Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your Favorite Christmas Decoration this Year?

Have you started putting away your Christmas decorations yet? Before you do, let me ask you a quick question. What has been your favorite Christmas decoration this year?

Is it your tree filled with all sorts of ornaments or the beautiful wreath on your front door?

Maybe someone gave you a holiday platter loaded down with lots of Christmas cookies this year. Now that the cookies are all gone you've decided to display it on your kitchen counter in hopes that someone will fill it with cookies again.

Or, maybe it's that special angel or star placed on top of your tree. The one that is a priceless family heirloom or holds special childhood memories.

My favorite Christmas decoration is our family nativity set. It reminds me of my mother. Growing up we didn't have a lot of money. In fact, mom would use lots of candles during Christmas time because they were cheap and gave off such a beautiful scent in our home. I'd always help mom set up the nativity which was, besides our tree, the main decoration that always brought her such joy.

When I got married she gave me a nativity set for our very first Christmas. I had it for years but during our family's move to North Carolina, it was accidentally dropped and shattered in what seemed like a million pieces. I was so upset and decided to replace.

There was only one problem. I had a really hard time finding a nativity set that I truly liked. As I went from store to store, I saw shelves filled with Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph trinkets instead of nativity sets. The ones I found were so small and basic. Until this year....

I approached my search for a nativity a little differently. This time I prayed first. I told God how much I longed to have a nativity set again. One that my children would remember when they grew up. Not something small and basic but a nativity that would be glorious and reflect the true meaning of Jesus' birth. A nativity that would take my breath away. It was two days later that my prayer was answered.

Take a look....

Honestly, the pictures don't do it justice. I wish you could come to my house and see the nativity set for yourself. You'd find it sitting right next to our breakfast table off of the kitchen which is the main hub of our home.

Each ceramic piece has so much detail. I love the palm trees and animals. Especially the camel. It is absolutely beautiful!

Once again, I'm reminded of how God really does care about the intimate details of my life and the desires in my heart, no matter how small they be.

I learned years ago to ask God for anything - no matter how small and significant -then thank and praise Him regardless of His decision.

I know that He loves me unconditionally and promises to work all things together for my good.

Because I trust Him, I have peace and confidence whether His answer is yes, no, or not now. I DO love it when He says yes though!

Every time I look at this nativity set, I think of my wonderful mom. Oh, how I wish she could see it now. It would definitely take her breath away too!

One last note...sorry about the formatting of this post. I still don't know how to transfer pictures into blogger without them getting all messed up. Maybe finding out how should be part of my New Years Resolution! Speaking of, have a wonderful and safe New Years celebration.

Sweet blessings,
Leah

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!


“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”, which means “God with us”.

Receive the gift of His almighty presence today...


Monday, December 20, 2010

Are You Ready for Christmas?

Should I even ask?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Decorate the tree ~ check!
Buy & wrap presents ~ check!
Bake cookies ~ check!
Hang Christmas wreath ~ check!
Send out Christmas cards ~ oh well....

I can't believe Christmas week is here already. It seems like only yesterday that I was packing our suitcases and heading to Houston, Texas for Thanksgiving with my parents. We celebrated Texas style with all our siblings, nieces, and nephews. There were 25 of us in all and it felt like Christmas day even though it was a month early.

Being gone that week put a wrench in my Christmas shopping & decorating but I wouldn't trade that trip for anything. I'm going to tell you a secret. I just started shopping this past weekend and finally hung our wreath on the front door yesterday afternoon. This year is different though. Although I'm way behind on my Christmas preparations, I have such a inner peace and joy in my heart. It feels unexpected but wonderful all at the same time. I think it's because I've been mentally and spiritually preparing for Christmas for two months now. Let me explain...

Two weeks ago I was privileged to speak at The Cove Church Ladies Life Christmas Brunch. For weeks I had been preparing and praying over what message God wanted me to share with these precious women. I finally landed on the story of Joseph's visit by the angel Gabriel found in Matthew 1: 18-27. As I pondered and prayed some more, I was drawn to the words "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means "God with us".

As if a huge light bulb went off in my head, I suddenly realized this was the message I would focus on for Christmas 2010. I wish I had time today to share everything with you but in a nutshell...

If finances are tight and gifts are few - God is with us!

If loved ones are no longer here and we feel alone - God is with us!

If marriages are struggling and family members aren't talking - God is with us!

If children are rebellious and hearts are wounded - God is with us!

If sickness is upon us and we're weak in our bodies - God is with us!

If depression is looming and hopelessness is calling - God is with us!

No matter what our circumstances this Christmas season we can be certain of one thing. God is with us and will always be with us no matter what. He is our constant companion and our source of strength. He is our ever-present help in time of trouble. He will never abandon us or refuse to listen to us. He was there in our yesterdays and will be there in our tomorrows. The Lord always has time for us. Even His name proclaims His presence.

Immanuel, God with us

I'm pretty certain I won't be winning any neighborhood awards for best yard decorations on my street. Martha Stewart probably won't email me for my famous cookie recipes. And, I can guarantee I won't be mailing out any Christmas cards again this year. But, ya know what? I'm totally fine with it. I have peace, joy, and contentment which is the absolute best Christmas gifts I could possibly receive this year. And, it's all because I know that no matter what, God is with us.

Do you have that same assurance this Christmas season? Oh, I hope you do. If not, please write and let me know so I can be praying for you. I would love to!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Smack Dab in the Middle of Mundane

Would you consider yourself an adventurous or cautious person? How about daring or conservative?

I've always been a rule follower. I'm not one to step out of my comfort zone and do something "on the fly". Yet, I admire people that have an "out of the box" approach to life. Their life seems so exciting and adventurous to me. In fact, it kinda makes me want to be a little more daring too.

As I sit on the sidelines, watching these people take big risks, I'm amazed at how much fun they're having. I want to have fun too! So why am I so hesitant?

I've always associated risk-taking with fear, stress and problems. I'm sure that goes hand in hand with adventure but problems and stress can certainly be constant companions to someone living smack dab in the middle of mundane. Trust me...I know.

God's been challenging me lately to live a more adventurous live. As I spend time in His Word, God's showing me that my unwillingness to take risks is really a form of unbelief. What I'm really thinking is "will God come through for me" if I step out in faith and do something radical for Him.

He's showing me that if I really want to follow Him I need to surrender my tendency to always play it safe. I have to trust that He is always with me and no matter what He will see me through whatever comes my way.

What about you? Is God asking you to do something really adventurous for Him today? Is this something WAY outside of your comfort zone and just thinking about it makes you sweat? Is God stretching you emotionally, mentally, or physically in ways you never imagined?

I dare you to step out in faith and allow Him to lead you step by step though this adventure with Him. If you stay focused on Him, I bet your fears will be replaced with joy and excitement. Why don't you give it a try and see. Then be sure to write and let me know what's happening in your life.

Remember, God promises to always take care of you - to never leave you! So really...you have nothing to lose.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Hundred Crashing Jetliners Today?

Did you know that 26,575 children die every day of largely preventable causes related to their poverty?

Let that soak in for a minute...twenty six thousand, five hundred and seventy five children died yesterday, today, and will die tomorrow. That's equivalent to one hundred jetliners crashing every single day! At that rate almost ten million children will die in the course of one year.

I remember the day I read this gut-wrenching statistic in Richard Stern's book, "The Hole in Our Gospel". At first I thought it must have been a typo. That number seemed impossible...but in fact it's a painful reality in the world we live in.

As I pondered and cried, I resisted the temptation to ask "why?". Then it dawned on me that God knew my thoughts - even if I didn't verbalize them - so why not be totally honest and ask Him...

"God, why would you allow so many children to die every single day?"

"God, I know you care for them. This makes no sense to me."

"God, why won't you allow manna and quail to fall from the sky or fresh clean water to burst out of rocks like you did for the Israelites when they lived in the desert?"

" God, you can fix this problem so why don't you?"

I know these are really harsh questions to ask an Almighty God and I wish I could say He gave me some specific answers. I've come to realize that God chooses to keep some things hidden from us. After all, what kind of God would He be if we knew all His business? Why would need faith?

What is the truth in this situation:
God is all sovereign. He is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. Nothing has or ever will happen outside of His plan. He sees everything and nothing escapes His reach. He is a loving God and each one of these children belong to Him.

What is the real challenge we face:
We live in a broken world with broken people. We face an enemy every day who's mission is to kill, steal, and destroy God's children. Our world is full of greed, jealously, and corruption. Our broken world is a result of original sin.

What do we need to focus on:
Our limitations in contrast to God's unlimited power and control of all the world's events. God is alive and in complete control of world hunger, poverty, disease and even death. We can't see all that God is doing and we can't see all that He will do. But we can be assured that He is God and will do what is right. Knowing this can give us confidence and hope in a very confusing world.


So what can I do?
I can pray for these children and their families. I can let others know what I've learned through Richard Stearn's book about world poverty. I can do my part by asking God how He wants me to help others locally, nationally, and globally. I can trust in my loving Jesus and rest in knowing that He has everything under control - even if it doesn't make sense to me.

" Twenty six thousand, five hundred and seventy five children die every day of largely preventable causes related to their poverty." Richard Stearn, The Hole in Our Gospel

Now that you know this statistic...what are you going to do?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Community Series-Week Three (Learning Together)

Hi Everyone,

I hope y'all are enjoying all this rain we're having. I'm tickled pink! My flowers and bushes were begging for water and now they're all pump, perky, and happy again. Rainy days make me want to curl up with a blanket, a great book, and a large mocha latte. What do you like to do on rainy days?

This week's theme in our Community Series is "Learning Together". If you didn't get a chance to make it to one of the weekend services, log onto the Cove Church to view the video.

Our family went to the Sunday morning 9:00 am service and it was filled to the gills! Almost every seat was taken and silently I was thinking to myself, "Gosh, all these people must be going to the Panthers game later on today!" It was really neat watching everyone get so pumped up about being in church! Looking at all those people also reminded me of why we need to be in a life group....so we can stay connected.

I hope everyone is enjoying life group and looks forward to Wednesday mornings as much as I do. I've loved getting to hear your individual stories and making new friends. Let's be sure to introduce yourselves to someone new this Wednesday so that we can continue to get to know one another better.

Here is the study guide for this week:

Study Guide:Learning Together


Be sure to complete the questions and bring them with you (along with your bible and pen) to group on Wednesday.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a post below.

See ya soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Community Series-Week Two (Everyone's Invited!)

Hi everyone,

Below is the link for this week's study guide questions:

http://www.covechurch.org/static/Community_Week2.pdf

If you didn't get a chance to make it to church this weekend, you can watch the services online at www.CoveChurch.org. Christian Chapman was our guest speaker and his message was incredible! It was taken from John 4 - the story about the woman at the well. I'm not sure if the video is up yet. If not, check again tomorrow.

Please be sure to read John 4, complete your study guide questions, and pray over last week's prayer requests to prepare for Wednesday morning's discussions.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

See you at Libby's Wednesday morning. Remember we'll start at 9:30 sharp! Here's her address again if anyone will be joining us for the very first time this week.

Libby Cline
134 Shelter Cove Lane
Mooresville, NC 28117

Directions: Down Hwy 150 from Big Daddy's Restaurant. Across from Jokers, (The Catawba Queen). The subdivision name is Pinnacle Shores. If you get lost, call Libby at 704.662.6801

Cyber Hugs and prayers,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Community Series - Week One

Hi everyone,

I'm so glad you'll be joining me this Fall for the Cove's church wide study series on "Community". Mike's message this past weekend was a great reminder to me of just how much we need each other. Life gets crazy sometimes and it's comforting to know that we have each other to count on.

If you didn't make it to church this weekend, you can view Mike's message on the Cove's website at www.covechurch.org

Below is the link for this week's study guide questions. You'll want to print them out (only 2 pages) and answer the questions before coming to Life Group on Wednesday morning.

http://www.covechurch.org/community

We'll be meeting at Libby's house on Wednesday morning from 9:30 - 11:15. Be sure to bring your competed study guide questions, bible, pen, and a smile. Here is Libby's address:

134 Shelter Cove Lane
Mooresville, NC 28117
Directions: Down Hwy 150 from Big Daddy's Restaurant. Across from Jokers, (The Catawba Queen). The subdivision name is Pinnacle Shores. If you get lost, call Libby at 704.662.6801

If you have any questions or comments about this Wednesday, just scroll down past my name below and click on "comments". Fill in the box and click the "anonymous" tab to post your comment.

I can't wait to see all of your precious faces on Wednesday!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

On the Road Again

How are you spending your Labor Day?

Are you have family over for a cook-out? Are you spending the weekend at the beach? Maybe you're headed to the park with a picnic basket and frisbees? Or, maybe you headed to the mall for some some Labor Day bargains?

Our family is spending Labor Day packing. Yes...packing. Again...packing. Oh boy...packing. Hooray...packing!

It's been 11 months since we moved into this wonderful place we call home. Our family loves it here and we were hoping to stay for a while. Just last year we signed a contract and moved out of our dream home on the lake. It was a really tough move but the home we're in now has been the perfect fit for our family. It's warm, cozy, and just the right size for us.

We've become friends with our landlords which is often times an exception to the rules. They are the sweetest family and have bent over backwards to make us feel at home this past year. They've recently decided to move back into the home we're renting so we've been house hunting the past 3 weeks. The process has included a few anxious moments and sleepless nights but we know it's all a part of the process. Being married to a General Contractor comes with an automatic oath of willingness to move frequently. I've actually enjoyed the adventure and variety of living in many different places. We've always owned our homes but with the economy so unstable we feel that it's best we lease for now until the housing market settles down a bit.

We found an awesome house in our same neighborhood which is such an answer to prayer! Our boys won't have to make new friends, change schools, or join new sports leagues. We also won't have to change our phone number or zip code. The best part is our new home will only be 3 miles down the road so that means less moving expenses. I've learned that you can shove a lot more stuff into those gigantic Hefty lawn trash bags when you're only going a short distance from House A to House B.

Our new place will have a view of the lake, an English garden, and a big front yard. Yes, we feel very blessed! We are excited about the new adventure God has us on and believe that although we weren't planning to move so soon, He's known about it all along and is providing a new place for us to call home.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Have a Dream

Do you have a dream?

Think about that for just a minute...

Maybe your dream is to finish school or get married. Maybe your dream to is have children or advance in your career. Maybe your dream is to take a trip to Europe or start your own business. Maybe your dream is have your own home or get your kids through college.

Whatever that dream may be, do you think it will ever come true? Do you sometimes feel like life is taking you in the opposite direction from your dream and you find yourself father away from it's reality than maybe a year or two ago?

I have a special dream that I think about every single day. My dream is always in the forefront of my mind. At times, the eager pursuit of my dream causes me to make certain decisions, spend my time a certain way, and even connect with particular people on a very regular basis.

Often, I become frustrated and think my dream will never come to fruition. I sense the urge to just throw up my hands up and shout at the top of my lungs, "Oh, just forget it! This is all just a big waste of my time!!"

I was feeling that way this morning.

Something recently happened to me that seemed to push my dream further away. It was like I had approached an unexpected dead end along my path that completely took me by surprise. It has left me feeling discouraged, frustrated, and foolish for even having this dream in the first place. "What am I doing? There's no way my dream will actually come true!"

While I was having my pity party this morning, I decided to sit down with a nice hot cup of coffee and read a devotion from one of my all time favorite books, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. And this is what I read:

"Wait with Me for a while. I have much to tell you. You are walking along the path I have chosen you. It is both a privileged and a perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others. Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such an assignment. Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be borne. Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust Me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace."

I don't know about you but this is SUCH an encouragement to me!

The hard road I travel in pursuit of my dream may be hidden from others but it's never hidden from God. The decisions I've made, the time I've invested, the prayers I've prayed, the money I've spent, all to pursue my dream will one day produce an abundant harvest with loads of blossoms! It may not look exactly like I had originally planned or envisioned for myself but it will be what's best for me. As long as my eyes are focused on Him, then His perfect dream for me will be fulfilled.

Lets stay on the path. Let's keep pursuing God while we pursue or dreams and watch what He can do through us. Let's never give up and continue to trust Him every single step of the way. Let's keep going when things get tough or when we feel our path is headed in the opposite direction.

I'm in this for the long haul! What about you? Are you with me? I can't wait to see what God's going to do. And when He does it, lets give Him all the glory!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Demon that Swallows People Whole

This morning I received an email from my brother telling me that Uncle George only has a few weeks to live. He was diagnosed with Melanoma last year and the doctors say it has already spread to his lungs and lymph nodes. He has also developed some type of Leukemia which is associated with prolonged exposure to benzene, a product he used to clean clocks for many years.

My Uncle owned a clock shop in Munich Germany where he would sell and fix all sorts of clocks - from pocket watches to grandfather clocks. I have one sitting in my foyer that he gave us years ago. My grandfather originally owned the shop and when he died, Uncle George kept it going.

His dream was to one day sell the clock shop, move to the United States and retire in Florida. He did exactly that about four years ago. He also got married to a wonderful woman, Susan, whom our family has grown to love so deeply. Life seemed wonderful...until the demon arrived.

Can I just say I HATE CANCER! Is that o.k. to be so blunt? It's like a demon that has swallowed up whole so many people that I love. My dad has struggled with Lukemia for almost three years now. Just last week my sweet friend had to shave off all of her hair because it was falling out in clumps from the chemo treatments she is undergoing. A nine year old boy who lives in our community gets daily visits from hospice and cries to his mommy because he's in so much pain and is afraid to die.

I've had friends and loved ones loose their hair, their breasts, their dignity, their ability to have babies, their mental capacity, their very lives because of this demon we call "Cancer".

Where is the hope in all this? For me, my hope is in the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. I may not understand why cancer attacks one person and not another. I may not know if cancer will one day swallow whole my children, husband, or even myself. I don't understand why cancer is becoming more and more prevalent but...my hope is in the Lord.

The bible tells us in John 16:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world."

Now, Jesus doesn't say we may have trouble or that we could have trouble. He says we WILL have trouble. Yet He doesn't leave us there, in a pit of despair. He tells us to "take heart!" (notice the exclamation point?) "I have overcome the world". Although cancer is big in our world today and seems to be everywhere you turn, it's certainly not bigger than Jesus! This is where my hope comes from.

Do you have a friend or loved one who is struggling or even dying of cancer right now? Maybe you're the one struggling with cancer? Please leave a comment and let me know so I can be praying for you or your loved one. It would be such a privilege and honor to do so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Folly Beach and The Mailbox

Our family is at the beach right now, relaxing in the sun and celebrating our last week of Summer.

I can't believe how fast this Summer break has flown by. I've really enjoyed sleeping a little later each morning, not having to pack lunches or check homework, staying up late with the kids to watch movies with popcorn, and just having everyone chilling at home during the day. Brody and Carson have been so low maintenance this Summer. They've stayed busy just playing with friends in the neighborhood and not having to be entertained every single minute of the day. We're all dreading August 25th when they go back to school again.

Being at the beach is the perfect time to read "The Mailbox" which is written by my friend, Marybeth Whalen. This nonfiction book is centered around a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina. It's filled with love, romance, betrayal, faith and contemparary issues that affect every woman. I don't consider myself a fast read but I started yesterday afternoon and I'm almost finished.



Well, I'm going to put my swimsuit on and head out to the beach! With my cute little beach bag in one hand and my copy of "The Mailbox" in the other, I'm looking forward to another relaxing day with my family. Surf's up and the waves are calling!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Way To Go Williamsburg!

We just returned from Williamsburg, Va this past weekend. Honesty, I was very excited about getting away with my family but Williamsburg was certainly not my first choice...or my second...or my third. I really wasn't expecting there would be much to do once we got there but boy was I wrong.

The colonial area of Williamsburg is incredible. It's really like stepping back in time. All of the people who live there dress, eat, work, entertain and raise there families as if they are actually living in the 1700's. We watched a two hour re-enactment of the historical events leading up to the revolutionary war - right in the streets of Colonial Williamsburg where these historical events actually took place. It was so incredible.

We purchased a bounce pass from Busch Gardens that allowed us unlimited access into their theme park, Water Country USA and all the museums of Colonial Williamsburg. And, did I mention the shopping? Oh my goodness! I could have gotten in a lot of trouble but actually did really well in restraining myself :) I purchased one "souvenir" which was a pair of Brighton hoop earnings at the outlet mall. So cute!

I think my favorite part of our entire trip was just being together at the condo. We played cards, watched movies, laid out by the pool, took walks together, and at times just sat around talking. It was wonderful.

Although I wasn't expecting much out of this vacation, I have to say it was one of the best trips we've gone on. It certainly was the most relaxing.

I've learned another life lesson through this vacation to Williamsburg. Sometimes less is more. So much more than we ever expected.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Planning a vacation is not an easy task.

Last year our family wasn't able to take a summer trip because of our finances. Although we're still on a very strict budget, I'm determined to have some sort of get-away for our family before school starts in August.

There is so much to consider when trying to plan a family vacation. First I gathered everyone together to see where they'd like to go. Brody, our laid back teenager wanted to take a cruise. Carson, our super social busy bee wanted to go to Las Vegas or New York. Keith, my exhausted and over worked husband wanted to stay home and just "relax". Ya, right...

We had to explain to the boys that all though a vacation was certainly in sight, we'd need to consider somewhere closer and...well...cheaper. A cruise, Las Vegas, or New York City would not be considerations this Summer. Needless to say, the boys were disappointed. Keith still just wanted to stay home. I was trying to stay positive and not get frustrated with everyone!

Since we'd be taking the car instead of flying, our choices would need to be within 5 hours of driving distance from Charlotte. Too many times we've started out our vacation by driving 12 to 13 hours straight which is NO fun at all.

After looking at the map, we decided to visit Williamsburg, VA. I was a little hesitant at first because I've never been a fan of American history (I know, shame on me) but after checking out the visitor's bureau I'm thinking this will be a great place for us to go. There's lots of historical sights, Busch Gardens Amusement Park, and beautiful beaches nearby.

I put a comment of Facebook asking for suggestions about places to stay and got tons of ideas from friends and family. They really made the research a lot easier and less time consuming

We haven't finalized a place to stay but we're leaning towards a cute condo right outside of town which has a huge pool and lots of amenities.

More than anything, I'm really looking forward to just being with our family, experiencing new places together, and creating great memories that we'll treasure for a lifetime.

Now that I think about it, planning this vacation wasn't difficult at all.

Are you taking a Summer vacation this year? If so, where are you going? Do you have a favorite vacation sight that your family goes to a lot? What has been your favorite vacation so far?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cooking, Event Planning, and Bible Study

I have two exciting things I'd like to share with you today.

First, one of my dear friends, Wendy Blight, is doing an online Summer bible study that I want to tell you about. If you're like me, your schedule for the next 8 weeks won't allow you to meet at a specific time each week your bible study girlfriends. Now that my boys are out of school I have realized that my schedule has to be much more flexible. How about you...can you relate?

That doesn't mean we have to stop studying God's Word all together. Doing an online study can give you the flexibility that you need and create a new way to meet a whole bunch of new friends. In fact, over 1800 women from all over the world have signed up for this study on Ephesians. That's amazing!!!

I'm personally doing Wendy's study as my summer selection. If you'd like to join me just click here for more details.

Secondly, I want to tell you about another good friend of mine, Leann Rice. Leann just launched a new website called "She Cooks". I've known Leann for years and boy, can this woman cook up a storm! Leann will be sharing ideas on event planning, party ideas/tips, and wonderful recipes each week and I don't want you to miss out. I've tried several of her recipes for my family and their delicious!

Click here to hop over to Leann's website. I just hopped over myself and Leann is featuring great recipes for different marinades. Umm, Umm, Umm

Before you go, please leave me a comment or prayer request. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Testify in the Big Apple

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Virginia, New Jersey, and New York City with Testify. The entire week I got to watch over 100 teenagers share the love of Christ through song, dance, and drama to people of all ages and stages of life.
I certainly experienced a lot of "first time events" while traveling with these incredible teens. Here are only a few...
1. It was my very first time to New York City and I absolutely LOVED it!

2. It was my first time traveling with Brody and not having Keith and Carson with us. I loved getting to experience the Big Apple with Brody. We both love the raw energy and excitement of a big city. Keith on the other hand...not so much.

3. It was my first time going on a mission trip with teenagers. I typically stick to small children or adults when it comes to ministry stuff. I was really apprehensive as to whether or not these teens would connect with me. I was so wrong in my thinking.
4. It was my first time sleeping in a Motel 8 and The Loft hotel. Very different and sometimes strange but it sure created lots of funny moments and memories for all of us.

Here is part of the group practicing before one of their performances. Here is Brody and his friends goofing off from practice was over.
Having fun inside the NBA Store.
Waiting for the Staten Island Ferry to arrive.
N.Y.C. skyline - one of my favorite photos :)
Here is a picture of Brody with some of his friends in Rockefeller Center. Right below the wall they're leaning up against is the ice skating rink that you see on t.v. all the time.
These were my precious "daughters" for the week of tour. I had a family group of seven fabulous girls who all called me mommy, accepts for Barbara. She's exchange student from Germany and called me "mum". This was a dream come true for me since I'm a mother of two boys. We were getting ready to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway (another first for me). I just love these girls!!! Left to right: Caroline, Barbara, Ally, Madison, Hailey, Lauren, Natalie.
Goofing off at Grand Central Station.
Some billboards in Time Square...just incredible!
Brody and mum on the Staten Island Ferry.
I've always wanted to go to NYC and will remember this trip for a lifetime. What made it so special was traveling with Testify. They are a vibrant joyful group of teenagers that are not ashamed of the Gospel and love Jesus with all of their hearts.
Wow! What an experience it was...I'm ready to do it all over again!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brain Food

Do you have a good memory? I sure don't. In fact, my sister and I often joke about how neither one of us have many memories of growing up together. My brothers on the other hand have incredible memories and can tell you what they wore to school the day their second grade photos were taken. Not fair at all.

Well, Today I'm going to tell you what types of food you can eat to help sharpen your memory, keep your brain healthy, and working at optimum proficiency.

Yesterday I talked about a t.v. show I watched over the weekend that just made me so darn smart. If you didn't get a chance to read Monday's post, be sure to check it out first so that this all makes sense to you.

O.k., here goes...

Did you know that your brain is about 80% water? Drinking more water throughout the day not only helps with loosing wait but it also helps you to think more clearly and remember things better. I don't the taste of plain water so I often times squeeze an orange (instead of lemon) in my glass to make it a little sweet. I also buy Vitamin Water when it's on sale. It has zero calories and is loaded with vitamins too. What a deal!

Now that we know what to drink lets talk about some of the foods that are good for keeping our brains healthy. Here's a list of brain foods that you should include in your daily and weekly diet. Not just for you but for your entire family too. We certainly want smart kids and husbands, right? All of these items can easily be found at your local grocery store so no excuses!

Brain foods
Avocados
Blueberries
Strawberries
Raspberries
Cherries
Broccoli
Low fat dairy
Eggs (DHA)
Oranges
Oats or Oatmeal
Peaches
Plums
Olives/Olive Oil
Yogurt (Dannon has a lite yogurt that tastes good and has a lot less sugar)
Walnuts
Almonds
Turkey
Chicken
Soy
Salmon
Tomatoes
Red Bell Peppers
Green Tea
Apples
Bananas
Spinach (Did you know that spinach consists of 50% protein?)

Check back tomorrow cause I'll be sharing about what types of herbs are good to cook with, what your body mass index should be, and more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brainology 101

Friday afternoon someone asked me, "So what are your plans for the weekend?" and my response was, "not a whole lot". Ha! That sure was an understatement.

Although I didn't have a lot of specific plans for the weekend, each day some how became gobbled up with everyday mom stuff... cooking meals, running errands, washing clothes, running more errands, cleaning the house, making beds, going to church, running more errands. Get the idea?

By the time Sunday night rolled around, I wanted nothing more than to:
1. Get my shower.
2. Plop into bed with a remote in one hand and a big bowl of rocky road ice cream in the other.
3. Find a romantic comedy that wouldn't require any brain power or sharp thinking skills.
4. Veg out for the rest of the evening.

I flipped through the channels and to my surprise there wasn't a single romantic comedy on t.v.. What on earth is wrong with this picture? I would think that surely the local t.v. station big shots would know that showing romantic comedies over the weekend is critical for some of their viewers and an absolute must for me.

I continued to flip from one station to another, almost giving up, when I came across the P.B.S. channel. Yes, they were having another one of their fundraiser marathons...(yawn). I had my finger prominently placed on the off button when something the broadcaster said grabbed my attention.

It was something like this: "Next up we have Dr. Daniel Amen who is going to tell us all about how we can better take care of our bodies and especially our brains". This certainly sounded nothing like a romantic comedy but it piqued my interest. Yes, I know, strange but true.

For the next two hours I was glued to the t.v.. Now hear me when I say I'm not an advocate for Dr. Amen and I'm unaware of his biblical views but I have to say that from what I could tell the guy is pretty smart. He explained, in layman's terms, how a person's brain works and what each of us can do to keep our brains working at optimum proficiency.

I wrote a whole bunch of stuff down and decided that I'd share it with you all this week. It's a lot of information so I'm going to break it down over several days.

I hope you'll check back tomorrow because I'll be sharing what types of food you can eat to help sharpen your thinking/memory and keep your brain fit.

I think you're going to be really surprised about what I found out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Too Many Choices

Life is filled with tons of choices.

Is it just me or do you agree? From the moment my alarm goes off each morning, I'm faced with a slew of choices that require a quick decision...

Should I fix my boys cereal or eggs for breakfast?

Do I want to pack healthy lunches or let them buy school lunches?

Should I go to the gym first thing this morning or wait until after I get some work done?

Do I need to put on make-up today or can I go without it?

You get the idea? Here's the problem though. By nature, I'm very indecisive. I think it's because I over analyse everything! Some times my choices are major and yes, I need to think through them very carefully. However, often times my choices are pretty basic and don't require major cross examination. I'll give you an example.

On Tuesday mornings, I teach a women's bible study and often times run some errands afterwards. Last Tuesday was no exception. I had about 3 hours to get everything done and make it back to the house before Carson got home from school. I had a long list and was determined to scratch off each line item before 3:00 pm.

With this mission in mind, I didn't take time to eat. Around 2:30 pm a nagging headache began to spread across my forehead. It dawned on me that I hadn't eaten a thing since 8:00 that morning. Fortunately, I was driving down a major highway with plenty of fast food places to choose from. You think it would have been a no-brainer. Not for me. As I passed Burger King, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Zaxby's, and Pizza Hut, I did a mental survey of their menus, thought about which places might have some healthy options, calculated calories in my head, wondered if I had enough cash and so on.

I slipped into my "paralysis by analysis" zone and before I knew it I was five miles down the road with nothing to eat and hunger pangs rattling around in my stomach. I became totally frustrated and started reading myself the riot act. "Honestly, Leah, how hard can it be to choose something to eat? This really isn't a tough choice. Just make a decision and get on with it!"

Instead of choosing, I got mad and went home - feeling stupid, incapable, and yes even defeated. I know it seems ridiculous now but looking back I allowed my indecisiveness to completely change my attitude and plans.

What about you? Can too many choices overwhelm you? Would you consider yourself an indecisive person? Do you find yourself often in the valley of "paralysis by analysis"? If not, would you consider yourself a very decisive or sometimes impulsive decision maker? Can you think of a time when making a quick decision backfired on you?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hello Summer

I can't believe it's June 1st already.

It seems like just last month our family was celebrating Christmas and ushering in the New Year. Where have the weeks and months gone? Time is just flying by so quickly and I'm having trouble catching my breath as each day slips away and a new one begins.

There is a buzz in our home right now. It's the wonderful sound of "school's almost out and Summer is finally here". I asked Carson yesterday what he's looking forward to the most about being out of school for the next 11 weeks and he quickly said with a shout "no school work!".

Personally, I'm looking forward to sleeping past 5:15 am every morning, not having to pack lunches, or help with school projects. Although I'm really looking forward to Summer, I"m feeling a little bit anxious too. Brody's last day of school is Friday and Carson will be finished next Thursday. I had so many projects on my list that I really wanted done by now such as...

1. Finish my personal and business taxes (yes, I filed an extension again this year).

2. Take an online creative writing course (I'd love to go back to school if I had the time).

3. Schedule a day with my girlfriends and go to the outlet malls (I've has this on my list for the last 3 years).

4. Do some Spring cleaning (ya know, clean out all the drawers and closets that have some how gotten filled with miscellaneous junk).

I can still do these things once the boys are out of school but I really wanted to have them done by now. Especially my taxes. Oh, those taxes! Just thinking about it stresses me out. This project requires more brain work and concentration that I think I can muster right now.

What about you? Do you still have any projects or items on your "to-do" list that you wanted to accomplish before Summer break. Are you feeling frustrated and anxious that you haven't gotten to them yet? Are you looking forward to your children being out of school and at home for the Summer?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Anxious E.O.G.

This morning our two boys woke up very anxious. They were both stressing out about E.O.G. (End of the grade testing) week which officially began today.

Over the past four weeks they have been preparing for the E.O.G. through online practice tests and in the classroom. They know the material and both are so darn smart but this morning you still they were anxious.

I overheard our youngest son, Carson, asking Brody if he was "a little nervous". Brody said yes and I could see Carson breath a sigh of relief just by hearing his older brother admit that he was feeling the same way too.

I prayed with each of them as they headed out the door and gave them one of my "you'll do great" chants as I waved good-bye.

It's been a long time since I've taken a school E.O.G. but I'm well aware of feeling anxious about other "testings". I often find myself faced with an assignment that I've been preparing for and know full well that I'm familiar with the material. But, I still fall into the trap of wrestling with the thing while experiencing a knot in my stomach, sweaty palms, and a clenched jaw.

Just as I reminded my boys this morning, I remind myself over and over again; "Don't be anxious about anything but pray about everything." This has become my motto in 2010. I have encountered so many situations over the past 12 months that would have given me plenty of opportunities to worry. Yet, all of these circumstances were completely out of my control. Worrying about them wouldn't have solve a single thing.

For a woman who's lived most of her life anxious and worried just about everything, I've learned that stressing out is a complete waste of time and can only make my situation worse. My biggest problem has always been a need to be in control of my circumstances and those around me.

My prayer is that Brody and Carson will learn while they're young to approach each testing that awaits them with confidence - knowing the solution is not to become anxious first but to pray first.

When a situation arises in your life do you tend to become anxious right away? Even if you've had time to prepare for a project or test, do you still find yourself in the trap of worrying about it? Is your first response to pray about the situation or take control?

If you have any great suggestions on what helps you not worry so much, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Frappe Love

I never thought I'd be saying this but...I love to go to McDonald's!

I know what you're thinking and I use to think the same thing. Spotting the golden arches use to bring a frown to my face and a sour feeling in my stomach but not anymore.

Did you hear about the new Mocha Frappe? Oh my goodness...it is incredible!

Last week I promised Carson we'd go to McDonald's after school so he could get one of their hot fudge sundaes. As we approached the drive-thru lane, I noticed a brand new sign that totally caught my eye. There it was. A picture of this creamy, dreamy, delicious mocha concoction with whipped cream and drizzled hot fudge on top.

My mouth began to water. My eyes began to sparkle. My heart began to pound.

With all the excitement I must have blacked out because the next thing I remember was that Carson and I were heading home with my window still rolled down. He was chowing down on his hot fudge sundae and I was slurping my mocha frappe with whipped cream on my nose.

Over the next three days, we faithfully made a trip to Mc D's for our afternoon delights. I never thought I could get so addicted to something so quickly! I can't stop drinking them. I've become a Mocha Frappe Maniac! Yesterday I gave up lunch just so I could drink one and not feel guilty about the caloric intake. I'm thinking that if this keeps up I won't be able to fit in my jeans by next week.

The only downside I've discovered is that these frappes aways give me a brain freeze because they're so incredibly cold and I drink them way too fast!

Next time you see the golden arches, head for the nearest drive-thru lane, and pick up your own Mocha Frappe. By the way, they also come in caramel for those of you who don't like chocolate (can't even imagine that). Be sure to let me know what you think. I bet you'll get hooked too.

I asked one of the McDonald's employees just yesterday if this was a promotional item or here to stay. I told her how sad it would make me if they stopped selling mocha frappes now that I'm addicted to them. She smiled and assured me not to worry.

I think these things may start a revolution!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Loving Houston

I've visited a lot of cities but one of my favorites is Houston, Texas.


Although I'm in Houston this week under real difficult circumstances, I'm still enjoying the energy that this city produces. I'm a city girl by nature so being in such a fun city makes my heart race with excitement.


When I was in college I had grand plans of moving to the great city of Houston with my best friend, Gail. My plans were interrupted when I met my husband, fell in love, and decided to stay put in Louisiana. I seldom got the chance to travel to Texas but now that my parents and sister live here, I find myself rubbing elbows with friendly Houstonians much more often then I ever dreamed possible.


Some of the things I love about Houston is....


1. K.S.B.J. Radio Station - I just love listening to music on K.S.B.J.. So much so that I listen online while I'm working from home in Charlotte, NC. They play a great mix of contemporary Christian music that compels me to tap the top of my steering wheel while driving up and down Hwy 1960. The great d.j.'s and fun commercials keep me entertained while sitting at all of those traffic lights.


2. Retail, Retail, Retail - I've never seen so many shopping options in all my life! I'm almost positive there is a mega-mall every 5 miles. It's a good thing that I don't live here because the cute boutiques and fancy stores would be way to much of a distraction and definitely not a good choice for my bank account.


3. Pappasito's Restaurant - For three years I've been hearing all about Pappasito's but never had a chance to eat there. Finally, this trip I made a point of setting aside one night to meet my sister and brother-in-law for dinner. It was so crowded and a bit noisy...well...really noisy, but the food was to die for. I got a dish called Green Chili Chicken which sounds sort of gross but it was delicious!

4. Blue Bell Ice Cream - No trip to Houston would be complete without a healthy heaping bowl full of Blue Bell Ice Cream. They have a creamery in Brenham which is also on my "to do while in Texas" list. You can see how the ice cream is made and get lots of samples too :) This week I had Chocolate Moo-llenium Crunch. Whoever created this flavor must have known what my love language is. Here are the ingredients:

Rich chocolate ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds, walnut pieces, and peanuts.

Yummy!!! Are you hungry now?

The thing I love most about Houston is the people. They are so warm, friendly, and inviting. I've met several Houstonians this week and every single one of them have greeted me with southern hospitality at it's finest.

Do you have a city that you love to visit? If so, what do you like about it? Maybe your favorite place to visit is back home where you grew up or where you lived for a while. Maybe your favorite city is where you're living right now. I'd love to know...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed

A good friend of mine told me that she wants to have the following statement engraved on her tombstone when she dies:

"Here lies ______. She is no longer overwhelmed"

We both laughed about it, but now that I've had time to mull that statement over in my mind a while, I'm realizing just how much truth lies within it.

Lately, I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed. One indication of that is my lack of blog posts. You can always tell when my life is throwing a bunch of curve balls. Days or even weeks will go by and you don't see anything new on my blog.

Besides traveling a lot with work, I've also been taking care of my parents who are both extremely ill right now. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease over 20 years ago but the last 5 years have been absolutely brutal. She now has Dementia as a constant companion and lives in a skilled nursing facility because our family can no longer properly take care of her at home.

My dad has always done an outstanding job taking care of my mom. They have been married for fifty seven years. With each anniversary, their love for one another keeps growing stronger. The decision to put her into a skilled facility just about ripped my dad's heart out but he was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia over two years ago and all of those chemo treatments have completely depleted him also.

In January, his oncologist announced he was cancer free after receiving the results of his pet-scan. There was not much time to celebrate because he woke up the next morning with a very bad outbreak of shingles. They had appeared all over his face, forehead, and even in his eyes.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. On top of the shingles, he got bronchitis, a stomach virus and the flu. Within 2 months, he lost 25 lbs. His blood pressure started to go crazy and every time he would stand up, he'd become dizzy, often pass out and fall. We also noticed he was very disoriented and was having trouble formulating sentences at times.

Last month he ended up in the hospital and after running a slew of tests they determined that he was having mild strokes which are called t.i.a.'s. The doctor said that often times these t.i.a. strokes are warning signs that a larger stroke is about to happen.

Sure enough, last Tuesday my dad had a stroke and this time it was major. He couldn't speak, couldn't walk, and the left side of his body (from his face to his foot) was drooping. Back he went to the hospital and has been there ever since.

Because of work, I wasn't able to see my dad until yesterday. He looked so thin and frail that it almost took my breath away. Aside from my dad's physical illness he is also slowly grieving the near and inevitible loss of my mom. I forgot to mentioned that the weekend before my dad's stroke, my mom developed pneumonia which is often times the final stage of Parkinson's patients.

I can't begin to put into words how hard it has been having both parents so sick at the same time. Life can be challenging enough but now I find myself living in a season of sandwich parenting. I'm having to take care of my children and take care of my parents all at the same time.

When I've shared my current situation with others they always say "How on earth are you able to handle all this at one time?". Honestly, I can't, I won't, and am well aware that I'm not able to on my own. The only way I'm finding the strength to deal with all of this is through my faith in Jesus and prayer.

I know that God has a good plan for my parents. Plans to prosper them and not to harm them. Plans to give them a hope and a future. I know that although their circumstances look grim that God is completely in control of the situation. I know that He sees all things, knows all things, and is with them when I can't be. I also know that He promises to work all things according to their good and ultimately for His purposes and glory.

This is how I find rest in the midst of feeling so overwhelmed. This is what gives me the strength to move forward with hope and not fall into a pit of self pity or shake my fists at God and become angry. This is how I receive encouragement when the future looks so grim.

Do you feel completely overwhelmed right now? Are your current circumstances more than what you can handle? Does life seem completely out of control? Are you wondering why God would allow certain situations to take place in your life?

How do you find strength in the midst of your personal struggles. Where do you go to find peace and encouragement? What do you do when you're completely overwhelmed with life's circumstances? I'd love to know.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photos of FRC Regional Competition

Here are some photos from the FRC Competition last weekend.

This is the challenge area. It's a giant soccer field where the robots compete.










This is part of the viewing stands. There were 44 teams represented with lots of fans!!!













Here is Team S.P.O.R.K.


Here is Brody with the trophy for "Best Website Design" Award. He designed the team website along with 2 other teammates.

The Robot

Going home...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

F.R.C. Regional Competition

Our family celebrated Spring Break last weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina by cheering on Brody in his first ever F.R.C. Regional Competition. Brody attends Pine Lake Preparatory and their team received two awards and will compete in the World Championship Competition in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14-16, 2010.

Brody's main contribution to the team was working with two other team members to design their own web site. It certainly paid off! Below is the area publication that was posted this week about the F.R.C. Regional event. Later on this week I'll post some pictures and video of the event. It was incredible!!!!

Congratulations Team SPORK

Robotics Win Rookie All-Star & Best Website Awards

Ingersoll Rand & Pine Lake Preparatory’s Award Winning Team Proceeds to Robotics World Championship

April 3, 2010

Pine Lake Preparatory’s Upper School robotics team, named Team SPORK and sponsored by Ingersoll Rand of Davidson, NC, won the Rookie All Star and the Best Website Awards at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) NC Regional Tournament April 2-3, 2010 in the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. The Rookie All Star is the highest honor available for a rookie team and earns the honor of competing at the World Championship in the Atlanta Georgia Dome on April 15-17. Over 1800 teams from 12 countries began this season; only 297 teams will compete in the Championship games.

Forty-four teams from across the nation and Brazil competed at the NC Regional. Only six of these teams earned a merit based qualification for the World Championship. Team SPORK was the only one from North Carolina to do so.

Students are given six weeks to design, build, and test an autonomous and remotely controlled robot using standardized and fabricated components. This year’s mission is for the robots to control and kick soccer balls into goals on a 27’ x 54’ field with bumps, ending the game with the 160 pound robots suspending themselves from 7’ towers.

Team SPORK students and mentors have enthusiastically dedicated over 200 hours after school and on weekends during this intensive season, which began on January 9 with the NC Kick-off at Penske Racing. Team SPORK is also dedicated to mentoring other students in robotics, math, and science. More information can be found at www.teamspork.com.

The team is coached by Audrey Cundari, who teaches calculus, physics, and robotics at Pine Lake Preparatory. The web team is mentored by JD Mills of Utilipath.

Ingersoll Rand has been a major corporate partner for Pine Lake Preparatory’s FRC robotics team this year, offering the use of a manufacturing building, fabrication tools, and over sixteen employees, who have joined other community engineers in mentoring the 23 students of Team SPORK. Other major sponsors of Team SPORK are NASA, Newell Rubbermaid, and Lowe’s Home Improvement, which have donated funding, equipment, and tools.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international challenge for high school students. Its mission is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Ingersoll Rand is a global diversified industrial firm providing products, services and solutions to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings, transport and protect food and perishables, secure homes and commercial properties, and enhance industrial productivity and efficiency. Driven by a 100-year-old tradition of technological innovation, we enable companies and their customers to create progress. For more information, visit www.ingersollrand.com.

Congratulations to all and gratitude to John Moloney for creating the collaborative PLP/Corporate partnerships!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Come On Summer!

It's right about that time again. The t.v. channels are filled commercials chanting those "Summer is almost here" jingles. The stores are loaded down with beach towels, swimsuits, suntan lotion and new garden supplies. It's not even April 1st but every one's gearing up for Summer... especially my boys. Unfortunately, they have two and a half more months of school and they're not very happy about it.

This week Brody (our oldest son) is off for Summer break but Carson's (our younger son) Summer break doesn't start until until next week. I know, it sort of stinks, but unfortunately our boys go to two different schools which means different schedules and different vacation days. We'll have to give up the idea of a Spring vacation for the second year in a row but honestly, what my boys enjoy most about Spring break is staying up late, not having a set schedule, sleeping in, and not having homework. Basically, not going to school for a whole week!

This morning Carson woke up so grouchy. He knew that Brody was soundly sleeping in his room next door and the idea that Carson had to go to school was more than he could bear. He grumbled through breakfast, fussed his way up the stairs when I told him to go get dressed (for the third time) and whined his way out the door to the bus stop.

At first, I was trying so hard to be compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding but by the time he left the house I was completely spent and wanted to hit somebody!

Carson wanted what his brother had. He desperately longed to stay home from school like everyone else. He was totally frustrated and wasn't shy in letting me know about it. Carson was feeling left out and unhappy with his circumstances. Carson's heart was aching and he wanted someone to fix it. Bottom line...Carson wanted someone to give him permission to stay home too. Well, that surely was going to happen, not today that is.

When he walked out the front door I said "I love you Carson" but there was dead silence until I heard to door slam shut. My heart sank as I watched him walk to the bus stop with his head hung low and his backpack dragging behind him in the wet grass. I watched from the window to see if maybe he would talk with the other children while they waited for the bus but he didn't. He just stood there, motionless, quiet, and very unhappy.

As I sat quietly, looking out the window with my warm cup of coffee in hand, I began to pray for Carson. As I did, God whispered in my heart "sometimes you act like that too". It wasn't in a condemning tone but sort of like "I'm just bring this to your attention" tone. I had to agree with Him too.

Sometimes I do long for what someone else has. I can become totally frustrated and not shy about letting everyone else know how about it. I can feel left out and unhappy with my current circumstance. My heart aches and I desperately want someone to fix it. I want someone to give me what I long for but that doesn't always happen.

Yes, sometimes I do act the same way that Carson acted this morning and ya know what? It doesn't look pretty, impressive, or cute.

I'm so thankful that my heavenly Father does a better job at parenting than I do. He's always patient when I throw my little temper tantrums. He never stops encouraging me with words of affirmation and love. He is always compassionate and understands what I'm going through. He may not always give me exactly what I ask Him for but His decisions are always based on what is best for me.

What about you? Now lets be honest, o.k.?

Do you ever want what someone else has?

Do you sometimes feel left our or imagine that everyone else has it so much better than you do?

Are you unhappy with your circumstances and want to take a "Summer Break" from life for a while?

Do you become frustrated at times and wear your emotions on your sleeve so that everyone can see them?

Do you have days where your heart aches and you long for someone to fix it?

If so, I'd encourage you to take your concerns to Jesus and let him help you process them one at a time. He can handle it and wants to encourage you today. Jesus longs to spend time with you and show you how much He loves you.

He will never become impatient and tired of listening to you. He will never be too busy or interrupt you because He has something more important to take care of. He probably won't give you everything you ask of Him but His decisions are always based on what's best for you.

Jesus is that someone who we can take our aching hearts and mend them. He is full of compassion, understanding and gives us the mercy we need. He grants us His grace, love, perspective and peace in the midst of our trials. All we have to do is ask Him.

Jesus longs to be that someone you so desperately are looking for. Will you ask Him for help today? He is patiently waiting...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When Really Good Friends Hurt You (Part 2)

Yesterday I was sharing with you about a past hurt that had resurfaced earlier this week. Once again, I found myself taking my broken heart back to God and asking Him to mend it for me.

O.k. Lord, what am I suppose to do with this now?

I thought this situation was all behind me.

Will I feel this pit in my stomach every time I hear that person's name mentioned?

I don't want to hold a grudge - it makes me weary.

I don't want to be angry - it's too stressful.

What should I do?

As I sat very still and tried to quiet my thoughts, almost straining to hear God speak to me (not in an audible voice but a sensing in my heart or a thought that is placed into my mind which lines up with His Word or His character), I was reminded of Peter's conversation with God in Matthew 18. It says...

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me, seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times".

I had read this passage so many times before but today I gleaned something new from it. I realized that maybe when God said "seventy-seven times" he was referring to those moments when the original hurt would resurface in your mind... days later, weeks later, months later, years later. Each time that wounded memory would show up again, my part would be to forgive that person all over again.

So that's exactly what I did! As I quietly forgave the person who had hurt me, such a peace came over me that I couldn't help but smile. If God was willing to extend grace to me each day for all the things I had done which hurt Him deeply, who am I to hold a grudge against anyone else?

Monday, March 22, 2010

When Really Good Friends Hurt You. (Part 1)

Have you ever been hurt by a really close friend?

Not a little hurt but really hurt?

Have you ever found yourself asking these types of questions...

Why would she say something like that to me?

How could they have done that. I thought we were friends?

He knew that I was struggling. Why didn't he help me?

This morning I'm licking some emotional wounds and asking those exact same questions.

About two months ago, a situation presented itself, things were said, and feelings were hurt. And, yes, those feelings belonged to me.

At first, I decided to go and talk with my husband, Keith. We are polar opposites in many ways, which can sometimes be good, because he helps me see things from a different perspective. Besides, the situation effected Keith also and talking through it helped us process the hurt we were both experiencing. Later on that day Keith seemed to be fine but I was still struggling...really struggling. So then I went to God.

I laid it all before Him. The good - the bad - the ugly. I told him my thoughts (even though He knew them already), shared how hurt I was by the things that were said, and actions that took place. I let Him know I was still struggling A LOT and asked Him to please take away the hurt. I felt as if I had a big open gash in my heart that was bleeding profusely and slowly becoming infected.

I wanted His peace to invade my heart and mind.

I wanted some closure to the situation so I could forget and move on.

I wanted to forgive but I just couldn't yet.

My struggle continued for a few weeks and every time the situation would come to my mind, I'd just hand it back over to God. He was so faithful to remind me each day of the mercy and grace He extends to me. Eventually I was no longer angry and hurt. Finally, closure had come. Or, so I thought.

I'll share the rest of my story tomorrow but I'm wondering if you've had a similar situation.

Maybe you're in the middle of something right now where a close friend has really hurt you without even knowing it. Or, maybe they said something, knowing it would hurt you, but said it anyway.

Maybe you thought a past wound was completely healed and that you had closure on the situation. All was fine and dandy, then when you least expected it, something happened, you're reminded of the encounter, and the pain comes rushing back like a flood.

There you are, left with a reopened gash in your heart. Your feeling hurt all over again, rejected, angry. Where did the peace go? What about the closure you once had?

If your feeling this way right now, can I pray for you today? I don't need to know the details if you'd prefer not to share them. After all, God knows the specifics and that's what really matters.

I want to experience peace and forgiveness in my situation but I also want you to experience it too. Let's agree to pray together over our hurts and burdens. Let's hand them over to God so that He can heal your broken hearts and restore peace to our days. All we have to do is ask Him and I know He will be faithful.

Hugs & prayers,
Leah

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Taxi Cab Mom

Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like a volunteer taxi cab driver who pulled a double shift?

That was exactly how I felt yesterday.

Although I'd consider myself real organized and a well planner, I ended up with way too many appointments on my "to-do" list that were with of high priority and required a lot of miles on my Toyota Sequoia.

My day started real early as I headed out the door for a weekly women's bible study that I teach at my church. I returned home around noon only with enough time to throw some ground beef, hot Italian sausage and Prego in a crock pot so my family would have something to fill there bellies with when dinner time rolled around.

Carson had a dentist's appointment for 1:20pm so I had to dash over to his school, check him out early, and head across town so we wouldn't be late. Carson's tooth had been bothering him and he was scared to death that he'd have his very first cavity. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no fond memories of getting cavities filled when I was a little girl so the "C" word was off limits to both of us.

After the appointment, I met Keith half way home so he could pick up Carson just in enough time for me to swing by Brody's school and pick him up. Brody had a dermatologist's appointment in downtown Charlotte at 3:30 pm. It was raining outside and I knew the traffic would probably be bad...and it was.

The week before I had noticed a couple of moles on Brody's back that popped up from out of no where. One of them looked very suspicious so I thought it would be best to have it checked. I'm so glad I did because the doctor agreed and they did a biopsy right on the spot. We won't get the result for another 10 days but I'm so thankful that I took him right away and didn't procrastinate as I'm known to do at times.

We were late for the appointment and had to wait longer than normal to see the doctor so by the time we headed back home it was 5:15 pm...rush hour...in downtown Charlotte...while it was raining...you get the picture?

Surprisingly, I made it home by 6:25 pm only for Carson to tell me that his end of the season basketball pizza party started at 6:30 pm and we were going to be late! Oh ya, I forgot to write that down on my calendar. Thank goodness I had the mind to use the crock pot today.

Off we went (once again) in the wild blue yonder to Brooklyn Brother's. My phone was ringing as we pulled up to our final destination and it was my sister. We had been talking on and off throughout the day about my dad. He has been sick for a while now and we were both very concerned.

As I stood outside in the cold rain, looking at all the people inside eating pizza, laughing, and appearing to be having a great time, I talked with my sister about the possibility of admitting my dad into the hospital (more about that in another post). This day really wasn't going the way I had imagined and I couldn't help but think about what tomorrow would bring. Would I have to jump on a plane and head to Houston to be with my dad? I was starting to feel really overwhelmed.

Carson and me returned home around 8:30 pm. As I cleaned up the dinner dishes and barked orders to my kids about finishing up their homework and getting in bed, I realized how completely frustrated I was about my day.

I thought about all the mail that was stacked up on my desk which never got opened, all the bills that never got paid, all the emails that were never responded to, and all the calls that I was suppose to return and didn't. The thought ran across my mind "You didn't get a single thing done today".

I walked over to my favorite chair, plopped myself down and began to silently pout to Jesus. I was rehearsing the verses of that well known "wow is me" song which is on my top ten list and asked Him to please give me a new perspective on the day....and He did.

He reminded me that although I didn't get anything done at my office, I did choose to take care of the important things that matter. He reminded me that family comes first and that I had made the right choices. He also showed me that in the midst of all those errands and running around town like a crazy women, several amazing things happened and special moments had be sprinkled throughout my day that I didn't even notice:

The women in my weekly bible study had really been encouraged by the class that morning. They had a great time visiting with one another and several of them had some great ah-ha moments while we studying God's Word together.

I was able to hug on and comfort Carson in the waiting room of our dentist's office while he whispered to me, "Mom, I'm really scared" and then witness the huge smile on his face a few minutes later when the dentist said "Great job Carson, no cavities!"

Keith and I got to squeeze in a mini-date at Dairy Queen when we rendezvoused half way from home so he could take Carson the rest of the way for me. We also celebrated Carson's no cavity announcement over a chocolate extreme blizzard, chocolate dipped ice cream cone, and hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream.

Brody and I sang silly songs on the way back from the dermatologist's appointment to pass the time and keep our attitudes positive in all that traffic.

I got to hear from one of the mom's at Brooklyn Brothers pizza joint how God is using her to serve in the youth ministry at a local church.

Yesterday certainly felt like a volunteering-taxi cab driving-double shift day but oh the blessings that our family experienced because of it were amazing! I'm so thankful that God changed my perspective and helped me see the day through His eyes instead of just my own. What a huge difference it made!

When you're having one of those volunteering-taxi cab driving-double shift-I'm getting nothing accomplished days, I'd encourage you to take a moment, pause, ask God to change your perspective, and show you the many blessings He's sprinkled throughout your day. I'm quite confident that He will.