Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hey Friends! I'm out of town and don't have a computer handy. I didn't want this day to go by without telling you how Thankful I am for each one of you. 

I have really enjoyed sharing my heart and my life with you these past few months and can't wait to see where we go together. 

I am thankful for my family. Each one of you bring something different to my life and I would not be who I am without what you add. I'm thankful for Thanksgivings past, present and ones to come. I'm thankful for traditions and new memories made. 

I'm thankful for a Loving and Faithful God who has blessed me beyond measure. Love each other Friends! I'll see you in a few days!

Preparing for Advent: Its never to early

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Well Friends, the season of Advent is almost upon us. We've got one week until we start to prepare our hearts for Christmas. This is my most favorite time of year. People get really happy and start giving and helping and sharing. People are more open to listen and to talk. During the Christmas season we just feel the need to be with friends and family and make sure everyone around us is happy and comfy. I love it. I wish we could be that way all year long.
I don't want to rush through Thanksgiving. Its an American Holiday that deserves its own respect. Speaking of, I taught one of the best yoga classes this morning. (if I do say so myself) It was really great, not just for the workout but because all through class I gave my students time to slow down and breathe. I asked them to think about one thing they were thankful for. Now take that one thing and let it lead you through this next part of practice. And smile. After class, I had several people thank me for it. We forget that in this busy season of rushing and giving and helping and sharing, to stop and breathe. Remember why we do all of this. So this Thanksgiving, take the time to stop and breathe. Feel the air flow in through the nose and feel it expand the body in all directions. As you exhale, pull the belly in and feel the body get small again. And smile.
As soon as you're done with Thanksgiving and the turkey is all packed into the refrigerator, log on and get one of these Advent Calendars ready for Sunday! This year my kids are a little older (Brewer is 5 and Eva is 3) and can understand on a little deeper level what Christmas is about. I want to be really intentional with Advent this year. I want to make sure that we, as parents, make a conscious effort to show them the promise of the Messiah and how the people waited and hoped and believed. I want them to see the fulfillment of that promise in the birth of Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas with such passion. In knowing and feeling the hope Gods people held to for generation after generation, they too will be able to hold fast to the hope that He is coming again ... for them.
So in my great search for the perfect Advent Calendar, I found these two. The first one is from The Village Church. If you don't already know and listen to their podcast, you should. Amazing teaching.

As you'll find it can be used in several different ways. Personal Study & Family Devotion. I cant wait to dig in. Bonus: There are also playlist! Who doesn't want more Christmas music, am I right? Can I get an Amen?!
The second one I found was this one using the much beloved (at least in this house) Jesus Storybook Bible. Side Note: if you do not have this book in your library, bookmark this blog and click the link to buy it now! You'll thank me later, even if you don't have children to read this to. Its amazing and I enjoy reading it myself. Jamie and I have found ourselves "fighting" over who gets to read the bedtime story tonight.
We'll just have to take a look and see which plan best fits our family and see if maybe we can use both. I most defiantly will be doing the personal study in the first one. But for you, if you don't already have a plan in mind, take a look. These are the two best ones I've seen. (and trust me, I've looked at them all)
If you want a fun way to display and count down, check out my Pinterest Christmas board: He's Making a List: AKA Christmas. I've pinned some ideas that I've liked.
Let me know what you think of these and how you're planning to celebrate Advent this year. Is there a tradition that you just love?

She Found Grace

Friday, November 22, 2013

I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. She is a Mom. She’s a wife. She loves Jesus. I met her a little over a year ago and I can say that knowing her has brought joy to my life. I like that she’s honest and I like that she’s real. I like that she tells me the truth. I can honestly say that I have grown to love this woman.
When I prayed about who I would ask to share their story here, she is one of the first women who came to mind. So, in her words, meet:

“A Watering Can of Grace and Encouraging Cup of Goodness”

When I was a little girl I was always taught right from wrong, and as I grew up life would come at me in ways that would knock me so far down that anyway up looked good. I am a walking witness that we are saved by God’s grace.
At 5 I saw my mother weep when my father first memory of hurt.
At 10 I had my first taste of death...the loss of my mother...
It was my around my grandfathers 75th birthday that I moved in with him, doing the best he knew how, was what I took advantage of. I was just on my way to “out of control”… Feelings of anger, confusion, feelings of abandonment, scared, always feeling ashamed; these feelings would constantly consume me...
I felt desperate to figure things out, to figure life out…But it always ended in selfish destructing actions. I would do anything to numb the pain that I felt deep within my soul.
It was like a nightmare and I was the star! God if you are real wake me up from this slumber!!!
A friend invited me to her church for the 1000th time and I went so she would leave me alone. I felt Christ’s love, compassion, healing words coming out the pastor’s mouth; I also felt my heart beating/hands sweating… I met Jesus for the first time when I was 16 but He did not become real to me until later. I was running scared! Deep down I knew He was the answer to all my questions but I was not willing to give up the pain/hurt I was use to.
2 months after my 18th birthday I found out I was did that happen?? What was I going to do?
I, now look back and see through my sin, Gods Grace, that child, my son saved my life! He woke me up from a life I was so ashamed of and gave me the desire to live. My life had to change quickly...but how? 
Over the course of several years God strategically put people in front of me planting seeds, pouring a watering can of grace and encouraging cup of goodness...I look back and see Gods hand in my life, a blanket of protection; I was so undeserving of His provisions. 
God saved me from myself and I am grateful for this. I was saturated with a sin filled life. I recognized my need for a Savior and He rescued me! I am now by no means perfect and have my struggles in life but I know that this life in this world is temporary. His grace, mercy and unfailing love is what I live for now. I lay my family’s life at the foot of the Cross daily. I will one day be with my Father in heaven but until then "As for me and my house we will serve The Lord"
The Lord is so good! 
I am married to my husband Tom, we have 3 boys! Corbin is now 16, Emery is 10 and Spencer is almost 7. 
It is by Grace I have been saved and to Him be the glory forever and ever Amen  
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me

Monday, November 18, 2013

So the 10 Things list has been making its way around Facebook a lot lately. I've been tagged by several friends to participate and I usually don't but I thought it might be fun. So instead of posting on Facebook I decided to post them here instead. We may have more in common than you thought!

1. I have 1 tattoo. My mom told me if I ever got inked she’d never let me live in her house again. I respected her “rule” even after I moved out. It’s one of the first things I did when I got married. I figured at that point, I was out of her house for good. I only have one tattoo because Im scared if I got another then I’d get another and another … you get the picture.
2. I am absolutely terrified of snakes. It’s a debilitating scared. It’s something I really need to work on. 
3. I could happily eat burnt buttered noodles every night for dinner. (or lunch …. or breakfast for that matter)
4. I’m afraid of the dark. I have a need to know what’s happening around me at all times so I know how I should react. I do not like to be surprised at all. It’s something God has been working on with me. Because honestly, this fear for me is rooted in my lack of trust in God.
5. My favorite color is Green. Or Brown. No, its green. Can I have two favorite colors? 
6. In high school, after my breakup with my first real love, I skipped school with two friends and went to Atlanta for the day. On the way home we almost ran out of gas because we spent all our money. I made a sign that said, “NEED GAS MONEY” and held it up against the window as we passed other cars until someone pulled over and gave us some. We got off the next exit and had to push the truck up to the gas pump.
7. I wear bike shorts under dresses. Initially for modesty while playing with my kids, but now I like them also for their spanx-like affects.
8.  I have a need to control everything even though I say I don’t. I blame it on my Type A personality, but really I think it’s about being scared.  Yet another thing God is working out in me.
9. I hate it when other people try to clean up in my kitchen. I’ve learned to be polite about it, but know this, when you leave I’m going to undo the dishwasher, re-clean and reload it. Maybe it’s part of my need for control. Maybe I’m just crazy. I don’t know.
10. I crave a simpler life but am always adding new things to my world. 
So there it is! For better or worse, ten things you might not know about me. Find out something new?

Not What I Once Was

Friday, November 15, 2013

About a year ago, while scrolling my Facebook feed, I saw and ecard. A sucker for all things ecard I stopped excited to see what new whit would be revealed to me. This one however, hit a nerve. It hit so close to the bone that I almost deleted the “friend” who had posted it and all those who had “liked” it. I shut my laptop and just cried. Over the next few days I tried to come up with some sort of reply. While this person didn’t tag me or put it on my timeline and had no thought of me whatsoever, I felt a strong desire to reply. Not just reply but a rebuttal. I needed to stand up and stand my ground. With this awesome reply I was going to start a revolution. People would stand behind me and clap their hands in agreement. They would shout things like, “Amen Sister! Preach!” Those who posted and liked would feel shame and remorse and fall before me begging forgiveness.  But as the weeks went by and I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say, I just said nothing. My anger subsided, but the cut was deep. I can still feel it today just as strong; however today it feels different.
Yeap. That’s it. That’s the ecard that broke my heart. That day as I closed my laptop I was a bloody mess. I cried for a good hour. No exaggeration, I cried a deep soul cry.
When I read the bible, there is one woman that I identify with more closely than any other. Her story can be found in John 4. The woman at the well, She is my heroin. There are many great women of the bible. God has worked mightily in many lives. But this woman: I love her. When I read her story I feel what I believe she may have felt. I can feel the weight of. I can feel the heat of it. I can’t describe it to you in words. There are some things that have to be felt to be understood.
This woman walked to the well in the hottest part of the day. She came at a time she knew she wouldn’t run into any others. Do you know what that feels like? She was very aware of her sin. Not only did she know, others knew and bathed her in shame. She chose to carry the weight of an overwhelmingly heavy full ceramic water urn in brutal desert heat over carrying the shame she felt from other women.  Let me ask you again, do you know what that feels like?
This particular day recorded in John 4, she went to the well filled with shame and regret. She walked there heavy and broken hearted. She met Him. She met Jesus there. She was forever changed. You can’t meet Him and walk away the same. You can’t. I am not saying that everyone who meets Him will turn to Him, I’m saying that you don’t walk away the same.  So, this woman, who did all she could to avoid others, left her heavy jar at the well. She ran, not walked, ran to them all and begged them to come meet Him too. Did you see that? Meeting Him changed her in such a way that she let go of the weight of her sin, He took it from her, she then ran toward all she had been hiding from and proclaimed Him openly! Bravely! Come and meet HIM too!
Her story goes on to say, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, … So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’” (John 4: 39-42)

Amazing! I love this woman. I want to be just like her. And in order for me to be just like her, this ecard, the one that broke my heart, it has to be true. As hard as it is to think about, when you see my “God-Fearing Facebook updates” I hope that you do remember the “godless whore I was in high school.” Because without that knowledge it would be hard for you to see the power Jesus has to change a life. It would be difficult for you to understand how He can meet you right where you are, knee deep in the middle of muck, pick you up as broken as you are and set your feet on solid ground, clean you up and walk beside you head held high.

I don’t walk blameless because of anything that I’ve done; it’s all because of what He’s done. So I pray that as I continue to share my story here, as you read about my friends and their stories, you don’t just see us. I pray that you see a Savoir, a powerful Redeemer who has changed our lives and our stories. We are not what we once were. We are a new creation.

I'm a Bad Blogger

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ok, the cats out of the bag. I'm a bag blogger!
My husband was out of town last week and things got really busy. I know, I know ... no excuses. But honestly, sometimes you've just got to take a step back and work on what you can. I have been working on a post ... mostly in my head while driving and in the shower or as I fall asleep at night. So its not so much on paper as it is a really great piece of work ... in my head. I know that I've been procrastinating on it because its the beginning of my testimony. The one I promised you. I have not forgotten. I'll have it up by this weekend. (and yes I do realize that its already Thursday)
I was planning on working it out today. I put Brewer on the bus and dropped Eva off at preschool and went to meet a new friend for breakfast. My plans were to head over to Starbucks after breakfast and work this thing all out. However God had much different plans for this day. I ended up spending most of the morning (my only free time) with my new friend. We got to know each other and my soul was strengthened! She was a breath of fresh air. There is something magical that happens when you open up with honesty about who you are and where you've been and all that God is doing and working in your life. I just can not wait to get to know her better.
And you know, I was able to say out load some of the things I've been working out in my head. It always sounds different on the outside than it does on the inside. Right?
So, for now, I'll leave you with some pictures of this past week. We've been busy, but we've had a lot of fun! Thank you friends for coming back! I'll see you this weekend!

Vegan Chili and Halloween

Friday, November 1, 2013

Family traditions are the best, right! We have a family tradition that I look forward to every year. I'm not really into Halloween. I don't really care for all the candy or the scary dark side. But I am all about my kids making memories and having fun. I'll take any reason for my family getting together and making memories.
When Brewer was born, we invited all the family over and I made chili, the parents took the kids Trick or Treating and the grandparents stayed at the house to hand out candy. When we get back, begins the "trading of the candy." If you have kids, you know this process. Everyone dumps out their candy for parents to look through but the kids start trading what they like and what they don't like. Someone runs away with all the gum, the youngest kid ends up with all the sugar free and pencils and someone starts crying. Woo Hoo for Halloween!
This year was no different ... or was it? Well, not really the only thing different was the chili. Moving towards a more vegan life is hard. I've said that before. But it is also fun and exciting. I have been playing around with chili for about a month looking for something that will work and I think I found it last night! I wanted something that was sweet and full of veggies. I had to have something with a meaty flavor to hide the fact there was no meat. Mushrooms were the way to go. I chopped all the veggies kinda chunky sized. Unless they were lying to me, it was a huge hit! I'm not really sure of the amount of things because I just kinda threw it in, but here is what went in the pot.
Vegan Mushroom Chili:
I didn't really measure anything I just sprinkled it in until it looked like enough. (Sorry for you Type A people.)
In a pot on medium: 1 can Crushed Tomatoes, 1 can Tomato Paste, 1 can Black Beans, 1 can Red Kidney Beans, 1 can White Kidney Beans, Chili Powder, Dried Oregano, Cilantro, Cumin, 2 T Honey, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Vegetable Broth (about 3 to 4 cups. depends on how soupy you want your chili)
Chop all the veggies below to your desired size. I liked mine a little chunky so it didn't get lost and its more like chili and less like soup. But make it your own.
In a pan on medium sauté: EVOO, Mini Portobello Mushrooms, 1 Onion, 1 Red Pepper, 1 Green Pepper, light Sea Salt & Pepper. When the veggies are still a little crisp add several cloves of garlic. (I don't think you can add too much, so use as much to your taste) Sauté for another minute or two then add to the chili pot!
Once everything is in the pot, turn up to high until it starts to boil. Once it starts to boil, turn down to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes and its ready to go! The longer it simmers and the flavors come together, the better it is. So simmer as long as you want.
Side Note: You could put this all in the crock pot and let it sit on low. I did this earlier this month and it was fantastic. However I would recommend sautéing the veggies first because the peppers were still a little crunchy. But its up to what you like.
I served this with tortilla chips and some red pepper hummus. SOOOO GOOD!
Hope you enjoy!

Happy Halloween Friends! Bring on Thanksgiving. We got this!
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