Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Monday, April 6, 2015
This past week I've spent a lot of time contemplating the weight of Good Friday, the celebration of Easter, and Holy Week in general. It's still so hard for me to comprehend the love that Jesus showed on Good Friday. The beatings, the insults, being spat on, the utter cruelty of the cross. And he chose this - for me! How incredibly humbling!
If I were forced to defend my faith with my very life, or in the face of a brutal rapist as some of our sisters in other countries are, if I knew my head would be chopped off if I didn't deny my God, would I still admit to my belief? Or, would I even continue to believe at all? I hope I never have to answer that in reality. But I do wonder.
Jesus' words on the cross, "IT IS FINISHED!" marked a finality that rocked the world of those looking on, literally, with an earthquake, graves opening up, and the sky turning to darkness. But truly, it was not the end of the story! For us, it was the beginning of our freedom, the necessary debt paid for sin. I pray that you recognize the agony of Good Friday, but that you rejoice in the celebration of Easter where your redemption comes!
Today, I am thankful for living in a country where I have been privileged to learn about my Savior openly and in freedom.
I'm thankful for a church that constantly challenges me to a deeper walk.
I'm thankful for relationships with believers who accept me as I am but refuse to let me stay there, spurring me on to growth in my faith walk.
I'm thankful for my family who stood by me at my worst and loved me anyway.
I'm thankful for my husband who lifts me up with encouragement to use my gifts for His glory and loves me like I had never imagined possible.
And, most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus who unselfishly gave His own life to give me mine.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Sometimes I wonder about God's sense of humor. And just in case you doubt he has one, just ask any parent of a child older than about a year old. Inevitably by that age there has been at least once that the parent has gazed with awe and wonder at said child and thought, 'God's getting me back for. . .' whatever.
Genetics are an amazing web of intricate combinations that are far beyond my comprehension. And sometimes, just sometimes, you find a genetic code that is so strongly stamped onto a person that you just have to look on in amazement.
And if you doubt that last statement, go back and ask the same parent again.
Most of us have at least one thing that we always swore would never happen when we became parents. In my case, one of those sworn to avoid things was my mom's standard answer for any question. "You'll have to ask your daddy." Translation, NO. See, Daddy worked at night for most of my early life. This meant when I got home from school, he had just left for work. And when I got up in the mornings, he was sleeping. So any request for permission had to be planned days in advance, which I never had the forethought to do.
For most moms, a stark reality hits us at the most inopportune moment and when we least expect it. Usually it's about mid sentence into what is about to be a tirade of warnings to a child who has done some dastardly deed or has uttered a forbidden rebellious statement that probably deserves a soapy dinner. And once it happens, you can never un-remember it. It's that moment when you open your mouth and your mother comes out. It just happens. And it's a frightening feeling. You are all at once a child in trouble and the old lady that you thought you'd never be.
But I really intended for this to be about something I did yesterday. I admittedly have the attention span of a flea sometimes. I can sit for hours and work on a project. But if I'm trying to multitask on chores, I walk away to get something and get distracted and forget what I was doing. I'm acutely aware of this brain malfunction. So I try really hard not to do two things at once that could be a problem if you forget to complete one of them. Like ironing. Or frying bacon.
Yesterday I was boiling chicken for soup. It was going to take a while. So I decided to do something else while I waited. I decided to wash a couple things that needed to be hand washed, which meant stopping up the bathroom sink and running water in it. It doesn't take long to fill a sink in a RV. But while I was waiting, I thought I'd take the two steps to the kitchen to check on the chicken. And I got distracted.
For the record, there is no overflow hole in the bathroom sink in our RV.
Now about that genetic code . . .
One of my daughters came in to pick up the grandkid after the water incident. She went to the bathroom. Being well trained by her mother, she wanted to wash her hands. But the bathroom sink was full of everything that was thrown in there off the counter to get it out of the standing water that had overflowed from the sink.
So I told her to wash her hands in the shower. But I forgot the shower floor was covered with wet towels used to sop up the water from the counter and out of the carpet where it spilled over to the floor. There was also a small pillow in there that my hubby had thrown in because the grandkid spilled soup on it.
I, like any resourceful mother, dug out the hand sanitizer in the pile in the sink and just squirted it on her hands and told her to go home and wash her hands.
By this time she was laughing hysterically. Not so much at the situation as at the fact that she tells people all the time that she got it honestly. If ever there was a child that was stamped with her parent's DNA, it's that girl. Bless her heart.
In other news, the chicken noodle soup came out fine.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
About a week ago my pastor asked me about giving my 3 minute testimony in church, then expanding that testimony into 30 minutes for Celebrate Recovery. I've been helping with Celebrate Recovery for just a couple of months. The Lord had clued me in that giving my testimony was coming. As soon as my pastor mentioned it to me, the nightmares started. Working with Celebrate Recovery has brought up so many memories that I would rather keep buried, hidden deep in the past. Things that are no longer a part of my life. Hurts that God has healed me from, but still bring feelings of shame and guilt when I dwell on them. There was so much damage that was done by poor choices I made. And fears that linger from damage that was done to me by others, those scars that fade with time but still sting when reopened.
Nightmares were a regular part of my life for a long time. For about two years after I was raped, I dealt with terrifying nightmares at least several times a week. They usually come back any time I have to open that wound again and talk to people about rape. Over the years, I've learned how to combat them. I know that prayer and fasting are the answer. But I didn't do that this time. For about a week, I just let them fester like an open wound. A week of sleepless nights. A week of missed opportunity to give my heavenly Father victory over my past. Again. Sometimes we are such lost sheep, even after we have been found. For me, I often find myself in a new pasture, or wandering in an old pasture that I thought had been destroyed, lost and afraid again.
Then I remember. I recall those promises I've learned to depend on.
I am reminded by my precious Savior that his love is sufficient, that his grace has covered my past, that I am no longer that lost sheep, that his plans for me are all good, that he hears me when I call to him.
And he answers.
And it hit me. Like God just reached down into the depths of my soul and clarified everything. My testimony isn't about mistakes I've made, my failures, my poor choices or insecurities, my broken life! My testimony is about what He has done in me, His healing, His redemption, His undeserved mercy. Three minutes certainly isn't long enough to recount all the amazing blessings He has poured into my life in the last 26 years. But 3 minutes of His miraculous works beats 30 minutes of my failures any day!
I pray that anyone reading this has found the beautiful healing love that can only come from a perfect God. If you are struggling to find God's grace, please know that He is pursuing your heart. His relentless love is infinite and unconditional. He will never fail you or desert you. And I would love to share with you how he has radically changed my life! Feel free to message me any time.
I don't know who said that. But it is true. As we age our bodies tend to become increasingly uncooperative, our minds forget more than we remember, and our spirits don't seem to have quite as much passion for things we used to think so important. But other than those little details, I haven't really found aging to be such a bad thing. And there are certainly some advantages I hadn't expected, like I can honestly say no to chaperoning youth lock-ins because I'm just too old. And since the kids are grown, I get to play with the grandkids and send them home spoiled. lol.
Last month my hubby celebrated his 60th birthday. He was a little bummed about thinking he was getting old. So my family and I threw a big surprise birthday party for him. I wanted him to see how much he is appreciated by so many people. He doesn't really like to be the center of attention. But I figured with lots of friends and family around he would forgive me. It was great to see all the people who came out to show him they cared. He's a pretty super guy, besides being ridiculously talented musically, really smart, and an accomplished computer nerd, he's just an all around nice guy. Plus he's an amazing hubby and father. Here are a few pics from the party.
Now, about that cake . . .
I made the cake using my favorite pound cake recipe, Paula Deen's Mama's Pound Cake. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/mamas-pound-cake-recipe.html
I made three 9 inch square layers. The top one I cut in half. My piano man sometimes plays two keyboards at a time. Hence, the stacked look. It would have been more realistic made with chocolate fondant, but since I'm allergic to chocolate, the black keys were about all I could handle. lol! Making this cake definitely did not take as many steps as the Frozen cake I made for the granddaughter. It actually was pretty simple.
Then I covered it with the marshmallow fondant recipe from this blog:
Yes, I mixed it with a spatula, just like she says. I usually use my heavy duty mixer. But I actually found this to be much easier than I thought it would be. The only thing I found difficult with this recipe was, after letting it rest for 24 hours, it was really hard. Like so hard I couldn't knead it in one big ball with my arthritic hands. I had to break off pieces and knead a little at time. But one I got it kneaded, it was great to work with. Her site has lots of helpful tips and techniques.
The black piano keys are Kit Kat bars dipped in Wilton melted black candy melts, available at Michaels. I placed the Kit Kat bars on a wire cooling rack and spooned the melted candy melts over them. Then I smoothed the top with the back of the spoon. After they dried for a while and started to set, I lifted them off the cooling rack by sliding a butter knife under them and moving them to a clean spot on the rack. Once they were set, I just moved them to wax paper and refrigerated them until I was ready to use them. You can lift up the candy that dripped down under the wire rack and reheat it. Before I put the Kit Kats on the cake, I scraped any hardened candy melt drips off the bottom or sides with a sharp paring knife. This made the sides look straight and the bottoms nice and flat.
I glued them to the cake using this fondant glue recipe: http://rosebakes.com/make-fondant-sugar-glue/
This worked great!
The white keys are just fondant rectangles, rolled a little thicker than normal and cut to size. I used a tape measure to get my spacing pretty even for the lines. The indentions between the keys were made with an ice pick.
All in all, I was happy with how it came out. And my man was happy. That's really all that mattered. I am definitely blessed beyond measure!
Monday, February 16, 2015
Parties and events are kind of my thing. So my daughter, after much convincing, allowed me to just run with the whole party planning, decorating, games, cake, the works. I had a blast! Since all of that sugar was my idea, I'm sure their parents hated me by bedtime! But it was a perfect party.
If you are in the central Mississippi area, you can hire a princess for your party from: https://www.facebook.com/vaughnentertainment
I highly recommend them!
After they were made, I sprayed them with Recollections Simply Pastel spray mist in blue. I don't think it is available any more. Most of the crafty supplies came from Michaels after Christmas clearance, including the blue wrapping paper I covered the little tables with, the foam snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and the Recollections paper snowflakes on the kid's table, even the helium tank. And the balloons came from the Fun Finds aisle.
When Elsa arrived, she wanted to make an Olaf, too!
Then they played pin the nose on the Olaf. Elsa put the blindfold on each girl and turned her around. The girls were just giddy over this. So cute. I made Olaf by painting a background on white foamcore with shades of blue, purple, and white acrylic paint. Then I smeared some Craft Twinkles with my finger to make it look sparkly. I sketched Olaf on white posterboard then went over the lines with black Sharpie and cut him out. I glued him to the foamcore with Glossy Accents by Ranger and painted his arms and touched up the Sharpie lines with black, white, and brown acrylic paint to add some shading to him. Then I hung him on the wall with Command Strips so we could take him down after the party.
Then Elsa wrote down the gifts as the birthday girl opened them, and she got very excited over the Elsa Barbie! And the birthday girl got very excited over the Minnie Mouse play set she got. I love these two pictures.
The party favors were candy coated Oreo cookies with snowflakes on top, a little Wilton blue shimmer, and some Wilton edible glitter, all tied up in a Wilton treat bag with a balloon, a snowflake ring, and custom made 'thank you' tag by my amazing personal graphic designer (which I forgot to take pictures of!). The mold for the cookies, the snowflakes on the cake, and the snowflake rings came from www.teresascreateacake.com. The cookie mold makes 5 candy coated cookies. I used Wilton white candy melts and rubbed Wilton blue shimmer on top after they hardened, all available at Michaels. We topped off the bag with a Recollections snowflake sticker and they turned out just adorable.
And the cake, complete with turrets (Wilton Castle Cake kit), an 'ice' (Wilton clear plastic) staircase, and ice spikes (candy glass from this recipe: http:/www.pamspartyandpracticaltips.com/2014/01/elsas-ice-candy_17.html?m=1) and snowflakes (Wilton white candy melts, Wilton snowflake candy mold, with Wilton blue shimmer rubbed on top).
I made the cake using Paula Deen's recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/mamas-pound-cake-recipe.html.
The icing was http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Buttercream-Icing
And the fondant was http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Rolled-Marshmallow-Fondant.
After the cake was all put together, I used more of the Wilton blue shimmer and edible glitter on it..
Elsa, Anna, and Olaf were also present on the cake (Disney skating figurine set at Toys 'r' Us). The Olaf plates and napkins are Disney and I picked those up after Christmas at Big Lots, also. There's lots of after Christmas clearance stuff here!
And the group picture. Lots of little princesses. Just too stinkin' cute!
The birthday girl loved it all. And for a week after it was over, she would randomly say what an awesome day she had at her party. That, my friends, makes all the work worthwhile!
Links and other sort of stuff:
Queen Elsa: Vaughn Entertainment, Clinton, MS on Facebook. They have several princesses to choose from. Tell them I recommended them!
Cake recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/mamas-pound-cake-recipe.html
Candy Glass Recipe: http:/www.pamspartyandpracticaltips.com/2014/01/elsas-ice-candy_17.html?m=1
Candy snowflakes on cake: Wilton white candy melts, Wilton blue shimmer, Wilton snowflake candy mold
Party Favors : Oreo cookies, Wilton treat bags, Wilton white candy melts, Candy mold and snowflake rings - http://www.teresascreateacake.com/
3D Snowflakes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7of1MSYHcw
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
This is a long post. If you don't read to the end, at least scroll down and check the link at the bottom. Even if you don't need the info, I can guarantee you know someone who does.
Last year, 2014, marked some pretty important milestones in my life. Like quarter century milestones! In September, my piano man and I celebrated 25 years of marital bliss! Well, it hasn't all been bliss. But we are still madly, deeply, in love, and that says a lot after 25 years in our culture, especially with the baggage we came into marriage with. In February, 2014, we celebrated the month we met, also 25 years ago. I know. You are doing the math now. Yes, we met in February of 1989. We married in September of 1989, seven months after we met. Even more amazed that we are still married now, aren't you? LOL! (We did have an extensive set of mutual friends, but still, I really don't recommend this.)
It dawned on me around January 15th last year that there was another 25 year anniversary that I had completely forgotten about. This is really strange. Mostly because I thought it would always prevalent in my mind. I never would have dreamed it would be merely an afterthought as I was driving down the road, like, oh, yeah, it's been 25 years!
What milestone is this?
Yes, there's another math thing. I met the man of my dreams almost one month to the day after my commitment to, well, more on that in a minute.
In Jan of 1989, I fell flat on my face before God, broken, empty, and alone. In complete desperation I begged Him to take my ruined life and help me be the person He wanted me to be. No games. No bargains.
No pretense of my own ability to help myself.
And for 25 years, I have been sober. Not one slip in 25 years. Well, except for the time I ordered a cappuccino in an Italian restaurant and didn't realize until I tasted it that it had alcohol in it. Kahlua. Who drinks that stuff anyway? Chocolate flavored alcohol. In coffee. Who knew? Lesson learned.
There are a few things I'm always acutely aware of. One is the incredible grace I have been shown, by more people, and by God, than I could ever begin to repay or deserve. I have been blessed with amazing parents and a brother who lovingly tolerated me even at my worst. And the second is that I truly am a living, breathing example of the phrase, 'only by the grace of God.'
I would love to say that my 25 sobriety anniversary is due to my deep abiding faith and my close personal relationship with God. And, although true, it wouldn't really be the whole truth. Yes, I do have a deep abiding faith in God. And I do have a close personal relationship with my heavenly Father. And, yes, that has been the rock that I have leaned on in times of struggle and joy. But there were other factors that had a strong influence on my sobriety as well, especially at first.
Probably the strongest influence at first was abject fear.
Fear of doing damage to my children.
Fear of losing the wonderful man that God had brought into my life.
Fear of disappointing my parents and my brother, again.
Fear of where I might end up if I took just one more drink.
Fear of failing God.
At some point, over time, as I learned new behaviors and made new friends, as my faith grew, my fear turned into trust. But it didn't come easily! I had to work at it constantly, with people and with God. And especially with myself. I had to learn to do what I needed to do, instead of what I wanted to do. It was a slow painful process that my sweet husband, family, and my heavenly Father held my hand and loved me through.
So, I write this from a heart full of humility. And with a note of encouragement to anyone who is struggling with addiction.
. . . to lead me.
. . . to guide me.
. . . to continue making me over into what He created me to be.
Change is hard. Walking away from lifestyles and habits that are ingrained in us is very difficult. But it can be done! It isn't easy. But if any of this describes you, do whatever you have to do to give your life over into His hands. Get involved with a church family that will support you and love you through the difficult days. Walk away from friends who are a bad influence. Change jobs if you need to. Even avoid family members who draw you into behaviors that you need to avoid.
Do whatever you have to do!
Rarely in life do we get fairy tale endings. If you ask anyone who has known me very long, they will tell you my life has been no fairy tale. But I have been blessed beyond measure. And I did get my prince charming. And we are living happily ever after. With a lot of storms and challenges. But I wouldn't trade the journey we have been on for anything else in the world.
And NONE of it would have happened if I hadn't taken that huge step in Jan of 1989.
A step that scared me practically to death.
A step that cost me nearly every friend I had.
A step that removed every social avenue I had known for most of my adult life.
A step that saved my life.
We have just started a program in our church called Celebrate Recovery. I highly recommend it, whether you are dealing with addiction or other hurts, habits, and hang-ups from the past. Celebrate Recovery is a way to get the support you need to deal with any of those. And if you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to shoot me an email or message!
If you are in the Jackson metro area, our meetings are on Friday nights. Here is the link to our website with more info: http://www.dayspringonline.org/
Our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/DaySpring-Community-Church/222284828727
If you are somewhere else in the world, check out the Celebrate Recovery website to find other groups:
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
In August, 2013, we moved out of our home into our little RV. It was a huge, difficult decision and took a lot of prayer and soul searching for me to be ok with it. When we finally made the decision to move, the adjustment period was even harder than I had expected. Moving into the RV gave us security. We are in a wonderful area, virtually no crime, armed security on the premises at all times, and absolutely no fear of going outside or being inside. Unless you've lived in a high crime area where you never go out the door without being armed and on your guard, you really can't relate to what feeling safe means. Learning to distinguish between the sound of fireworks and automatic gun fire is simply not how people should have to live. My family had felt trapped for so long in a declining neighborhood consumed by crime, and here we were in our RV, completely safe. And I was miserable. I missed my big kitchen. I missed my laundry room. Yes, I really did miss my laundry room. I missed my scrapbook room. I missed my bedroom closet, the one that I hated when I lived in my house. I missed privacy. I just missed my house, period.
At some point between Christmas 2013 and New Year's Eve, I decided my word for 2014 was going to be CHOOSE. I was tired of being miserable. And frustrated. And grumpy. I decided that this is my life now. My hubby and I CHOSE this change because it was the best choice available. Now I had to CHOOSE to make the best of it. I did my best in 2014 to stop whining about what I didn't have any more and look at how blessed my life is. I accepted that my perspective is based on what I CHOOSE to see and how I CHOOSE to look at my circumstances. I certainly didn't do it perfectly, but if you look back over my One Little Word posts on this blog you can see that there were changes in my attitude. I decided to CHOOSE to see the good in life.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Yes, I wear gloves. Not because any of it is toxic, but just because I have super sensitive skin and usually end up mixing the whole batch with my hands. Without gloves I would be washing my hands every 2 minutes. And that would slow down the progress. Patience is not one of my strengths.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
who had a blog,
who never posted on her blog,
We are finally back in our little RV home with wifi and 4G on our phones! Woot! For the last 3 months, we have been living with my parents due to health issues that rocked the world of our entire family. My mom had surgery in April that went terribly wrong. Then my dad had a severe allergic reaction that required several days of constant monitoring. I will probably post more on these two issues later, but for now, I'll just say both parents are doing much better. Mom is walking again (with a cane) after her disastrous surgery that broke her femur. Daddy is hobbling around after the huge blood clot in his leg that still isn't completely healed. If we can keep them both out of the hospital for a while I will be ecstatic!
Yesterday was my first day to be back to my regular walking. My day started early with a 1 hour commute to sub for a friend at her school. Driving over the water is always refreshing, even when it is foggy and the sun isn't quite up yet. (I may have taken this picture while driving over the spillway at 6:30am. Shhh!)
Look at His creation.
Look at the gifts all around me.
Look at how far He has brought me.
Look at the beauty of the earth.