Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's winter to you?

It's a mild winter here, but it's still winter.
The trees are stripped bare and the grass is light brown.
Everything is pretty much dead.

This season sure isn't my favorite, but I don't mind it because there's always a promise of spring.
Lydia's room is definitely my favorite in the house right about now.
It's bursting with bright color, and it screams JOY.

What do you ponder when you think about winter?
For me,  it's a time to rest from the craziness of all the "going and doing" in the summer and fall.
It's a time for certain things in my life to "die back" so that new growth can spring forth.

Are you resting?
Do you feel things in your life and in your heart being pruned in this season?

Winter calls me to pause more, to read more, to get in my pajamas earlier.
 {or maybe go a day with never leaving them}.
It begs me to think about what my priorities are...where my treasures are.
Without fail, my life experiences a "winter" every single year, no matter the temperatures outside.
It has become so much more to me than a season to dread.
Without the pruning, without the stretching, without things having to die, there would be no growth.

After all, a plant is only as good as its roots.
These winter seasons ground us in our relationship with Christ.

What is "dying back" in this season for you?

{thankful for}
260. the honor of leading a starting point class at church.
261. being able to watch people see where their story intersects with God's story.
262. my parents coming for dinner at our house tonight.
263. the dying back of winter, both physically and spiritually.
264. new growth taking root in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WAIT, the never ending post.

But, He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power can rest on me.
~2 Corinthians 12:9

Shortly after my heart was transformed by the love and grace of Christ, I came across this verse of scripture, and it all but jumped off the page and into my heart.  I had no idea some twenty years ago that God would literally use this truth over and over and over again in my life.  Positively, it has been my life verse.

It hasn't been a "feel good" verse for me.  I've battled it through the years because somewhere early on, I bought into the lie that I had to appear as though my life was pieced nicely together like a beautiful package that the world could handle.  

One of the "weaknesses" that I've battled has been insecurity, and it has led me down desperately destructive paths in my younger years.  I found myself giving my value and worth away to just about anything or anyone that asked for it all in the guise of wanting to be accepted.

Again and again, I was left disappointed and unfulfilled because there is nothing in this world that can truly satisfy.  And, slowly but surely, every single time I found myself this way, I'd surrender another part of my insecure self to the Lord.  

This is where I'd love, and I mean love, to tell you that I'm all fixed and I no longer struggle with an ounce of insecurity.  But, that'd be a lie.

I can tell you that it's not the same struggle it once was.  
God has become bigger and people (and their approval) have become smaller.

Here's what I know to be true:
The more I learn about the Lord, the more I realize how much more I need him.
The more I surrender my life to him,  the more I realize has yet to be surrendered.

He uses everything.  He wastes nothing.
He weaves everything in our lives together and forms this beautiful tapestry out of our broken mess.

And, so I wait.  I wait on the Lord, my heart takes courage, and I wait on the Lord.  (Psalm 27:14)

Life with God is a paradox.  
...the world says our status comes from who we are financially and socially 
while God says that the poor are the richest in His kingdom.
...the world says our power comes through control, money, fame, and influence 
while God says power comes through service, sacrifice and humility.
...the world says our freedom comes from the law and obeying it
while God says freedom comes from understanding and living under his grace- acknowledging daily that our relationship with God isn't about our vain attempts at good works but instead the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Friends, I'm in the middle of transition.  My oldest child will be twelve years old in a few short weeks. He's officially in middle school, which is ironically bringing out the inner middle schooler in me!  Any small amount of pride that I've ever had in parenting has flown the coop.  The fact that my husband and I were in youth ministry for the better part of ten years means absolutely NOTHING.
We are idiots.  We know nothing.  We feel powerless in our own strength.  Together, we are a heaping pile of insecure mess.

The paradox is that God says we are now in the perfect place for him to do a great work.
And, our hope is in Him.  We will surrender ourselves to him daily and WAIT on his power to be perfected in our weaknesses.

{thankful for}
256. Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of my faith.
257. My children, who show me my great need for him.
258. My husband, who stands desperate beside me as we pray these kids of ours grasp grace from us.
259. My heart friends, who remind me of the truth on those drive-way pacing, fetal position hard days.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Designs by Tahra & A Winner!

I wanted to show you some of the beautiful products that my friend, Tahra, has created in her shop.
These are just a few samples of the many amazing pieces of jewelry that she has made.
She's someone that I know personally, and I would recommend her products to anyone.
She's a perfectionist and would never send out a product that isn't above top quality!

She has a friend who is leaving soon to pick up her TWO Ethiopian daughters,
and Tahra is giving 50% of all her sales for the rest of this month toward her friend's adoptions.
Adoption is close to my heart, so I'd love to send as many sales her way as possible!!
Visit her shop HERE.

Thanks to the random number generator, the WINNER of her monogrammed necklace is::
Comment #23 from Hillcrest Acres.
I'll pass your information onto Tahra, who will contact you about receiving your prize!
Thanks for all of you who entered the give away!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Easiest Afternoon Snack EVER.

This is not an original idea.
If you go to Pinterest and search for crescent roll ideas, you'll get way more than you asked for!
In fact, there are so many recipes out there, 
I feel sure you could make some concoction with crescent rolls every day for the rest of your life.
Here's my version::

Chocolate Chip Crescent Rolls with Sugar on top
1 can of crescent rolls
A handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
A pinch of sugar on top of each one

My ingredients are from Trader Joes.  
It makes me feel better to eat fattening foods that are minus additives/preservatives!!
{kind of like when I used to eat a candy bar while drinking a diet coke}

Here's a picture of my kiddos destroying them.

What you don't see are the two that I'm shoving down my throat while taking the picture.
One handed picture that's a mad skill.

{thankful for}
251. my talk with Missy this morning.
252. afternoon snacks that make us HaPpY.
253. friends coming over to play this afternoon.
254. laundry almost finished.
255. My first advertiser!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Give Away!!

I have the sweetest friend, Tahra, from Orlando.
She's a busy mother of five but loves to make jewelry in the small amount of spare time that she gets.
She's generously offered to give away one of her monogrammed necklaces to one of you!

If you'd like to enter to win, leave me a comment, and I'll draw the winner on Friday morning.
For two comments, you can tweet, facebook or blog about it!!

 I'd love for you to check out her  ETSY SHOP and see all of her beautiful handmade items.
Her products are very well made and reasonably priced!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

This is probably what they call TMI.

Brooke from Heart {and Seoul} tagged me in a fun post, so I thought I'd play along.  
{The Rules}
one\ post the rules.
two\ post eleven fun facts about yourself
three\ answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
four\ tag eleven people and link them on your post
five\ let them know you've tagged them!
Facts about me::
1. I have a very southern accent.
2. I've been married for 15 years.
3. We have two sons { 11 & 9} and one daughter {5}, who happens to be from China.
4.  I love coffee and can't imagine it not in my life.
5. Organization should be my middle name, but I'm not crazy "Monica Geller" like I used to be.
6. My husband asked me to marry him at the UGA/AUBURN game in 1995 down on the field.
He cheered and the squad held up signs that said, "Will you marry me, Tara?"
It made *Plays of the Week* on ESPN.
7. I love the smell of fresh cut grass.
8. I prefer lakes and mountains over oceans and sand.
9. My favorite summer time meal that my mom cooks is:
 fried porkchops, fresh green beans, fresh corn, homemade mac-n-cheese, fresh cucumber, onion, and tomato slices, homemade cornbread with butter oozing out the sides, and a tall glass of sweet tea.
10. I love reading...books change you and make you better.
11. fall is my favorite time of year.
{Questions for Me, From my Tagger} 
1. What is your favorite go to date place?
We live in Athens, GA, and it's a great city to play in, 
and there are so many really cool places to eat here!!! 
Favorite breakfast... Mama's Boy or Five Star Day
Favorite Mexican...Taqueria La Parilla
Favorite Italian...De Palmas 
Favorite pricey dinner...Last Resort
Favorite Coffee...Jittery Joes..absolutely.
I literally could list twenty more...come to Athens and eat with me!

2. What is your favorite Bible verse?
It's so hard to say that I have a favorite because the Word in its entirety sustains me,
but my life verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

3. If you could spend five thousand dollars selfishly on yourself, what would you buy? 
 (No giving to charity- though I know that’s what you all would really do!)
I'd take a trip with my'd be a toss up between an island and a fantastic city.

4.  What is your pet peeve?
crunching ice.
toilet seats left up.
know it all people.
I'll stop there for now, but just know that I could go on.

5. Describe your morning/bedtime routine.
Get up, take retainers out, run not walk to the coffee pot, drink my first cup of coffee, read, listen to worship music to set my heart right, read a few blogs, occasionally talk to Michele before the kids wake, feed kids breakfast, make beds, start school with kids.
bedtime routine with kids, brush teeth, lay in the bed with hubby and read or watch brainless tv or talk facing each other while our dog baby lays with us.  lights out 11:30 pm.

6.  If you could meet anyone (alive), who would it be and why?
The first person that comes to mind isn't alive, but I honestly wish I could meet him.
My husband's dad died of cancer the year before we met, so it'd be him for sure.
So that I don't break the rules...I'll say that I'd also really enjoy meeting a handful of bloggers out there who I adore.

7.  What is your favorite book and song?
too many books to name...I'm one of those that has a new favorite book as soon as I finish another one.  My current favorite is Same Kind of Different as Me.
favorite song?  same there...too many to count...
worship music....kari jobe. christy nockles. klaus kleun.
country..little big town. taylor swift. carrie underwood. miranda lambert.
rock/folk rock...Avett Brothers. Dave Matthews. Jack Johnson. Matthew Perryman.

8.  What is the best place you’ve ever traveled to?
toss up...
India...saw true poverty and oppression and it turned me inside out..haven't been the same.
China....walked on The Great Wall and brought our daughter home..journey of a lifetime.

9.  If you were given three wishes, what would they be?
1. My mom would be healed of COPD. 
2. I could meet Lydia's biological mother in China and say thank-you.
3. our whole family could go on an extended mission trip.

10.  You are on a deserted island.  You can have three things only.  Go:
Legit...I'd want my bible, my family, food/water.

11.  Who is your role model and why?
My mom.  
She is strong and brave.
She's weathered many storms in her life and they made her better and not bitter.
She doesn't quit.
She doesn't complain.
She doesn't talk bad about others.
She's tolerant and receptive in the best ways.
She serves others well.
She loves deep and wide.
She is respectful of others.
She's always been a truly good friend to those in her life.
She's generous with her time, her resources, and herself.
She's meek and mild.
She's really funny in a dorky kind of way.
She can laugh at herself.
She's smart.

{Questions from Me to Those I Have Tagged}
1.  favorite season?
2.  favorite food?
3. Name three things on your bucket list.
4. favorite quality about yourself?
5. least favorite quality about yourself?
6. favorite thing to do on a lazy day?
7.favorite brainless tv show?
8. favorite quality in a friend?
9. three things you love about your spouse?
10. hardest part of parenting for you?
11. dress up or casual? stay in or go out?

{People I am Tagging}
Paige from Simple Thoughts
Becky from Farmgirl Paints
Shannan from Flowerpatch Farmgirl
Tiffini from House of Belonging
Melaine from My Sweet Savannah
Cat from Cat D Moore
Tessa from Nine and Sixteen
Tricia from Morning T
Tara from Blondie 'N' SC

Saturday, January 14, 2012

same kind of different as me.

"I've been thinkin a lot about what you asked me."  
I had no idea what he was talking about.  "What did I ask you?" 
 "'Bout bein your friend."
My jaw dropped an inch.  I'd forgotten that when I told him at the Cactus Flower Cafe that all I wanted from him was his friendship, he'd said he'd think about it.  Now, I was shocked that anyone would spend a week pondering such a question.  While the whole conversation had slipped my mind, Denver had clearly spent serious time preparing his answer.
He looked up from his coffee, fixing me with one eye, the other squinted like Clint Eastwood.  "There's somethin I heard 'bout white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin."
He was serious and I didn't dare laugh, but I did try to lighten the mood a bit.  "I don't know if I'll be able to help you," I said, smiling.  "I don't even own a tackle box."
Denver scowled, not amused.  "I think you can."
He spoke slowly and deliberately, keeping me pinned with that eyeball ignoring the Starbucks groupies coming and going on the patio around us.
"I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.'"
Catch and release?  I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time. 
"That really bothers me," Denver went on.  "I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look.  Then we eat what we other words, we use it to sustain us.  So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water."
He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute.  
Then:  "Did you hear what I said?"
I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend.
Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky then locked onto me again with that drill-bit stare.  "So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me:  If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend."
The world seemed to halt in mid-stride and fall silent around us like one of those freeze-frame scenes on TV.  I could hear my heart pounding and imagined Denver could see it popping my breast pocket up and down.  I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on.
Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: "But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one.  Forever." 
"IF YOU is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one. Forever."
As Denver's words echoed in my head, it occurred to me that I could not recall ever having heard any pronouncement on friendship more moving or profound than what I'd just heard from the mouth of a vagabond.  Humbled, all I could do in return was make a simple, but sincere promise:  "Denver, if you'll be my friend, I promise not to catch and release."

This book tells the story of a friendship where there was life-changing love. 
It is an example of how God, in His mercy, chooses to use us when we aren't sure we want to be used.
It reminds us that love changes the world, one soul at a time.
It challenges us to remember that the people that seem the most un-like us aren't that different at all.

"Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
~Attributed to both T.H. Thompson and John Watson

Many of us can say that we've served meals at nearby homeless shelters.
Or, handed out money at red-lights.
Or, taken food & blankets to the homeless man that sleeps at the blockbuster.

But, I wonder what it would be like to form a genuine friendship with someone seemingly so different?
This story leaves me praying for an un-likely friendship in my own life.
When I close my eyes, I can actually see her face and the faces of her children.
We're watching our kids play.
We're cooking dinner together.
We're having coffee.
We're worshipping together.
We're buying groceries.
We're celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter and birthdays.
Oh, Lord, let it be.
Let me open my eyes and see her.
Let us be real friends. Forever.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Naked Windows No More.

Nester is having her home goals linky party this week, so I thought I'd join in.

My projects for this year are going to be pretty simple.
Every single room in this rental house has naked windows, so I'm gonna get them dressed.
The end.

These are the two windows in the room, and they're going to get plaid panels on both of them.
Here's the black and white fabric that I'm ordering this month.
I'll add more of this fabric for a Euro sham on each bed and for simple bedskirts on each.


Our room feels pretty finished except for those naked windows.
I think I'll put four of those prints together and take out that center one when I add panels.
If you look at the bedding, there is a pop of orange in it, so I'm thinking about some orange panels.


or maybe this?


More nakedness.
I'll add more panels to those two windows this year, if I can ever decide what color or pattern.


I love a good neutral palate, but I'm about sick to death of the lack of color in this room.
Some color will surely wake this tired room up!

Here are some inspiring photos that I've saved on my pinterest boards for our windows.

The windows kind of make a difference!

{thankful for}
247. a short project list for 2012.
248. finishing the first book on my reading list.
249. color.
250. lydia's laugh tonight at dinner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wait with Hope.

Well, my word for 2012 is definitely WAIT.
I love God's perfect timing.
Last year, my word was HOPE.
There was an area of my life that had caused me great despair.
I had carried around hurt from an experience in my childhood for years.
I didn't understand where God was in that experience,  and I wrestled Him over it for twenty years.
At the root of my struggle, I doubted his goodness and his love for me.

In the beginning of last year's journey, I felt so completely over-whelmed by the hugeness of my need.
I wish I could tell you there was a formula to follow, 
but this kind of journey requires utter dependence on someone bigger than yourself.
I spent the year just admitting and confessing what was in my heart.
And, I asked for His help.
Every time he revealed a lie that I'd believed,  I confessed & repented
 & asked him to replace the lie with His truth.
I repeated that cycle over and over and over all year long.

I was powerless to give myself the hope in him that I needed.
But, he wasn't powerless, and he heard the prayers of my heart.
He produced a hope in me that is now overflowing.

There is great power in understanding the lies that you have believed about God,
 confessing and repenting and asking him to replace them with His truth.
Before you know it, He has replaced what was once despair and unbelief with hope and faith in Him.
His truth is written on the tablets of your heart.

I have HOPE going into 2012, and I'm gonna need it while I WAIT.
Psalm 27:14
Wait with hope for the Lord. 
 Be strong, and let your heart be courageous.  Yes, wait with hope for the Lord.

I'm almost {but not really} speechless at his goodness.
You know I can't keep silent about why he gave me the word WAIT for this year, 
but this post can't handle another word from me.
Be back tomorrow.

{thankful for}
243. truth revealed.
244. His bigger picture.
245. my boys playdate with friends this afternoon.
246. a dreary, rainy day made for wearing pjs all day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh January!

January is pushy.
{in a good way}
This month makes me more determined to stay on top of my laundry....
I vow to strip the beds every week and freshen the beds with new sheets.
I promise myself to do a better job of not just washing and drying those loads...
but folding it and actually putting it away so those piles don't become "vignettes" in our home.

January urges me to read more.
My list is looooooong for 2012.
I can be bad about making an over-achieving list in every area of my life 
and then feeling like a loser at the end of the year when its all not finished.
Not this year!
Lists are good...they mean we're making goals.
I've decided I'd rather make long lists and be excited about the goals than not make any lists at all.

The first book I'm reading this year is Same Kind of Different as Me, and if your list has room, 
I'd consider adding it.
It's digging deep into my heart...reminding me to look for friendships in unexpected places.
Those are always my favorite friendships.

After I finish it this week, I'm moving onto Give Them Grace.
Honestly, because I need more of it in my parenting.
There's such a hard balance between enjoying every moment
 and realizing that you just don't and not feeling guilty about it because it's normal not to.
Relate at all?
After I finish those, I'm starting a new Karen Kingsbury series called The Bailey Flanigan Series.
I read every single one of her book series in the summer of 2006, and I haven't read one since.
Guess I got a little over zealous with her and wore myself completely out.
Anyway, I'm excited to read more about Bailey Flanigan...loved that character!
There are four books in the series to read, and then my list continues....
6 books in January.
That's what January does to me.

January gives me renewed vision to carry out the rest of our school year strong.
It encourages me to get out my calendar and make sure we're on task in our studies.
We need to finish in time for our East Coast trip in May.
November and December tell you to...
 slow down, wind it up, and take a break for good food and fellowship.
But not January.
January tells you to re-focus, re-commit, re-examine your priorities.

 Drinking more water.
Taking my dog baby on more strolls.
Examining my heart against God's word to see the cracks and brokenness that need his touch.
Inviting more people into our home for a meal.
Watching more movies with our kids all piled in the bed with us.
Being more intentional about calling friends, both old and new.
Talking less. Praying more.

January is good to us, isn't she?

{thankful for}
235. that leftover chicken tortilla soup for lunch.
236. conversations with michele.
237. cold coffee in my pot making delicious iced coffee in the afternoon.
238. heart examinations that happen in January.
239. water with lime.
240. an almost clean house for small group tonight.
241. Same Kind of Different as Me...goooooood read.
242. much needed time with my man.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Celebrating five.

Five years old.
She looked at me tonight at bedtime and said,
"I feel VERY five, mom. I don't feel four at all anymore."

It's been such a full weekend of celebrating her life!!
She's praying that this is the week she loses her first tooth.
I told her all last year that it usually happens when you're five, and she took me serious.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Looking back.

Last January, I knew that God was going to do something special in my heart and mind.
 I knew that my word for 2011 was HOPE.
There were a few areas of my life that needed to be infused with it.

We were living in Orlando, and as much as I loved it, I longed to be near my family.
My mom has a lung disease and I honestly just wanted to be with her as often as possible.
We adored our college students, but we began to genuinely miss ministering to families.
My husband missed working on a team.
We really needed our house in Georgia to had been a long three years.
As much as we loved the weather in Florida for six months out of the year, we missed our seasons.
There was a hurt place in my heart that I needed Jesus to touch and make whole.

When you don't know the answers and you know you aren't in control, 
you need HOPE in the one who does and is.

I had no idea when I typed that post last year how much one year could bring so much change.

We moved back home to Georgia in August.
I'm an hour from my mom and dad and see them every single week.
We're serving at a wonderful church in Athens, GA, where we met in college.
My husband is part of a phenomenal team in ministry with similar hearts and passions.
Two weeks after we moved to Georgia, our house sold.
We moved just in time to experience our favorite season....fall.
Jesus touched and healed the area in my heart in ways I can't even explain.

The year was a blank canvas, and God filled it up with every color that he ever created.
I wonder what this year's word will be?
What theme will He weave in and out of every piece of my life?

Don't you know it's killing me that I don't have my word.
Killing me.

Maybe, it's WAIT. {ha!}
We'll see!

{thankful for}
229. HOPE in Christ.
230. watching seth play basketball today..fastest feet ever.
231.  a new hair cut that makes me feel a little like eddie van halen.

232.  a great visit with my parents on friday.

 233. pioneer woman's chicken tortilla soup tonight.
234. the notebook being on again.
{I never get tired of that movie!}

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pleated Poppy Winner

The winner for the gift certificate to PLEATED POPPY is commenter # 37,
who just happens to be
TIFFINI from House of Belonging!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Joys of Fake Wood Cabinets...

Remember when I told you that we were working on a couple of projects?
We cleaned out our closets last week, and we painted the bathroom and kitchen cabinets in our rental.
Here are a few shots of the kitchen....
The walls were bright yellow, and we went with a very neutral benjamin moore color.
*manchester tan*
The cabinets were awful.
The fronts of them were oak, and the rest of them were FAKE WOOD.

I know that we'll be in this house for at least two years, so we asked the owners if we could paint them.
Thankfully, they said we could!
We went with a creamy white because this room needed some light!!!

We used some bronze spray paint on all of the hardware, so it's still dated, but it looks better.

Over all, I'm glad we did'll make these next two years that we're in this house pass by sweeter.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and a Give Away!!!

I'm excited that Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy is helping me start 2012 off with a give away!
She is offering one of my readers a $25 gift certificate to her shop.

Here are just a few of the awesome products that she makes with her very own talented hands!

For a chance to win, leave a comment.
For another chance to win, tweet, facebook or blog about it.
If you don't have a blog, be sure to leave me your email so that I can contact you when you win!

Winner will be announced on Friday, the 6th.