Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas or Blessed Advent

For us it was both, but full of interesting discussions. This year, more than ever before in my life, I had many many discussions about the roots of Christmas and how it came to be a celebration with many questions especially with whether or not we should actually celebrate Christmas. I am not good with history but there are pagan roots to many of the Christmas traditions and why we celebrate Christ's birth in December when it is unlikely that He was born in December. But, we know that in Christ all things are made new and we have been given the freedom to choose how we celebrate Christ. Much of the popular American ways of celebrating Christmas are not honoring to God and extremely high in commercialism. So how do you honor God? Ask Him! This is something that is becoming more and more important to me as I grow and learn. There are so many things that are not black and white as I wish they were, but God leads us by His Holy Spirit and He can speak to us to know how we can honor Him in our celebrations. I am thankful for freedom and the ability to ask our Lord how we can honor the birth of Christ in a way that is pleasing to Him. I ask numerous times as well and check my heart, though not as often as I should.
For us, this year, we decided no tree, we will never do Santa and one gift per child. We read the Christmas story and talk to our kids about Christ and Him being the most important gift. We keep it simple. What does it look like for you? Ask God how it would please Him.

Since moving to Louisville I have learned more about Advent and I am beginning to really appreciate this aspect. We have always focused on the birth of Christ as it is the obvious reason for our celebration. But in the focus of Advent we are also anticipating the return of Christ to come get His bride and make all things new! What a blessed day that will be and I love that reminder that He came once but He is also coming again. And so next year I may add Blessed Advent to my greetings for the season.

On a slightly controversial note, I really wish the Christian radio stations would not play secular Christmas music. I do not have a problem with the music in and of itself, but there is a time and a place for those songs. If I wanted to hear the secular songs I would listen to a secular radio station, but I prefer to listen to the Christian radio stations and want to hear Christ focused music on a Christ focused station. I am sure there are people who disagree, but that is my preference. I have even debated writing my favorite station here about it. My favorite station in Atlanta did that our last Christmas there, but sadly, this year they too were playing the secularized music.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Advent season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Different Sort of Good-Bye

So at this time it is not yet good-bye, but the good-byes are starting. We have been in community with 4 wonderful families the past 9 months or so and knew when it started that this time would come. All of us have a heart for the nations and it is fast approaching the time for all of them to move to the next phase God has planned for them. We met Sunday night to discuss these things and it was so bittersweet. These women have become prayer partners, friends, sisters and I love them as my own family. It is difficult to get to know people for a little while and then it be time to say an earthly good-bye. I am so excited and proud of these families as they follow God's call on their lives. Knowing that no matter what happens next here on this earth we will be reunited around God's throne one day helps tremendously. Though I am not a huge technology buff, when they are gone I know that because of the technology we will be able to "see" them and talk to them no matter how far they are. I pray that God continues to grow my heart for them and their work as we support them on this side. I pray "Lord, please help me not to forget" as in our culture it is so easy to be "out of sight out of mind". Guard me from this and let me remember them everyday.
As I said, it is still not an actual good-bye yet. For 3 of them a couple more months remain, but 1 family will be going on the next phase in about a month. It's so bittersweet but a wonderful time of learning how important following God really is. It is a testimony to all around us that Jesus is more important than anything in this world.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

This months book club book was wonderful and spoke right to my heart. A couple of weeks ago I came to the realization I did not love God enough, but was (and still am) struggling to understand how to love God as I should. What does that really mean? What does it look like?
Then this book was recommended for book club. I had been wanting to read some of her material anyway (I'm in the middle of her parenting book) so I was excited to see what it had so say. The title says it all: Because He (Jesus) Loves Me. Without the love of Christ, we cannot truly know love nor can we express it. I can only love God because He loved me first. What a relief!
Because I am in Christ, this is my identity and I have to remember this every day. Unfortunately this human mind forgets. She calls this identity amnesia. When we forget who we are in Christ it becomes difficult to fight sin, love God and love others. I have grown up in the message of the Gospel and it has become a bit mundane, but it shouldn't. The Gospel is all we have! Without it there is no hope. As I listened to her expound on how much God loves me that He crushed His Son and poured out the wrath I deserved onto Him, I realized how much I need to remember this every day and how it should change me. I need to hear this over and over. We all do. 
I need to go back and re-read this book when I am feeling better and can take my time, but I am thankful for a book dedicated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


During the month of November I have seen many people on Facebook saying one thing they are thankful for a day. Instead of doing that I am doing one post with 30 things I am thankful for (one for everyday in November and 30 is a nice round number). So here goes:

1. First of all I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Without Him I would have nothing to live for and nothing to give because He has given me everything! Thank You, Jesus, for the cross!
2. Next is my wonderful husband Jim. God has blessed me beyond measure with him as he is constantly strives to learn what God wants him to do and to be the best husband and father he can be.
3. My eldest son, Jamey, who is now 2 1/2 and learning so much. Not only is he learning, God is teaching me so much about myself and His love for me as we train him in the ways of the Lord. He brings so much joy.
4. My only daughter, Lillian Josephine, is now 18 months and is finally starting to walk. She is so full of life and brings so many smiles to our home. She is teaching me how lacking I am in my abilities to care for her perfectly, but I have a perfect heavenly Father who is capable of teaching all of His children perfectly.
5. My youngest son, Reuben, is 2 1/2 months and is so sweet. He is starting to light up when he sees my face or Jim or his siblings. God has used him to teach me how to let God guide my life and priorities as having 3 under 3 was not my idea, but exactly what God knew I needed to teach me. Children are truly blessings from the Lord and there are so many things that children can teach us if we allow God to use them.
6. I'm thankful for my family. I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home and have a family who are believers. They have also supported Jim and I as we journey through seminary and onto where ever God would lead us next.
7. I'm thankful for FBC Smyrna, our home church, who is filled with brothers and sisters in Christ who are also supporting our family as we journey down the road on which God is leading us.
8. I'm thankful for Sojourn Community Church, our church body in Louisville, who is filled with brothers and sisters in Christ who are helping us learn and grow in this current phase of our journey.
9. There are so many people who are struggling right now, especially with the job market being down, so I am thankful that Jim has a job. And not only that he has a job but a job who has worked with him and his school schedule, has great benefits and is stable.
10. I'm thankful for SWI (Seminary Wives Institute) that gives me a small taste of seminary training as well as practical ministry training to aid in my learning.
11. So many are without and I am thankful that I have a place to live and food to eat as well as the means to have these things.
12. I'm thankful for cameras, which are a luxury, that I can capture sweet moments with family and friends.
13. I am very thankful for the friends I have made here in Louisville who challenge me and love me even when I am unlovable.
14. This week I am so thankful that our family was able to drive to Asheville so see family, especially my Pappy, who may not be in this world much longer.
15. Another luxury I am thankful for is a computer that allows me to keep in touch with friends and family who are not near by.
16. I am so grateful for all of the resources out there to help me learn, most recently with homeschooling.
17. There is so much I do not know and I am thankful for those smarter than me.
18. This should have been higher, but I am thankful for the Bible, God's Holy Word that leads, guides, directs, and cuts deeper than a double edge sword.
19. I am thankful for books! I wish I could read and read and read, but that is not what I am able to do now, but I love to read when I can.
20. I'm thankful for writing. I love to write and I would like to do more, but for now I will write when I can.
21. Yet another luxury I am thankful for is a car. Well, I should say a van that can carry my family and our stuff so that we can get where we need to go in a timely manner.
22. ICE CREAM!!!!! Yes, I love ice cream and I'm so thankful that this yummy food exists.
23. I'm so thankful for Air Conditioners and Heaters. Something I often take for granted, but so many die from freezing or over heating and I'm thankful that we have a way to help us stay warm or cool as needed.
24. I'm thankful for music, especially music that leads me back to worshiping my great God.
25. I'm thankful for clothes and shoes.
26. I'm thankful for parks, trees, grass and the beauty of God's creation that is all around me.
27. I'm thankful for airplanes so that we can go into all the world more easily.
28. I do love movies and TV shows, so I am thankful for media, though sometimes I believe I would be better off with out it.  :)
29. I am thankful for clean water. So many do not have clean water and I am blessed to have access to clean, drinkable water.
30. I am extremely thankful to live in a country that is free, so that I can live my life according to God's plan for me, even if others do not approve.
I wish I could list all of the people I am thankful for, but it would go on forever and I would inevitably forget someone. There are so many people I am thankful for and most likely if you are reading this, you are one of them. :)
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! And do not forget to thank the One from whom all blessings flow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Saying Good-Bye?

You always know the call will come. About 3 weeks ago it did. "Pappy has cancer." Not at all surprising for a man who smoked well over half his life. The next week we found out how severe: stage 4 in his lungs, liver, stomach and esophagus. Even with treatment (radiation only since he is not physically strong enough to do chemo too) the prognosis is not good with an estimate of 4-6 months to live with radiation being palliative. Originally we had planned not to travel the week of Thanksgiving, but with this news and Jim's work schedule we decided to head to Asheville, NC for a couple of days at the beginning of this week. It was a long trek down the mountain for a 48 hour visit, but it was so worth it. And of course with this visit it makes me wonder, did I just say good-bye for the rest of this life?
What's worse, for me, is I allowed the situations around me and my fear to keep my from asking him about whether or not he has a relationship with Christ. I tried to look for the opportunity instead of making one. Something this important cannot be left to the right set of circumstances, but so much of the time that is what I do. In Christ we should not have a spirit of fear, yet fear so often dominates and Satan loves it. I hate giving him the satisfaction. So now I am really wondering, did I blow my last opportunity to share Christ with him? I pray that he really is saved, and when I have prayed about it I have had peace and I hope that peace is from the Holy Spirit and not just wishful thinking.

I love my Pap so much and I pray that he loves Jesus and will be in God's kingdom when this life ends. I know that God will do whatever will bring Him glory.

Pap meeting Lillian and Reuben and the first time seeing Jamey in two years! Two years is far too long.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Busy Life

I honestly do not know where to begin as I have gotten so far behind. Having three children is quite a new adventure. I love it, but some days I'm not sure how to do it all. My biggest struggle is time management. There are so many things I need to do as well as other things I want to do. Prioritizing is different and I feel like I'm starting to get it a little bit. God is teaching me so much and I want to write down everything, but I don't have time. School is going well with Jamey and Lillian is getting interested in letters and reading now. Reuben listens in as we do school and seems to be stimulated by it. It's amazing how alike and different our kids are. Even as a baby I see similarities to the other two as well as stark differences. The other struggle is getting fatigued and when you have a few moments with all the kids asleep you cannot remember what all you wanted to write. Thus is life, but I love it. I would not have it any other way. God has blessed us so much, though we do not deserve it at all, and I will take the fatigue to be able to love on my babies just one more day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Club!

I have been desiring to be part of a Christian book club for quite a few years now, and one has started this past month through Southern! I am so excited about it. We had our first meeting to discuss Girls Gone Wise in a world gone wild by Mary Kassian. This book is so fitting for this day and age. Not only is it fitting for our time, it is fitting for all time and is for a woman of any age. Though the context is more directed at the younger generations, the principles are important for all women and girls. Mrs. Kassian looks at 20 points of contrast between a wild thing and a girl-gone-wise and every single one of them spoke to me on some level. Like with all material different points will hit different people differently, but every single point is pertinent to our daily lives. The high light is that we cannot be wise with out a relationship with Christ. And only He can take our wild days and forgive them through His blood. This book has opened my eyes to even more areas I need to repent of sin and let Christ guide me into how I need to live more like Him. I still have so far to go, but I am thankful for this saving grace that has reached into my soul and given me knew life.
I very highly recommend this book to ALL women of ALL ages and stages of life. It is scriptural and has verses of the Bible throughout to show God's wisdom that has been given to Mrs. Kassian and that will be given to us if we put our faith in the saving power of Christ's death and resurrection for us. I know I am in need of much more wisdom and I am quite sure you are too. So trust Christ and His Word to help you see that we need wisdom as women living in a wild age.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Family of Five

It has been a week since we welcomed God's gift of sweet Reuben into our family. How quickly a week has flown by! Thankfully, by God's grace, it has been a decently smooth transition. Most days I have felt pretty rested even getting up every 2 hours to feed. God is sustaining me.
Jamey and Lillian have been very sweet to Reuben. That is definitely by God's grace. We have had some very tender moments. Lillian has done much better with Reuben than Jamey ever did with Lillian. She loves to give Reuben kisses and say "I love you". Unfortunately she calls him Mama, which is a little confusing, but I know in time his name will come. Jamey, who hates to share, especially with Lillian, readily gives his toys to Reuben saying, "here Reuben". He wants to help change diapers and has asked to hold him a couple of times. Jamey has really stepped into the role of "big brother".
On the other side, they have been testing Jim and I. Whining is quite prevalent, boundary testing is abounding and demanding attention in weird ways are all around. I have so much to learn. I want to be consistent and have clear rules and boundaries. I want them to be God honoring, not just rules for the sake of rules. I do not want to be emotional and reactionary as can sometimes happen when you are not at your top game. By God's grace I am slowly learning these things and how to apply them to myself and to my family. I am so thankful that I have a God who is patient and gracious with me but will discipline me when I need to be corrected and is teaching me how to do the same with my children. Having another child has helped me in understanding more of these truths and realize even more there is no way I can do this on my own. As Jim pointed out our first day home, "They out number us now, you know". And so they do. But I would not have it any other way. Only by God's grace can two adults raise three children running in three different directions.
I am so thrilled and blessed to be a family of five. I am honored that God saw it fit to bless me with children at all, much less three. I know we have so much to learn and so much growing to do, and we will do it together as a family of five. Thanks be to God!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reuben Yates

God has blessed us with another son! Reuben Yates Manor joined our family on September 7, 2011 at 4:34pm. He weighed in at 8 lbs 8 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. He is beautiful!

God's hand was completely in this as He is in all births and I am excited to share how God showed His glory and favor to us. Both of my other children had to be induced for different reasons and I desired so much in my heart to go into labor unassisted medically. God designed birth and I knew that He could put my body into labor without medical assistance and I prayed so hard for this. Not only were Jim and I praying for this, many of our wonderful friends were praying the same thing for us. I prayed that it would bring God glory to do this. We were narrowing in on the day that a decision had to be made and I continued to pray that God would see it bring Him glory for my body to do what He designed it to do.
I had been contracting off and on for a couple of weeks. On Tuesday I noticed that they were much more frequent around 3:00, but they were no stronger than the ones I had been having for the past couple of weeks. I debated and debated but decided it was nothing to call about and went to bed around 11:00 to get a good nights sleep in my own bed before we had to decide what we should do. Praise the Lord I slept! What a beautiful thing. And I felt mostly rested when I got up in the morning and I was still having contractions. This was great! I was so excited and hoping I would be about 3cm dilated at my appointment since I had apparently been contracting all night. Rebekah came to watch the kids for my appointment and Jim and I left. On the way there the contractions started to change a little bit. Just a little bit stronger and needing a little more concentration. We checked in and they looked at me and asked if I was in labor. I said maybe but I wasn't sure. They got me back and I had to wait a few minutes for the doctor but while I was waiting the contractions felt a little stronger. Dr. Pridham came in and listened to the baby and checked my cervix. I was 6cm dilated! I was rejoicing that the Lord had given me the desire of my heart and had put my body into labor as He had designed it to do! He told me to go to check out to get a copy of my chart and head over to labor and delivery.  I had intentionally not taken my bags because I really was not expecting to be that far along and was going to go home to labor for a bit. So I called Rebekah and her mother came to watch the kids. Rebekah got all of our stuff together and took care of things at the apartment arranging childcare for the rest of the day. (A big shout out here to Rebekah, Ruth, Greg and Dawn and Nathan and Sarah! Our church body really came through for us that day on short notice. We are so blessed to be part of such a wonderful Body of Christ.)

And so my time in the hospital began. They knew I wanted a natural delivery and they completely respected that and worked with me. I had a wonderful nurse, Debbie, who loved that I had been an L&D nurse. She put me on the monitor to check the baby and gave me a saline lock. (I swear that is the WORST part of giving birth. I am still bruised from that.) Since I was going natural they allowed me to walk and drink water. I even got to have a Popsicle! The nurses at the station heard I had been an L&D nurse and talked to me about it. It was really neat for them to be excited about that and they were super nice to me. I walked for a while, spent a little time on the monitor and walked some more. I walked until I really could not stand through my contractions any more. I went back to my room and struggled through positioning as the contractions continued to grow in strength. Transition came on strong (I will add my water was still intact). It became difficult not to push but God gave me the strength to resist and hold off until my water did break. It was perfect timing, God's timing. I had a very strong contraction that broke my water. At that moment my doctor was walking by my room from a C-section and came in. I have never screamed in labor before but that day I did. All I could say was "God help me!" My wonderful husband whispered in my ear "He will." And He did. It was time to push and about 10 minutes later Reuben was born! God gave me the strength to endure and gave us a son to care for for Him. What a wonder! What a blessing! Birth is so amazing and God is so amazing.
I will admit that this was my most challenging labor. With the inductions they were so fast it was almost as if I had no time to feel anything. This one was longer, but it was in God's timing and gradual. Reuben tolerated it so well and we both did wonderfully. I also did not feel as tired afterward. Reuben fed within an hour of birth with no problem. They did not even give me pitocin after the birth and I had no complications. God is so good!

What a blessed time this was. Thanks be to God the giver of life and all good things! Thank you to all those who prayed for us during this time and those who stepped up to help us in various ways. We have been blessed beyond measure. I still marvel at all this. Why has God chosen to bless us so? Thank You, Lord for all of these undeserved blessings!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby Due

Today is suppose to be the day. The due date is quite potentially one of the things that is the most frustrating with pregnancy since it's only a guess. I almost wish they wouldn't give you a date but like a two week span of the baby should come during this time. I know it's for their own comfort and making sure that everyone is healthy, but knowing that due dates are so subjective it would be nice if they would just give you a range instead of a date.
I do wonder what they did back in the day. How did they calculate when there babies would come? They really had to rely on God to bring their babies when it was the right time.
And so I continue to wait and pray for God to give me His patience and strength.

Monday, August 29, 2011

God's Glory

This is suppose to be the most important thing in the world, especially to those of us who call ourselves believers. So why is it that we so easily forget this? I hate being human! But I am so grateful for the grace our Lord gives us through Christ Jesus so that we can be reminded of this truth and live for God's glory. This concept is one that has really been hitting me this past week. As I wait for the delivery of my child I have been reminded that everything we do should be for God's glory and everything God does is for His glory. My desire is to go into labor on my own, but I have had to completely relinquish this desire once again and say "Lord, whatever will bring you the most glory, let it be done." Before with birth I did not think of it this way, but this time God has turned my heart toward Him. I have been so thankful that the past couple of weeks God has been drawing me closer to Himself and I am learning to rest fully in Him. We are studying God's grace at church and it is overwhelming me right now. How is it that God would love me and offer me grace when I am so undeserving? How is it that God blesses me, when I deserve nothing more than curses? Because His grace covers me and I am covered by the blood of the Lamb.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beautiful Savior by Stuart Townend

All my days I will sing the song of gladness
Give my praise to the fountain of delights
For in my helplessness, you heard my cry
And waves of mercy poured down on my life

Beautiful Savior, wonderful counselor
Clothed in majesty, Lord of history
You're the Way, the Truth and the Life
Star of the morning, glorious in holiness
You're the risen one, heaven's champion
And You reign, You reign over all

I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer
I will sing of the blood that never fails
Of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed
Of death defeated and life without end


I long to be where the praise is never ending
Yearn to DWELL where the glory never fades
Where countless worshippers will share one song
And cries of "worthy" will honor the Lamb


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Sister's Keeper

This is a subject I have thought about, struggled with, tried to understand for about the last 5 or so years. What does it look like? How do you do it? What do you share when you are not suppose to let people know how you struggle? This past Saturday we had a wonderful day of discussing just that and I want to share a few high lights from this time.
The first and most important thing is Jesus Christ! If you have been washed in His grace and salvation through the work He alone can do and did on the cross then the rest will follow if you allow it. The key is a relationship with Christ first and foremost. Without it you are lost and doomed to death. But in Christ we have life and we are kept by the One who has saved us from sin and death. He is our Keeper.
So if Jesus is my Keeper and He is your Keeper, then we are in turn to keep each other. But how? This is the part that is the struggle for everyone. It involves getting involved in people's lives and loving them the way that Christ loves us. We are naturally selfish beings who want what we want when we want it and want to do what we want to do when we want. So keeping each other can be a challenge when we say, "but I really don't want to do that" or "I really do not care what she has to say." We have to take us out of the equation and let the love of Christ flow through us. Remember we have been saved so we can help each other in Christ's strength.
It also includes being real with each other. We are ALL sinners. I repeat, we are ALL sinners and we ALL struggle with sin. It is life. It is the human condition. There are things that all of us are stronger at and those thinks at which we are weaker. So in areas where we are strong in Christ we can help and encourage those who are weaker. When we are weak we have Christ and those He has put in our lives to help and encourage us. Knowing that we are all sinners should drive us to love, compassion, grace and mercy for one another and in doing so we can help keep each other for Christ's sake. This also means we can confess our sin to one another, pray for each other and truly seek to be real about these struggles and weaknesses we have.
Knowing that we are perfectly cared for by our Savior frees us to care for others. We have everything in Christ so we are free to give and give generously. We are free from sinful comparing, feelings of alienation, jealousy, selfish ambition, man-pleasing, fear and self-condemnation. (And I definitely have at some point struggled with all of these and still struggle with many! Have you?) Confess these things to God and to others and let the healing and keeping begin. Focus on Christ and what He has done for you. This pushes down the road of sanctification. And trust the work of Christ in other people. We all learn and grown at different paces, in different times and in different ways. Pray! And remember that God is always in control.
So what is holding you back from being kept? What is holding you back from keeping other people? What sin do you need to confess? Are you willing to risk being transparent even if others are not? Are you willing to let go of your agenda so that Christ can work fully in you and use you to work in the lives of your sisters in Christ?

Friday, August 19, 2011


I know that whining is part of the growing process for kids, but some days it feels like that is the only way Jamey knows how to communicate. I am constantly saying, "I cannot understand you", "please use your words", "that is not how we get what we want", like a broken record. Even if he likes something it might be said in a whiny voice. It is so crazy. And it completely wears on my nerves. Needless to say I find myself always checking my attitude and reminding myself that I am the adult and I need to act like it. It seriously tries my patience.
I have written before about how children help in the sanctification process, but right now it is seriously stretching me. As I go to God I have begun to think about how I approach God. Do I go to God like a two year old child whining about how much I want something, do not want to do something, how unfair I feel life is, etc or like an adult talking to a friend who also is the Almighty God? Many times I am going to Him like the whiny child with some complaint about something. I feel like I am owed something and I must have my way. Recently I have definitely evaluated how I come before God. It is obviously a process, as everything is, but I try to think of the Lord's prayer when I come before Him, giving Him praise and honor and confessing my sins before bringing my concerns before the Lord.
Children seriously point out the sin and failure in your life. But praise God for Jesus Christ who has washed me clean and declared me right before God and continually works in my life through the Holy Spirit to sanctify me and make me more like Jesus every day. Having children helps you understand how God views His children. It brings so much pleasure and some pain, but every day is worth it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Day and Nesting

Today we had a great family day, still a family of 4 before the craziness starts. Jim begins classes tomorrow and some time in the next 3 weeks or so we will become a family of 5! It is amazing to think that at 27 I will have 3 children. My family was 6 growing up and it never seemed odd to me, though it was definitely larger than most of the families around us. But the thought that we will be a family of 5 soon is completely blowing my mind. It is exciting and scary all at the same time, but I know God has a wonderful purpose in it.
Today was a wonderful day! We spent the whole day together as a family and it was a wonderful and beautiful thing! We started the day with breakfast, family worship and school. Today we decided to be like hobbits and have a second breakfast of Chick-fil-a biscuits! I had forgotten how yummy they are! We took care of business at the school and decided to go to the zoo since the weather was so nice today. It was also an attempt to "walk the baby out". Lunch was at Dairy Queen, then home for naps. While the kids rested Jim and I did some cleaning and organizing. After post nap baths we decided for dinner out at McAllister's and returned home just in time for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (or Jepy as Jamey calls it). Finally bed time for the kids and Jim and I finished up what we had started in the afternoon. It was wonderful!
The weirdest thing for me right now is nesting. With the other 2 I never nested, but this time I feel like I will never get this place cleaned and organized enough for the baby to come. It is bizarre! But somewhat exciting as well as it has made me much more productive recently. There are some cleaning things that I physically cannot do so Jim has to take care of them, but I am getting things I can do done and that is a wonderful feeling. I am still working on organizing my whole time better, but that is a process as is everything in life. And I know about the time I have it "figured out" something will have to change. Life is such an adventure, but I'm thankful for the adventure I am currently on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Always Learning

We are into week 2 day 3 of homeschooling. It is extremely exhausting, but so far worth all of the effort. I am definitely still in the learning phase of what I am doing, but the point is I am learning too. This is a good thing for me! It is helping me to know my children better, to see what they need, where they are and how I can help them learn better. Jamey loves to learn! He wants to read a book then go through every page by himself and talk about the pictures. I love that! I am also learning, too, that many times you have to tweak your program. Week one I followed almost exactly what my curriculum for him said. I realized it was really too easy because of some of the things he already knows. So this week I am focusing on numbers and letters with high lights on other things, instead of only focusing on a letter one day and a number one day with only highlighting them the rest of the week. So far this seems to be working better. It is funny, though, that he has become resistant to singing! When I tell him we're going to sing he screams NOOOO! This is, of course, Lillian's favorite time as her primary focus is learning to sit with us and increase her attention span while we read. Jamey is also getting into learning words in Russian and today asked me how to say "bird in Russian" (yes he said it just like that). Then yesterday both at nap and bed time he asked me to play his Russian cd instead of music! That is so exciting for me. It is also helping me brush up on the little Russian I do know and add to my vocabulary. I do not have a grasp on the grammar, however, but we will work on that later.
Lillian is starting to get into books, but mostly likes to look in the mirror and play with puzzles while we're in school. I can definitely see an increase in her attention span growing ever so slowly, but she still gets bored quite quickly. We spend more time together in the afternoon working on motor skills and basic instructions. She loves anytime she can get with mama or daddy without Jamey competing for the attention.
I'm currently working on how to make the afternoons more intentional and a learning time for both kids. I know in a year or 2 they will be closer to the same level and it will be a bit easier, but for now, they are both having to learn patience as they take their turns in different activities when I am alone with them.
I also love unintentional teaching moments! We have had the worst time finding basic bottles of paint, so Jim finally found some but only in a few colors. Our color of the week is green but no green paint. So Jamey got to have a little Art 101 lesson about mixing blue and yellow together to make green! He thought it was cool! So did I. It's amazing to see the realization as they learn these things. Yes, I know I will probably have to explain this concept to him again many times, but it was a moment that might not have been had we found a bottle of green paint. I pray that I will continue to be aware of these unplanned learning opportunities and make the most of every moment God gives me with my children.
We are also working on developing the fine motor skills. This is something I did not realize would be so challenging and take so much time. Mostly it is teaching him to hold scissors, cut paper and use little pieces of paper to glue onto another piece of paper. I never realized how difficult this really is and how much time and practice it will take for him to really be able to do those things. He does well holding a crayon and will not hold it correctly most of the time without being told to do so. I am amazed in new and different ways every day. I'm learning that home school is just as beneficial for me as it is for my kids. Who knew!?

Above- green squares from our "homemade" green
Jamey's cow made from squares last week!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gearing Up

Baby Manor is due in a month. This week I will begin intentional homeschooling with the kids. The whole apartment needs to be cleaned and organized. Things are really gearing up in our home. God is definitely teaching me much about His rest and sovereignty during this time. I am excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. I know this is the way God has led our family and I know that it will be a great and amazing time for us.
The biggest thing I am currently learning is to go to God first with everything. I know I have a tendency to lean on people, media or just simple entertainment to get me through tough or challenging times. This is not the freedom Christ died for. Christ died so we would be free to approach the throne room of Heaven and rest in the arms of Almighty God. I am learning this more and more every day. Now more than I believe ever before in my life I need that rest and comfort from the Lord. I need to remember that He has brought me to this place and that it is all worth it to bring glory to His mighty name.
Any sound advice would be appreciated during this time. But mostly I ask for prayers for our family as we continue to learn more about God's plans for us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Battling Loneliness

I remember a time in my life where I could sit for hours entertaining myself with books, writing, listening to Adventures in Odyssey or music. I loved and cherished being alone and felt shy and awkward around people. As I got older that began to change and I have noticed that increasingly, especially the past 3 or 4 years, I have really battled the feeling of loneliness. Only recently have I stopped to evaluate this and I am still working through this with the Lord, but it seems as though I have started relying on people to be my connection to God, at times, instead of actually connecting with Him. I know He is there. I know He provides for me in so many ways that even others cannot see. But emotionally I struggle with that connection, with letting God be enough. I have never doubted His provision physically or financially but emotionally and spiritually I seem to fight with on a circular rotating basis. I know it comes back to my fallen nature of wanting to do things my way and to want what I want when I want it, but sometimes this reality is far from me. I am thankful that God is working so diligently to weed out this selfishness in me but it can be very painful at times.
Until this week I was in one of those places, very "Eeyore" if you will, of no body likes me, I guess I'll just be all alone. It's silly and ridiculous, but I was wallowing in self-pity. But knowing how ridiculous it was I never would have admitted it to anyone, not even my journal. Then Sunday we talked about God being our complete joy no matter what was happening or what we were feeling. God is our joy and only in Him can we have true joy. It hit me like a ton of bricks: Jesus has to be enough because He IS enough! And I must remind myself of this hourly. Jesus is enough for me. He is all I need. And the people He has put in my life are there to help point me to Him and living life for the glory of the Lord not to make me feel better.
This week God has blessed me in abundance in this area having wonderful mornings and great afternoons reflecting on His word and His goodness. The Lord is the great provider of ALL things. Put your hope in Him and He will never let you down.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Adapted from “Psalm 31, Part I” by Isaac Watts
Written by Neil Robins




and You 


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reflections of a Year Gone By

A year ago today we loaded up our cars, Jamey and Lillian, my mom and dad, and Winston and Anna Murdock and took the 422 mile trek from our home in Smyrna, Georgia to our new home Louisville, Kentucky. It was a long day of driving, but we made it with all people's sanity in tact. Thinking about a year ago, Jamey was not quite a year and a half in a rear facing car seat trying to put words with things and just getting good on his feet. Lillian was barely two months old in an infant carrier, solely breastfeeding and sleeping most of the time. Jim and I had just celebrated 6 years of marriage and were ready to conquer the world. We could not wait to see what life held in store for us in this new place.
Right away we connected with some great people. Our RAs Dennis and Betsy greeted us warmly and told us where some places to eat and shop were. Saturday morning our downstairs neighbors Ali and Asmaa brought us a pizza and welcomed us to the community. This, has sparked a beautiful friendship. Mandy and her gang came by to bring muffins and welcome us to Louisville. We were, and still are, very grateful to know someone here as well as to have a church body to immediately plug into. Sojourn has been an experience and we are so thankful to have such a church that challenges us in many ways. We were also able to plug into a
community group right away with Wes and Beth, Paul and Sharon, Josh and Deirdre, and Chris and Amy. It was great connecting with local believers immediately. There were a few families that moved into the area around the same time as us, most with kids around our age. The Daughertys, the Linnemans, and the Powells to name a couple. It was crazy living around and going to a church with many children the same age as ours. It has been amazing watching our kids grow together.
Our Great Provider gave Jim a job not long after we moved here in the NICU at Norton Suburban 2 miles from our apartment. They have been great to him and worked with him on scheduling so that we can have time together as a family and be involved in church.
Jim has completed a year of seminary classes including: Systematic Theology I & II, Spiritual Disciplines, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Communication and New Testament I. When we first started discussing seminary (5 years ago) I had planned to study as well. With 2 children that plan changed, but I have enjoyed learning what he is learning as he brings his knowledge home and shares it. It is all very fascinating and I am thankful to be a part of this great time of learning for him.
I have also learned a lot. A lot about God, a lot about the Bible, a lot about faith, a lot about being a wife, a mother and my calling as a homemaker. I have learned a lot about many other things as well and it would take me a lifetime to write them all. I have really begun to feel the strong urge to write again and I hope to take many of these things and put them into writing and if the Lord wills it, for some of it to be published, whether in fiction or non-fiction form. I will say that everyday is a struggle discovering what it is that God wants me to do and figuring out how I can best give Him glory. But everyday is also a learning opportunity and growing closer to the Lord.
And our kids. Jamey is now 2 years old, in a front facing car seat. He is talking in sentences, picking up words for so many things, talking about anything and everything. He now runs and jumps and climbs, tries to flip. He is such a big boy. Lillian is now 15 months and in a big girl car seat, though still rear facing. She eats everything now! She is starting to talk and says thank you, this, sometimes please, and uses baby signs for other things. She is a champion army crawler and starting to regularly pull up and try to take a few steps while holding hands or a walker. I cannot believe how much she has grown.
And after being here almost 6 months we found out we will be adding number 3 to our ever growing family near the end of August! God's timing in perfect, though sometime we don't understand it.
The most important thing I have learned in the past year is that we are exactly
where God wants us at this time and that is the greatest thing. I have heard Pastor Steve say many times "There is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will." There are good days and bad. Nothing is ever perfect. But even on the days I want to quit, I know that God has put me here for such a time as this. I can't wait to see what the next year holds for us.

Our family today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All My Tears by Emmylou Harris

When I go don't cry for me
In my fathers arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole

Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Have loved learning this one. Though it is really a reminder of what is to come, I may have it sung for my funeral (whenever that may be).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grace Upon Grace by Sandra McCracken

In every station, new trials and new troubles
Call for more grace than I can afford
Where can I go but to my dear Savior
For mercy that pours from boundless stores.

Grace upon grace, every sin repaired
Every void restored, you will find Him there
In every turning He will prepare you
With grace upon grace.

He made a way for the fallen to rise
Perfect in glory and sacrifice
In sweet communion my need He supplies
He saves and keeps and guards my life

To Thee I run now with great expectation
To honor You with trust like a child
My hopes and desires seek a new destination
and all that You ask Your grace will provide.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Princess Protection Program

Anybody who knows me knows I am not into the princess thing or anything really girly. Overall most of that stuff tends to really bother me for whatever reason. I am also not a huge fan of Disney. There are maybe a handful of movies that I love from them and that's about it. But this movie, Princess Protection Program, has really caught my attention, in spite of the fact that it is a Disney movie about princesses.
It is focused on a girl and her dad who protects princesses world wide through a secret organization. The father rescues a princess from an island country who is being threatened. The princess comes to live with his daughter and him and there it begins. The daughter hate princesses! Go figure right. It is also time to vote for homecoming queen at her school, which she hates even more. Threw events the daughter and the princess are both nominated for homecoming queen. During this time, the princess educates the girl on what it really means to be a princess. Now how realistic this is for true royalty, only God knows, but she teaches her about giving, turning the other cheek when wronged and that not everything is about pretty dresses and jewels.
This is what really impressed me as I think about raising a daughter. I pray that one day she will accept the salvation God gives us through Christ and become God's princess and those are qualities I pray that she will possess as His princess. Learning so much of this now it overwhelms me at times thinking about teaching Lillian how to be God's princess, but I know by God's grace we will both learn. I pray she will learn about giving of herself completely to the Lord. I pray she will learn turning the other cheek when she is wronged. I pray that she will know it's not about what she wears that makes her beautiful, but a heart that is full of the Love of God, that is generous, gracious and merciful that makes her beautiful. I pray that I too will remember these things and model them for her as I continue to learn.
In Christ we are royalty. Are you reflecting the kingdom of God?

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I have always wanted to be married and to have kids. I have also never thought of myself as a teacher, not naturally anyway. So, when I was dreaming as a child about my family and the future, homeschooling was never on my radar. It is interesting and amazing how God shows you things and begins to change your heart and mind, especially in the plan He has for you, of which you were previously unaware. As I watch my kids grow and learn I am amazed at how much and what they are learning by me taking advantage of teachable moments and playing with them. I get so excited when they learn a new word or sign or start putting concepts together. It warms my heart and soul and I do not want to miss any of it.
As this is becoming my heart, I have begun the quest for materials and ideas as well as learning what my kids should know at their age and stage. Obviously we teach whenever we can no matter if it is "over their heads" or not, but what should I be intentionally teaching and working on with them on a regular basis. Might I say there is a LOT of information out there. Thankfully I have only found 2 programs geared toward my age children and one has free material online, that makes that easy! :) But I am looking at long term curriculum as well as I stumble across things and people make suggestions and it is very exciting to see the material out there. I do not know exactly how I want to approach everything, so learning about different curriculum and what they have to offer is great!
And with number 3 on the way I'm hoping to start doing a more "formal" setting for Jamey starting in August to get an idea before the baby comes of how I want to start and where I need to go from here. I obviously have a lot to learn and would value any input on the subject as well as curriculum people have used and liked/disliked and why. There is so much that I am praying against feeling overwhelmed as I know this is where God is leading me right now. Currently I am very excited about the prospect and what will come of it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Love My Kids!!!!!

So many things are running through my mind, but right now I want to talk about my kids! I wrote a while back about sanctification through children and behold it continues. Everyday I am pushed, pulled, stretched and molded by the things my kids do, both the good and the bad.
Jamey is in the full swing of being a two-year-old! Tantrums, unprovoked whining, challenging our parental authority. Learning how to discipline appropriately is so difficult! I pray a lot! and think about ways God disciplines us to shape us into His image. Different things work for different offenses but being wise about what to use when and what things can "slide" is so tricky. I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit and that ultimately God is in control. God has given me a great responsibility for training my kids in His ways, but the work of God in their lives is even more important.
And on evenings like this I see that even with all the disobedience and feelings of scorn I get from Jamey at times, I remember that it is all worth it. The diapers finished in the dryer and I was looking for the laundry basket to take them out and fold them. I asked Jamey if he knew where it was but we realized it was in Lillian's room where she was napping. About an hour later she woke up and I went to change her diaper and get her up. While I was doing this Jamey took the laundry basket, went to the dryer, took the diapers and wipes out, put them in the basket and took them to the living room where I fold them! I did not realize until I took Lillian in the living room and when I saw this I was so pleasantly surprised and praised him greatly. I did not ask him to do this! He apparently remembered I was looking for the basket to get the laundry and took the initiative! How amazing! It's those moments that make my heart sing and realize something is getting into their minds about being helpful and putting others before self.
On the down side, teaching this principle is sometimes painful for all of us, especially Lillian. Most of the time when we are teaching kindness and putting others first it's because he has stolen a toy from her, pushed her over, hit her, tried to be her parent or in some other way hurt his sister. The joys of siblings. :) But I love that I am able to teach them this together. Thankfully Lillian is very resilient and loves her big brother even when he has hurt her. This too is a great example for me. It's a reminder of how we are to love God no matter what we are going through and not blame Him but take it all to Him. He is the only One who fully understands. (not an exact parallel but still makes me think of this.)
Lillian is finally starting to understand No and obey! This I love. I remember when Jamey was like that. She's in the pleasing stage where she wants us to cheer and be happy with her. She is also a great eater! And FINALLY starting to pull up and try to walk a little bit! This is so exciting. It's amazing watching her learn. She's picking up on so much and starting to try and talk a little bit. She definitely has clear signs. She loves to sing and clap and sometimes she will dance too. She smiles at almost everyone and loves to give hugs and cuddle. She is such a sweet little girl.
Jamey's vocabulary has grown and it always amazes me what he picks up on. My recent favorite was driving by Red Lobster (he's been there maybe 5 times) and he points to it saying, "You see fish in there." I was blown away! The last time we ate there you could see 2 fish hanging on the wall. And today when he had pushed Lillian I was talking to him about kindness and I asked him if he knew what he did. He said, "I pushed Lillian in there." I almost lost it from shock that he said that. He has never vocalized what he's done when asked. He usually looks around like "I don't know." He is learning more specialized animals. With his new obsession with dinosaurs I love hearing him say T-rex, triceratops and pterodactyls. And his favorite phrase, "what happened?" anytime something happens at all. It is so innocent and precious. He loves whatever explanation we give. He is so smart and says so much. I love talking to him. And I love his curious mind.
I do not know why God decided to bless me with children. He knows I do not deserve these precious ones, but has given them to me anyway and has decided I am to have a third! How wonderful and honor! I am thankful He is using them and all around me to teach and grow me. There are so many other ways to teach and guide, but there is nothing like children to teach us and we teach and guide them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In The Morning When I Don't Rise

So if you are a morning person you may not understand this, but me, I hate getting up in the mornings. I am an evening person and have been as long as I can remember. Recently, however, my body has begun waking me up around 7 or so. I know this is the Holy Spirit waking me up to spend a few much needed minutes with God before the kids get up and the day really begins, but still I resist. Why is this? Why do any of us do this? What is it about our nature that resists these promptings and says, "just 5 more minutes" until there are no more minutes.
Before we moved I was regularly getting up early to spend time with God, but I have gotten so lazy. So now when i just wake up I say, "no, I just want to sleep." This is a selfish attitude and it needs to be weeded out of me. This morning it was 5:00 and I could not go back to sleep. I got up, ate a little something and messed around on the computer before going to lie back down at 6 hoping for 2 more hours of sleep. No! God was not letting me sleep this morning. All I got was a headache from trying to force sleep on my body. So finally around 6:30 I relinquished and read some scripture and talked with God about what was on my mind. It was refreshing, and I remember why I had initially disciplined myself to get up early every morning to meet with God. It changes your perspective on the day. It prepares you for what lies ahead and puts you in tune with God's Spirit.
Jesus sets this example for us in Scripture. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place, where He prayed" (NIV). Jesus, the Son of God, perfectly in tune with the will of the Father, got up early and prayed alone so He could commune with His Father. How much more, then do we need to rise early and talk with our Heavenly Father so that we can hear His perfect voice and will for us? I know for me, I could spend all day in the Word and prayer and it still would not be enough. I hope this will become a good reminder for me of the need to rise early and actually start listening to the Spirit when He calls to me, "come and sit at your Father's feet".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Creation Museum

The best I can say is WOW! This place was amazing and completely inspired by God. I will say, when we first arrived and there were dinosaurs at the entrance I thought, "what have I gotten myself into?" (I am not a fan of dinosaurs by the way.) So we began the journey through this museum and it all became clear very quickly. It showed how creation, explained in the Bible backed up science. I wish I could explain plainly but honestly I could not do it justice. This is one of those places you just have to see. I went to a presentation on dinosaurs and the Bible and this helped me so much. Honestly I had gotten to the point where I just chalked up dinosaurs to some hoax of Satan's or archaeologists making up things they found. I believe the Bible is true and what I knew of dinosaurs just did not fit. The way it was explained in the museum and at the lecture made so much since and was put into Biblical perspective for me. It was also interesting to learn that it is possible dragons and dinosaurs are the same. In the KJV Bible is uses the word dragon to describe somethings and the word dinosaur was not invented until around 200 years later! Interesting! (well, to me at least). And that many of the folk lore about dragons may have come from dinosaurs and they just became extinct like the dodo bird from being hunted and disease. It was absolutely fascinating to me. I love the Bible and I love science and to understand how they go together better is always a wonderful thing.
I love the way God uses different things at different times to show you different things and this was great timing. Now Jamey is obsessed with dinosaurs and I have the ability to explain it from a Biblical perspective. As I think about homeschooling my kids and realize how much I do not know I am thankful for places like this that can teach me so I can teach my children.

If you would like to know more about the museum visit:

If it's a long drive you have a place to stay. It's only about 1 1/2 hours from our place. I encourage you to go, see, learn. It's fascinating!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You have Redeemed My Soul

by Don and Lori Chaffer

You have redeemed my soul
From the pit of emptiness
You have redeemed my soul
From death
You have redeemed my soul
From the pit of emptiness
You have redeemed my soul
From death

I was a hungry child
A dried up river
I was a burned out forest
And no one could do anything for me
But You put food in my body
Water in my dry bed
And to my blackened branches,
You brought the springtime
Green of a new life
And nothing is impossible
For You

Now, You have redeemed my soul
From the pit of emptiness
You have redeemed my soul
From death

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Much Needed Getaway!

So thanks to some amazing friends (Luke and Ann) insisting, Jim and I were able to have a night away at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Harrodsburg, KY. It was the first time since our Honeymoon that we actually went somewhere alone. We just celebrated 7 years of marriage and what a wonderful time away it was. The town was a quaint little town with a cute main street that had typical shops and a nice soda fountain place. I got to have a purple cow! We learned a poem about purple cows in kindergarten, I think, and my mom use to make them sometimes, but we grow up and forget about these cute little things until we're adults and we have a moment where we remember being young again.
After exploring the town we went back to the Manor and just rested in quiet. It was a mini taste of empty nest syndrome. Though the quiet was beautiful, after a while you start to wonder what's wrong just out of habit. But then you remember your children are safe playing with friends and you rest, you talk, you take the little breath and just relax for a while.
At dinner we met a wonderful couple from a small town in Ohio. We learned about each other, talked, laughed and enjoyed each others company. We even played Scrabble. It is amazing the little blessings God surprises you with even in rest. It is a great reminder that rest is good when done appropriately. Knowing the balance is the hard part, but I'm learning more about it every day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Longing Heart

Today they posted a link from the trip a group from our church recently took to Europe. It connected to a link for pictures and it took me back. I teared as I saw these photos, especially the ones of Belgrade. It is an interesting mixture of Eastern and Western Europe and so my heart was aching for both though most of you know my heart truly in Eastern Europe.
As I looked through these photographs I remembered the longing that is ever in my heart to be on that side of the world once more. Though I know it is not true, it seems as if for a moment the world is perfect. The clear blue sky, the crystal aqua ocean, the architecture that is pure beauty. Something about those images just whisk me away to a place that is so beautiful that I yearn to be among it and the people there. And yet I know that it is dark, completely imperfect and lost. And that is where my true yearning lies. To be with those people sharing the light of Jesus with them.
I talked to a great friend of mine who is from that area of the world and it added to the longing. Then tonight we had a women on mission event at our church and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am on mission now and I'm called to full time "over there" mission too. I must let this yearning, that is God given, keep me on mission all the time. As a follower of Christ it is always our job to be on mission where ever we are.

If you would like to read more about the Europe Mission trip or see pictures the links below will take you there.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Great Reminder

Yesterday afternoon I attended a songwriting workshop at Sojourn with Bob Kauflin. It was a great time of learning as I love to write songs but have never given much thought to the process as I simply write what comes to me when I feel inspired.
The most profound thing that was said, in my opinion, is Bob saying he is thankful he has an average voice because that is how most of the people in your congregation sing. I have never really thought about this and, in fact, lamented the fact that I had not spent more time developing my voice (or other musical instrument) so that I could have other opportunities that seemed to be given only to those who are "professional" or "classically trained". But to hear someone who has worked in leading worship say this reminded me that I don't have to be professional or classically trained to sing, praise or even lead worship. I am to use what God has given me and use it how He sees fit, even if all I do is sing praise songs to my children and teach them how to sing praises to our Lord.
So how about you? Are you using your gifts and talents to further God's kingdom, even in little ways or are you waiting for your "big break"? God has something for all of us to do, and whatever He has for you is important in His kingdom even if it does not seem important to anyone else. Do not take any opportunity for granted. God is at work, so let Him work in and through you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

by George Mattheson

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fellowship So Deep

by: Aaron Senseman and Kinley Lange

For the love that knows no ending, in the wisdom of God's plan
For the light that was descending to revive the heart of man
Christ the Lamb was made to suffer and to die upon a tree
So that we, sisters and brothers, could know His fellowship so deep

Let us sing of our Redeemer and of His love that made us free
And know this gift is ours forever, a fellowship so deep
A fellowship so deep

We can feel his love among us; we can sing redemption's song
We can hear the Spirit call us to a place where we belong
For His joy is in our laughter and His comfort in our grief
Let His love here ever after be the language that we speak

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia to the Lamb, alleluia to the Lamb
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia to the Lamb, alleluia to the Lamb

Monday, June 6, 2011

All Grown Up Part 2

Walking up and down stairs. Choosing clothes and getting dressed. Using the bathroom alone. Riding in the front seat of a car. Eating what I like and knowing how to chose things that are good. Getting food or drink. Carrying bags. Doing laundry. Cleaning. Being able to reach most things.
All of these things and many more I know I take for granted on a regular basis. I see Jamey struggling these things consistently. There are days he wants to do these things and is confident in being a big boy. Other times he wants to be a baby and just wants to be carried or play. I see this battle and I think of myself. Do I play on the computer or do the laundry? Do I read my Bible or watch TV? Do I plan a meal or just eat something from the freezer or fast food? I could continue on, but I believe you get the idea. Knowing what takes priority and learning balance seems to be the biggest keys in "growing up". Or maybe it just seems that way to me at the moment. I keep realizing that there are so many good things to do and things we can do, but we must realize that there are things that must be a priority and things we must do as a part of living for God and there are things we should do to be a Christ-like witness or be healthy.
How do we make these decisions? Pray! Read the Bible! Seek advice from Christian friends and elders. It's not easy, but it is all necessary. I seem to be asking myself these questions all the time and seem to be floundering in them. I am grateful that God is patient with us and helps us as we muddle through these questions to figure out the right answers. I think the hardest part is that these change on a regular basis. But we must press on, ask the questions and rely on God to get us through each and every day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Maker and My King

by Anne Steel (adapted by Mike Cosper)

My Maker and my King,
To you my all I owe;
Your sovereign bounty is the spring
Where all my blessings flow;

A creature of Your hand,
On You alone I live;
My God, Your benefits demand
More praise than I can give.
My God, Your benefits demand
More praise than I can give.

What can I give
When all is Yours before?
Your love demands a thankful heart;
But my gift is so poor.

O let Your grace inspire
My soul with strength divine;
Let every word and each desire
And all my days be Yours.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All Grown Up

This past weekend my baby sisters (yes, they are twins) graduated from high school. I may sound like an older person for a moment, but being nine years their senior I remember their lives. I remember the day they were born, when they finally came home from the hospital 2 weeks later, when they began kindergarten, middle school and high school. I remember the little girls who were my bridesmaids almost 7 years ago, then turning around and realizing they are no longer little girls. They are now 18, preparing to go to college and become part of the "real world". They are all grown up!
Or are they really. Reflecting on this has caused me to reflect on this ideology of being grown up, but what does it really mean. Once we are 18, 21, 30 we are all grown up? Or because we have a job, a mortgage and two cars? Because we are married? Because we have kids? When are we really grown up?
I have come to the conclusion that though we may enter the adult world, we are never fully "all grown up". There is always something new to learn, something different to do. We look at adults all of the time and wonder if they are ever going to grow up. Sometimes I look at myself and wonder if I will ever be grown up. And then it hits me, only in Christ can I be grown up. He gives me the ability to make "grown up" decisions, to be wise in uncertain circumstances and to know how to handle every day life. Do I do this perfectly? By no means! I wish I did. But everyday I'm crying out to God, "make me grown up! Make me perfect so that I will no longer hurt your heart or those around me!" Only God is really grown up. I hate it when I make childish decisions, or mistakes from just not paying attention to what is going on around me. But praise the Lord, the blood of Jesus covers me and now I can ask Him every day to help me be truly grown up.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Christ, Or Else I Die

Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal # 737
Words - William Hammond, 1719-1783
Music - Drew Holcomb, 2004

Gracious Lord, incline thy ear;
My requests vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Wealth and honor I disdain,
Earthly comforts, Lord are vain;
These can never satisfy:
Give me Christ, or else I die.

All unholy and unclean,
I am nothing else but sin;
On thy mercy I rely;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost freely save the lost;
In thy grace alone I trust.
With my earnest suit comply;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost promise to forgive
All who in thy Son believe;
Lord, I know thou canst not lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Over Death

Adapted from “Hymn 17” by Isaac Watts
Written by Jesse Eubanks, Neil Robins and Joel Gerdis

I long for an overcoming faith
To cheer my dying hour
To triumph over the monster death
And all his frightful powers

Joyful, with all the strength I have
My trembling lips should sing:
“Where is your boast of victory grave?
And where is the monster’s sting?”

If sin be pardoned and secure
Death has no sting beside
The law gives sin its damning power
But Christ my ransom died


So let us praise the God of victory
Immortal hope for mortal flesh
So let us praise the God of victory
Who makes us conquerors of death


Thursday, May 19, 2011


As I live around so many different cultures, I am beginning to see even more of a reality I have always known was there, but never gave much thought. Expectations. Every culture and, even within a culture, every person is different in how they expect people to behave. I forget that even in the United States there are different expectations depending on where you live. It is these expectations that seem to have such a huge influence on how we perceive others. The culture I have learned the most about recently is the Iraqi culture. (I love learning about cultures and am always fascinated by the little and sometimes big differences in them.) One of the first things we learned is the door is always open and you will get food and drink if you ask for it or not. In their culture this is expected. Though we offer refreshments to our guests if someone refuses we take them at their word and do not get anything for them. Not the case in Iraq. I also learned from one of their cultural classes that there are some cultures where you refuse several times before accepting the offer, so that just because they may refuse does not mean they do not want anything, you just have to ask a few more times. Interesting! (at least I think it is).
I say all of that to help us realize that it is our expectations that, many times, cause rifts between well meaning people. In the US I hear a lot, "well she's not a good friend because she did/did not do this or that". I confess I too am guilty of such statements. But recently I have begun to evaluate this thoughts and feelings and realizing that just because someone failed to do something I was expecting does not make them a bad friend, they just did not know I was expecting them to do that. We fail to communicate our expectations and then get upset when they are not met.
So what do we do? If it's friendship that we're frustrated with, do those things you would expect your friends to do. If it's hospitality, be the hostess you want others to be. Tell people when you expect something but be understanding if they truly cannot do what you are asking. It really comes down to the golden rule and taking the attention off of ourselves. We are told clearly in Scripture that we are to love others as ourselves and to put others before ourselves. Though this looks different depending on the situation at hand, we are to seek God and be the example He wants us to be.
I would also evaluate your expectations. Are you expecting too much? Are you being selfish? Do your expectations line up with Christ likeness or with what you see has human standards? It can be difficult to tell at times, so again we must seek God's guidance. For example, it is reasonable for me to expect my children to obey the rules as God expects us to obey His commands, but to expect that your friend call you every day and talk 30 minutes is a bit overboard. Some may have that kind of time, but is it glorifying to God?
Like so many things, I wish it were so cut and dry, but the reality is we live in a fallen world where we are surrounded by expectations of all kinds and we must learn how to follow God's plan without compromise. When we fail we need to apologize and ask forgiveness then seek to continue on with being Christlike as He guides us by His Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sanctification through Children

How amazing children are! Right now I seem to marvel everyday at what Jamey is learning and doing. I also marvel at how much it is growing, teaching and stretching me. I am starting to understand that one of the biggest purposes of God giving children is to teach us more about His character. With children, if you do not grow in Christ likeness, then you become miserable. I see this battle in me all of the time. Do I follow Christ's pattern of love, discipline, grace and mercy or do I fall into self and do what I want to do or what seems easiest? It's a daily battle and struggle to raise a child. Only by the grace of God can I even begin to hope to raise my children in His likeness. I know they are created in His image and He wants them to follow in the path of Christ. I also know they are sinful, fallen just like me. How much more evident my sin is now that I am teaching my children. I must stop and think all the time, what am I teaching my children?! Though I must I find that I don't. Then I must go back and ask forgiveness not only from God but from my children who are not seeing Christ in me. This is the hard part. To humble yourself before your child and say, "I'm a sinner too! I know I messed up here. Please forgive this human of a mother you have." Though they are young and do not fully understand the words, I can see that they understand the motions. It is amazing how much children can see, know and understand without knowing full language. We think they must know how to communicate everything in order to fully communicate, but this is not true! They see and feel the emotions you portray and share with them. They know when you are saying one thing and doing another. Sometimes it seems my children are smarter than I, not because of intelligence, but because they see without it. God has given me a great responsibility that I am so unworthy of having, but He has given it to me nonetheless. And now with a third on the way! I must confess that though I am joyful that God has chosen to given our family another life, I have questioned the wisdom. But then I remember that the wisdom of God may seem like foolishness to men. God is continually growing me as He grows my family. Thanks be to God that He does this! That He knows my weakness, my sin, my inability and still gives me the responsibility and charge to raise the next generation, I pray, of believers. I am no where close to perfect. I stumble everyday! But I know that God is still guiding, directing, molding and making me every step of the way.

It's been 10 months and I've already learned so much! What will the next 4 years hold?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Remember Me (Prayer of Hannah)

By Jamie Barnes

Remember me, Oh God - In my affliction
Your daughters call upon your name
I’m not full of new wine, but Holy Spirit
Tossed in the wake of my shame

If you read the lips of this silent prayer
Favor your servant, my aim to bear
No razor shall come to a single hair of our young - of our young

Let the joy that lives in me leap in your proximity
Oh mothers of Israel behold the son
Who has opened the womb of the barren
You have opened the womb of the barren.
You have opened the womb

Remember me, Oh God
In my condition
Your daughters call upon your name
We do not fear the snow
We’re draped in scarlet
Hued by the blood of the lamb.

May we raise our children to call us blessed
and bathe them with tongues of righteousness
as we will claim them back from the jackal's breast
We will claim them back. We will claim them back.

Two songs in one day! I meant to post this on Mother's Day as it was written for the occasion by one of our music leaders at Sojourn.
You can go to this link to hear the song and get a chord sheet as well as learn more about it!

We Are Changed

adapted from Hymn 95 by Isaac Watts

Not any government on earth no law that God has given
No will of man no blood no birth can raise a soul to Heaven
The sovereign will of God alone prepares the heirs of grace
Born in the image of His son a chosen holy race.

It’s through Your Spirit
Through Your sacrificial Son.

We are changed, no longer in chains
Once were enslaved but the Son has come
And conquered the grave, so we are changed.
We are changed not by the things we’ve arranged
Not by the work our hands have done
It’s through Your Son that we are changed.

Our quickened souls awake and rise from sin and shame and death.
On heavenly things we fix our eyes His praise employs our breath.

Not any government on earth no law that God has given
No will of man no blood no birth can raise a soul to Heaven.