Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Fun Christmas Tradition

I LOVE my girlies more than words could ever express, but if I had to choose my favorite person on this earth, it would be my sweet husband, Joshua. Biblically, I believe that God designed it that way, and practically, it just works! He's got so many qualities that I fell in love with over 11 years ago and has only improved upon and added to that long list since our time together!

As I consider this beautiful Christmas season, one of joy, of hope, of promise, of mercy, of love, of kindness, of grace; all gifts of God through the birth, and then ultimately, the death and resurrection of His Son, I also consider the joy that comes with celebrating it with my family! And though there is nothing like experiencing Christmas through the bright, beautiful eyes of a child, there are still some fun things that I look forward to sharing with Joshua each and every year.

One of our favorite holiday traditions is to put the girls to bed (waiting to make sure they are asleep after their giggles, their attempts to get in and out of their bed/room) and settling in for the night to cuddle up on the couch with warm apple cider while laughing hysterically at National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation! Yes, we could quote most every line. Yes, we have seen it about 100 times since it aired back when we were kids. Yes, we know the jokes and yes, we still laugh as if it is the first time we have watched it! It has little sentimental meaning and doesn't just make us feel all warm and gooshy inside, but for those 2 hours, we enjoy just "being" together. We forget the presents we have left to purchase. We forget the many obligations and events we have to attend. We forget to consider how to make things even more fun for the girls for the Christmas holiday. We refuse to worry about how all of the above things will get accomplished in the few weeks we have left before Christmas. We refuse to multi-task by wrapping gifts, signing cards and online shopping. We just laugh. Together. And it's fabulous!

What are some ways that you and your favorite person celebrate the holidays together, forgetting the stuff that can make us truly forget the important things?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweat: Liquid Awesome

My bestie and I were just discussing fitness this morning, as we always do (among 1000's of other topics we can cover in a period of time while indulging in pumpkin soy lattes and splitting a cinnamon crunch bagel). We have always enjoyed "sweating." Well, maybe I should qualify this. She's always enjoyed sweating, as her days of an athlete/well above average active woman far surpass mine. Me? I have just learned to enjoy the roll of a good shin sweat over the last 4 1/2 years since I decided, or rather, God decided, that I owed it to Him and to my family and friends to be not just "OK" before Him, but to be EXCELLENT in all I strive to do, for His glory, which yes folks, includes your health and fitness! So, sweat quickly became my friend.

Sweat has so many scientific properties and is perfect for what the body needs (cooling down, releasing toxins, etc.), but sweat is also a good sign of a job well done in using the body as it was created. So next time you sweat from being "overly active" or as a result of a effective, quality, hard workout, think of it as "liquid awesome," or as "fat crying," but always think of it as a huge work of God to remind you that your body is a machine that was created BY Him and FOR Him!

16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16

Thursday, November 10, 2011


9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:9-12

Thanksgiving. Such a beautiful word filled with thoughts of elementary school studies (you remember seeing kiddos in your lunch room being replaced by little people wearing construction paper pilgrim hats and Native American head dresses/feathers), lining the tables and enjoying what was considered a "Thanksgiving Feast," ala public school lunchroom. It's a word filled with thoughts of family. Of being together with those you love, and some, you do well to love, and sharing laughter, food, football on the family TV and thoughts of Christmas knocking loudly at the door. It's a word, that combined with the words, "after," "day," and "sale," brings excitement to the hearts of serious (or crazy, I'm not sure which best describes this tribe of people yet, even though I have been privy to what is known as Black Friday) bargain shoppers who wish to get the best things for the least money!

But, what is Thanksgiving? I am not a linguist, but I do love how the day that we celebrate in our country as the day that two groups of people came together to unite, even for a day, and celebrate freedom and friendship, is made up of two words: "thanks" and "giving." And as I sit to ponder this post, I wonder how little that I really think of either words as being crucial to that particular holiday, or, any day for that matter? Personally, I have more than I can even begin to type or even categorize in the way of "things for which I am thankful," and when it comes to actually "giving thanks," do I equally do more than enough of that to account for my many blessings? I won't bore you with the hundreds of things I can spout off when it comes to things that bless me, all beyond what I deserve, but I do wish to challenge you, as well as myself this season of Thanksgiving.

May we all not only recognize the people, things and most importantly, the God who wishes to give His children (who aren't worthy) good gifts (and by gifts, I don't mean nice cars, fancy homes or the latest Apple product), but may we then turn and give to others out of our abundance. Out of our abundance of funds. Out of our abundance of "yard sale" boxes. Out of our abundance of time (and yes, we may feel spent, but we always have more time to give for the things that matter most to us). Out of our abundance of food. Out of our abundance of hope. And most importantly, out of our abundance of the joy, which comes down from the Father of light, who does not change like shifting shadows, who not only wishes to give us good and perfect gifts (James 1:17), but who then wishes us to share all for which we have been given with those who may be lacking in their abundance, even this very moment!

Thanksgiving. May it be truly a season for us to be thankful, but also, to give. . . sacrificially, joyfully, abundantly, freely, as Christ has given to us!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Feels like Home

November 1, 2010. It was a date that I was dreading and a date that I longed for! It was the day that we officially moved to a small town in southern Ohio known as Hillsboro. It was the day that I had eagerly been anticipating, as it was confirmed over and over by questions answered and opportunities granted. It was a day that I equally loathed, as I would no longer be living in my "Old Kentucky Home," of which I had never known any different in my then 31 years. It was a day that made my heart full of joy to not only see my husband be able to spend his days doing what God had made Him for, as a minister of the gospel, but to also be able to spend more time around the dinner table as a family, to snuggle up on the couch after the girls went to bed because he no longer had 4 hours of class that would keep him from home until after 10 pm, and even, to have him work next door for impromptu lunch dates and errand runs together! It was a day that made my heart full of sorrow, to know that our families, who had been just 15 and 45 minutes away, along with all of our beautiful friends, were now going to be 3 or more hours from us. It was a day that I anticipated new friendships, of which God has continued to grant and surprise me with in His creative ways of connecting me to so many beautiful and unique women in and around this community!

It was a day of laughter. It was a day of tears. It was a day of hope. It was a day of fears (sorry, I really didn't plan the rhyme!).

It was a day. And above anything that my heart and head were telling me, God was whispering His peace to me: Peace in the timing, peace in the location, peace in the tears, peace in the laughter. That He was sovereign. That He was in control. And that in it all, He knew I would be here way before we knew, and that Joshua was His physical reminder. A reminder here in this place of uncertainty. A reminder that God is always present and that wherever He is, is my home. Joshua and I had always said early on in our marriage, that no matter where God may lead, with God as the center of our marriage, wherever we are together is HOME!

So, here we are. November 1, 2011 marks our year anniversary as Hillsboro, Ohio residents. It's been 365 1/4 days! Each day has been different, like everyone's days. It's not been an easy transition some days! Other days, it's been smooth sailing. Truth be told, I miss my family. I miss my Target strolls with a Starbuck's cup in my hands. I miss my 5 minute run to the mall to grab something quickly. I miss the bright lights and the strolls downtown Louisville, one of the prettiest downtowns around. I miss all of the wonderful little eateries in the Highlands. I miss dropping into my mom-in-law's beauty shop, just to get a quick hug and say, "I love you." But in those moments, God still whispers to me that He is home, that Joshua is home and that as our little family cuddles together in the cold, dreary days or runs and giggles together on the warm, sunshiny days, I'm never out of place. Joshua is my other half. With him, I am one. With him, I'm always home. God's design for marriage has so many implications that I don't understand, but I am not one to question when each day is made sweeter with the home that we continue to build together, in Christ, no matter the city, town, or "'boro!"

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Genesis 2:24

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How Sweet It Is!

What's sweeter than coming into the living room, seeing your beautiful 3 year old girl standing at the door, awaiting the arrival of Daddy and sissy from school and hearing her pass the time by softly saying, "Thewah-fow, as God's chosen people, holy and dealy loved, clothe youwself with compassion, kindness, bumisy (humility), gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12"?

Nothing is sweeter! Nothing! May my girls always hide God's Word in their heart!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Muddy Mamas

I am so very humbled to get to contribute to another blog that takes other ladies who, like myself, are just lumps of clay outside of the Potter's Hands, but are beautiful creations within them! Check out how God is moving and growing each of us and we pray that you may be encouraged as you read and share with us on this muddy journey called life!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

20 pounds, glass jars and 3 year olds

I'm not feeling well today. I have a 20 pound head (or so it seems) full of snot. I feel like I'm talking, and hearing, in a glass jar. My ears ache and my body almost requires the same level of adjective as my ears! I'm not in bed, I don't have a fever, but I just am not "Lela" today! But, life continues. There were lunches to be made, breakfast to enjoy with my family before everyone rushed out the door for school and work, newsletters to be folded and conversation to be enjoyed at First Baptist. You get the idea! Life continues and carries on. I do my best to push on, as if nothing is different, but anyone who knows me would recognize that there's a lot less pep in my step, a few less giggles and maybe, a few more dark circles under my eyes! I'm hopped up on Sudafed, Advil, Neti-pot solution and tons of vitamin C, water and prayers for a quick recovery from this "ick" of winter!

But, the best medicine so far today out of that long list of "doctor-yourself" solutions? Laney, as we lay together on the couch, just says in the silence, "Mommy, I wanna pway foh you! 'Dea-ah God, please help mommy feel bettah. Amen!" Nothing is as sweet as the sincere, straightforward, unhindered, unprompted prayer of your 3 year old who sees that mommy isn't quite herself and that God, the Great Physician, is the only true and effective help in Mommy's time of need. And nothing is as amazing as watching God move in the heart and mind of your 3 year old, knowing that she's responding to His promptings, even when she doesn't realize it quite yet!

I am feeling much better already!

Time to Get Real

This post is written by my favorite person on the face of this earth. He has a way with words, a way of challenging me with God's Word, and he's awfully cute! This is a subject that we have both been battling lately since we both experienced a major move and along with it, major life change. May you be encouraged, as I was, as you read my husband's words and remember to look upward and out!

It’s time to get real.

As I write these words I am sitting in my office sulking. Pouting like a 4 year old boy who didn’t get to buy the GI Joe he really wanted at Toys R Us. (I want to throw a fit but am refraining) The morning started with a wonderful argument with my wife followed by a series of text messages to try to explain my stupidity and ask for forgiveness (yes I know texting isn’t the best way to go about those things, but it will start the ball rolling so I can continue the convo in person). So, why am I so on edge and taking it out on those closest to me?

I’m a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and at times I’m lonely.

I am surrounded by a wonderful support system starting with my family. I could not have designed a better woman to fill the role of best friend, wife, and ministry partner and our girls are amazing. As I write and try to keep a frown on my face, I find myself being encouraged via two phone calls from close friends and a visit in the office. I serve a God who has overcome all odds and provided me freedom from sin and the promise of life eternal through Jesus and yet, here I sit at my desk starring at the wall.


Oh yeah, I’m a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and at times I’m lonely.

I keep reciting Romans 8:9 in my head waiting for the power of the message to sink in, “You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit, if you have the Spirit of God living in you,” but nothing happens. Where is that abundant life and overflowing Joy that Jesus speaks of in the book of John (John 10:10& John 15:11)? Where is that contentment that Paul talks about with Timothy or the peace that transcends all understanding that is supposed to guard my heart and mind (1 Timothy 6:6 & Philippians 4:7)? Why are there days that I just can’t seem to snap out of a funk?

Oh yeah, I’m a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and at times I’m lonely.

I know it. God knows it. Lela knows it. And now, you know it. But, you know who else knows it? The Devil. Satan knows it. Big deal, who cares if Satan knows my weaknesses, he’s not the boss of me! He can’t control me. He can’t make me do nothin’! Yet here I sit, pouting, sulking, & feeling sorry for myself. What’s the deal?

I’m a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy..and at times I’m lonely....oh, and Satan knows it.

He is taking my weaknesses and using them against me. From time to time I find myself letting him win control of my thoughts, my actions and my feelings. Satan has found a crack in my wall and he is using that weakness to try and break me apart; and in some small ways, its working.
I’m tired. I’m tired of using my weaknesses as an excuse and a cop-out.

I’m tired of being a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and I’m tired of being lonely.

Too many times in life we allow our weaknesses to control us. We allow the imperfect parts of who we are to dictate our thoughts and our actions. To often we allow Satan to gain a foothold in our lives because it is easier than fighting. Why is it easier? Because fighting is hard, it’s ugly and it hurts. The problem with not fighting is that you are left with only one choice: surrender. I don’t have a problem with surrender, its just I much rather choose when, where and to whom I’m going to surrender. When you surrender you hope to get something in return. If I surrender to my weaknesses, to those things Satan wants me to experience, all I get in return is to be a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy...and I get to be lonely.

In contrast, if I surrender to God and let him fight with me and on my behalf, I get something much more appealing.
I get freedom.
Freedom from being a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and freedom from loneliness. I get the promise that in Christ, I am a new creation because the old has gone away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). I get to rest in Him because all this fighting has been a heavy burden and made me weary (Matthew 11:28). I begin to realize that as I move closer to God, he in turn moves closer to me (James 4:8). I get to experience hope and the promise that nothing can separate me from the love of God because Jesus conquered death, sin and oppression (Romans 8:37-39).

I know you are tired too. I know that the battle you are fighting is hard and in some cases, you have just surrendered to it because its easier that way. The result however, has not been so good and in some cases it’s been catastrophic. It’s time to start fighting again. It’s time to pick up the pieces and move on.


Admit you are a failure. Admit you are worthless. Admit your weaknesses, out loud, and get over yourself. Don’t be a selfish, self-centered, insecure guy. Oh, and don’t be lonely.
God is on your side, but you need to be on your side too. You are worth fighting for! Why do you think Satan is trying so hard? Jesus didn’t just sacrifice his life because he didn’t have anything else better to do that day.

As God’s people, we need to make a shift. For too long we have covered our tracks, thinking that what the world needed was a bunch of people acting like everything was okay and that we had it all together. Somehow we thought it would be encouraging and others would want a piece of what we had. Well, it has backfired. Not only do they not want what we are selling, but we have also disillusioned ourselves into thinking that we can’t show weakness. What the world needs and what we need is to see real people. We need to see Real People, living Real Lives, facing Real Challenges, trusting in Real Hope, and experiencing Real Transformation all because of the Real Jesus.

Don’t hold it in any longer. Don’t tuck it away and don’t try to hide. Let it out. Get those weaknesses and insecurities out on the table and let God start working. I pray that my confession is helpful to you. I hope that my candidness and willingness to be open will stir something in side of you. The quicker we can own up to our weaknesses, the quicker we will be able to recognize when the enemy is trying to use them against us.

God loves you and knows you are special. He wants to rescue you and set you free (John 3:16-18).

It’s time to get Real.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All too often

So lately, I have been thinking of my life. I know that it should be an offering to God, as He has created us to glorify Him in everything! I also know that God desires our very best! He desires for us to give our "first fruits" and not just the leftovers or the things that aren't quality or worthy of human consumption, let alone, a gift to a holy, almighty God! As I have studied the last couple of weeks in 1 and 2 Samuel, I have been convicted that more often than not, my offerings are less than "first fruit-ish." David is a main character in these books and he did many things well! He loved God with his whole heart, but often, got distracted by his flesh. God, as always, received David's "broken and contrite heart" and restored him with each sincere apology. David yearned to be excellent in God's sight, and knew that of course, he would fall short, but a story in 2 Samuel 24 has kept coming up in my heart and in my mind and comes up over and over as I live life the last couple of weeks! You know, the daily grind, the mundane, the chores, the things that can be difficult to view as offerings, but cannot be discounted as "just things."

David had sinned against God and had taken matters into his own hands (as David often did. . . as WE often do), and feeling broken and convicted, decided to repent and though God disciplined David (God even gave David a menu to choose from for his punishments!) as well as those that David ruled, God had mercy and stopped His punishment just short of what He had planned, because of David's heart and willingness to absorb all the punishment and still worship and give thanks to His holy and forgiving God. Araunah, who owned the threshing floor where the Angel was commanded by God to cease his task of destruction, saw David coming and offered to give the king his floor where the altar where David would give his offerings to God would be built. But, David knew the blessing of giving God our best, and that doing so often comes at a cost. In 2 Samuel 24:24, King David says this, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

May I never sacrifice to the Lord offerings that cost me nothing! May I strive to be excellent in everything. May I repent and be restored and feel compelled to build altars to my holy and almighty God where I can bow at His feet, praising and rejoicing and bathing in the grace that God continues to offer me as I seek to glorify Him, but find myself all to often glorifying self! May we all refuse to take the easy way that means nothing to us and is not worthy of the God who breathed into us the breath of life!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sweetness in the Mailbox

So more proof that my "babies" aren't babies anymore arrived in the mail in sweet fashion yesterday. Jovey had her first school picture taken at her previous school, Lowe Elementary in Louisville, KY. Her teacher assured us she would send them to us via the mail. I had forgotten about it until we were greeted with a large envelope yesterday in the mail. Within it was my big girl's first school picture. It wasn't the best picture, but boy, did she look all grown up! I'm not sure when that happened, but if I didn't remember when she uses big words, is starting to have a little flair of culture pop up here and there and is losing teeth here and there, I now have it in photographs with that same gray background that I had some of my own school pics taken in front of!

Within that envelope, her sweet teacher also had included letters from her friends in her class at Lowe to express how much they missed her. One of the students even asked about how Jovey's mom was doing! ha! It made my heart smile and brought tears to my eyes to look at a few class pictures that Mrs. Thurman sent, as well as a picture of her own little family that she had shared with me in stories and in amazing things that God had done to make her family even more beautiful, in picture and in person!
I had prayed and prayed all last winter and summer that Jovey's first year at school would be most blessed and full of love as well as a teacher who loved Jesus and had no problem sharing that with Jovey and her friends. God blew my mind and made the whole "sending off my baby to school" process much easier. Even now, with a simple envelope full of memories, He reminds me of how well he cares for His children.

Thanks, God, for providing amazing and meaningful relationships in this life that remind us of how much you love us and how much you wish for us to see the many ways you share that with us, even on a regular day through the regular postal service, using regular people!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I came, I saw. . .I have a long way to go!

A new year. . . as a "blogger", used loosely since I am not the greatest at always keeping this wonderful mode of communication and expression updated, I would be remiss to not include a look behind, reflecting upon lessons learned and then, to look forward, taking in where I stand now as a woman who is ever changing and where God wishes to take me along this journey of life that He has so intricately and amazingly crafted for us all to encourage, love and lift up one another, all in Christ's name and for God's glory!

2010 was full of moments, as each year is. Sad ones, happy ones, angry ones, silly ones, crazy ones, quiet ones. . . it was, as each moment is, a time to live. Each moment was a time to not live for what I desire, but for what God desires in me. Each moment, I chose. I chose to fall to my flesh and disobey and downright disregard God's will for my life. I chose to praise Him and seek Him in the smallest giggle of my children and in the biggest moments on my knees before Him, ever so grateful, even in my shame, for His infinite grace and unfailing mercy in forgiveness. I chose to be loud, too loud to hear myself think, let alone to hear God speak. I chose to be quiet before Him, closing out the distractions and focusing in on His face alone. I chose to raise my voice to my children and snap at them for no good reason. I chose to ask for forgiveness, from a holy God and from my beautiful girls, for unholy anger and hearts broken. I chose to laugh off the things of childhood and teach my children, directing them in the ways of the Lord outlined in His Word and prayerfully holding my tongue and training theirs. I ate way too many "bad" things for me and not near enough "good" things, defiling the temple a bit with each time of gluttony. I p90x'd, Insanity'd, tae bo'd and ran and pushed my body to the extreme and saw just how amazingly intricate and strong that God made the human form. I nagged my husband, although, I always find ways to justify it and a thesaurus full of words to name it something else. I asked forgiveness for not respecting him and having faith that he will do what he says he will do. I found new things out about my Godly husband as he grew in God's Word and in His desire to love Christ more, therefore, loving our family more! I forgot about God some moments and didn't consider Him in anything. I spent time with God, drinking in His Word and basking in His beauty.

Some friendships slowly passed away, or at least, evolved, and I mourned. I missed my sweet friends, the ladies I "did life" with and even now, I still miss them dearly, but praise God for computers, phones and even short visits and trips to catch up over breakfast. My friendship with my best friend continued to evolve, becoming stronger, more solid, and even more fun in the circumstances of life and a tool to learn and grow, sharpening each other, even from miles away. My truest friends came to my rescue more than once, with a skype, an email, a phone call, a text or a visit, reminding me that God always provides and many times, He does so through our closest and most wonderful, God fearing and God honoring friendships. I became excited for a move to a new town with new opportunities to love God and love people. I moved and felt lonely, sad and a bit, ok, WAY out of my element and I cried. I was reminded of God's new mercies every morning and I drank them in in bucketfuls, waiting for God to reveal Himself to me. I felt His arms wrap around me, over and over.

I look forward to what's ahead and I am thankful for what's behind. I dance, I sing, I mourn, I cry, I laugh, I whine, I lose, I gain, I rest, I wrestle. . . I am not THERE, but I am getting THERE. I will never be THERE, but I am moving forward and am so blessed for it all!

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14