Thursday, October 21, 2010

Love that toothless grin!

Ben FINALLY lost a tooth! He actually decided to go over and above and lose both of his top teeth in a two-day span. (Of course, one was "helped" a little when he fell into the armchair.)

I just love this toothless grin!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Story

Everyone has a story, a story that tells why you are who you are today, why you stand for the things you stand for, and how you hope to grow and change in the years to come. Our church challenged its congregation to put our personal stories to paper in 700 words or less. I will admit I have procrastinated organizing my thoughts and words into a story. That was until this past weekend. Jason and I were asked to share our testimonies with our new small group. Our group is made up of five couples and we have all been taking turns sharing our stories. Necessity trumped procrastination, and I finally took on the challenge. Written below is my story. My story is a story woven together by the grace of God. Why He would take the time to even notice me blows me away. But, this is the God I serve and will serve from today into eternity.

If you haven't taken the time to write your story, I encourage you to try. It can be a very therapeutic process, but my greatest reward in committing it to paper was another reminder of how amazing God is and how much I need Him and need Him to know how amazing He is to me.

I cannot tell you the exact day that I became a Christian as it seems like I’ve always believed in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. I’ve known as far back as I can remember that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that my salvation comes through faith in Him. I was baptized when I was 10 after walking down to the front of the church and accepting Christ publicly as my Lord and Savior. I have loved Him as long as I can remember and have experienced His presence in my life for just as long.

My family attended church regularly, sitting on the front pew every Sunday. I was active in Sunday School, church choir and youth group and became the church pianist when I was 15. Church was a big part of my life and became a place of refuge from living in a very dysfunctional family. My home life was a place of conflict and emotional abuse. My faith in God was all I had to hold onto at times, and I prayed to Him frequently.

The Lord provided a way for me to attend a small, private, Christian university and it wasn’t too long before I realized that my Christian walk was very shallow. I didn’t really have a true personal relationship with Christ. For the first time in my life, I felt free from all that I had lived with, and I no longer really needed God. I kept Him at a distance, calling on Him occasionally if I needed something, but most of the time, living my life for me. I made poor choices with my behavior and sacrificed my moral standards. However, the Lord never let go of me. He was always there to rescue me. I know He placed me in that environment to learn more about Him and to grow closer to Him.

During the summer before my senior year in college, I decided it was time to stop living for me and start living for Him. I ended the unhealthy relationships, began spending time in His Word and praying regularly. I took to heart the words of James 4:8 - “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” My relationship with Christ began to grow as I made time for Him in my life.

Having a relationship with Christ does not guarantee that life will be easy and free of hardship. In fact, the Bible tells us that we will have hardships and James 1:2 even says “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kind.” I have endured many hardships in my life. I lived in a home that was very unloving and unkind. I have felt the pain of loneliness and depression. I have suffered marital strife as well as financial troubles. I could not have gotten through these things without my relationship with the Lord.

Although I sin daily and the distractions of life can pull me away from actively pursuing my relationship with Him, my desire is to be pleasing to Him and for my love for Him to grow stronger every day. Words cannot express how grateful I am that God loved me enough to sacrifice His own Son for my sins, and I know that I will spend my eternity in Heaven with Him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reminded, Renewed, Reassured, Refilled, Revived

There are many things I miss about being on a church staff and one of those things is being able to be renewed and revived in conference settings where those in attendance are of one heart. And for that one day (or few days), the daily grind that we are honored to be called to journey is paused for us to just be reminded, renewed, reassured, refilled and revived.

This is a video from a fantastic conference lead by Willowcreek Church. I had the privilege of attending the Leadership Summit for two years when I was on staff at our church in Houston. I loved the days to just soak it in. This video is about 10 minutes long, but is so worth your time.

We are beginning the process of joining a church here. It's been quite a journey for us to get to this place and, in turn, we drive 30 minutes one-way to attend this church. We were very spoiled in Houston. Our church was 4 minutes away, 6 if you caught the red light. Cuyahoga Valley Church is proving to be an amazing church and the right fit for us and what we prayed we would find in a church here. It's been a three-year journey, but so worth it.

I just encourage you (if anyone actually reads this...ha!), to find a church home for yourself and your family. This world is a difficult place and worldly solutions will not often pan out. Jesus Christ is the only way and surrounding ourselves with others of one heart keeps us reminded, renewed, reassured, refilled and revived.

Why are we here? What are we called to do? Does it really matter? I'm interested to know what you think after viewing this video.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Need a Bible Study?

Beth Moore is hosting her third Summer Siesta Bible Study to her blog community. The study this summer is by Kelly Minter called Ruth: loss, love & legacy. The study is just in its 3rd week, so if you are jumping in now, it's not too late to catch up. The daily homework doesn't require much of your time and is SO good! I highly recommend this study. You can join in solo or gather a few friends and jump in together. I am meeting weekly with two of my sweet neighbor friends and we are enjoying the time together and loving getting into the Word. To order, go to Kelly Minter's website.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Incredible Photos

I haven't posted much lately because I've been so busy and haven't felt too inspired to share anything noteworthy. That is, until today. I saw these photos on a blog I follow. They've left me speechless. To see more, go to this website, click on Galleries and then "Oil Spill".

Through an artist's eye, this shows the oil spill in a different light, doesn't it?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
– Lee Greenwood

For love of country they accepted death…
— James A. Garfield

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
— Joseph Campbell

Thursday, May 27, 2010

EVERY good and perfect gift is from above!

I will say it again...EVERY good and perfect gift is from above! (James 1:17)

I am still feeling so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for his healing touch on our Abby. Yesterday, we had the 6-week follow-up, which included a set of x-rays. I had been praying for this day for the past several weeks, not missing more than 2 or 3 days, and praying specifically that the scans would be clear and there would be no trace of the pneumonia or effusion.

I could tell that Abby was doing better and was back to herself (well, maybe a bit more rotten due to the additional attention), was not favoring her left side any longer, wasn't asking for Motrin for pain, and was sleeping through the night on a consistent basis.

The doctor entered the room and asked me some questions. Basically, he wanted to know what we were observing at home, so I described Abby as I did in the paragraph above. He, in turn, looked at me with a grin from ear to ear and said, "Well I have some great news!" He went on to say the x-ray was clear and beautiful and there was not a single trace of the pneumonia or the effusion!

We serve a mighty and loving God and the tears welled up as soon as I got into the parking lot yesterday, so grateful that He not only answered our prayers for healing but even to the very specific way I had been praying.

This has been a long journey and I have learned that I have one tough little girl. The doctor said she had probably been sick for a while before we actually began to see the symptoms, which was basically a high fever that hit very suddenly. He was careful in his word selection (as he actually said so out loud), but again reminded us that Abby's case of pneumonia was a very bad and serious case. The doctors were thrilled to see how things turned out in the end and will be using her scans in teaching students and residents in their facility.

Of course, I'm not amazed in the same way as the doctors...I know Who and How this happened...I am amazed that sometimes I have so little faith in what my God can do.

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:1-5

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Intro to Clean Eating...

A friend recently told me about "Clean Eating" magazine. I just received my first issue and it's packed with recipes. Last night, we tried the first "Clean Eating" recipe. This appears in the May/June 2010 issue. All five of us loved it, which if you have children, know this is an accomplishment! I just added some homemade guacamole, a spoonful of salsa on the side and a few (less than 10) organic blue corn chips to go with the guac/salsa...yum, yum! Enjoy!

Black Bean Tostadas
with chipotles and corn

1 cup cooked black beans
1 tsp chipotle pepper, minced
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp chile powder
2 tsp fresh lime juice, divided
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 multigrain sandwich thin or round (both halves), toasted
1 oz low-fat cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup frisee, washed, dried and torn (I used green leaf lettuce)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1. In a food processor or medium bowl, puree or mash beans. Add chipotle, cumin, chile powder and 1 tsp lime juice, and mix well. Add bean mixture to a small pan and warm gently, stirring, over medium-low heat.

2. Warm corn in another small pan over medium-low heat.

3. Divide bean mixture between 2 halves of sandwich thin, spreading evenly. Place halves, bean-side-up, on a plate. Top with cheese and corn, dividing evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1 tsp lime juice over frisee (or lettuce), then scatter evenly over halves. Garnish with tomatoes and serve immediately.

You will not be disappointed and will add this
to your list of go-to recipes!