September 30, 2006

Searching No More

I have never met my biological father. He left when I was an infant, and never returned to our lives. The only picture I've seen of him is in one of my mom's high school yearbooks. He could literally walk up to me today, and I wouldn't know it was him.

Mom remarried when I was 3, and her husband has been my dad since that time. I don't remember life before him. He adopted me and raised me as his own. I love and respect him with all of my heart. He's been a good father. But I was haunted by guilt. I was ashamed that my biological father didn't love me enough to have a relationship with me. I felt there must be something horribly wrong with me. Ever since I can remember, I've knocked myself out to please people. I kept thinking that if I could just somehow be good enough, my biological father would come back and love me.

I worked hard to be the star student. The golden child. The parent-pleaser. Respectful and responsible. As perfect as I could possibly be. Yet it still wasn't good enough.

Fast forward to high school. Striving for perfection left me empty inside. Although I knew my parents loved me, I was afraid their love was conditioned upon my performance. (Pressure I, not they, put on me.) I thought I had to make all the right choices, be the right girl. On the outside, I was confident to the point of being arrogant.

On the inside, the cry of my heart was "Won't someone please love me?"

That gigantic need drove me to many desperate places. To many inappropriate relationships. To horrible, disastrous choices. Despite the scholarships and accolades...despite the best performances I could give...I was constantly looking for some to love me. When I was 19, I lost my grandfather & my best friend within 3 months of each other. I was devastated. I had a deep, cavernous void in my life, and I could only think to fill it with other relationships. In trying to use others to fill the vacuum, I found that I was the one being consumed. I was still empty, and I felt like I was vanishing before my very eyes.

I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Although my parents were both raised in church, they both turned away from all things Christian before I was born. I remember going through a period of attending church sporadically, but it didn't last long. I attended church only when I visited my grandparents. I went to Vacation Bible School a couple of times with my cousins. Yet I gave little, if any, thought to Jesus.

I began to curse God. If there was a God (which I wasn't so sure of), I certainly didn't want any part of Him. I shudder to think about the things I said about Him. It's a wonder He didn't strike me dead on the spot.

Then I met my husband, R. I later found out He was a Christian, though he had strayed. I've already shared the story of our courtship. We needed a church to get married in, so we started attending one. For the first time in my adult life, I admitted there was a loving God. I thought that was salvation. After we married, we moved to another church. I discovered that there was more to salvation than believing in God. I thought I made that step, and would be assured of my Heavenly home.

Four years later, during a Beth Moore Bible study, I read the story of David and Jonathan. I was in tears as I read how Jonathan, the prince, took off his beautiful robes and exchanged them with David, the shepherd boy. The prince took on the filthy, smelly, disgusting clothes of the shepherd boy. It hit me...Jesus did that for me. He took all that smut and ick in my life, and He put it on to give me a pure robe! Sitting on my bed, I genuinely gave my heart to Christ that night. And all the guilt and shame, the bad choices, the emptiness...they were all gone! I didn't have to beg anyone to love me anymore. Jesus filled that hole with Himself...and the earthly relationships provide the overflow.

Every now & again, Satan tries to remind me that I'm not worthy of God. This, I already know! Every time I enter a church, I'm amazed that the building doesn't fall down around me! But I take comfort in these verses penned by Paul...for I could have written them myself.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:12 - 17).

To read other testimonies, please head over to Lauren's Bloggy Tour of Testimonies. I can't wait to see how God has brought other people to Himself!

September 29, 2006

Restoring Order

There's been a lot of talk among bloggers lately about gaining perspective on much we read, write, comment, check our site meter, etc. I admit, it's overwhelming. At least it has been to me. I've really let this get out of hand in my life. I've stumbled upon more bloggers than I can remember, tried to add the "hip/happenin' " ones to my bloglines, left comments in hopes that they would in turn visit my blog and I'd be popular. Oh, my goodness, it's high school all over again! I really, really didn't like high school the first time. Why would I want to put myself through it again? Yet I was doing just that! The final blow (which brought me to my senses) was when I was reading another blog this morning, and noticed I'm not on her blogroll anymore. I was there a couple of days ago...but now I'm gone. It hurt. Too much.

I didn't start blogging to make friends. I already have a group of amazing friends. "Meeting" some of you has been an added putting Cool Whip on a slice of chocolate chess pie. I've read powerfully moving stories, laughed, and empathized. I've been encouraged by you & learned from you.

A few years ago, R & I went to Paris to visit a friend. We went out to dinner one night, and I remember being astounded that this small-town country girl was sitting at a table with people from Brussels, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Singapore (I don't remember the exact countries, but you get the point). Blogging has been like that. How else would I have connected with ladies from Connecticut, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, and other points south of the Mason-Dixon? It's been eye-opening and fun. I'm looking forward to meeting you all in Heaven, because the chances of meeting you here on earth are pretty slim. I had forgotten that.

That's why some self-imposed blogging rules are in order:

~ Good-bye site meter. I don't need that pressure of wondering who reads and likes my blog. It was never supposed to be about pleasing (wo)man anyway.

~ Writing will be limited to weekends. I may post them throughout the week, but they will be composed on the weekends.

~ No more worrying about whether I'm on someone's blogroll. God will bring the people He chooses to my blog, for His purposes.

~ I must remember God's purpose for this blog, and stick with it.

~ Blogging will NOT take priority over my family, friends, home or job anymore.

~ I will comment only when I genuinely have something to add.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the bloggers I read. I'm looking forward to meeting them all in heaven for a cup of Starbucks and a slab of chocolate cheesecake (someone tell me there will be coffee & cheesecake in Heaven!). In the meantime, I'm not leaving the blogosphere. I'm just putting it back in its rightful place.

September 27, 2006

One Last Time?

(Updated to correct the circumstances...I had misinformation earlier)

My heart is heavy today. A young man in our area was killed in a freak accident yesterday. He was helping in the removal of a tree from someone's yard. The tree split, fell on him and killed him. 25 years old. I know his family, but not well. I haven't seen him since he was a teenager. My memories of him are faint, at best.

Yet I can't stop thinking about his parents and the agony they must feel. Our Sunday School class was just discussing how we'll do everything for a last time on earth.

Wake up for the last time.

Drink a cup of coffee for the last time.

Tell your spouse you love him/her for the last time.

Hug your child for the last time.

Most of us don't know when that last time will be. I'd never thought about that before...not really.

Because if I had, maybe I would've opened the curtains and appreciated the sunrise this morning. Instead, I groused about getting up while it's still dark outside. Maybe I'd be savoring my Starbucks morning blend with pumpkin spice creamer. Instead, I practically chugged it down so the caffeine will kick in sooner. Maybe I would've stopped to tell R how deeply he has impacted my life and that I could never let him know how much he means to me. Instead, I quickly brushed his lips, muttered "I love you" and rushed out the door. Maybe I wouldn't have let CJ get out of the car in such a bad mood this morning, and would have squeezed the stuffin' out of her. Instead, she walked away in a huff, and I drove away in one, too.

There are days I'm so caught up in the menial, frustrating, laborious tasks of life that I don't think about living. Life isn't perfect. It isn't supposed to be, or we'd want to stay here forever. We wouldn't long for Heaven.

Still, we can enjoy our time here. Cherish our loved ones. Be thankful for simple pleasures. Not take for granted that this couldn't possibly be the last time we'll have this person, place or thing. This young man's mother didn't know she would never hear his voice again. He didn't know he would never talk to his mom again. They didn't know the last time they were together was the last time.

Whatever we do today could be the last time. Kinda' makes you think, doesn't it?

September 25, 2006

Follow the Leader

Things here are a bit more hectic than usual. R's on 2nd shift this week, which means I'm a single parent for the next few days. End of the month means extra busy-ness at my day job & my part-time job. I can't think about what's on the calendar for this weekend yet, or I'll go into full-blown panic mode!

I won't be around bloggyland much for the next few days, other than to read what others are writing. I'm being lame...posting an old devotion I wrote a while back.


When I was growing up, I never liked to play “Follow the Leader”…unless, of course, I was the leader! When it was someone else’s turn, I would quickly tire of the game and want to quit. I didn’t want to go where someone else was leading. I wanted to be in charge.

God chose Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. I imagine the children of Israel were as excited about following Moses as I was about following anyone else. They wanted to be in charge, yet they clearly needed a leader. When Moses left to meet with God on Mount Sinai, they grew weary in his absence. They determined to follow their own leading and constructed a golden calf to worship.

This was not a childhood game. Israel’s decision to go against God’s leader provoked Him to tell Moses, “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:3). Although God did promise to send an angel with them, Moses realized the ramifications of Israel’s sin. He begged God, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (v.15). That is my prayer! I cannot trust my heart or my instincts. I do NOT want to go anywhere without the Lord’s Presence! I desperately need His leadership. Without it, I would construct my own idols to worship. We may think that Aaron’s defense seems rather pathetic, if not impossible. Who would believe that he just threw the gold into the fire and a calf happened to pop out? (Exodus 32:24). Don’t underestimate Satan. If we’re looking for an idol to bow down to, he will happily supply one for us!

Moses could have been satisfied with the angel God would send to be with them, but he knew that God’s angel is not God Himself. You and I should never be satisfied with anything less than the presence of the Great I AM! The Holy Spirit dwells within us, but I still need to know that God is ordaining every decision I make. If I don’t have a strong fellowship with Him, I inevitably follow my own leading. I may even make some good decisions that will result in blessings and glory to God. But if His Presence isn’t with me, the outcome will never be as great as it would have been. We should be greedy for God’s best. He’s just waiting to give it to us. All we have to do is follow the Leader!

Following God is a daily walk of faith. We have to constantly check to see that His Presence is with us. He may lead us into unfamiliar territory, which can be intimidating and perhaps frightening. Yet, if we are following His instruction, we have this assurance: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). If God has given us the direction, we can be strong, courageous, and unafraid. He will lead us to the destination He has set for us, if we will just follow Him. Believer, there’s no better Tour Guide!

September 21, 2006

I Can't Deny It

Earlier this month, I told CJ she can sit in the front seat of the car now. It's a 3rd-grade privilege. On the way home from church last night, she grabbed my hand.

"You really like sitting beside me and holding my hand, don't you?"

"Yes. You're my mommy."

"And I love being your mommy."

And with a gleam in her eye and a face as straight as could be, she replied, "Well, of course you do!"

I gotta tell ya...she's right!

Fall Into Reading Challenge

Katrina has issued a challenge to do some fall reading. There's nothing I love more than reading a good book (and I've been known to stick with some bad ones, just to satisfy my curiosity!). I'm famous (or should I say, infamous) for starting books & not finishing them. I'm hoping this challenge will hold me accountable.

I can't think about my calendar for the next few months without hyperventilating! My list is small, and doesn't contain classics like everyone else's. But it's what I can do for now. Without further adieu, here goes (you can click on the titles to find out more)


A Jewel in His Crown by Priscilla Evans Shirer. The first few chapters of this book are amazing. I can't believe I stopped reading it. Life just happened. But I want to know more of what Priscilla has to say. I'm going to start over.

For Women Only: What you Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn. I'm actually leading the companion Bible study beginning on October, but I want to read the original book, too.

Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an UnGodly World by Vicki Courtney.


The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Welcome to Wahoo by Dennis Carr. I'll be honest, I picked this up at the local library only because the title intrigued me, since I am a Wahoo. The quality of the book remains to be seen.

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen.

Divine by Karen Kingsbury.

Oceans Apart
by Karen Kingsbury.

UPDATED TO ADD: A Time to Mend by Angela Hunt.

I've put these non-fiction books on my list because I was actually able to get them at the local library. I'm trying to kick the Barnes & Noble habit for a while. I probably have 30 books on my shelves that I need to read (yet I keep going to the library and B&N!). So, I'm hoping for another challenge in in read books we already own! What do you say, Katrina?

If you'd like to Fall into Reading, click here to sign up!

September 19, 2006

It REALLY works!

Unlike her mother, CJ has thick wavy hair. Hair brushing has been a typical morning battle because of the many, many tangles. My new hairdresser gave me this tip a few months ago, and I love it! Before bedtime, we loosely french braid her hair (a regular braid would also work). Take it down in the morning & viola'! No morning bedhead!

It works for me. Now go to Shannon's place to get more great ideas!

September 17, 2006

Some History...So I Don't Forget

As I wrote earlier, God has reminded me of the purpose for my journal what He's been teaching me. I need to memorialize what He's been showing me, so that I can testify to His power & glory.

I've given some recent background, but I need to go further back and mark certain points in my walk with Christ that have led me to where I am today. (This will be long, so stick with me.) I've got to be brutally honest, so I ask that anyone who reads this please understand that I'm sharing my heart here. I may take some hits, but I've already hashed this out with God & we're okay.

My single greatest struggle in my Christian life has been to have a consistent walk with the Lord. I've experienced times of great joy...mountaintop experiences where I've heard Him speaking so clearly & guiding me so obviously that I could almost physically feel Him holding my hand. I've also been through deep valleys...times when I've not read His Word or spoken to Him for weeks on end, and generally ignored Him except for church. I was always been in church & I always looked the part, but I was as far from God as I could get. I've been cycling this way for years.

Despite these cycles, I've felt Him pulling me toward women's ministry. I've found some things I wrote back in 2004:

A couple of years ago (2002), I felt the Lord pulling my heart towards women’s ministry. By my very nature, I went full-steam ahead with what I perceived His calling to be. I fell flat on my face, because I was moving in my own strength & not His. Disappointed, I felt I must have misinterpreted His call, and so I gave up. Flash forward to January 2004, I started facilitating a Bible study titled “Believing God” by Beth Moore. Early in the study, the Lord showed me that there are times when He calls us & then we must wait…He has to grow us deeper before He can grow us taller & wider. He affirmed His calling to me, and told me to just trust in Him. I can’t describe the experience, but I made a commitment to Him then that, even though He wasn’t telling me what He wanted me to do, I would follow His leading.This was a HUGE step of faith for me, because I like to know what’s going to happen in advance. I don’t like surprises, yet I had no choice but to leave it in His hands…because He was not going to tell me where we were going. He gave me the willingness and strength to do this. Believe me, He had to do it, because I couldn’t have! Not long after that, He started giving me the devotionals I’ve been sharing. What a blessing that has been for me!


During my most recent struggle with His calling, He responded in such a way that I was completely undone.As He has given me confirmation, I’ve written the Scriptures on index cards. Last night, I laid them all out in front of me on my dining room table, and I was astounded at His goodness & faithfulness! As you know, the Lord told me to write the devotions I’ve been sharing with you. Not long ago, He began tugging at my heart to start an interdenominational Bible study. The sessions will be expanding upon the written devotions. I needed to be clear that all of this was from Him. Are you ready to hear what He said?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. - Jeremiah 1:17,19

"I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice – not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. - Jeremiah 10:23-24

"But the Lord said to me, “Do not say ‘I am only a child.’You must go to everyone I sent to you and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.- Jeremiah 1:7-8

"But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you. - 1 Samuel 12:24

WOW! All of these words came after I prayed for guidance from Him.I was not deliberately seeking Scripture to meet my needs. All of these came during my regular Bible reading. To me, there is absolutely NO doubt that He has ordained this ministry. I still do not know exactly where we’re going with all of this.


A few of you started on this journey with me back in the winter, as I began to pour out the messages God spoke to my heart. Since that time, He has rained tremendous blessings upon me, to the point that I can hardly think of His goodness without just falling to my knees. I have been amazed to watch the list of recipients grow and move across the country. More than that, I have watched in awe as He has worked in my heart & in my life. I’ve said this before, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart – this has been the absolute most fun I’ve ever had with Jesus.

Once I decided to believe that God really could do anything, He started proving Himself in ways I never imagined. My nature is to take everything at once and run with it … BIG mistake. I’ve run too far ahead. Not only did I get ahead of God, but R & CJ as well. Thankfully, my Lord has called me back before I left them completely behind. He has impressed upon my heart that I need to take a break...

After that, I was angrier with God than I care to admit. I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels, and NOT being happy with the fact that He was putting everything on hold. Here's my reaction in October:

Even while God was pouring blessings upon me, I began to pull away into my sinful nature & think I could direct my life. I began implementing MY plans for ministry, and trying to accomplish what I wanted…all the while, giving Him empty praise & lying about being okay with His timing.Whenever God would slay me, I would seek Him again…but it wasn’t long before I was back to my old devices. He has continued to be merciful to me, and hasn’t destroyed me.Praise Him…He realizes that I am only flesh!

Last night, I sat on my bed heartbroken. I came face to face with my own deep need for grace. I accepted Christ years ago, but I have been trying to save myself ever since. I have tried so hard to perform for Him & earn His love. I knew enough to pretend that wasn’t what I was doing...but it was only lip service. I was on a crash course…thankfully, I crashed into a loving, forgiving God who picked me up!

So, that brings us to last summer, and how God started to orchestrate the new Sunday School class. In the last few weeks since our class started, He has used my study and preparation time for the class, & other circumstances to put the puzzle pieces together. He's pulling the veil from my eyes, and I'm amazed. I can't wait to share...and that's where we'll pick up next time.

I have a feeling this may be a slow process. But, as I put in a comment to Boomama (who I won't link, because everyone in the blogging universe knows how to find her!), I want to make sure I put HIS words down, not mine.

And if you made it this far, thanks for listening!

Because of Jesus...

September 16, 2006

A New Path

God and I have been having a discussion lately about why I started blogging, and how I'm blogging now. Well, HE's been talking & I've been listening. While I think meme's are fun & I LOVE Shannon's Works for Me Wednesday, that's not where He wants my focus. Long story short...I'm letting my blogging addiction get in the way of His purpose for my blog.

I'll still participate in those things when I can, but this is an extremely busy time of year for my Southern Living business, and we have those season football tickets. So, there's not much extra time. And I've got to be faithful to what He wants me to do. So, here goes.

I've mentioned before, R & I have started a new Sunday School class for young marrieds in our church. It was SUCH a God-thing! Last summer, I felt Him leading in that direction. I talked with our pastor about it, and was ready to leave the current class I was teaching to start the much-needed class for newly married couples. Shortly thereafter, my marriage was under full assault from the enemy. I'm not going into details about that, other than to say it was tremendous warfare that the Lord alone brought us through. I knew in my heart that I could not teach a class to encourage others in their marriages at that time. So, I pushed it to the back burner.

This spring, I started feeling that same leading. God had healed my own hurts, and gave me a burning passion for these young married folks. He led me to another woman in our church and I asked her & her husband to pray about assisting us with this class. This woman, D., had felt the same leading for a new class! Our prayers quickly confirmed that the four of us were to start this class. So, we did just that on Labor Day weekend. We're so excited about this opportunity (even though CJ asked WHY we were teaching the young marrieds class when we're not young! ouch!). This couple we're teaching with are wonderful, and a little older than us. I know R & I can learn a lot from them, and I'm looking forward to that. I pray that we can minister to the needs of these couples, most of whom have only been married for a couple of years. It was a long time ago that we were in their shoes, but I know God has prepared us for this time. I pray we can be obedient as He leads us, because I know He has a very specific purpose for our class. It's such a praise that He worked all of this out...the circumstances clearly demonstrate that it's HIS doing & not man's.

Right now, we're studying Joshua. God has been speaking volumes to me. Louder & clearer than any time I can remember in recent history. He's asking me to write about what He's been teaching me. And I will very soon. I wanted to give you some of the background first, because it's important to understanding what He's been speaking to me. And it may be that He's just having me write this out for me. If so, that's okay. But I hope it will encourage a few readers, too.

Have a blessed Sunday!

September 14, 2006

I'm Still in Shock

I got up early this morning (quite the feat, since it was already morning when I got in the bed!). I knew I had to be on track since R started midnights again last night and wouldn't be in any shape to help his girls make it out the door without killing each other (we're not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning).

So, I was up early (in case you forgot) and even had enough time to program my Mr. Coffee so that it wouldn't blink 12:00 anymore, like it's been doing since our electricity went out a couple of weeks ago. I had to push more buttons than "On/Off". I even set it to brew while I was in the shower. You're impressed, right?

The morning went smoothly. No arguments about getting dressed. No panic about running late. We even avoided our hair fixin' fight (a morning ritual at our house, let me tell you!). CJ even commented that we were leaving the house when we were supposed to! We headed out, she read to me in the car, then we prayed.

It was a perfectly lovely morning.

I got to work 30 minutes early. The building was dark. I was looking forward to putting on my makeup, then eating my granola bar & drinking my coffee (Starbucks Breakfast Blend with Vanilla Caramel creamer, no less) in peace before the day came crashing in.

I unlocked the office door. Put some things in the fridge. Juggled the makeup bag, lunch bag, keys, pocket book & coffee to open the door to my office. You know what's coming next, right? Do I really have to say it?

So now, here I sit with one pants leg soaked. Fortunately, they're black. And no one was here, so I was able to take them off and rinse them. And it's not 123° outside anymore, so I'm not dying with my little portable heater running in an attempt to dry the pants (working better than I expected, I might add). The carpet in my office is brown, so the stain will just blend in.

But it's gone. Every single ounce of that beautiful dark liquid. Wasted. I hadn't even had a sip.

So long, friend. I would've liked to have known you!

September 13, 2006

The Most Profound Thing I've Heard All Week

If carbohydrates are so evil, why did Jesus refer to Himself as the "Bread of Life"?

(Lisa Whelchel at the Extraordinary Women conference Friday night)

Can I get an A.M.E.N. ?!

Encouraging the Body

Exhortation is one of my spiritual gifts. I love to send cards to people and let them know I'm thinking about them & praying for them.

Our church prints out a directory of members and addresses, updating it every month or so. Several years ago, I began periodically sitting down with our directory and asking the Lord to show me who needed a bit of encouragement. The Holy Spirit is always faithful to make names leap off the page. Sometimes I know the circumstance, and I understand why He wants me to contact that person. Other times, I don't have a clue why He chooses a particular person, but I trust that He knows. There have been plenty of people who've thanked me for the card, telling me it came at just the right time (imagine that!). But, honestly, most of the time, people don't mention it & I again have to trust that God knows what He's doing.

I usually don't write very much. I just send a postcard telling the person that God put him/her on my heart today, or I've missed seeing them, or I hope they have a great day. Postcards aren't that expensive to buy (I've found some wonderful Christian cards), and only cost 24 cents to mail. Encouraging my church family (I just have to say it)...priceless.

Now that you know what works for me, head on over to Shannon's to get more great ideas!

September 12, 2006

What God Has Brought Together

Barb is a wee bit curious about how we met our spouses. I'm more than happy to share how God blessed my socks off by bringing R into my life!

I was in my early 20's & had just come out of a bad relationship. Well, relationship probably isn't the most appropriate word. But, whatever you want to call it, it was over & I was not...I mean really not...interested in dating. I was trying to figure out if I wanted to change careers and move away from home. Life was just CONFUSING.

During this time, I went to a basketball game. R saw me & asked a friend about me. The friend told him I was H.'s sister (he already knew her) & that I'd never go out with him. Undeterred, he asked my sister to set us up. She politely refused. (I found all of this out much later). Two months later, I applied for a job where R was working. We started working together and became fast friends. I knew there was something completely different about him. I could share my heart with him, without fear. We joked around and enjoyed being together. He asked me out many times, but I wouldn't hear of it.

Finally, 3 1/2 months after we met, he did the unthinkable. He asked another girl out! I was secretly hoping the date would be catastrophic, even though I wasn't sure why I felt that way. I couldn't wait to ask him about it. Curiosity was getting the best of me. So, the morning after the date, I pounced on him. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "So, how was your date?"

R: "I'm giving up on women."

Me: "Well, if you'd date a woman instead of a little girl, you wouldn't have this problem!" (Oh. Yes. I. did!)

He fell for it...hook, line and sinker. We had our first date that weekend. That was October. By Christmas, I realized it was me who had fallen. We got engaged in March, and married the next year, May 29, 1993. 13 years later, I'm still smitten.

Speaking of that...he's looking pretty cute on the sofa right now. So, I'm off to snuggle!

We Are FAM-A-LEE...

My first memory of her is watching my mom bathe her in the kitchen sink of our outdated farmhouse. Tiny with a head full of dark hair, she was the complete opposite of me. After all, I was a mature 5 1/2 (ALMOST 6) year old with princess-golden hair ('s my story, so let me embellish a little!). I was fascinated by her little movements and sounds. And I was happy to have my very own LIVE doll baby!

Years went by. It wasn't much fun to have a toddler always dragging out my toys and putting them in places I couldn't find them. It really wasn't fun when I was stuck at Brownies one night until a family friend finally came to pick me up because my parents had the entire neighborhood searching for her. She decided to play hide-and-seek with my mom. Tucked under the hanging clothes in our closet, she heard my mom frantically calling her name & became too afraid to come out. My parents were too concerned with finding her that they didn't even think about me sitting on the steps at the Brownie shack, feeling very alone and very forgotten. Suddenly, I was NOT fascinated by her anymore!

Then came her "artsy" period. She bleached her jeans, dyed her hair & CUT MY CLOTHES. I could only stay out past curfew if I was picking her up from the skating rink (which I still, to this day, don't understand). She resisted my attempts to mother her (I wonder why?!). She did NOT want to be like me in any way, shape or form. I was the "golden child". She was the "black sheep". I studied. She socialized. I worked. She played. I obeyed (mostly). She rebelled with everything in her. We were polar opposites.

Flash forward through the squabbles, hurt feelings and words that should've never been spoken. I went to college and returned home to work. We both married. She had a son so much like her that every time I saw him, I was overwhelmed by memories of our childhood (just the good ones). Then she had a daughter. Six months later, I gave birth to CJ. And there she was, at the hospital, holding my baby and grinning from ear to ear. I knew our relationship would be forever changed.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another,
"What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
~ C.S. Lewis ~

Throughout the past eight years, my sister & I have been through a lot together. We've shared parenting war stories. She's given advice & I've listened. I suddenly realized that younger doesn't mean not wiser, and older doesn't mean I know it all. We've fought battles together, spent hours on the phone, and even joked about moving our families to Alaska together. We love and respect each other's husbands. Of course, we're crazy about the kids. And I would lay down my life for her.

The difference in our ages often means we don't share the same childhood memories, so our friendship is largely based on the women we've become as adults. Still, she's the only other person raised full-time in my home. We share DNA and a history no one else will ever understand. It took a long time to realize that. You see, God made us sisters. Then, when we were ready, He made us friends.

(Click on the icon to find other stories inspired by this quote)

Sorry if you're now humming that Sister Sledge song! I know I'll have it in my head all day!

September 11, 2006

In Memoriam...

(graphic by Rocks in My Dryer)

Shannon is asking us to share our memories of 9/11. I can't believe it's already been 5 years since that horrible, horrible day. I still have a devotion I wrote shortly afterwards, and have pasted it below. Reading it again today, fresh pain washed over me. I still can't comprehend the magnititude of what that day meant for our country. It's truly one of those "where were you when..." moments; the Kennedy assassination of our generation.

R & I had been planning a trip to NYC. On September 12, 2001, our airline tickets came in the mail (we were flying United). Our hotel was in the Financial District, and was shut down for a couple of days. We determined to keep our plans, and so we went on November 11th. Just 2 months after the attack.

I'll never forget stumbling upon Ground Zero and immediately crying. We were going to visit on the last day of our trip, because I wanted to mentally prepare myself ahead of time. But we got turned around coming out of the subway and were trying to find our hotel. I didn't expect to turn the street corner at that moment and see Ground Zero in all its horror. Two months had passed, but the stench still hung in the air. Ash and debris still fell as workers were trying to put the streets, water lines, and subway system back together.

But the most heartwrenching, devastating part of being there was seeing a parking deck full of cars that were covered in ash and rubble. Cars no one was coming to claim. Looking at the hundreds of vehicles there, the loss became real to me. The statistics had been a number that didn't compute in my math-impaired brain. But there were all these cars that weren't going home to a driveway or a garage...

Everywhere we went, people thanked us for coming. I guess my slight (ahem) Southern accent gave me away as a tourist. We went to a Broadway show, and the cast applauded the audience for our support. The Big Apple embraced us with a hospitality which, though not Southern, was warm and gracious...and more welcoming than almost anything I've ever experienced.

We stood in tremendously long lines at the airport, watched as airport personnel rifled through our bags, waited as R was called aside for one of the random passenger searches, and stared in awe at the National Guardsman with machine guns standing guard. And I was thankful, proud to be an American. Friends thought we were crazy to go, but I've never regretted that trip. It was truly a defining moment in my life.

So...those are my thoughts 5 years later. Here are my thoughts in October 2001 (and you know it had to be from God...because I don't think I'd ever read Habakkuk before in my life!)

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy...I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” --Habakkuk 3:2, 16

Where were you when you first heard about the madness that struck our country on September 11, 2001? I was sitting at my desk, caught up in my daily routine, when I heard of the first crash into the World Trade Center. At first, I brushed the news off as just a “freak accident”. Checking with CNN, I quickly learned about the second hit. My work forgotten, I became engrossed in following the latest developments. As the hour passed, I could hardly believe the mass chaos and devastation unfolding as I was watched. Indeed, as I sat glued to the internet and the television, realizing the magnitude of this tragedy, my “heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound.” I realized that life will never be the same again. Days passed. When I pondered this crime & the ramifications for our world, I was astounded by Satan’s sheer evilness. Obviously, I had underestimated the true nature of his spirit. Suddenly, “decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” at the horror which he had perpetrated.

Six weeks later, the Lord gave me this passage of Scripture which has not just spoken, but shouted, to my soul. I stand amazed at God’s timeliness! I struggled with putting my feelings into words, but He has given me the most accurate description of the emotions that have flooded my heart since this tragedy. He has also reminded me that He is still capable of performing deeds that will make us stand in awe; all we have to do is ask. Oh! how we need to be asking!

Finally, God has reminded me that He is in control. Justice is His, and His will shall be done. Hijackers do not have the last word. Biological warfare does not have the last word. Terror itself does not have the last word. And so, like Habakkuk, I will wait patiently...for I know that My God reigns!

September 7, 2006

Can I Get an AMEN?!

(Even if you're not Addie? )

Shalee is asking us to share a story of God's amazing grace in our lives. Visit this post, and you can leave your link. Can't wait to read what God's done for you!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

P.S. - if you've read any of my posts this week, you know school was a concern. Well, I walked CJ to class this morning, and she turned at the door & told me to leave. I'm taking that as a good sign! Thanks again for your prayers. God is so amazing! A.M.E.N.

September 6, 2006


Just a few random notes about life in Virginia these days...

~ CJ had a very good first day of school. She's going to need some time to finish adjusting, but I think she'll be fine. Last night, R & I felt like we had a different daughter. She was so grown up, polite & responsible. Hey...I LOVE 3rd grade! Thanks for your prayers!

~ Like Bev, I'm also behind in reading & posting. We're still having computer issues at home, which, despite my daily calls to our cable company, aren't fixed yet. This is our third week...and I'm still having to use my parents' computer some evenings to get my Southern Living at Home business taken care of. Still, I've been able to get some much-needed cleaning done, play games with R & CJ, and get caught up on paperwork. It's just frustrating because I need internet for the business.

~ I've also had MAJOR computer issues at work, which required me to work on our company laptop for the past week. That would've been okay, but I couldn't access many of my I'm behind at work, too.

~ We start our annual fall tradition of going to UVA football games this weekend. We're taking CJ for the first time, and we're all excited about it. The team's supposed to be awful this year, but it's fun to go back to my alma mater & hang out. We meet up with our former pastor & his family and tailgate together. It's a great way to stay connected with them, and have family fun.

~ I'm going to the Extraordinary Women conference Friday night, and will see Sarah's friend Lisa. I'm pretty excited about that, too!

~ R & I started a new Sunday School class for young marrieds last week. I think it's going to be was definitely God's leading.

Well, this is a harried post. But, that's life these days! Hopefully things will calm down soon, and I can resume regular blogging mode.


September 5, 2006

First Day of School

Today is the first day of school. A NEW school. Well, actually my OLD school. It was surreal this morning, dropping my daughter off at the elementary school where I spent 6 years of my life. Everything seems much smaller now. But to CJ, it’s all so big. So strange. So scary.

We changed schools for a lot of reasons. Some you might understand, and some you might not. We didn’t make this decision lightly. We’re praying that it’s the best move for CJ. But she’s understandably nervous. So am I…to the point of being physically ill. Seriously. I’m just hoping that this change, which seemed so right during the summer, is really the best choice for our little girl. Seeing the fear in her eyes this morning, I wonder. Still, it’s easy to see that God is already paving the way.

Last week, a friend from church invited her to a “back to school” bash. She got to meet several girls who will be in her grade, and they were happy to give her “inside information” on the school. She’s in class with this friend. Her homeroom teacher was teaching when I was in school there, and I’m excited about that. She even moved CJ to sit right in front of her friend. The principal was one of my teachers. It’s all going to be good. I know that.

So why am I still so nervous?

I’ve always been a pretty decisive person. I know what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. R says I’m high maintenance. Remember “When Harry Met Sally”…the original “chick flick”? I’m not quite as uptight as Sally Albright, but most definitely H.M. Nothing wrong with that, is there? (Please don’t answer that!)

Yet, when it comes to making decisions for CJ's life, I often freeze. Suddenly, I can’t make up my mind about anything. I spend time weighing options, calculating risks, predicting results, determining benefits. Because it’s more important than whether I have enough items in my wardrobe to match that great pair of shoes, or if I look fabulous in this shade of lipstick, or if R will kill me if I buy another Vera Bradley bag. It’s the responsibility for another person’s life. What was God thinking when He gave me such an important job…one that I’m so ill-equipped to handle?

And that’s exactly His point. I can’t do this without Him. And in today’s world, I certainly don’t WANT to. I guess the best any parent can do is to seek God’s will for our child’s life and try to follow it as best we can. Trust in Him to guide us in the right direction. Ask for mercy when we goof. Give Him praise on those miraculous occasions when we get it right.

If you happen to have a minute today, would you mind taking my daughter to the King’s Throne in prayer? Pray that she has an AMAZING first day of school. That she’ll make friends. That her teachers will be kind and sensitive. That her nerves will disappear. And while you’re at it, that MY nerves will disappear. CJ & I will appreciate it!