Blissful Contentment

Saturday afternoon...

Rain pouring outside...

Taryn asleep in her daddy's chair...

Mark, Kaitlin, & Hayden playing a board game in the sun room...

Television, Ipods, stereos, and after this post, computer, all turned off...

Paula Deen's creamy macaroni & cheese in the crock pot...

Laundry almost caught up...

Life is good...

They're Home!

Everyone is back home...

Mark and the girls got home last night from their mission trip to Honduras...

They pulled in around midnight, safe and sound...

And now the laundry begins...


Whaddaya Mean It's Expired?

First the pink duster and now this...

I have spent most of this evening in our living room, transferring about a zillion coupons from marked envelopes (Windex, Hot Dogs, Ketchup, etc) into a 3-ring binder with those plastic baseball card insert sheets...

I can't seem to help it, I like coupons...it gives me a little thrill to save .35 cents on a can of Spaghetti-O's.

But I have been a sorta-secret coupon cutter for years, only a few close friends knew about it. At one point in my life, you might have seen in my shopping cart a plastic hinged box full of envelopes that contained every kind of coupon know to man...I use to carry it up front in the seat part of the cart...the kids had to walk...

But the other day, I read on Yahoo about these two women who have been know to pay something like .43 cents for $700 worth of groceries, or some outrageous amount like that, anyway...they keep their coupons in a binder with these sheets...

Now, I have always kept my coupons in some kind of envelope system (I have a system, yikes), but I've never been to happy about having to open each envelope up and go through them to find what I was looking for... So having read about their ingenious system (I'm, apparently, not the only one with a system), I did what unfortunately came pretty natural, I decided to steal their idea for myself.

I drove to our local Wal Mart, found the prettiest binder I could, no puppies or kitties please, and lo and behold, the baseball card sheets were on clearance...Wal Mart obviously doesn't realize the full potential value of these plastic wonders...

So that's how I spent my Thursday evening, not reading a classic novel or gazing out at the summer sky...no, I spent it sitting in Mark's Lazy Boy, stuffing a .75 cent coupon for Stove Top into a plastic pocket...life is good...

Loose Ends Vol. 1 No. 3

Got a call from my girls and Mark this evening...I answer the phone and hear "Greetings, Earthling"...my weird oldest child...

They are headed home tomorrow after a week (two weeks for Kaitlin) in Honduras...hopefully I'll have pictures next week to post...

Me and the Knucklehead (aka Hayden) have spent a week to ourselves and have had a really enjoyable week of just doing what we felt like...went to a movie, went to MOSH ( museum of science and history), piddled around the house...it was good

I've found a couple of blogs this week that are amazing, one is aholyexperience.com
what a gift this woman has been blessed with, from her photography to her written words...simply amazing

Another is one Sue has mentioned on her blog and that is rocksinmydryer.typepad.com
She has an enormous list of blog links and it is a great site.

I'm learning every time I log on more of what I want my blog to be and what I am capable of doing and what I'm not capable of doing...it all takes time and in the end, it's still a work in progress...



Taryn just called me here at home (at 6:00 a.m. no less) to let me know that she and 25 other youth and adults made it safely to Miami and are about to board their plane for Honduras. Her sister has been there for a week already and I miss her so much!

Please pray for our youth and adults that will be in the mission field this next week. For their safety there and back, that the hearts of those in Honduras be made ready even now as our team begins to serve, and that our missions pastor and his wife ( who have been in Honduras for 3 weeks already) be refreshed as this next team comes in.

The harvest is full but the workers are few


Do The Right Thing

My friend and I had identical situations arise in our lives this week--

She did the right thing;
I didn't do anything...

She spoke words of truth;
I kept silent...

Her words attempted to correct, make right, teach, plant a seed;
my silence gave a false sense of approval...

Her attitude was one of loving another person enough to speak words that were hard to say;
my attitude was one of not wanting to make waves or upset someone...

Her actions mirrored Titus 2:3;
my inaction mirrored nothing...

Thank You Lord for those who speak, in and with an attitude of love;
and please help change and forgive those who don't...


Beautiful Scripture I Read Last Night

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devasted;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Isaiah 61:1-4

I Think Polident Is On Sale At The Winn-Dixie

I've done it: I've bought a moo-moo. I don't even think that's how you spell it, but I'm still in a little bit of a daze since I put it the cart this afternoon. I'm actually wearing right now...scary, huh? The tag didn't say 'moo-moo', it said 'duster'...I guess I'm supposed to dust while wearing it? Not gonna happen...

So I guess this makes me officially middle-aged.

Its almost like a surrender flag, although it's pink not white. I have bought a symbol (for me at least) of old lady clothing, so I've just surrendered the last piece of youth left in me. At least it feels that way right now. I know that it is really all about comfort at this minute but do I really want to start down that path? If I keep it up, I can see pink curlers, knee highs, and a hair net just around the corner.

So, for now I'll just wear the pink thing
(I've got enough weight issues
without using the word 'moo-moo' to describe my clothing)
around the house, poor Mark, and I'll roll up and put away
the surrender flag until I really need it.

Like if I start to feel the need to have dinner at 4:00 p.m.


Loose Ends Vol. 1 No. 2

We have a drive-thru store in our little town called "The Pit Stop" and its great!

Growing up near Tampa, back in the old days, we had a chain of small drive-thru's called "Farm Stores". You could get milk (always in a paper half-gallon), or an ice cream sandwich, only if you behaved in the car. We would drive through in my grandmother's 1976 Bicentennial edition Impala, white with red and blue pinstripes. We looked like a white whale.

Anyway, our little drive-thru here is great--they are really friendly and it is a breeze to pull through, especially since I don't have to drive the white whale. It beached itself about 2o years ago.

Why Can't He Write About Getting Stuck In Traffic?

I hear a semi-famous comedian being interviewed on the radio this afternoon as I was driving home from work. He has written a new comedy book about religion and of course was promoting it. As the announcer started to take callers and their questions, someone asked him why, he thought, people are "religious". And he said the words, "It's all about death. As people are faced with death, they want to believe they will be okay. If we lived forever, we wouldn't have religions..."

"I mean, it can't be that simple."

Now I have heard talk about people who believe this, that it can't be as simple as believing what Paul says in Romans 10:9

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
you shall be saved;

But I was really surprised how much it shocked me to actually hear someone say it,

"I mean, it can't be that simple."

I get teased sometimes about living in a bubble, to which I usually reply, "that bubble was burst a long time ago." Serve anytime in ministry and it does...

But my reaction to this remark reminded me that I do still have some of that bubble residue left on me. And its okay to still have a little bit left...I think it helps keep my heart from being hard, dry, and brittle. Seeing people as Christ sees them, that's how I want to see people.

And you know, the comedian was right about one thing...it is about death. Without the gift of salvation that has set me free, I would be dead.


The Answering Machine Voice--I Don't Really Sound Like That Do I?

There is nothing better in life than a house full of young voices. As summer has begun, and life has slowed down a little more that usual, our kids are home, usually with a friend or two, ( last night at one point I think there was a total of seven under 25 here). I wandered around the house, hearing their laughter, watching them watch some silly video, talking about going to Italy one day, and all the while, thankful they were here.

(Of course I have to disclose that at 12:08 a.m. I got out of bed and let those still here know that EVERYTHING was too loud and asked them to please, knock it off)

When I was 14, 15,18, all I wanted was to be somewhere else. Certainly not at home, and especially if any adults were there. So I'm blessed that our kids want to be here, even when their mom and dad are too. (We, the ones with the old voices)

As life changes again, as it always does, I want our home to cultivate a feeling of welcome, to have that gift of hospitality that has sometimes hidden itself during the busy times of life.

Young voices are a blessing, even when one of the old voices asks them to knock it off.


A God Story

Mark and I started our own general contracting business in May 2006. He left his managerial position at the company he had worked for 20 years, since before we were even married. He obtained his contractors license, started advertising and got to work. After about 6 months, we prayed and sought the Lord for someone to bring along to work with Mark. We both felt confident who that person was, and after approaching he and his wife, they prayed for 2 weeks and decided to join us. Now you need to know that all during the time we had our company, Mark working it full time, we had no health insurance at all. None. And we were using our retirement fund to run the company. 20 years of contributing to a 401k. You do the math. People thought we were CRAZY. But when He calls you to something, you go.

Anyway, it got to be January of 2007 and the slow down had already started. We got to the point that we couldn't keep our friend employed anymore...but God provided a better job for him with in a month. He put out the word he was looking and his former boss knew a guy, etc. And a job and health insurance were soon his.

Now we were really starting to feel the pinch. We were down to the almost last of our money. But we knew that He was in control and if we were obedient to Him, He would make a way. Blessings always follow obedience.

Mark got a few phone calls from a former boss right during the time our business was doing good. The calls were a request from his old boss to come and work at his new company. Now we didn't brush aside these calls, even though times were good. Each time he called, we would pray, but the answer was always, "thanks, but no thanks"

And now, times were getting hard. We didn't think about those phone calls, we didn't think about anything but how we were going to make it day to day.

And then Mark was driving into town one morning, and the cell phone rang. Only when he picked up, the person on the other end wasn't calling for my Mark, he was calling another Mark, another Mark who also had the same last name as ours. It was my Mark's former boss again. He said, "well I was actually calling Mark _______ (they have different middle initials), but since I've got you on the phone, would you consider going to work for me again?"

A better salary, health insurance, flexible schedule, other benefits as well...

Now you probably think Mark said "YES!" right away. But he didn't. He wanted us to pray about it and seek godly counsel, which we did. Our pastor prayed with us and counseled us.

We did answer "Yes" and by the beginning of the following week, Mark was back in Corporate America.

So now its been a year since we lost our business and since we've been blessed with a stable income and insurance...btw not one of us ever got sick the 2 years we went without insurance, not even a cold...God's unmerited grace upon us...

And today, well today continues the God story...Mark is a candidate to be laid off within the next few....days, weeks, months, who knows...only Him. But together we have a binding peace, something that people might again think is CRAZY. I can only explain the peace that we both have as from the Lord. He is working in our lives in ways we never thought would happen. He will make a way!


Loose Ends Vol. 1 No. 1

We went to the movies this evening and saw the latest (and what I hope is the last) Indiana Jones movie. A disappointment is an understatement. Some things need to be left alone, like great movies..just because the first was great doesn't always mean magic the second, or third, or in this case, fourth time around. Harrison Ford looked great (thank goodness he didn't have that ridiculous earring on) and the new kid did a good job but the plot, stinky. And what is really disappointing is, as a family of five, it's a real treat to go out to the movies. You want it to be worth the money.

Just my two cents, Harrison...actually it was $45 bucks, and I'd like a refund.


I Told One On The Phone Yesterday

Our pastor has been encouraging our congregation to share what he calls our "God Stories". Every believer has a God story; people, events, situations, things that happen in our lives that can only be explained by the presence of our loving God.

Mandisa even sings about God stories in her song "God Speaking"--I love that girl!

God stories can be big or small, but every one matters, because each one is important in our own growth and maturity. Each God story we have in our lives can build upon the last and if we share them, they can be encouraging to others.

God stories can happen when we see someone who is in pain or turmoil or in a situation where they think there is no hope. And then His grace and mercy begins to work in their surrendered lives, like the healing balm of Gilead. Their countenance changes as He ministers. And as the situation changes or the pain eases, they can look back down that road and see how God worked in their life. And if they share their God story with someone else...what a blessing.

Share a God story from your life with someone today. That lady behind you in the check-out line might need to hear it.


It's Not A Graduation Party Without Granny's Meatballs

Graduation has come and gone at our house.

For weeks we planned how we would celebrate our oldest child's high school graduation and now she is getting ready to go to college. The celebration was a blessing, lots of friends and family who we love so much...those who couldn't come were missed, but thought of as we went through the day. We reconnected with close friends during the week, phone calls and visits, emails and pictures sent back and forth. Special friends who came early and stayed late, rolled up their sleeves, to make sure everything was ready when we got home.

Getting the house ready that week, I was brushing down spiderwebs that were over our fireplace (so many I could have crocheted a blanket) and I started to think about the family pictures that have been on the mantle the 20 plus years we have lived here. Her preschool picture is there and now we have a graduation picture to put along side of it.

Something that really surprised me during the week was that I only cried once. Our church celebrates our graduates every year with a slide show during morning service. I didn't cry during it but as soon as my daughter's beloved mentor and friend got up and started to sing

She sang about setting the world on fire, helping the helpless, how small we are and how big He is. She sang, asking God to use every part of her, how she was willing to give Him her everything.

The tears started to flow, and the image of her future and the possibilities that lay before her flooded my mind. How exciting to know that now her future begins. It starts today. She is willing to give Him her everything. What ever is to come in her life, she is fully aware of His sustaining power. The plans may change, the path she goes may not always lead to where she thought it would end, but she has confidence in Him. Too cool.

A simple shopping story...

Her cart was dripping. The grocery cart she was pushing around the produce section of the big box store I had just entered was drippin...