Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

May today be filled with special memories, lots of love and laughter, and knowing that we are celebrating the babe in the manger who was born our KING!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So This Is Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving means a couple things in our family. The first being, the best turkey sandwiches made with Pepperidge Farm bread, lots of Hellman's mayonnaise, and cranberry sauce. Yum! The second thing is that it is the day in which we head out and find our Christmas tree. 

We found a great tree farm called Fish River Tree Farm in Summerdale, Alabama. Like every other year, we walked the entirety of the farm to find just the perfect tree. It was the most beautiful day with the temperatures in the 70's. The only thing missing was our daughter, Jessica who will be flying in from Australia tomorrow!

With so many Southern Longleaf Pines around here, pine cones are in abundance. I must say, they are my new favorite thing and I have them scattered throughout the house.

My latest and easiest project has been the chalkboard that sits upon the buffet in our dining room. When I saw Lemonade Makin' Mama's, I knew I had to make one just the same.

The ornaments have been hung on the tree, each one representing something significant of that year.

The stockings are hanging from the mantle and come Christmas morning, will be filled with little gifts and special treats.

So, this is Christmas in our new home and I can't wait for the memories that will be made here this year. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


Oh, how I have missed writing here. My days have been busy and full of things that are bringing me so much joy. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can just be. Even in the busyness, I have time. I don't feel as if I'm being pulled in different directions or that our schedule is completely controlling us. My perspective and knowledge of time has changed and that in itself, has been a gift. 

So much of these last few months have been everything about "next steps".  Settling into our new home, new church, and new community has been nothing short of an exciting adventure. From day one, we all felt we were home. The transition was easy and we clearly and powerfully saw God's hand of provision upon every single detail. 

As I am resting in and enjoying all the next steps in my life right now, I feel as if I am literally going at full-speed, yet it is peace that is pushing and guiding me. 

I am embracing this place where God has brought us because how I needed it so.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Week Of Blessings

I can't believe the month of September has come to an end. I am so used to having the cool, crisp days of Fall having lived in Ohio and now that we are much further south in Alabama, Fall is feeling and looking very different. The temperatures are still hovering in the mid-80's with plenty of sunshine.

The counting of my gifts continues and this was a week full of blessings.

261.) Riding horses.
262.) Sam competing in his first high school swim meet and doing so well.
263.) seeing the Lord work in the lives of friends who are also partners in ministry.
264.) sitting in a kitchen laughing and telling stories with a group of women.
265.) Ben making the basketball team at school.
266.) Planning for an upcoming women's ministry event.
267.) God's protection.
268.) Still wearing flip-flops.
269.) Morning runs in the park.
270.) Packages mailed to Jessica in Australia.
271.) Fridays spent with Steve.
272.) afternoon naps.
273.) Growing friendships.
274.) Baptism services and celebrating steps of obedience and professions of faith.
274.) still seeing everyday that this is exactly where God wanted us to be.

Have a wonderful and delightful weekend!

Friday, September 16, 2011

This Week...

I am grateful for...

knowing that God can comfort a hurting heart.
the power of prayer.
the truth setting you free.
cuddly kittens.
Sam's continued determination in school.

texts with friends that live far away.
spending the day making Monkey Cake Pops with a dear friend to celebrate a birthday.
Ben seeing that God has a purpose and plan just for him.
the opportunity Steve and I have to get away this weekend.
friends that are going to take care of our boys this weekend.
understanding and extending grace.
a sweet conversation with my 90-year old grandmother, Mimi.
living in a place filled with beauty, adventure, fun, and a whole lot of love. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do I Fear?

Yesterday I began Angie Smith's book "What Women Fear".  When I read the introduction, I was really struck by something.

"For the remainder of this book, I want you to encourage you to change your thinking about fear. Instead of it being a black and white, you do or you don't, you succeed or you fail kind of issue, I want to propose that it is more of a balancing act than anything else." ~ Angie Smith

Honestly, my personality is one that always lends itself to all or nothing. Black or white. Succeed or fail. I know that this is an area that God has given me situations, trials, and opportunities to grow and be changed in. I've learned a whole lot about GRACE and how much bigger He is and His grace than my extremes.

When I hear the word FEAR, I automatically go to the extreme of what fear is. Remember what I said I do with extremes?

I wouldn't consider myself a woman who is gripped or controlled by fear. Have there been times when I have been fearful/worried? Absolutely! What I'm considering though is the fact that fear may be showing up in my life more than I've realized. Do I react or say something because really I am afraid? Are there things I am not doing because I am afraid? Are there situations that cause me to tip and get either a little or way off balance because of my pattern of thinking?

I love that Jesus never wants us to stay where we are. There are things that He has so powerfully, lovingly, and radically changed in me because His heart's desire is for me to be transformed into His likeness.

So, I'm choosing to change my thinking on what fear is and the role it plays in my life. I'm asking God to open my eyes to the areas of my life that I haven't put under the header of fear. If there are areas that are now dark and I've kept off limits, I'm asking Him to shine His holy light on them.

It's a life of balance. Knowing how to walk a step at a time, based on who He is and holding tightly to Him.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Counting Them One By One

This will be a weekend that I long remember. It was filled with more rain and wind than I have ever seen thanks to Tropical Storm Lee, an evening spent with the elders and wives of our new church as the rain poured and poured, knowing that all I can do is TRUST God with the care and protection of my children, and so many moments of enjoying where God has brought us.

And so, my list continues of ALL the gifts He has given me.

240.) Morning rain showers.
241.) Catching up with Steve at the end of the day.
242.) Hebrews 4:12
243.) Early mornings filled with praying and being in His Word.
244.) Lunches prepared by a sweet teenage girl.
245.) Studying that pays off.
246.) Sam's determination.
247.) Believing Jesus is my everything.
248.) The time I have with Ben in the morning taking him to school.
249.) Dinner with the elders of our church and their wives.
250.) Our new kitten, Eliza.

251.) Anna Claire calling me on the phone.
252). Boys that play in the mud.
253.) Walking on the beach and seeing God's power in the crashing of the waves and feeling the strength of the wind.

254.) God's protection over Jessica.
255.) Prayer
256.) Friends surrounding Jessica with love and care.
257.) my iphone camera and instagram.

258.) Open windows that allow the breeze to come in.

259.) Seeing everyday that God has taken care of every single detail in our recent move. 
260.) Remembering and honoring the lives of our sweet nieces,  Allison and Emily.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Counting Them One By One

Grace has made it's way into every aspect of my life these last couple of months, and I know I will never be the same.

I lay my head upon my pillow at the end of the day and find myself saying the same thing each night,

"Lord, you have blessed us in ways again today that I never would have imagined. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you."

And so, the counting of the gifts, the graces He has lavished upon me, has continued.

178. A new place to call home.
181. Letting the tears come and fall upon a best friend's shoulder.
183. Artwork from our 2-year old niece, Anna Claire.
184. Jessica's happiness and excitement for everything new in her life.
186. BBQ's and Rodeos
187. Car rides with a new friend so that I can learn my way around.
190. Redeemed lives.
199. Dolphins
200. Biscuits and Blackberry Jam
207. The body of Christ.
211. That my story is HIStory.
212. Settling in.
215. New friendships for Sam and Ben.
219. Feeling peace instead of stress.
221. 16 years of marriage and learning what love really is.
228. Pedicures and lunch with a girlfriend.
229. The beauty of transformation.
231. Unexpected times of skyping with Jessica and seeing her sweet face.
232. Believing God.
233. The joy found in obedience.
235. Celebrating with a dear friend the news of her pregnancy.
236. Living in the country.
237. Passing the book "One Thousand Gifts" onto a friend so that she too, may begin to see the gifts that all around her.
238. New bibles.
239. Sunsets that paint the sky of His glory.

I am linking up to A Holy Experience counting my gifts with many others...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

It's been a little over a week now that we moved and settled in our new home. I quickly began getting boxes unpacked, things put away, and making it feel like our home with personal things. There hasn't been a time of feeling like this was a new place to get used to. It's felt right from the beginning. It's felt like home.

We love it here. We've found a place of peace, excitement, and anticipation for what the Lord has in store. It's a place where there has been so much love and encouragement poured upon us. It's a place in which we carry the responsibility to serve, love and minister to a church family and surrounding region very humbly. It's a place where we know His faithfulness and provision.

We know the place to be the center of His will.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A NEW Beginning...

These last 6 weeks have been a very exciting time in our family. It has also been a time of change and transition and as I sit here this morning, I am in complete awe of how God's hand has covered, guided, supported, and moved us to where we are.

A dear friend of mine recently sent me a text saying, " Your journey has been long. You fought, prayed, trusted much, and you are now on the shores of your Promised Land."

Tomorrow a moving truck will be sitting in our driveway where we will load all of our belongings to fill a new home.

A new home in the south... Alabama.

My husband will be serving as lead pastor at a church in the area and as we have gone through this process, we have been completely overwhelmed with His timing and provision. We have taken what at times seemed like such small and insignificant steps, but as we have walked and trusted, they have been taken with so much faith and trust. In the end, aren't they often the ones that count the most?

My husband has reminded me and our children that the very best place to be is in the center of His will. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that this journey hasn't been hard and tiring. Even in the midst of the doubt or fear that sometimes crept in, I have known His peace in a way I never knew before. In many ways, I clearly see how He has prepared my heart for the new and exciting changes.

While we were in the middle of preparing for a new job and a move, our daughter, Jessica moved to her new home in Australia where she is attending Hillsong. She has made quite a journey these last couple of years as well. It's been a journey of waiting, trusting, pursuing and seeking hard after God. This is her time to grow and experience some amazing things and I couldn't be more proud or excited for her.

Last year, I claimed and held onto the verse Isaiah 43:18-19...

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

Promised Land... here we come!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Wishing all of you a wonderful and relaxing weekend. 

Just sharing again part of the post that I wrote last year for Father's Day because it's exactly what I would say all over again. I hope that the fathers in my life know that you are very much loved and I am blessed to have you in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without your love, support and encouragement. 

Happy Father's Day to the men in my life ... 

Happy Father's Day to you, Dad. The first man I loved. My Dad is wise, full of compassion, and has a laugh that makes you laugh until your cheeks hurt. My Dad is a pillar of strength to our family. I saw firsthand that a strong man is one that cries and isn't afraid to share his emotions. 

When I was little, he would carry me on his shoulders so that I could see the world. As I grew up, he walked beside me and encouraged me to always do my best and remember who I was. He was always the first one to meet me at the finish line.

He taught me how to sail a boat and tie knots. He encouraged me to run fast and run hard. Because of him, I learned to appreciate classical music and find the beat in every song. 

My Dad knew when to let go but still hold on tight. He provided for his family and there was never any doubt of how much he loved us. He gives me security, unconditional love, and unending grace. My Dad loves his daughters so very well and even as adult women, we know that we are the joy of his life. 

This man has a heart of gold. He knows life without Jesus and with Him. Through my Dad, I know a whole lot of what Jesus is like.

Happy Father's Day to my brother-in-law, Mike.

Mike is a handyman, a Cubs fan, believes in the simple things, and works hard.

He can make the most amazing brisket and tells the funniest stories I've ever heard.

Mike came into our family and immediately fit in. It was like he had been there all along.  I appreciate that Mike understands the phone calls to my sister and doesn't mind that we can be on the phone for hours.

More than anything, this guy loves Jesus, my sister, and his girls.

I am so very blessed to have a father-in-law that has passed on a legacy of faith to our children.  His life is an example of working hard, trusting God, and being a spiritual leader.

He loves to fish, University of Kentucky basketball, and Cracker Barrel.

My father-in-law has passed down stories and songs that our children love.

He is loyal, consistent, generous and will always encourage you to take the high road. He is a man of great integrity and character.

My father-in-law reaches out to the lost and hurting and he has witnessed and been the part of many lives being redeemed.

He and my mother-in-law have raised a son that I am blessed to be married to.

I also want to wish my brother-in-laws, Tom and Charlie a very Happy Father's Day. Distance and schedules often prevent us from being together, but your presence and influence is felt not only with me, but also in the lives of our children. You are both are examples of strong men who are leading and guiding your families with so much love and grace.

And finally, Happy Father's Day to my husband, Steve.

He is my life companion. Steve challenges me and encourages me to live a life that matters. If there is one thing that I have learned and witnessed more than anything else from Steve, it is grace. He has walked with me through personal trials and never stopped believing in me. We couldn't be more opposite if we tried and I continue to be amazed at how God uses those differences to bring us together and make us one.

Steve has made many sacrifices along the way, but family always, always comes first for him. I know that and our children know that. 

He is a man of great integrity and strength. 

He doesn't preach his faith, he lives it. 

Steve is an encourager and knows how to speak truth boldly but gently and he will never give up on you. He is a man that has a deep and solid relationship with Jesus and this determines everything he does. 

I am so very blessed to be raising our three amazing children with this man. His teaching, guidance, discipline, support are all backed up by one thing... love. 

Happy Father's day to all of you. Each of you have had a special and significant part in my life and I couldn't be more thankful. I love you so very much.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Molly Christine

We are celebrating and giving thanks and praise to God for a new bundle of joy in our family.

Welcome, my niece Molly Christine....

 born on Friday, June 3 
7 lbs. 18 inches

Big sister, Anna Claire loved her from the minute she saw her.

I love these girls... Anna Claire, Molly and my daughter, Jessica. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Catching Up...

It's a quiet Saturday morning so I thought I would take advantage of the time and do a little catching up here.

This past fall, the Lord began directing and orchestrating plans in our family that while we knew one day  were coming, we weren't "planning" on them at that time. He is so good though and as the days have turned into months now, we have seen and felt His hand moving us to where He wills us to be.

For the last four years, my husband has been on staff at the church where we have attended for the last 16 years. Going into ministry was a second career for him, and a calling in which he admits to running from for many years. Over the last four years, God has been building up and impressing on us both that the time would come for my husband to pursue a lead pastor position. As I said before though, in our timing and on our calendars, we still had... time.  If there is one thing that we learned when we made the decision to go into full-time ministry, when God tells and shows you it's time to move, you move!

This process has required something big of us. There is going to be so much that changes for our family, in particular a move from the community in which we have lived in for 16 years. So, this is very much a faith journey for our children as well.

While I know that our spiritual journey and our daily walk with Him is a constant lesson and pursuit- one in which He refines, grows, transforms, and stretches, I have never felt and known it to the depths like I have these last few years.

In whatever way it can, the pieces are coming together and all making sense.

His timing and faithfulness is unquestionable and I am finding and resting in His peace.

There are still times though that it catches me by surprise and I love that. It really and truly is the peace that passes ALL understanding.

I keep finding my self saying, "I don't want to ever lose or forget all these things that the Lord is showing me." It's life changing stuff and I know there is something I will and can be doing with what He has shown me.  It's humbled me, shown me how intensely personal my Savior is, and it has made me love Him even more.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, I keep telling myself that I am not going to let time go by without blogging. This once was a place where posts were written frequently, but I have to be honest, life is busy these days.

All is well and we are even enjoying Spring break this week in spite of the fact it is very cold and we had snow flurries yesterday. I have to admit that being able to sleep in a little later is making me want summer to be here sooner than what the calendar is telling me.

I'm still focusing on the word I choose at the beginning of the year - DISCIPLINE and what it really means and looks like in my life. While there are still areas that I struggle with, I do see growth and have completely embraced the difference it makes.

I can remember having conversations with friends of mine when my children were just elementary school age and them telling me how busy my life will become once they are teenagers. Well, we have arrived at that time. What a job it is staying on top of schedules, being emotionally prepared and present for their needs, homework, friendships, and with two growing boys, just keeping the pantry stocked.

Baseball season is officially here for the boys so that means it's time for me to have an abundant supply of Oxy Clean, Gatorade, and quick and easy meals.

Our oldest son, Sam has also joined a cycling club so we are really looking forward to watching him race in time trials, criteriums, and road races. This is a new sport for him at this level, but what has been amazing to watch is how this is a passion and interest all his own.

Ben is keeping up with his guitar lessons and playing in the youth worship band. There is music being played just about all the time, and I love it. 

And then there is our oldest daughter, Jessica who is preparing to leave in July to attend Hillsong in Australia. This past year has been such a tremendous time of growth for her and I see over and over again God's provision for her and that He has so much more in store for her. 

So, in this season in which we are parenting two teenage boys, letting go of a young woman to live a life all her own, I can honestly say, life is good.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Psalm 50:23

The satin ribbon marks the reading for today in Jesus Calling. I open it, begin reading and like usual, it doesn't take long for the words to speak something personally to my heart.

"When something in your life or thoughts makes you anxious, come to Me and talk about it. Bring Me your prayer and petition with thanksgiving, saying," Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to trust you more."

What does this mean for me?

I continue to lay it all before Him. There is nothing that is off limits, nothing that catches Him by surprise, and when it comes down to it, He longs to hear everything I hold inside. 

I am to thank Him even when it's hard. I am learning so much about thanksgiving after reading "One Thousand Gifts". One thing I keep reading, and taking in is that the fullness of my salvation is based on my expression of giving thanks. It's easy and just a given that I can express and offer my thanksgiving when all is good, but can I do it when it's something I haven't planned for, anticipated, or hurts?

"Thanksgiving is the acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace." - Ann Voskamp 

I've noticed a little shifting in my prayers recently and not just thanking Him after a prayer has been answered, but thanking Him in advance for how He is going to work.

Two words that are so very common, simple, and used all the time, are more significant to me than ever before.

Jesus, thank you.

I also know that He is good and I can completely trust His character. He has proven that to me time and time again. As I continue to walk with Him, I want to have more and more of stories that display His goodness, provision, and power in my life.

So, for this week's Scripture memorization, my verse is Psalm 50:23...

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Counting Them One By One #96-110

My list of gratitude continues to grow and what I evidenced over these last couple of weeks is that even when my days are busy and tiring, His grace never stops and my heart is still open to receive...

96.) meeting with some of my closest friends every other week as we read and discuss "One Thousand Gifts".
97.) open hearts, honest words, and vulnerability.
98.) white tulips.
99.) evidence that God is working.
100.) reaching 100 gifts that I am thankful for and wanting to keep on counting.
101.) the smile on Sam's face when he tried on his new cycling uniform for the first time.
102.) having people pray for our family.
103.) doing Jessica's laundry for her so that she could spend time with her friends.
104.) receiving a long awaited gift.
105.) early morning thunderstorms.
106.) underlined passages of Scripture in my Bible.
107.) second chances.
108.) the words to the song "In Christ Alone".
109.) the kiss my husband gives me every morning as he says "good-bye".
110.) days in which the box on my calendar is empty.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Counting Them One By One #66-95

66. God's protection.
67. believing that God can fit everything into a pattern for His good.
68. gaining perspective.
69. the wisdom of a 13-year old.
70. worship songs in the morning.
71. coming home to a clean kitchen.
72. a conversation I had with someone who has watched my spiritual journey for the last 20 years.
73. helping a friend.
74. Sam wanting me to take pictures of him riding his bike.
75. surrendering to waiting knowing His timing is perfect.
76. staying in my pj's all day and not even caring.
77. clean laundry.
78. a decreasing number on the scale.
79. knowing that Sam and Ben love being at youth group on Wednesday nights.
80. laughter during hard math problems.
81. having a husband who can help with math homework because I sure can't!
82. 1 hour and 50 minutes on the phone with my sister.
83. little girls turning 2.
84. Jessica being accepted to Hillsong.
85. memories that only a mother can forever hold.
86. date nights.
87. the sound of my Dad's voice.
88. a friend celebrating with me.
89. productive days.
90. the outstretched arms of Jesus on Calvary's cross that embraced me and showed me what real love really is.
91. a love that has remained strong after 15 years of marriage.
92. a Valentine card left on the counter so that I will have it first thing in the morning.
93. heart shaped Valentine cookies.
94. showing His love in tangible ways.
95. that Jesus says, "Be Mine" and all I have to do is respond in a love that His love has kindled.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am linking to Holy Experience today counting my gifts with many others...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Psalm 84:1-2

It's a question that I have been asking myself pretty frequently since the new year.

"How am I doing in this area of my life?" 
"And how about this one?" 
"Or this one?"

I suppose it's the reason I chose DISCIPLINE for my word of the year.

It's something that I want very much because I know there are some area in my life in which it is lacking.

I've had to be brutally honest and ask myself, "What are the things in my life that I am putting more importance on than God?" 

I see more and more how God desires relationship with me and that He wants me to experience and know success and victory. Because of the areas that I want to see growth and change in, discipline is going to be required of me.

When I looked the meaning of discipline up in the dictionary, one thing I was struck by was that discipline requires training. Several years ago when I was training for a marathon, the word discipline took on a whole new meaning for me.

I had to be disciplined in scheduling when I was going to run.
Discipline was required in the food I ate and the amount of sleep I got.
I had to be disciplined in my running schedule so that when it was time for the race, I would be able to run the distance.

The discipline wasn't there instantly, but it came in small steps - running a few minutes, then a mile, then two, and before I knew it, I was up to 20 miles.

From the moment I signed up for the race until the day I crossed the finish line, I was in training.

Isn't that the same on our spiritual journeys as well?

The discipline comes when we just start taking a step at a time, moment by moment of surrendering and holding on tightly to His hand. Oh,  how God shows up and gives us the strength and determination to see it through.

The discipline comes when there is a heart that says, "It's only You, Lord that I want!"

The discipline comes when the victory is worth so much more than continuing to live in a cycle of defeat or discouragement. We were made to have so much more than that, and I don't want to settle for anything else.

The discipline comes from allowing God to flood you with His grace and steadfast love. It's experiencing and knowing Him in every area of your life because there is nothing that is off limits for Him.

Often the word discipline would scare me. Probably because it was His holy voice that would whisper and nudge me to do something about the areas in which I lacked it. To be honest, I just was too stubborn and unwilling. I got comfortable and thought I could continue to ignore what the real issue was. I am recognizing more quickly when the enemy is trying to get me off course and distracted by thinking that there are things that can replace my longing and craving for God with other things.

While I am just beginning what I know will probably be one of the most significant journeys I take with the Lord, I already am feeling the change.

 I have  Psalm 84:1-2 sitting on my windowsill to remind me what my heart really should be longing for...

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh song for joy to the living God.

Really, why would I want anything else? 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To My Niece, Anna Claire...

 Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, dear Anna Claire...

Happy 2nd Birthday to you!!!

We all love you so very much!!!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Q & A

When it comes to books, one of my favorites is a journal. I seem to be surrounded by a variety of journals recently...

A 10-year journal that my parents gave me for my 40th birthday this year. For the next 10 years, I can write within a few lines the happenings of my day, thoughts, prayers, etc.

My gratitude journal in which I am recording 1000 gifts.

A journal that holds pages of the more personal... the place in which I share it all. 

And then, there is this one...

Q & A a Day is  journal with 365 questions to answer for 5 years. There is a variety of questions from the more serious to light and fun. Plus, it's a really pretty book!

I have encouraged our children to write in it as well and it just so happened that today I found this...

I think this makes for a very special and unique birthday gift, wedding or anniversary gift, or because like me, you just love journals!

You can find Q & A here.

And for some more Q & A...

come visit me as I answer some questions from Catherine at Constant in Chaos. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Counting Them One By One #42-65

I had to pay a little closer attention to the gifts around me this week. My week ended up being entirely different than what I had planned. Isn't that how it always goes though? This week brought snow and ice storms which meant school being closed, and our son, Ben, has had a time with the flu and an ear infection.

Even in the circumstances that were brought my way this week, I was still surrounded by gifts. While I had to look a little more closely or deeply, I found them. Once recognized, they were sweet, comforting, and a reminder that He is near.

And so, I continue to count...

42. We thought Ben was well, sent him to school (after missing 5 days), and then he came home sick... again. At 4:30 I called the doctor and they said to be there by 5 because the doctor would see him. Really, how often does that happen? Came home with an ear infection, but so thankful we didn't have to wait until tomorrow.
43. wrapping birthday presents and praying that the Lord blesses our daughter this year.
44. news from my sister that she is expecting another girl in late June.
45. a daughter celebrating 20 years of life.
46. being iced in for 2 days and having a full pantry and refrigerator.
47. chocolate cakes and cinnamon rolls.
48. forgiveness.
49. the way Sam keeps an eye out for things.
50. power staying on during ice storm when so many around us lost theirs.
51. the doctor calling in a second round of antibiotics for us instead of having to make another office visit.
52. 2 hours every week that Sam gets to do something he loves.
53. an email from my father-in-law.
54. quiet moments.
55. beams of sunshine coming through the window.
56. psalm 84:1-2 sitting on the windowsill.
57. looking to my left as I sit on the sofa and seeing the man I love.
58. organizing a cluttered space.
59. new projects that inspire and motivate me to see it through.
60. words that remind me of a gift I have.
61. a husband who washes the dishes every night after dinner.
62. cards that come in the mail.
63. superbowl parties and being with friends we love.
64. letting a dog out at 1 a.m., having it chase a skunk and not getting sprayed.
65. having the sparkle back in Ben's eyes that tell me he is finally feeling better.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Thursday, February 03, 2011


sometimes the best thing to do is eat cake.

for my favorite chocolate cake recipe, go here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Iced In

The storm arrived Monday night and for the last two days we have literally been iced in. As the second part of the storm made it's way through last night, we listened to the freezing rain and the branches cracking outside. We have a couple large trees in our backyard and they were all encased with about 1/2 on inch of ice. We heard of power outages throughout the area and thankfully ours has stayed on.

This morning, the wind is howling and we have some snow falling. It is freezing and the temperatures are only supposed to drop. The boys have had some fun sliding down our driveway and then trying to make their way back up. I know that maybe it's not the safest winter activity, but boys will be boys and every once in awhile, you just have to let them do their thing.

So, for today, we are going to once again enjoy the fact that we can slow down and be together. Cinnamon rolls are going to be the way to start our day along with coffee and hot chocolate. The rest of the day can be filled with watching movies or tv, a game or two, and reading some good books. Soup is on the menu for dinner tonight and I might even do a little baking so we can have chocolate cake for dessert.

I know many of you out there are weathering the storm as well. Be safe and warm my friends and if like me, you are forced to be inside, see today as a gift.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Dear Sweet Jessica,

Happy 20th Birthday!

Do you know that even when I look into your eyes I can still see the little girl you once were? I have to look a little bit deeper each year because you have so beautifully grown into a young woman who takes me by surprise. 

This past year, more than any others, has been such a significant time in your life. I have seen firsthand your determination, strength and resolve. You have been a young woman that is following hard after God and desiring His will more than anything else. 

As you go through this upcoming year and all that will come your way, my prayers for you will continue. One of my greatest privileges as your mom is being on my knees for you. 

I pray that the Lord directs every single step you take and then you continue to walk by faith even when you can't see what is in the distance. Your Jesus knows everything that is up ahead for you and He will guide you.

I pray that you constantly know His affection for you. You are His and He delights in you. I want you to always remember that even in the struggles and disappointments that He has your very best interest at heart.

Even in your short life, you have story after story of how He has been faithful to you. That is your foundation sweetheart and what you build your trust in Him upon. 

I pray that He gives you courage when you are afraid, wisdom and discernment when you are unsure, and strength when you are weak.

I pray that He places opportunities before you that are divinely inspired for you to share His love. There is a reason and purpose for the people and circumstances that the Lord brings into your life. I pray that you see these as significant and that you recognize they can be holy moments even though they may appear as interruptions.

As a young woman, I pray that your security is in Him alone and that your heart only wanders to the One whose love is steadfast, unfailing, and forever.

I pray that as His will unfolds in your life, you have a strong sense of purpose and direction and that you will boldly take the steps of obedience that are required of you.

I pray that you seek Him earnestly, persistently and that you experience His boundless love for you. I pray that you have a love for His word and that He breathes and speaks life into every word so that it comes alive to you.

Let the life you live be pleasing to Him and offer everything you do and say back to Him as an act of worship. I pray that He uses your gifts and talents to glorify Him and that others are are drawn to Him through that. May your heart be broken over the things that break His heart so that you can serve Him passionately and in complete abandonment. He has given you a voice and a heart of compassion my sweet girl to speak of justice and the freedom that can only be found in Him.

May you always live fearlessly for Him, walking always by faith and being that wild woman for Jesus that I love so very much.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Counting Them One By One

My counting of gifts continues and there is a change that is taking place deep within my heart.

29.) reading the last words in a book and praying that the words I've read impact me and linger for a long, long time.
30.) having the day off from work so that I could stay home and take care of my son who came down with the flu last night.
31.) a daughter's determination.
32.) a gracious and understanding boss.
33.) beautiful and holy inspired words.
34.) truth that moves my heart.
35.) overripe bananas that make the perfect banana bread for an after school snack.
36.) rest
37.) an afternoon spent with my daughter doing what girls do best - shopping, eating, talking, and laughing. 
38.) the way that my husband and I can make grocery shopping fun.
39.) a friend that made time for me.
40.) 6 days later... a son is well.
41.) a husband that prays with me for God's direction and leading in our life. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cookie Jar

I am always a little cautious when it comes to trying new cookie recipes because I have this thing about knowing in advance that they are going to be good. And how do I define good? It would most certainly have to be soft, chewy and one that I hear things like, "these are so good!" Pretty much every cookie that I make time and time again is because I know they are a tried and true recipe. 

It was late last night, I was tired, but I was also wanting to do a little baking. Our daughter, Jessica was on her way home from work with the news some friends were coming over, so I also thought I would surprise her with something sweet. One way to that girl's heart is cookies!  

And I think I was feeling somewhat brave last night, a little adventurous in wanting to break out from the norm.  I am a chocolate chip cookie kind of girl, and chocolate chocolate chip is even better.  You might think that I am taking this whole cookie thing too seriously, but hey, when it comes to cookies, this is serious business. 

Because I had the ingredients for another cookie I was going to try, but got a big thumbs down on them when my sister made them, I began looking up recipes and found that I had everything I needed for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. This was the very first time I have made them, and probably only the second time I've ever even eaten this kind of cookie. Remember, I always go for the chocolate.

I am happy to report that these cookies were a winner and met all my requirements for a good cookie!

They were so good, that my husband is sitting here having them with his coffee for breakfast and I am trying really, really hard to keep my hand out of the cookie jar!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Every Picture Has A Story

The header on my blog has changed many times over the last couple of years and I finally think I have made one that can stay awhile. 

Each of these pictures really do hold a moment in time for me. And has the saying goes, every picture really does tell a story.

So, come and sit awhile and let me tell you some stories. 

I took this picture in the summer of 2007. While visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Nashville, we made a trip to the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee. Not only is this a beautiful plantation but it is so rich in history. The battle that took place on the grounds of this plantation was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. Nearly 10,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded or went missing. Four generals lost their lives here which were laid out upon the back porch. Carnton Plantation served as the largest field hospital in the area and within the rooms, you will still see blood stained floors from wounded and fallen soldiers. Following the war, a piece of the property was designated as a cemetery in which 1,500 Confederate soldiers were laid to rest. 

The book Widow of the South by Robert Hicks has forever immortalized the events that took place in just five hours on November 30, 1864.

gate leading to the garden

hydrangeas... my most favorite of all.

This picture was taken the summer of 2009 on our family vacation to Virginia. My parents had just made a recent move there, so not only did we have time with them, but it was a  chance to visit places we may never had thought of visiting before.  One day, we made the drive to Harper's Ferry and once we got off the bus that took us down into the town, this fence was one of the first things that caught my eye. Give me a door, gate, fence, or flower and I could take pictures all day long. 

This was such a fun day walking through the town and imagining what life would have been like so long ago. 

Isn't there also a saying about the longer you are married, the more you begin to look like your spouse? Funny thing is, I don't think we noticed that we were wearing the same colors until we saw the picture!

Last summer, we found ourselves back in Virginia again. This time it was a list of battlefields and the historic Mount Vernon we set out to see.

Walking through the gardens of Mount Vernon, we gazed upon the beautiful flowers, butterflies and once again, we were just enamored with the history that took place there.

There were many wrought iron benches in the garden and along the pathways and I suppose, it's just another one of those things my eye is drawn to.

Sam sitting on the back porch looking out onto the Potomac River. It was very easy to see why this was General Washington's favorite place to be. 

front view of Mt. Vernon

On that same vacation, we also visited the home that served as Stonewall Jackson's headquarters during the Civil War. I think this was one of Sam's (our history buff) most favorite stops. What makes it really neat is that it is even located in my parent's hometown of Winchester, Virginia.

We walked through the rooms of the house, each one telling a story of it's own. Personal keepsakes, photos, and furniture were all on display and again, we wrapped our minds around such a significant time in our country's history.

I suppose it's not only doors, gates, flowers, and anything wrought iron that I am drawn to but steps, and old ones at that.

Sam in the front yard of Stonewall Jackson's headquarters 

Remember what I said about taking pictures of flowers? We have a local flower shop that I love to visit and buy flowers from. This really is my go to place for anytime I need flowers for a special occasion or just to add a little bit of loveliness to our home. 

I came home with several bunches of flowers in my favorite color... white. I sat them out upon the picnic table and not only did I arrange and fill vases, but I took picture upon picture.

 So, there it is, a picture that really is worth so much because I have a story to tell behind each and every one.

The end.