Friday, December 31, 2010

So I Have This Theory. . . .

It could be waaaaay off. It is based on nothing except my own observations and interactions with people, so there is no "real" research or anything "official" to back it. It is entirely just my opinion and therefore probably wrong ;-), but I'm wondering what others might think. So let me know if you share this opinion or have other insights to offer.

It is the time of year when lots of people make all kinds of new resolutions. And while I certainly don't have a problem with this practice in general, I don't really buy into the whole idea of "New Year Resolutions". I mean, I'm all about making life changes. I think it's critical that we all continue to learn and grow and find ways to improve, but I think this is something that happens as part of an ongoing lifestyle of learning and growing--not so much something you just flip a switch for on January 1st and expect everything to fall perfectly in line. This is part of the reason I think so many people make the same resolutions every single year because they usually abandon them by February. Most of the resolutions I've seen people try to keep require long-term discipline rather than quick "cold turkey" decisions. Certainly strong willpower could overcome this issue, but there is a bigger problem than even this I think. It's about motivation. I am of the opinion that it is pretty much exhausting to worship at the idol of "self." Seems like a contradiction since that behavior results in investing primarily in oneself. But the problem is that human beings just weren't designed to be satisfied with the things of this world. So it's never enough. Ever. No matter how much a person acquires or improves or learns, etc., none of those things are ever ultimately fulfilling.

SO--I'm thinking-- Again, I sure don't think there's anything wrong with making decisions to do some things differently in the New Year. But I wonder if we need to adjust our motivation for doing so. I think we fail because we are not focused on the right motivation OR the right end result. For example:

Rather than deciding to be more frugal in order to HAVE more for ourselves, suppose we desire to be more frugal so that we can GIVE more.

Rather than deciding to get in shape so that we can look better in fitted clothing for people who shouldn't be interested in the shape of our bodies anyway, suppose we desire to get in shape so that we can be healthier and have more energy to serve more effectively.

Rather than deciding to prepare more meals at home in order to save money to spend on ourselves, suppose we desire to prepare more meals at home so that we can help our spouses and children be stronger and healthier through the nutritious meals we provide for them.

Rather than deciding to read the Bible more so that we can check it off our list as something to be proud of and make sure everyone knows we did, suppose we desire to read the Bible more just so that we can know Christ and the Gospel better.

Things like that.

Just some thoughts. Because I have to believe that all of these things would be exponentially more fulfilling (and therefore much more long-term) if our motivation is right.

Whatever idols we pour our lives into can never fill us back up.

But OH how the Gospel sure can.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


"....he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them." --Isaiah 19:20


Friday, December 17, 2010

Stunning Winter








I hope I never stop being stunned by this gorgeousness.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

MSES Winter Concert 2010

Macy and Grace both got to be involved in their school's winter concert this evening. Gracie was the Fairy Godmother in her class's production of "Cinderella," and Macy got to perform 2 songs that SHE WROTE! It was the first time she sang AND played the keyboard at the same time in front of an audience, and it was certainly the first time she performed one of her own original compositions. So sweet!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Good List 12-15-10

10. The fact that Jared and I are the bottom 2 teams in our Vermont fantasy football league and the only two in the consolation ladder (not even the winner's consolation bracket--nay, this is the your-team-is-so-terrible-we'll-go-ahead-and-start-consoling-immediately bracket). I'm talking the very bottom here, people. Awesomeness redefined. ;-)
9. AND both of our (non-winner's) consolation ladder caliber teams got more points than every single team in the winner's bracket. This week. Now that it doesn't matter anymore. Go figure. :-D
8. Cake Mix cookies. Super easy to make. Super yummy to eat.
7. Having the perfect spot for some pretty stained glass. You should see it when the sun is shining.


6. Patriots 45-3 win over the Jets on Monday Night Football. Jared watched the entire game twice. Literally. ;-)
5. The contract my sister and brother-in-law have on their house in Houston!!! Please pray with me that the remaining details of the process go smoothly AND that HER SISTER will have a similar experience with a house in Nashville SOON!!!
4. My friend Anne's amazing collection of Christmas ornaments that you can tell spans several generations just by looking at them. She even pointed out a few that she estimated to be around 150 years old. (They belonged to her grandfather, and she herself is a great-grandmother, so they have had a very long life.) So special.
3. Watching people create art. I could watch someone paint or draw or sculpt for hours. It's fascinating to me.
2. Kindred hearts. I never would have guessed so many of mine live in Vermont, but I'm so happy to have found them. :-D
1. Our sweet and simple Nativity program at MSCC. Love it!


Fluffy Grace

Snow always makes me think of grace. Always. There is something so sweet and gentle and yet thorough and complete about the way it covers ugly deadness with something so gorgeous and startlingly clean and fresh. Beautiful.

It is gentle enough to rest lightly on a tiny little berry or dried up stem. . .



But it is also strong enough and big enough and deep enough to fully cover wherever it lands.

But it doesn't erase what it covers. It just rests there until it eventually melts into its host. And the more it soaks into the ground and roots and stems it settles on, the more spectacular the following spring tends to be--alive with brilliance and color.

Similarly, when we are "under grace," it doesn't dissolve or disintegrate us into nothingness. Not at all. Rather, if we truly soak it in and let it penetrate down to the roots of our souls, we can't help but grow into something so much more vibrant and healthy and alive and beautiful than the withered vine or dried up leaf it found us as when it first settled upon us. Oh so sweet and oh so powerful. Grace.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Good List 12-8-10

10. Those commercials starring Kevin Bacon as an obsessed Kevin Bacon fan. They border on creepy, but they're pretty funny.
9. My extremely well-seasoned baking stone. That baby has seen some recipes, let me tell ya!
8. Small cars that warm up quickly when you crank up the heat. :-D
7. Warm popcorn with m&m's dumped in. Salty. Sweet. Scrumptious.
6. Flash mobs. I want to be in one really bad.
5. The way my house smells when I start the day like this: (I promise you wish you could smell this.)


4. Watching giant, fluffy snowflakes swirl and float around outside while I do my chores. Ironically, it makes me feel all warm inside.
3. Finding random stuffed animals cozily tucked in in various places throughout my house. I have some little nurturers living with me. ;-)



2. Watching the Peanuts characters proclaim the gospel on national television last night. Gotta love Charles Schultz.
1. When prayers for healing are answered with a mighty YES!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Prayer Time 12-7-10

How may I pray for you today? Feel free to leave your requests in the comments field. These will not be published publicly for those concerned with privacy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Want One of These

That's all. Just wanted y'all to know in case you need Christmas gift ideas.

The Good List 12-1-10

10. That kinda weird but really catchy chant/song in the NFL Play60 commercials. I want to add it to my workout playlist, but I have no clue what it's called or how to find it. Can anyone help?
9. Classy football players like Drew Brees and Larry Fitzgerald.
8. The huge, gorgeous amaryllis bloom currently brightening up my living room. Thanks, Tracy!


7. Christmas specials. It's weird, because we actually own most of our favorites on DVD, but I still get all nostalgic and excited when I see a commercial for one airing during the week.
6. Amy Wright's homemade SEEDLESS blackberry jelly. YUM!
5. SOUP SUNDAY!
4. Relaxing in the glow of nothing but Christmas lights and candlelight. So warm and cozy.
3. The reaction Macy and Grace had to my wedding dress when we pulled it out of the last stack of boxes. They think I'm a real live princess for ever having worn such a thing. :-D
2. Watching The Fellowship of the Ring with my family during the Thanksgiving holidays. I'm pretty sure that would have freaked me out when I was Macy and Grace's age, but they loved it. Love Tolkien!
1. The Wicked tickets my sister just booked for a "Just the Girls" trip to NYC next April. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prayer Time 11-30-10

If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to leave them in the comments field. These will not be published publicly for those concerned about personal requests.

"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." --Acts 6:4




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Good List 11-24-10

10. Driving on my studded snow tires. I can already feel the difference.
9. Being able to store cold things outside when I run out of room in the fridge. Vermont FTW! :-D
8. Target. It's probably really good for our budget that we are no longer "conveniently" surrounded by these stores.
7. The African Queen. Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are brilliant.
6. Trees with white bark. They look so bright and pretty against the grey/brown backdrop of winter.
5. Brian Regan is coming to the Paramount right here in Rutland, VT! I'm so excited!
4. The 8 deer we watched run across the street and then leap through the field on our way to NY last week. Awesome.
3. The painting my nephew Ty made for me when he was 4 years old. It's called "Vermont." ;-)
2. Watching Macy and Grace play chess with Jared. They concentrate so hard. It's pretty adorable.
1. Four days in a row of family chill/snuggle/play time. Best. Week. Ever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Thankfulness Game

I have a very dear and special friend (who shall remain nameless for now ;-) who has gained for himself over the years a reputation of a pretty grumpy and crotchety kind of dude. I personally disagree with this assessment, but it seems that I'm in the minority in my line of thinking. SO--many years ago, in an effort to try to help him change people's perception of him and have them desire to get to know him better so they could know the great guy that I knew--I made him start playing "The Thankfulness Game" with me. It went something like this-- Every time he complained about something, I made him use the exact same scenario he was complaining about and give me 3 reasons related to that situation to be thankful. An example might be something along these lines:

"I'm so sick of all of these ridiculous meetings!" *Redirect.* And then--

"I'm grateful to have a calendar full of meetings, because it means I have a job that helps me provide for my family in an economy that has many struggling for their next meal."

"I'm grateful for meetings this week because it means I get to interact with real human beings for awhile instead of staring at a computer screen all day."

"I'm grateful to be included in these meetings because it means that my input and opinions are valued, and I may have an opportunity to influence some important decisions."

(If he reads this, I'm sure he will roll his eyes for hours at that last statement, but that is a discussion for a different day. :-P) I'm guessing that many times during these exercises he very much wanted to punch me in the throat and tell me to leave him alone, but he didn't do that. He was a very good sport, and he got really good at it after awhile. And he might not admit this, but I think maybe he even enjoyed it a little.

So in the spirit of my sweet friend, how 'bout we play? I'll go first--

I'm grateful for the huge pile of laundry in my laundry room, because it means we have lots of warm things to wear (which take up much more space in laundry baskets and washing machines than t-shirts and tank tops. ;-)

I'm grateful for the unfinished laundry because it gives me the chance to pull pajamas and socks fresh out of the dryer this evening and let my girls put them on all nice and warm. They LOVE that!

I'm grateful for the unfinished laundry because it reminds me that we have spent lots more time in the last few days PLAYING and doing FUN THINGS rather than chores. Sometimes the chores can just wait, ya know? :-D

Ok, your turn. What is something you're grateful for that might not make any sense to anyone else? Ready. . . . . . go!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Keep Steady Their Steps

"Keep steady [their] steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over [them]." --Psalm 119:133

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good List 11-17-10

10. The storm that screamed and sang and whistled outside my window all night long. I love that sound.
9. Freshly organized closets.
8. Red beans and rice with sausage after I've cooked it allllllllll day. YUM!
7. The Phantom Tollbooth. Such a smart book. (The movie was good too, but I haven't been able to find it on DVD.)
6. Megamind. Sweet and funny. And now I want a pet alien with a giant blue head and gargantuan green eyes. :-D
5. Listening to music on a record player. Love that scratch. Don't know why.
4. Seeing little kids all bundled up in hats and scarves. So adorable and snuggly.
3. The 1880 version of D.L. Moody's Heaven we found in a used bookstore in Poultney. Very awesome.
2. Being married to a man of integrity.
1. MY FIRST HOLIDAY SEASON AT HOME!!! Break out the cookbooks, Christmas movies, Christmas music, crafts, puzzles and decorations. IT'S ON!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prayer Time 11-16-10

Please feel free to leave prayer requests in the comments field. These will not be published publicly for those concerned about privacy. It is my honor to pray for you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy (Late) Birthday to my Favorite Man!

Life has been a whirlwind these last few weeks (in many very good ways), and it seems as though Jared and I haven't sat still together in a very long time, including on his birthday. We knew that this would be the case, so I promised him we would celebrate his birthday this weekend. A little late, but hopefully it will be just as sweet.

He turned 35 about 10 days ago, and with that in mind, I've composed a list of 35 reasons (in no particular order) why I love and adore him and am so proud to be his wife. If you have a favorite reason to add to the comments, please feel free to tell him why YOU love him too. :-D

Happy Birthday, Babe!

35. He is obsessed with zombies. I am not; however, I can't help but find it endearing. I'm honestly not sure why. . . .
34. He drives everywhere we go together. Even if it's a veeeeeery long drive. Because he knows I hate to drive.
33. He loves watching football with me and doesn't mind that I'm *mildly* obsessed with it.
32. He loves my cooking.
31. He is one of the best writers I have ever read. (But he doesn't agree with that statement.)
30. He is introverted, but he loves people too much not to reach out to them.
29. He brings me chocolate truffles for almost every special occasion we share.
28. He loves my family. And they're pretty much nuts, so that's kind of a big deal.
27. He loves bulldogs.
26. He is absolutely positive that Sasquatch and Champ exist.
25. His heroes are people like the apostle Paul, John Piper, Matt Chandler, etc.
24. He loves books, especially old books.
23. He honors and respects the elderly.
22. He is my favorite pastor in the whole wide world.
21. He makes me laugh, and he LOVES it when he makes me laugh.
20. He is so much smarter than I will ever be, but instead of making me feel stupid, he teaches me.
19. He probably would like to roll his eyes at my stockpile of scrapbooking supplies and jigsaw puzzles, but instead he enjoys that they make me happy.
18. He loves family outings when we can all be together.
17. He was a single Dad for 9 months while we lived apart. I don't know how he did it.
16. He cares about orphans.
15. He wants lost people to be saved more than anything in the world.
14. His best friends are all men of integrity.
13. He has earned the respect of people of all ages because of the way he cares for them.
12. He still can't believe he is a published author.
11. My coffee always tastes better when he makes it for me. ;-)
10. He is proud of me.
9. He loves all different kinds of great music.
8. He LOVES all the Cajun cooking my family introduced to him, like boiled crawfish, gumbo, red beans and rice, etc.
7. He loves new adventures.
6. He followed God's calling all the way to Vermont.
5. He likes to build fires and hang out around the firepit. I love that!
4. I can't imagine raising my girls with anyone else.
3. He thinks being a pastor is about MUCH more than preaching on Sunday morning. :-D
2. He adores our children.
1. He desires to know Christ more and better every single day, and he actively pursues that desire. How blessed does that make me?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Good List 11-10-10

10. Caramelized onions. They're pretty much magical.
9. Brand new boxes of crayons.
8. Being surrounded by books again (quite literally at the moment in fact. . .)
7. Keith Green. I need to read No Compromise again.
6. "What Love Really Means" by JJ Heller. Awesome.
5. When my Mom calls me ON RELEASE DATE of the newest kids movie and says, "Do the girls have (insert movie title) yet?" The answer is always no because she is usually the first one to a retail establishment as soon as it's available. So then she happily says, "Good! I'm sending it today then." :-D So sweet. Toy Story 3 just arrived.
4. My own bed. Ahhhhhhhh. . . . .
3. Operation Christmas Child. What a phenomenal, life-changing organization. I was blessed to be able to get involved with them during the last few years of my career at LifeWay, and now I am THRILLED that my church is highly involved in building, collecting, transporting and doing pretty much whatever else needs to be done to get as many shoeboxes distributed as possible.
2. Watching Macy and Grace giggle and "awwwww" as they read and re-read scrapbooks about their early lives.
1. The incredible teams of people in Nashville and Vermont who helped pack, load and unload the rest of our belongings so we can finally get "settled." It's good to be home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Good List 11-3-10

10. That one little clump of hot chocolate that doesn't quite dissolve. It's like having dessert *in* your hot chocolate.
9. Ayiesha Woods--Christmas Like This CD. Music that's good for your soul.
8. Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man movies. Such a perfect role for him. And I still want the suit.
7. The floor vent that is just to the left of my kitchen sink. Keeps me toasty warm while I'm doing the dishes.
6. Miniature horses.
5. Spending only $82 at the grocery store this morning because I saved $73 by using coupons. (I'm getting good at this.)
4. Knowing our queen-sized bed will be living with us again in just a couple days. Snuggling is great and all, but 6 months of sharing a double bed with my not tiny husband is enough. ;-)
3. Getting to share Ty, Jack, Robert and Dylan's first snow experience with them. As Jack would say, "It was Owa-sum!"
2. This morning's sunrise.
1. The three amazing men who are on their way to Nashville right now to help Jared load up the rest of our belongings and finally bring them home. Also their wives for loaning them to us for the next few days. Shout out to Dale and Kim Carr, Jeff and Anne Miserocchi, and Dan McKeen and Ellen Secord. Love these special people!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A New Twist on Lunchbox Notes

Every day that I prepare my girls' lunchboxes, I slip a little note inside. Usually it's just a few lines from me, but sometimes I get their Dad to do it, and every now and then, we even have guest contributors. ;-) This week, several of Macy's cousins have been in town, so each day they have had a different drawing from one of their little cousins (they don't write very well yet). Today Gracie asked if I could please put an extra blank page in her lunchbox with her note. I thought maybe she wanted to write a note to her cousins, so I explained that today was their last day here and that by the time she got home, they would be on their way to the airport. She acknowledged but said she still wanted a blank piece of paper. Alrighty then. . . Simple enough request, I suppose.

When I cleaned out her lunchbox, I found the following note neatly divided into 3 separate sections:

Dear Mom,
I love you soooo much. Out of all the Moms in the world, I would chuse you. Thank you for teaching me scrapbooking in VBS.
Love,
Grace

Dear Macy,
You are the best sister ever. I'm glad you're older than me. I love you. Out of all the sisters, brothers and Macy's in the world, I would pick you.
Love,
Grace

Dear Dad,
Happy Birthday, Dad! Are you excited about your surprise? I love you so much, Dad.
Love,
Grace

(The surprise, btw, is a snowman that she made yesterday and put in the freezer so she could give it to him today.)

I'd say this was a good use of an extra piece of paper. Sure made my day. :-D

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Good List 10-27-10

10. Homemade hashbrowns.
9. Parcheesi. I found an old school set in a thrift shop last weekend for just $1. Looks like it has hardly been used. Felt like my childhood climbed right out of the box when I opened it. :-D
8. Flurry. This is one of the best dogs I have ever seen.
7. When Macy and Grace burst into spontaneous song about how much they love me when we're all working together in the kitchen.
6. Chris Sligh's The Anatomy of Broken. Yes and amen. Excellent stuff.
5. Making pumpkin bread with Macy and Grace and our sweet Ms. Ann. She is such a treasure.
4. Quechee Gorge. Beautiful, undisturbed, refreshing. One of my new favorite spots for sure.
3. Watching kids in rain boots dance through every puddle they can find.
2. As Macy and Grace would say--"Little Person Hugs."
1. The Dickersons are here for a WHOLE WEEK!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

That Radiant Glow


Last weekend we went to Quechee Gorge for a little hiking/sightseeing. In typical fashion, I hauled my camera along so that I could take the infamous "about a billion" pictures that my girls seem to think accompany every activity we enjoy. (They're not really exaggerating that much, btw. What can I say?. . . . ;-) And as usual I was very glad to have my camera, because there was MUCH beauty to try to capture on film. I took all of the "normal" shots that just about everyone else in Quechee took that day--the aerial view of the gorge, the waterfalls, the rocky basin, etc.--but as most people were putting away their cameras to hike back up the mountain, I kept mine out. Here's why--

As we hiked down the mountain through a pretty thick covering of trees, I kept finding myself drawn to the one leaf in the midst of hundreds of others exactly like it that had a tiny ray of light squeezing through the trees to illuminate it and then burst through the other side. These leaves themselves weren't any different than the many unlit ones surrounding them, and yet they were so much more radiant and gorgeous than their neighbors in those moments of light.

I couldn't help but wonder if that same principal might apply to me. If I truly allow the ONE TRUE LIGHT to illuminate and then burst through me, will people be more drawn to me? Or more accurately, to Christ in me? I have to believe the answer is yes.

So I took pictures. LOTS of pictures. To remind me of the effects of LIGHT and how it stirred my affections and drew my attention to ordinary things.

This gives me hope. For I am quite ordinary. But Christ in me is radiant! Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Good List 10-20-10


10. The fact that we didn't have to turn our heater on until just a couple days ago. (Yes, yes, I know what's coming--DON'T RUSH ME!!!)
9. The Rite Aid rewards program. If you have one near you, check into it. I walked out of there earlier this week with $70 worth of merchandise, but I only spent $29. PLUS I got $6 in store credits that I can use on anything in the store except a prescription next time I go. I'll take it!
8. Fantastic Mr. Fox. What an odd, interesting, sweet and hilariously random movie.
7. Titans Soft Knocks. Crackin' me up. "Hey, don't worry about it. That was society's fault. It'll be ok."
6. When I ask Jared if he would mind making me a cup of coffee, expecting a plain ol' cup of coffee, but he delivers unto me my favorite mocha flavored cup of joy complete with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles. He's a keeper!
5. The Wilson pumpkin family our friend Rita left on our front steps one day last week while we were out. Easily the most awesome thing that has ever been left on our doorstep. Uncanny, don't you think? ;-)
4. No more school this week!
3. The huge Titans win on Monday Night Football this week! YEAH BUDDY!
2. The outstanding teacher conferences we just had with Macy and Grace's teachers. So proud of our girls! (and we LOVE their teachers!)
1. Jared's Gospel Wakefulness manuscript is finished! He sent it to the publisher last week. Hopefully they will like it as much as I did. :-D

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayer Time 10-19-10

Same drill as usual. :-D If anyone has prayer requests, feel free to leave them in the comments thread. For those who are concerned about privacy, the comments on this post will not be published publicly.

It is my honor to pray for you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gorgeous

This is absolutely gorgeous and well worth your time. I promise.

(HT:Michael Kelley)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Good List 10-13-10

10. Bacon. I know, right?!?
9. Coupons.
8. Google Reader. I don't have time to peruse hundreds of websites. Just the one will do. Thanks!
7. Christmas Music!!! It's never too early for me. Pipe down, haters!!! :-P
6. Dark Chocolate Chex Mix. Oh my goodness, y'all. . . If you dig the whole salty/sweet situation as much as I do, this is your treat for sure. YUM! (I wonder if YUM is the most-used word on my entire blog. Is that sad? ;-)
5. ZipList (www.ziplist.com) I've only been using it for a couple weeks, but so far, I love it! Great for organizing schedules, recipes, grocery lists, etc. all in one place!
4. A freezer full of homemade goodness.
3. Always having something super fun on the calendar to look forward to. Next up: My youngest sister and her family are coming to visit later this month. I'm so excited!!!!
2. AWANA. Macy and Grace love it, and they're learning so much scripture! Awesome!
1. Paul the apostle. I really wish I could have hung out with him. One day. . .

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Prayer Time 10-12-10

If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to leave them in the comments thread. These comments will not be posted publicly for those who are concerned about privacy. It's my honor to pray for you!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh, Glorious Day!

A few days ago for reasons I don't quite recall, I found myself in the midst of a pretty deep discussion with Grace about "the end of the world." Interestingly, she wasn't afraid or sad that the world would one day end--mostly just disappointed. ;-) Gracie really enjoys life, so she just doesn't want the party to end. Ever. (Enter Mom with the good news. :-D )

The end of the conversation went something like this:

Me: Actually, the last day of *this life* will be our best day ever, because that's when eternal life begins.

Gracie: Even if we don't die first?

Me: Well, most people will probably die in their earthly bodies at some point, but when Jesus comes back, He will take ALL of the people who know Him to heaven whether they're dead or alive on earth, and then we will all live FOREVER in HEAVEN. (Realizing this is a pretty grand concept to grasp, I try to get creative and reference a song we like to sing together, and this always involves some level of theatrics which Gracie really likes. ;-) Hey, Gracie--you know that song we like to sing together--Oh Glorious Day? Remember when it says "One day the trumpet will sound for His coming! One day the skies with His glory will shine. WONDERFUL DAY, My Beloved One, bringing My Savior, Jesus is mine!"? That's what that song is about. It's describing what will happen on the day that Jesus comes to get us. (I'm really getting into this. It's quite a production, and I'm fully expecting a deep, rich, ongoing conversation.)

Instead, quite simply. . . .

Gracie: (brief pause) Hmm. Well, I hope I stay alive until He comes to get me, 'cause I wanna hear that trumpet, and I wanna see that sky!!!

Yes indeed. And that will do for now. :-D


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oh, the Joy that Labor Pains Can Bring!

It just occurred to me today as I was reviewing some dates for my scrapbook that I arrived in Vermont exactly 9 months after my family left me in Nashville to move here ahead of me. I'm not sure why I never did the math before. I knew it was "about 9 months," but by the time I arrived, I was swept up in enough other activities not to bother with looking back at a calendar for review. At that point, I didn't really care anymore about how long it had been. I was just glad our time apart was over.

As I think about it now, I can't help but see something poetic and redemptive about the entire scenario. The other two significant 9-month waiting periods in my life (my full-term pregnancies) gave me Macy and Grace. And then I spent years mourning my time away from them each time I had to leave them for work.

This time my 9-month waiting period gave them back to me. And just like the pain of labor was well worth the beautiful miracle of holding my newborn babies, the pain of 9 months away from them (while it was MUCH worse than labor pains) was still worth the miracle that we are living now. Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming my time away from my babies and for using it to teach me just how valuable our time together is. I hope I never take it for granted. God designed my heart through and through for such a time as this, and I have never known such joy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Good List 10-6-10

10. Gusty wind. Especially in the fall when it makes pretty leaves swirl around everywhere.
9. The chicken stroganoff and roasted asparagus I made earlier this week for dinner. YUM! Even my kids liked it!
8. Making homemade playdough. Good, messy fun! (Totally worth the mess.)
7. The snuggliest blanket ever that David and Sarah gave me when they came to visit a couple weeks ago. It is like being hugged by a friendly bear. Awesome.
6. Having friends I know will always be in my life regardless of the challenges geography presents us with. :-D
5. Making homemade apple pies with apples we picked ourselves. I love that!
4. My friend Rachel's new blog that will tell you everything you need to know about Christian fiction. Plus she's adorable, so bonus!
3. Middletown Springs Community Church. Something special is happening there. I can't quite verbalize it, but OH how I feel it and love it!
2. Listening to Macy play Scarborough Fair on the piano.

Macy Playing "Scarborough Fair" from Jared Wilson on Vimeo.

1. Jared's message last Sunday. It was one of my recent favorites for sure. Yes, I'm sure I'm biased, but I promise it's really good, thought-provoking, potentially even life-changing stuff. Give it a listen here if you have time. Some of my favorite (slightly paraphrased) thoughts: "All Christians are either missionaries or disobedient." "We carry the same gospel within us as the apostle Paul, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, and Christ Himself. They may preach the gospel better, but they can't preach a better gospel."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prayer Time

Today is a good day to pray. :-D

Feel free to leave prayer requests in the comments field. As always, I will not publicly publish the comments on this post.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Endless Wonder

This morning as she was getting ready to leave for school, Gracie asked me a very simple question: "Mommy, can we make a special place in the attic for us to have a quiet spot to. . . . you know. . . . read about God and pray and stuff?" Macy thought this was a great idea, too, and they immediately started talking about where it should be, how it should be set up, etc.

Well. . . . Of course, I didn't even have to think about it for 10 seconds before immediately responding YES! But once they were at school and I was home alone in my quiet house, I did think about it. A LOT. And I cried. The happiest, proudest tears I have cried in a long time.

There are so many reasons this simple little question fills my heart to overflowing.

1. I LOVE Macy and Grace's imagination and sense of adventure. We live in a very, VERY old farmhouse. It is creaky and rickety and dark and worn. And we love it. BUT the attic, for the faint of heart--borders on creepy. ;-) To Macy and Grace, however, it is an endless adventure of discovery. They don't think it's creepy at all. They think it's "special" since most houses don't have that kind of attic. I love that.

2. Both of my girls love to read. I mean, they REALLY love it! And they are very "unpicky" about it, devouring everything from fiction and stories of adventure to their Bibles and Bible stories to biographies and even science books and almanacs, etc. This makes me very happy.

3. This thought was completely initiated by Grace. Jared and I do our best to encourage time with God and certainly try to exhibit the need/desire for it in our own lives. But we have never made a big deal of telling the girls to find a special place to do so or anything like that. We typically have our almost-nightly devotions on the couch in the living room. (I'd love to say "nightly" as in every night, but I have to admit that would be a lie.) Nothing super special about the couch. Just the most comfy place to all sit together for a few minutes. But in Gracie's mind, time with God is a special event that deserves a special location. Awesome.

4. My girls have a desire to know God. They are children, yes. I'm not saying that by any stretch they always choose Bible study over other activities. Of course not. Or that we never have to help them remember to actually apply what they have read about during times when their sinfulness is most evident. ;-) But they do enjoy reading their Bibles and learning about their Savior. It is not a daunting task for them like I must admit it has been for me at times. Their minds are full of wonder, and learning more about God is just one of the many ways they satisfy their longing for more knowledge. It's so uncomplicated to them. Not a task. Not a burden. Just something they do and actually enjoy. Oh that we could all keep our minds filled with wonder in every area of life--but most especially the gospel.

Now-- I'm off to find a special spot in the attic. . . .


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Good List 9-29-10

10. Tyler Florence
9. The CLEAN air filter that did NOT have to be replaced last time I had my oil changed. That has never happened to me before! I guess the air really is cleaner up here without all that city traffic. Bonus!
8. Gigantic Willow trees.
7. The huge stack of beautiful, warm coats and clothes my sweet friend Ann gave me because she was sure my wardrobe wasn't quite ready for a Vermont winter. :-D
6. "Dancing in the Minefields." Fantastic song by Andrew Peterson.
5. Apple picking.
4. My Tuesday morning ladies' Bible study group. Lovely ladies who love the Lord and each other.
3. My Pumbah t-shirt!!! Fabulous.
2. The song that Macy wrote and composed all by herself! Her music teacher (who also happens to be a dear friend) recorded it and let us listen to it. Sweet.
1. The awesome, Awesome, AWESOME visit we just had with David and Sarah McLemore and Tyrone PUMBAH Arnold. The only way it could have been better would have been if it were longer. So blessed to know and love and be loved by these special people.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Good List 9-22-10

10. Extra Dessert Delights Mint Chocolate Chip gum. 5 scrumptious calories.
9. Sitting in the vault at Clem's. This place was a bank a long time ago. Now there is a table in what used to be the vault where you can cozily enjoy your coffee. I really wish these walls could talk. . . .
8. Thrift Stores.
7. Friday night volleyball with a motley crew from our church. Good times.
6. Destiny African Children's Choir. Just amazing.
5. When Grace says, "Yahoo!" and throws her arms up. I'm pretty sure she's the only person I know who actually uses that word as an exclamation of joy.
4. Watching/hearing Macy sing with the worship team on Sunday. Precious.
3. When leftovers turn into a happy adventure. Yesterday's deliciousness started with plain ol' brown rice. I threw in some caramelized onions and peppers and then diced up leftover rosemary balsamic pork tenderloin. THEN--some diced pineapple and pineapple juice. Yep. You heard me. Sauteed it all together and then sprinkled on some Tony Chachere's seasoning and snipped some green onions on top. YUM!!!
2. Seeing a huge smile spread across Macy and Grace's faces before they even open their eyes in the morning when I wrap a warm robe around them to wake them up. Makes my whole day.
1. Jared's message this past Sunday on despair. One of my favorite points: We are dime-store piggy banks holding the Hope Diamond (the gospel). Only when we are broken do we reveal with certainty what we hold inside. I love that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prayer Time 9-21-10

Prayer Time. You know the drill. Requests welcome in the comments field. Comments on this post will not be published for the sake of those with personal requests. Love y'all!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Calling All Nashville Area Helpers

We have decided that it's time for our belongings to live with us. Our house is still for sale, and we wanted to keep it "staged" as long as we could, but we really miss our beds. And our couch. And my winter clothes. ;-) So we have decided that it is time to empty the house and trust that God can sell it empty when His timing is right. (which we do pray will be very soon)

Jared will be making a trip to Nashville during the first week of November (11/4-6) to pack up our "stuff" and leave the house ready for the next owners. He is bringing 2 or 3 guys with him, but ANY AND ALL HELP will be greatly appreciated. Here are some of the things he will need help with. If you (or anyone you know) is available even for just an hour or two during this time, please let us know. We will be forever grateful for any and all help, from providing a few boxes to packing and loading the truck. Help needed will be as follows:

--Boxes. We had originally saved some that he would have brought with him, but we determined that it was smarter to fly down and drive back in the rental truck rather than driving both ways. Most of the house is packed, but we do still have quite a few books, some decorations, and pretty much all of the garage that will need to be packed, so we need a few more good boxes.
--Packers. These will be people who can pack boxes while the Vermont team begins loading the truck with the large furniture, etc.
--Loaders. Of course everything will have to make it onto the truck at some point, so. . . . yeah.
--Haulers. We have a convenience center just a few miles from our house which I'm sure will need to be visited a few times throughout this process to unload trash and/or unwanted items, but each vehicle can only visit once per day, so if anyone is willing to carry a load in the event that it takes more than one load per day, that would be very helpful.
--Cleaners. It is entirely possible (and in fact very likely) that this will be the last time either of us is in the house, so it will be important to leave it as clean and "move-in ready" as possible. If anyone is available to help clean rooms as they are emptied, that would be extremely helpful.

If you are available during this time, please let me know so I can help coordinate and make sure everyone knows what's up. I will not be making the trip, but I want to help as much as I can from afar. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help, and even if you can't, I probably still love you anyway, so no worries. :-D

Pray for us. This is a big step, but we believe it's the right thing to do at this point. Still praying for a contract SOON. Feel free to join us in that prayer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Good List 9-15-10

10. That "Challenge" show on the food network. (Hey! I already told you I'm a nerd like that.) Especially when they build amazing works of art out of dozens of pounds of chocolate. Have mercy!
9. The smell of fresh corn roasting in the oven.
8. The yellow first down line. Brilliant.
7. Getting in the "A" group on Southwest Airlines.
6. Almond Meringue Bark. YUM! Bonus: It's only 5 ingredients and pretty much guiltless unless you eat the entire recipe all by yourself (which you will definitely be tempted to do.)
5. A good, sharp chef's knife. It makes cooking so much more fun.
4. The caramel sea salt truffles that my friend Leticia's Mom makes at The Cocoa Tree in Nashville. Oh. My. Word.
3. Arriving home from my trip last weekend to find a huge team of people from our church working in our yard. I don't know why these people love us so much, but I hope they know how OVERWHELMED we are by the many ways they love us so well.
2. Watching football on the couch with Jared this year instead of from 6 states away.
1. Ticia and Drew are married!!!! Awesome.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prayer Time

Feel free to leave your requests in the comments field. These will not be published publicly, so no worries if they are personal.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Good List 9-8-10

10. Iron Chef America. (Yes, I'm a nerd like that.)
9. Sun-dried tomato and parmesan Sun Chips. Thank you, Subway, for introducing me to this deliciousness.
8. Long weekends. (More snuggle time with my babies.)
7. Chocolate Velvet coffee. Or as I like to call it, Happiness in a Cup.
6. Clem's Cafe. Cool atmosphere, good coffee, free wifi, and lots of outlets. :-D
5. Flying kites.
4. A scrapbook my friend Deitra let me borrow that was made in the mid-1800's. It is one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen.
3. Seeing Macy and Grace get experience with real instruments like guitar and dulcimer (among others) in their music classes at school. I had to play the recorder and the finger cymbals when I was their age. ;-)
2. Getting to proofread Jared's manuscripts. (Working on Gospel Wakefulness now.) How lucky am I?!?
1. Watching the sunrise over the mountains. I hope I never stop being stunned by that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Prayer and Share Time

So. . . School is back in session. Which makes me a little sad. I will miss my sweet Macy and Grace during the day. But this does mean that my extended prayer times can start happening again. Please send me your requests if there is anything you'd like me to pray about on your behalf. For the sake of privacy, I will not publish comments on this post, so if your requests are personal, rest assured they will not be made public.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

So What's the Difference?

The Lord has been carrying me through a realization process over the last year or two that has taken me quite a while to recognize. I suppose it started well before I understood what He was doing, and I'm sure it will continue throughout the rest of my life. In my limited vocabulary and ability to write/convey my thoughts, here is the best way I can explain it-- Maybe you can relate.

I have discovered that there is quite a massive chasm between trusting God to DO and trusting God to BE. So what's the difference? Well. . . Let's see if I can explain it this way. Let's suppose you are an employer. You have 2 employees. One is excellent at follow-through, but only if you give a list of your expectations and a fully detailed description as to how to carry out each task. When you do this, your employee gets the job done each time, and you are happy with their performance. This is someone who will always DO what you need them to do. BUT--you wouldn't dare leave them to their own devices, because without your input, you're just not sure they could handle the job.

The second employee offers a much different scenario. This is a person you fully trust to get the job done with or without your help. You know that this person understands your needs and takes full responsibility for making sure those needs are met. You don't always fully agree with this employee, but because you know they have your best interest at heart, you allow them the freedom to make their own decisions because you trust their motivation. This is someone you are fully comfortable leaving in control while you go on vacation, etc. This is someone who will BE who you need them to be so that they don't need your list.

Which do you suppose more closely resembles your relationship with God? For me, for way too long, it was the first. I "believed" that God would always fulfill His promises; the problem was that I was limiting those promises to my incredibly skewed human interpretation of what they should mean. And I figured he needed my list to know what to do and when to do it. So foolish. . .

So what does all of this look like in real life? Well, for me it has been a very gradual adjustment, but certainly not an insignificant one. The most obvious evidence of this adjustment is in the way I pray. Many of my prayers have changed from "Lord, please do/give/help......" to "Lord, thank you for BEING fully in control of every millisecond of my life. Please help ME to trust YOU completely in every detail." Or more specifically, instead of "Lord, please sell my house by ____ date," I finally learned to say, "Lord, please do your will in regards to my house and help me to trust your provision while we wait." I'm not saying this means I don't still hope it happens soon, and I'm not saying I understand why He hasn't intervened to bring a buyer by now, but I can honestly say that I don't worry about it like I did before. It is beyond my control and fully surrendered to Yahweh Jireh ("The Lord will provide"). I have done all that I believe He asked me to do and left the rest in His hands. And I sleep at night. Better than I have in years.

I'm not suggesting that we should never pray more specifically than that--not at all. But I know my heart and my inward bent toward wanting to control the outcome of my life. And this is where the discipline should make itself evident. Praying for specific situations out of a pure heart that is fully trusting God to do His will is not only healthy, but I think God delights in it. However, praying with a list of demands for which you are only willing to accept your desired response from God--not so much. Do you really want Him to just DO what you've asked Him to do, or do you want Him to BE your Abba Father, Alpha and Omega, Bread of Life, King of kings, Great High Priest, Shepherd of our Souls, Comforter, Provider, Light of the World, Bridegroom, Immanuel, Messiah, Savior, Eternal Hope, Deliverer, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Living Water, Prince of Peace, etc. and do so in whatever way He sees fit whether or not it matches your expectations? I choose the latter. I hope He will continue to teach me how to truly make HIM the desire of my heart and not just what He can do for me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Good List 9-1-10

Wait. What?!? September? That can't be right. . . . I'll edit the title once I figure out what's wrong with my calendar. . . ;-)

10. The warm air on my toes from the best-Christmas-present-ever space heater that my Trish gave me 'cause I could never get warm in my office. Now I need it in my house since it seems like my body temperature is set at about 20 degrees below that of the rest of my family. :-D
9. Fantasy Football. I'm pretty much addicted--it might be time for an intervention. . .
8. Build your own salad luncheons. If I had a fresh salad bar in my kitchen, I would probably eat salad every day. But I like variety, so I rarely have on hand or want to buy the long list of items I like. Which is why I love this idea. Everyone brings 1 or 2 ingredients (mostly stuff fresh from their gardens), and we have our own salad bar. Such a great idea!
7. My friend Tydna and the fun Words with Friends games we play even though several states separate us. Gotta love technology! (There you go, buddy! And I mean it, too! :-D)
6. Discovering new healthy recipes that my kids love to eat. Macy's latest favorite is a frozen banana chopped up in the food processor until it looks like Dippin' Dots. Drizzle just a tiny bit of chocolate over it, and voila! Healthy treat after school.
5. Kung Fu Panda 2!!! Coming in June 2011! I LOVED the first one!
4. Full Moons. Gorgeous, majestic, romantic, and a little mysterious and spooky all at the same time.
3. Macy and Grace's super easy transition back into school. They both have the same teacher they had last year, so that was a piece of cake. And so far, no whining about getting up early. ;-)
2. Jared
1. My devotion time with the girls each night. We are going through a book called God and Me: Devotions for Girls Ages 6-9, Vol. 2. The same book exists for ages 2-5 and 10-12 and obviously there is a Volume 1 version of all three as well. I highly recommend them. They're short but not insignificant and a great way to end the day and send the kids to bed with the right thoughts in their little heads.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Things That Are Underrated

Just a random list--

--Coloring
--Swinging
--Fun Dip
--Stargazing
--Penpals
--Looking for 4-leaf clovers
--Candlelight
--Chasing fireflies
--Bubble baths
--Snowcones
--Wishing on dandelions
--Watching cartoons
--Sixlets
--Holding hands--especially with kids
--Handwritten letters
--Playing in the dirt or sand
--Being still and quiet

What would you add?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Good List 8-27-10

10. Craigslist and eBay
9. The "C'Mon, Man!" list
8. Greek Yogurt. Yummy!
7. The Glades. Interesting and well-written. Plus it makes me giggle. Bonus!
6. Ray LaMontagne
5. Same Kind of Different as Me. What a fantastic, heartbreaking, heartwarming book!
4. Macy's detective skills. She never stops thinking.
3. When Grace skats. "Zabadabopdabadoobadeedoo." Pure entertainment.
2. Shai Linne (see the video)
1. My sister Jody. Specifically the independent VBS program she planned for her apartment complex with just a little help from a few friends. She amazes me.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Love Today!

Today I got up much earlier than my body would have liked to make breakfast for my brand new 2nd and 4th graders. WOW! When did THAT happen?

Today I packed 2 healthy lunches and tucked a little love note inside each.

Today I braided 4 little brunette braids and secured them with accessories perfectly matched to their corresponding outfits. ;-)

Today I went to the grocery store to pick out all sorts of fresh items for school lunches, after school snacks, and yummy family dinners.

Today I made lunch for my sweetie to come home to in the middle of his busy day and sent him back to work with a full tummy and a big hug.

Today I baked a fresh loaf of bread that made my whole house smell amazing.

Today I did laundry.

Today I picked up my sweeties from school and took them straight to the library (per their request, which makes me happy.)

Today I made a fresh, healthy after school snack for my favorite 2nd and 4th graders in the whole wide world.

Today I read a surprisingly full information packet all about the new school year and what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

Today I made spaghetti and garlic toast for dinner, because this was Macy's special request for her first day of school.

Today I washed dishes 3 times (there's no dishwasher in the old farmhouse ;-).

Today I listened to my 7-year-old read for precisely 20 minutes (she set the timer), because that was her assignment, but she really wanted to go outside as soon as she could too. :-D

Today I ran outside at the squealing request of my girls so that I could see the "WHOLE COLONY, MOM!" of little lady bugs in a tree stump in our backyard.

Today I cleaned out 2 little lunchboxes which I was happy to see were completely emptied during lunch except for a few craisins that Gracie "didn't have time for".

Today I snuggled with Macy and Grace while they read their evening devotions and then made sure they brushed their teeth really well before bedtime.

Today I tucked in the most amazing and special little girls I have ever known and prayed that God would give them hearts that chase after Him and help me be the best Mommy to them that I can possibly be.

And I smiled the whole time. And my heart was singing and sparkling. Not because I love getting up early and doing laundry and washing dishes and grocery shopping. But because I LOVE taking care of my family. Thank you, Lord!