff in the span of a weekend. I would love to give the old head nod or nose twitcheroo like Samantha on Bewitched, and have everything the way I wanted it. Patience. It's not my best virtue. Anyway, I hope to at least paint sometime in the very near future. It's been six years now, so I'm thinking it's time for a little sprucing. The week included good food and great fellowship. We also enjoyed an amazing fireworks show almost every night, and tossed more washers than I have in years. We built sandcastles, rode boogie boards, dug holes to China, and played at the water slide, took Jeep and golfcart rides, watched the sunset, enjoyed drinks on the deck, and had a watermelon seed spitting contest. The kids rode their ripsticks and scooters underneath the house, and we talked into the wee hours. It was a wonderful week! While we were there Kelvin's precious grandmother turned 85! She is such a doll. She is still going strong and works 5 days a week at his aunt's store. I hope to do so well when I'm 85! Happy birthday, Grandma! We love you!!






Well, what have y'all been up to this summer? Carleigh has been to GA camp (Christian girls camp), Luke went to a local theater day camp, both joined the swim team and racked up the ribbons, we did vacation bible school, have enjoyed hanging out with friends, gone to the movies, eaten watermelon, made popscicles, made some adorable 4th of July decorations, spent some time with family, thrown some washers and horse shoes, played in the blow up pool, slept late, watched movies with homemade popcorn, checked out books from the library, and spent a week at the beach! This week, Luke is enjoying STOMP (music) camp at church, and Carleigh is helping Mom and Dad with the kiddos during their preschool summer session. Next week, I hope to visit one of the local water parks, read some more of Summer of the Monkeys, grill, make s'mores, have some dinner guests, make something fun, and sleep late some more. Carleigh is signed up for dance camp in a couple of weeks, and I need to remember to sign up Luke for soccer.




Hope you're having a fun-filled summer!
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