Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Cards of Prayer

Today, I'm guest posting for my dear friend, Glynnis Whitwer who is celebrating A Sweet and Simple Christmas on her blog.  Glynnis has been sharing with her readers different ideas on how to make this time of the year very special and memorable without it becoming overwhelming for you and your family.  

If you're stopping by from Glynnis' blog today, welcome! I'm so glad to meet you and would love to introduce you to my family.

 As you can see, I live in a house full of males, so Christmas can sometimes be extra tricky for me. My guys are not into baking cookies, long leisurely trips to the mall, or sipping lattes while getting Christmas pedicures. But, they love celebrating Christmas and always want to keep this mamma happy.  After all, when mamma's not happy - nobody's happy. Or, so is the saying in our house.

We do enjoy going to Christmas concerts and celebrating the holidays with friends. A nighttime ride through neighborhoods while looking at Christmas lights and a quick shopping trip for presents works too.  There is always Christmas music and candles lit at our home during this time of year. The sweet aroma of cinnamon, french vanillla, and spruce pine greet our guests each time we open the front door.

Something extra special that we love as a family is getting Christmas cards in the mail. I've shared the reason why how we make this a very special time for our family on Glynnis' blog. So, hop on over to her sight and find out more.
 While you're there, be sure to sign up for my giveaway or leave a comment here. Since 2013 is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to give away a Proverbs 31 Devotional book called God's Purpose for Every Woman. It's one of my favorite devotional books of all time!
  I'm getting ready to launch my new website so if you'd like to receive my updates, be sure to sign up under the subscribe section above my picture at the top of this page.

Merry Christmas from our family to your! May you experience God's love, grace, provision, and presence this holiday season and draw closer as a family as you seek to serve Him.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Missing Someone This Christmas?

Is there someone special in your life that won't be with you this Christmas season? Maybe a spouse that's in the military...miles away from home. Or, a relative that lives half way across the country and can't come for a visit this year?

How about a loved one who's passed away? Someone that you long to hug and say "I love you". But, only memories are left to hold. Those kind of memories that bring tears to your eyes and a knot in your throat, every time you think them.

Last year my mother passed away right before the holiday season. It was so incredibly difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas without her.

Something was missing.

She was missing.

It just wasn't the same.

This year is no different. Although time has passed, my heart still hurts, when I think of my amazing mom. She always made the holidays so special for our entire family. I can picture her warm smile and happy eyes. And, if I'm really still and quiet for a moment, I can even remember the gentle tone in her voice. She loved singing Christmas carols.

Who are you missing this Christmas season?

Can you picture that person's warm smile and happy eyes? If you're quiet enough, can you remember the gentle tone in his or her voice?

How can we still find it in our hearts to celebrate the season, even when that special someone isn't going to be with us? 

I'm choosing to remember the special moments from past years. To hold onto what was priceless before and embrace what is still  precious now. Those memories that occupy my mother's presence.

The fragrance of her perfume.

The softness of her skin.

The gentleness of her tender love towards her children and grandchildren.

I will celebrate the season and honor her in the midst of  it. I will not forget or try to busy my way past the memories. I will pause. I will reflect. I will cherish.

And, I will know in my heart, that one day. Yes, one very special day. I will see my mother again.

Glory be!

Question: Who are you missing this Christmas Season and why is this person so special to you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life Lessons-We Are Created For Community

I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I've been feeling a little homesick lately and no matter how many times our family moves, Louisiana will always be "home" in my heart. It's where most of my siblings and relatives live, along with my amazing dad who just turned 84 this month. 

Oh, how I love to cross the border line that launches our family into the great Pelican State. You can almost smell the fried shrimp and Cajun gumbo. Or, taste the powdered sugar that settles on your tongue while you're savoring each bit of those delicious Cafe' Du Monde Beignets. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

I think there's another reason why I'm homesick though. It's because the weather is getting colder here in North Carolina and becoming more Winter-ish each day. People are staying indoors and fewer neighbors are outside walking their dogs. Friends have less time to visit because everyone is running from store to store, checking off their Christmas list and stocking up on red ribbon and ornaments.

If I'm not careful, I can easily slip into a lonely spell that will have me living in sweatpants and eating comfort food for the next 3 months. That would not be good for my attitude or my waistline! You see, I'm quite the social gal and love spending time with family and friends.The more the merrier is my favorite mantra when it comes to mingling with others.

During this time of the year, I have to be more intentional about creating opportunities for community. You know, getting together with friends and making plans to do something fun every once in a while.

What about you? Do you tend to get a little lonely at times and feel as though you're homesick for family and friends? Maybe you spend your days at home alone, while the kids are at school. Or, your work requires you to travel a lot and the smell of airports and hotel rooms brings tears to your eyes because you'd rather be home instead.

This week's Life Lesson is about Community and how we are especially designed for it. I hope you'll take a few minutes out of your busy day to watch this short video I've created just for you. I'd love for you to leave a comment and share some of your ideas too!
At Proverbs 31 Ministries, we have several online communities, online Bible Studies, and Gather & Grow Groups to choose from. It's a great way for you to develop friendships, while studying the Bible, with women in your own community, throughout the US, or even in other countries. Wouldn't it be oh-so-cool to have a Bible study buddie in England or France?

Here's the best part - it can be done from the convenience of your own home. This can be such an added plus, especially for those of you who are soon-to-be digging snow out of your driveway just to make a McDonalds run for some fries and a burger.

Click here to find out more about our P31 groups today.

Question: What are some ways that you have created community in your own circle of influence?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all

Today would not be complete without saying thanks to all of our friends and family. We have so much to be grateful for and YOU are a big part of our thankful hearts!

Although this year has certainly had it's share of crazy ups and downs, we've not only survived but thrived as a family because of the support, encouragement, and love of others.  

Our prayer today is that your family will be blessed in many ways and experience the true hope, love, and peace that comes from God. May He fill your homes with unspeakable joy this Thanksgiving Day. 

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

The DiPascal Family

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life Lessons-How To Create A Consistent Quiet Time

Do you struggle with having a consistent quiet time? Is your day filled with so many activities and demands that you don't even have time to pray?  Maybe you've been wanting to set aside time but you just don't know how to get started and stay committed on a consistent basis.

If that's you, then I'm so glad you stopped by today!

Below is a video I created with you in mind. It's a how-to session on developing a consistent quiet time.

If you are like me, you probably feel a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to get done each day. And, you might be wondering, how on earth can I find time to spend with God when there's just so much to do!

So, grab a cup of coffee or green tea and spend a few minutes with me (hey, that rhymes :-)
To recap, here are our action steps:
1. Choose a specific time each day.
2. Find a quiet place to be alone.
3. Avoid distractions.
4. Quiet Time Supply List: Bible, devotional book. pen, and notepad.
5. Start and end with prayer.
6. Reading Options: Proverbs or Psalms (Old Testament)  John or The Gospels (New Testament)
7. Apply something that you learned to experience life transformation.

Maybe you have some techniques of your own. I'd love for you to share them with me.  Or, maybe you can share what you're biggest struggle is with having a consistent quiet time.

I can't wait to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In God We Trust

Election day...

For months we've been hearing about it, talking about it, praying about it, and preparing for it. What once seemed like a distant date on the 2012 calendar, is now upon us.  

Honestly, at times, I've felt like little Abby, wanting desperately for all the political commercials, news interviews, and election poll commentaries to be over with. I even thought about flushing my cell phone down the toilet last week when I received yet another one of those recorded advertisements. Are you receiving those too?

Yet, today there seems to be a sense of excitement and energy in the air. People are taking off early from work and heading to the polls. They appear eager and ready to cast their ballot to make a difference. I voted last week and waited in line for over an hour. I've heard reports of people waiting as long as three hours to cast their votes! 

When all the votes are tallied and the electoral numbers are counted, we'll witness history in the making. Tomorrow will be a happy day for some and a not-so-happy day for others. I'm not sure who will be our President for the next four years but I'm certain of this. No matter what happens, God is in control. He is sovereign and loves justice. He is faithful and will always take care of His children. No matter what, He remains in charge and nothing or no one can change that.  

Knowing this gives me hope and encourages me today.

If you wake up tomorrow morning and your candidate didn't win, I pray that you will also be encouraged by knowing this truth. The One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present will rule and reign today and forever more.

Now that's good news!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Life Lessons - Changing the Way We Think

Did you know that if you change the way you think, it will change the way you feel, which will then change the way you act, and ultimately the way you choose to live? This is great news, if we already have a healthy positive thought life. If we tend to think negatively, well then, we've got some work to do.

This week's video is by Dr. Caroline Leaf. She has a Masters and PhD in Communications Pathology. Dr. Leaf has researched the human brain for over 20 years and teaches with a particular emphasis on unlocking its vast, untapped potential. She is brilliant, beautiful, and a very strong Christian. Dr. Leaf's teachings are backed up by Scripture, which is what I love most about her professional ministry.  

This video was filmed during an interview with Dr. Leaf and Joyce Meyers on the Enjoying Everyday Life program. Although it includes a few technical "brain-y" medical terms, the information is fascinating and essential for creating a healthy thought life.

Here are some amazing facts that Dr. Leaf talks about in this video. Did you know...

* You have over 100 trillion nerve cells in your brain.
* When you have a negative thought, you actually grow a "thorn" on one of your nerve cells.
* Because you are created in the image of God, your brain is naturally wired to think positively.
* Your brain performs over 400 billion acts per second.
* Your intelligence has no cap! You determine how smart you can become by choosing to continue learning  new things.

Wow! Don't you feel smarter already? Click on the link below and if you can, grab a pen and paper to take some notes.

Video - Dr. Caroline Leaf
 2010-07-14, Joyce Meyer - Your Brain and You (Dr. Caroline Leaf & Joyce Meyer).© Copyright 2010 Dr. Leaf. All rights reserved.

Wasn't that a great video? Now, to remember what we learned, lets take some action steps:

1. Be sure to ask/answer/discuss this information within the next 48 hours.Otherwise, it will get stored in the la-la-land of our brains. Note: I have lots of "stuff" stored in the la-la land of my brain.

2. Let's memorize this Scripture verse:
 Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (GW)

3. Pass this video along to a friend, sister, mother, daughter, or anyone who you think might benefit from it, so they can start renewing their mind too.

Let's do something fun! I'm giving away a copy of "Who Switched off My Brain" and would love for you to win. I read this book last year and by applying what I've learned plus memorizing Scripture, it has drastically changed the way I think. I want you to experience that same change too - and you can!

To qualify for the giveaway, leave a comment below, sharing something that you're struggling with in your thought life right now. Or, share something that you've been able to overcome, because you chose to change your thought patterns and to renew your mind with God's Word.      

Who Switched Off My Brain?  Revised: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotionshttp:/www.drleaf.com

One last thing: If you need some encouragement, be sure to log onto Proverbs 31 Ministries and read today's daily devotional by Lysa TerKeurst. It's our gift to you, from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Winner of Last Week's Giveaway

Hi Friends,

WOW! I was blown away by the huge response from last week's post on Procrastination

Thanks to everyone who shared so openly and honestly about the problems you've been facing. I have been praying for each of you - asking God to give you a supernatural boost of determination, when you get stuck in that rut of putting off.

He wants you to propel forward toward your life goals and so do I. I know it's not easy, but it is possible!

Now, for the fun part. Drum roll please....

The winner of last week's giveaway is: Alyssa. Here is what you've won....


Alyssa, email me at Leah@Proverbs31.org to claim your gift today!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life Lessons - Why Do I Procrastinate?

UPDATE: The winner for this giveway is: Alyssa.    Click HERE for details

Do you find yourself procrastinating a lot lately? Is there something on your to-do list that keeps getting pushed aside? Have the words, "Oh, I'll do that tomorrow", slipped out of your mouth more than once this week?

If so, maybe you have a problem with procrastination. Or, if you're like me, you might even say you're an expert at procrastinating!

A recent study from the University of Calgary shows that 95% of the total population (yes, men and women) struggle with "postponement" issues. Simply put...we are a ProcrastiNATION! So, the good news is you're not alone.

Now, don't get discouraged. Instead, check out the video below where I'll answer three basic questions:

Why do we procrastinate?
What happens when we procrastinate?
What does the Bible say about procrastination?

Then, I'll give you some helpful tips on how to stop putting off and starts propelling forward!

Video Session One: 

Video Session Two: 
Now for our action steps:

1. Pick one thing that you've been procrastinating about and start doing it TODAY! When you're finished, be sure to celebrate by rewarding yourself. 

2. Share this video with a friend or family member who also struggles with procrastination. Maybe they'll become your accountability partner this week.

4. Leave a comment sharing one major thing you are currently procrastinating over and tell me why you're having trouble getting it done.

5. Sign up to win a FREE copy of the book, "I Used to Be So Organized", by Glynnis Whitwher. I'll pick a winner over the weekend and post it to my blog on Monday. So, be sure to set a reminder and come back on Monday to see if you won!

If you missed my video from last week on Discouragement, click HERE to watch it now. And, for more encouragement, check out today's daily devotional at www.proverbs31.org

I can't wait to hear from you!            

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life Lessons - Discouragement

UPDATE: Kristen Barkdull is the winner of last week's giveaway. Kristen, please send your mailing address to Leah@Proverbs31.org so that I can send you the signed copy of A Confident Heart.  

Are you feeling discouraged today? Maybe someone or a certain situation has failed to meet your expectations. Maybe life just isn't turning out the way you had planned.

I understand and that's why I'm launching my new video series with a short clip about Discouragement. We all experience it and when life throws us a heavy punch, we can be left feeling heavy-hearted, lonely and completely frustrated. Can you relate? 

I hope you enjoy the video and that it encourages you today! Be sure to leave a comment so that you're eligible for my giveaway. I have a SIGNED copy of Renee Swope's book, A Confident Heart that someone is going to win. Maybe that someone will be YOU!!

Well, it looks like the video cut off the last few seconds of my comments but no worries, you didn't miss anything real important.

Now for our action steps:

1. Log onto www.proverbs31.org and read today's Encouragement for Today devotional.

2. Encourage someone else today! When we pour words of encouragement into others, it will also encourage us.

3. Sign up for today's giveaway by leaving a comment below. I'd love to know what you thoughts about the video. And, I'd love for you to share one thing that you do when discouragement comes your way.

Today's giveaway: a signed copy of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, I'll announce the winner on Monday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Join Me Tomorrow for Life Lessons

I'm so excited about the new video series I'll be launching tomorrow called, "Life Lessons with Leah".

Through this new series I'm hoping to offer some practical tips and Biblical insight on topics that we, as women, deal with on an on-going basis. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about Discouragement

Do you get discouraged sometimes? I sure do! And, it can zap the life right out of me!

But, I'm learning from my mistakes and want to share some tow-to's with you, so that you can turn things around quicker and enjoy the wonderful life sooner, that God has designed just for you.

Join me tomorrow and let's talk about how we can face discouragement head-on and turn it around for our good, so that we can start encouraging one another.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life Lessons - Join Me in this Video Series

I'm starting a new video series this week and would love for you to join me!I'm calling it Life Lessons with Leah - sort of catchy, huh? Each week I'll be posting a short video that will cover a specific topic that women can identify with. Similar to these topics...

* Why Do We Procrastinate?
*  How to Maximize Our Time
*  Dealing with Fear and Anxiety
*  Being Consistent
*  Making Wise Choices
*  Letting Go of Guilt
and so much more...

Take a sneak peak and watch this video:

I"m hoping that through this video series, we can create an online community of women, that will encourage one another while sharing about "hot topics" that effect us all.

We are busy women with busy schedules but I'm certain that many of our struggles are very similar. Life can be so challenging but with the help of friends (yes, even online friends), we can make a difference in each others lives. 

 Will you join me? I hope you do and don't forget to invite a friend, sister, mom, or daughter along for the adventure. See you next Wednesday!

I can't wait!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Computer Crash & Restore

Isn't it interesting how life can be going along so smoothly, then from out of nowhere...bang! Or, should I say C-R-A-S-H!!

I was sitting at my desk Monday morning with a cup of hazelnut coffee in my hand and a melody in my head. Listening to Pandora online and humming my favorite tunes. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. Oh yes... today was going to be glorious!

Then it happened....

My computer died.

No, not just a blip on my laptop screen....it DIED!

And, from that moment on, everything changed. Or, at least I felt it did.

The melody in my head and hum in my heart was replaced with a blood curdling screen, "Noooooooo!"

Nine hardware/software technicians - 6 re-installations of software - over 2 million kbs to restored - 5 backups - 48+ hours of sit-at-your-computer-until-your-blue-in-the-face. And, I'm still digging through the tech-no rubble.

What have I learned?  Oh, I'm so glad that you asked!!

1. Carbonite Tech Support is AMAZING!

2. Remember to feed your hubby/kids and wash clothes when you go through a computer crash & restore. Especially if it goes on for days. They will get hungry and cranky!

3. You can find all sorts of neat stuff when digging through boxes in your storage room! While I was frantically looking for software, I came across a box of clothes I had been looking for, for weeks ago.

4. Don't pray for patience! Otherwise, God will give you a "life exercise" experience that requires patience...lots of it!

Actually, you can pray for patience. Just be prepared...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Concussion Testing

This morning at breakfast, I told my youngest son, Carson, that I had a concussion test scheduled for him this afternoon.  He looked up from his strawberry smoothie with terror in his eyes and blurted out, "Why do I need a concussion test!".

When I realized I had startled him, I quickly explained that the travel football team he's on suggests that all team players have a concussion test taken before the season begins.

It's an initial benchmark test that is done in a video game style so kids actually enjoy taking it. Plus, it gauges accuracy and awareness of each player.

If a player is injured during the season and a concussion is suspected, the test is taken over and results are compared by the doctor. It's a great way of determining whether a concussion actually occurred.

Carson lightened up and went back to sipping on his smoothie, once I explained all the details and he know there was nothing to worry about.

It did make me wonder why people, in general, are hesitant when it comes to taking tests. I know I don't like them! Especially when it comes to medical test like getting blood work done and waiting on the results.

I think we are hesitant of taking tests for two reasons:

1. We're afraid of the unknown.

When I have my annual physical and blood work done, I have to wait 2 days for the test results. During the waiting process, thoughts pop into my head like "what if my cholesterol is high" or "what if they tell me I have cancer".   

I have to quickly defuse these thoughts and trust that everything will be okay. But, in all honesty, I can get caught up easily in worrying about the unknown. 

2. We are afraid of failing or experiencing failure. 

Can i let you in on a little secret? I totally stress out over my tests for Bible college.  I study like a crazy person, hoping to get a perfect score because the thought of getting a not-so-good grade or failing the test, sends me into a tizzy.

The amazing thing is that once I actually settle down and take the test, I realize it isn't so bad after all.

What about you?

Do you like taking tests?

If not, why?

What is your biggest concern or worry about getting test results?

If you have so test taking tips, I'd love for you to share them on my blog today.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Freedom Writers

Do you like to write? Does writing come easily for you? Do thoughts flow freely from your mind onto paper or your laptop keyboard?

If so, that's great news, because I need your help today!

I don't suppose you feel like writing a 100+ page theological thesis for me, huh?

Hey, since writing comes so naturally for you, it probably would only take you a couple hours to write, right?

Well, let me just say that writing research papers and a thesis is really hard for me. It doesn't come naturally for me at all! I love doing the research but when I sit down to write, my words fade into as sea of nothingness.

For all you writers out there, I need some writing tips and I need them now. :-)

Can you give me at least one piece of writing advice that has help you?

Maybe even some ideas on how to begin tackling and organizing all my researched information and putting it into chapter.

I'd appreciate any tips you can offer!

Post your comment below or send me a comment on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much...I owe you one!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Money, Money, Money

Good morning friends,

If you've hopped over from Sarah Martin's blog this morning, thanks so much for stopping by.

As I mentioned in my video today, I'm in the middle of moving...again. Life sure can throw some interesting curve balls!  There's never a dull moment in this girlfriend's life and I'm sure it might be the same scenario for some of you too.

So, we're talking about money today (hmm...). As I was praying for each of you this morning and thinking about what to share in today's post, I kept hearing the lyrics of Abba's, Money, Money, Money, in my head.

Just for fun, here's the video from the movie, Mama Mia...

For a long time, I always thought "Gosh, if I just a had a little more money, life would be so much easier!" However, through life's ups and downs, I've learned that's not always the case.

Sure, money helps pays the bills. BUT, whether we have too little or too much, if it's not managed right, it can create havoc in our lives.

Remember the 10-10-80 rule that I shared with you on Sarah's blog?  I've found that to be key in managing my finances.  Here's how it goes...

First 10% goes to God through tithing to your home church.

Next 10% goes to savings for your future.

Remaining 80% is used for your current living expenses and social activities (fun stuff).
Honestly, I've made a lot of mistakes in the past when it comes to managing money, but God's used every single mistake to teach me about His provision and protection.

Jesus taught a lot about money and in Matthew 6:19-34, He gives us a guideline to managing our finances instead of obsessing or worrying about them.

I'm certainly not a fiancial expert in any way, shape, or form! But, I'd love to share what I've learned with you or help if you have any questions.

Fee free to leave a comment and share what you've learned about finances. Or, a question you might have about money or the personal stories I shared on my video.

Well, I need to get back to packing and unpacking (sigh). I'm going to need a major manicure when this move is over with! Anybody up for joining me?I have a buy one get one free coupon at a local nail salon!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

California Dreamin'

After years of planning and dreaming, collecting frequent flier miles, and tossing loose change into our "family vacation" piggy bank, we finally got to take our long awaited trip out West.

This had been a goal of ours (okay, mine) for over four years! I was pinching myself during the five and a half hour flight to San Francisco, thinking over and over again, "I can't believe this day is finally here!"

We did the typical touristy stuff like...

                                          Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge

We actually drove over the bridge twice because Keith took a wrong turn (the GPS told him to) but we ended up discovering the beautiful quaint town of of Sausalito.  

                                          Sausalito, California

  We also walked around Golden Gate Park

We took in the sights and sounds of Pier 39 while eating our way through all the fun stores and souvenir shops.
 We even stopped by Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company. Pss....Check out Brody's giant shoes!

We strolled down Famous Lombard Street, even though it took us f-o-r-e-v-e-r to find it.
 There were so many other fun things that we enjoyed like Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, Boudin's Bakery, Buena Vista, North Beach, Little Italy and even Beach Blanket Babylon.

But, our favorite part of San Francisco was touring Alcatraz.
 At first, I wasn't sure about taking the tour. I honestly was not interested in spending half a day exploring an old dilapidated jail. But, Keith and the boys really wanted to go and I figured the boat ride would be kind of fun, right? 
Once we arrived on the island, a tour guide lead us from building to building, explaining all the interesting facts of what life was like when the jail was in operation.

Did you know that families lived on Alcatraz Island? I didn't either!

The jail workers and wardens had private living quarters for their families. Their children would take a boat ride into the city every day for school and then return home in the afternoons. The women created beautiful gardens along the walk ways, which bloomed a natural sanctuary for all sorts of birds.

They certainly had a spectacular view of the city skyline!
 Once inside the jail, we walked through the long hallways, listening to our private headsets. The narrator explained what life was like for the prisoners and what they could and could not do during their stay.

Although sunlight flooded in through the ceilings, there was a darkness you could sense that felt so tangible but wasn't visible.
 We were then lead to solitary confinement row. It consisted of several cells along one long hallway. They were double secured with two rows of steel bars.

Cells number 10-14 were designed to house those criminals considered "the worst of the worst". These cell doors were made of solid steel and once shut, no light, not even a tiny stream of visibility, was apparent.
The tour guide allowed anyone who was brave enough, to enter one of these dark claustrophobic chambers. He would slam the door behind them and keep it closed for about 30 seconds, so they would get a sense of what the prisoners experienced for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months at a time.

I had no desire to go inside and neither did Keith, but the boys quickly pushed their way to the front of the line without hesitation. I held my breath as the tour guide slammed the door shut behind them.

As I waited for the 30 seconds to end, I could feel my heart beat pulsing faster and faster. Something about them being inside the same dark and dungy space, where hardened criminals resided years ago, was totally creeping me out! 

You'll never guess what happened next!

Since this post is getting pretty long, I'll sign off now and you'll just have to check back next week to hear what happened to our boys...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

While You Were Sleeping

Do you ever watch your children while they're sleeping? I use to all the time when my boys were babies. I'd get the biggest kick out of watching all their funny facial expressions as they slept in my arms.
Their little lips puckering up and then turning into a smile.

Their tiny eyebrows raising and then scrunching together, as if they were dreaming. 

Their adorable faces turning red and puffy when they were passing gas...yep, even that.

I'd sit and hold them for what seemed like hours, staring at their silky smooth faces. I had every eyelash counted and each tender curve of their nose and chubby cheeks memorized.

So tiny and so intricately designed. 

So peaceful. 

So precious.

Those days have long passed but every now and then, I still get a chance to see one of my boys sleeping.  It's a rare occasion but one that is priceless to me.

Just the other morning, I slipped into Brody's room to put some bath towels away. As I quietly tip-toed past his bed, I couldn't help but pause and notice how peacefully he was sleeping. I gazed for only a few seconds but it brought back so many memories of when he was little.

As I stared at his face, only remnants were left of that little baby boy I would rock for hours, so long ago.

Chubby cheeks have been replaced by strong masculine cheek bones.

There were so many more eyelashes to count.

A strong chin now covered with manly whiskers that have developed from shaving.

So grown up and so intricately designed

So peaceful.

So precious.

Where have the years gone and why have they passed so quickly?  No more babies to hold. Only sweet memories to treasure deep within my soul.

Did I hold them enough? Did I pause and relish those special moments while they were sleeping in my arms? Could I have held them closer or rocked them longer? 

Years have passed and circumstances have changed. My little boys have grown into young men. And yet still, there are brief moments left, to pause and notice. To unfold those long-ago memories tucked deeply within my heart. To pray just another simple prayer as they quietly sleep.

So peaceful.

So priceless.

So intricately designed...

Photo credit here

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What is Your One Thing?

This morning I was all dressed and ready to go the gym...

But, when I got ready to leave, my car wouldn't start!

So, I immediately thought about doing this...

Instead, I was determined not to throw a hissy-fit or go back to bed and throw the covers over my head.

Gosh, if it's not one thing it's another!  Is it just me or do you feel that way  sometimes?

I sat for a minute at my kitchen table and as I looked out the window, I realized that my poor plants desperately needed watering. They were all droopy, sad, and craving some attention.
So, I grabbed my watering pitcher and headed outside. As I watered my plants, I could hear the birds singing in my front yard. They sounded so happy and not at all bothered by any unexpected  "one thing" that may have changed their morning plans and left them in a tizzy. 

As the warm sunshine rested on my shoulders, I took a deep breath and inhaled pure gratitude. I realized that what really mattered was not so much the unexpected "one thing" of my battery dying but how I chose to respond to it.

Now, don't think for a second that this comes naturally. What comes naturally is for me to throw a its-not-fair! party or fall into the I-give-up! mode. But, I'm learning that choosing what comes naturally isn't always choosing what's best.

Can I ask you something? What is your "one thing" that might have happened to you today? What was your initial response and how did you react? Did it put a complete wrench in your plans or were you able to make something good out of a not-so-good situation?

Choosing wisely can be really hard at times, especially when it's not the most popular choice from our point of view. But, if we pause in the midst of our "one thing" and determine ourselves to choosing wisely, I believe peace,  inner joy, and God's blessings will follow. 

Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
                                                                                                        Proverbs 2;11 (NLT)  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer is Calling

Are you planning a family vacation this year? If so, where are you headed? To the beach, the mountains, maybe back "home" for a family reunion?

Can you tell that I've got a bad case of Spring Fever?  My kids aren't even out of school yet, but all I can think about is Summer break. I think it's because we have some exciting plans for next month.  

After four years of planning, saving, wishing, and dreaming, our family is finally getting to take a trip to California this summer!  I'm SO excited and can't wait to see San Francisco, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe with my family.

I'm sure this is going to sound crazy to some of you, but I'm even hoping to get a few good family pictures so that when Christmas rolls around I can actually send out a fancy photo card this year.

I don't know about you, but when we go on vacations, I'm always the one taking pictures instead of being in them with my family. Does that happen to you too?

Anyway, the flights have been so expensive each year, that we could never afford to go. But,  we've saved up enough points through our credit card purchases to get four FREE tickets with U.S. Airways. The best part is that they're non-stop flights!!  Ya gotta love those credit card points that can earn you miles!!

Here's the thing...

I thought it would be fun to hear what other families are planning for this summer. Do you have any summer plans already in the works?  Maybe, you've decided to have a "STAYcation" this year?

We had a stay-cation over Spring Break when several of our friends went on a cruise. Instead of going with them, we decided to save our money for California by staying home and doing a few fun things right here in our local community.   

If you're not planning a vacation right now, then tell me what your DREAM vacation would be. 

I'll start us off...

My dream trip would be a Mediterranean Cruise with an extended stay in Italy.  What about you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Give Up!

Do you ever have those moments when you just want to give up? Those moments when you're feeling like everything is out of control and you're frustrated at the world and everyone in it?

I've have so many of those moments this week. Too many to count.

In fact, I woke up this morning determined to have a good day (T.G.I.F.). Then the phone rang. More frustrating news. In a matter of minutes, I found myself back in that pit of frustration.


Circumstances beyond my control have choked the joy right out of my heart this week.  I've felt as though I've been held hostage by someone else's choices. Someone I really don't even know that well.

Sounds crazy? Yes!!

But... it's true. Or, so I "think" it's true.

A gentle whisper in my heart says "The real Truth is that you are not in control of this situation, I AM".

Let' me repeat that....

"The real Truth is that you are NOT in control of this situation, I AM."

So this morning I'm choosing to GIVE UP!

I'm giving up control of this frustrating situation and I'm handing it over to God.  He is the One who is in control of my life and He is the Only One that can truly do something about it.

I can't change the heart or decisions of someone else I hardly know. The someone who I "think" is holding me hostage today.

But, the truth is that God can.  Here is what He promises us today...

"The king’s heart is like streams of water. Both are under the Lord’s control. He turns them in any direction he chooses.  Proverbs 21:1 (God's Word Translation)

Oh, that gives me hope this morning! 

I'm going to write this verse on an index card and carry it around with me today. That way, when those frustrating thoughts and feelings rise up in my heart, I can focus on the truth that God has this whole situation under His perfect control.

Are you feeling frustrated this morning? Is there someone or something in your life that you think is holding you hostage? 

I want to encourage you to GIVE UP!

Give up control of your situation and hand it over to God. He loves you and knows what's best for you today! He wants to bless you and doesn't want you to be held hostage. We were created to worship Him - not to live in frustration, fear, and defeat. With God on our side, we can't loose.

Let's agree to pray for each other today.  

Let's ask for wisdom to make the right choices. Let's focus on the truth of God's Word that will breathe hope and joy into our circumstances.  Let's believe God's very best for our lives.

Are you with me?  Let's do it!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

House Fire

I heard the most amazing story on K-Love radio station and wanted to share it with you today. 
It's a tragic story but includes an incredible life lessons about God's indestructible and eternal Word.  
 Click on my video below to hear the details.

When you've finished watching the video, I'd love for you to leave a comment sharing how this story impacted you and what you've gleaned from it.
 Only in God's eternal Word will we ever find lasting solutions to our struggles and needs.  Lets start claiming His truth over our circumstances today.