Monday, December 19, 2011

Welcome to Our World

Finally finishing our Jesse Tree Advent Ornaments. Listening to Amy Grant's "Welcome to Our World" on Pandora. This song is beautiful and truly captures the magnitude of what the Father did for us in sending His One and Only to reconcile us broken, selfish people.

Tears are falling
Hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised
We've been waiting
Welcome, Holy Child
Welcome, Holy Child

Hope that You don't
Mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited
Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace
Into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger
Sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart
Whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured
Flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin
And make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world


Praying we will fill this Christmas week with joyful and grateful meditation--The King of Glory--He came down to us! To me, it doesn't make the least bit of sense. But that is what is so incredible about the mystery of the Gospel! I can't even grasp "how wide, how long, how high, and how deep" (Ephesians 3:18) is the love of Christ. But though I can't fully grasp it, oh, how I'm thankful.

{Many blessings to you and yours this Christmas!}  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slowing Down

Yes, I've been MIA for oh, I don't know, two and a half months, now. I didn't know life could be busy--so non-stop--so full of necessary things, there has been no way to cut back. Or at least I haven't found the way yet. Finding the balance between full-time work, school, home, and family has been a huge struggle for me lately. 

I couldn't be more thankful for this thing called Fall Break--I'm off Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. Praise the Lord for a few days to relax and be re-energized. Hoping to maybe catch up on a few posts about teaching and other smatterings from life over the past couple of months, but we'll see. I'm off in a few to grab lunch with one of my sweet besties from high school, whom it has been WAY too  long since we have enjoyed each others' face-to-face company.

Just wanted to share this quick word from my time with the Lord this morning. I often allow Satan to steal my joy for today by falling into his ever down-spiraling cyclone of worry, unrest, and misery in thinking about the future. For instance, instead of waking up with joy this morning because I've been given this day--and given this day off from work--I was already bemoaning the fact that Thursday would be here in a flash and was worrying about how I was going to accomplish/catch up on everything that has fallen by the wayside lately as well as lesson plan for next week. Crazy much? Yes, I know so. Choosing joy and rest in Christ must be intentional. I must bathe myself in His presence in order to combat the joy-stealing, worry-igniting schemes of the wicked one.

The scripture from Jesus Calling for today:

Luke 12
22And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[c] 26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[d] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

{How beautifully appropriate. The Lord knows just what we need.}

I pray this encourages you to slow down, fix your eyes on Him, and savor today. Father, please give me grace to remember the birds and the lilies today.

P.S. A true word from Ann Voskamp for today: "Read it [the Bible] because it’s manna and and you’ve got nothing to give if you haven’t gathered, and you have to gather it at daybreak if you are going to gain from it the daylong."   

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wings for Our Troops

Some of you may remember (back last December) me mentioning my cousin Chad who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. My heart just broke for his mom, Tami (my mom's cousin), especially since Chad was her only child. 

CPL Chad S Wade, USMC dancing with his Mama

Of course, since we don't have children yet I can't fully imagine the pain she went through and still feels, but I can tell you that I am amazed at how she has responded to such deep loss. Tami and her husband have started a non-profit organization called Wings for Our Troops that aims to help our men and women in the military get home to their loved ones before and after deployment.


Until Tami shared her vision for starting the foundation, I never knew that our soldiers were responsible for their travel expenses to get home to see their families. If they can't afford the plane tickets, then their opportunities to visit their families are limited. (If Paul was in the military, I can't imagine how hard it would be to have the stress of not being able to spend time with him before or after he deployed due to financial worries.) So Tammy and her husband (along with many other people, particularly Tammy's sister, Amber) are hard at work getting this foundation established which will help relieve the financial burden on our soldiers.  

Finding a way to transform your loss into a vision for helping others is truly a testament to the way God uses all things--even tragedy--to bring about our good and His glory. I am excited to see how the Lord continues to bless their efforts and enables our soldiers, who otherwise would suffer through missing their loved ones, to enjoy time with their families before and after deployment. Join me in spreading the word about Wings for Our Troops! If you know of a soldier who may be in need of the service this foundation provides you can contact Wings through their website. You can make secure donations there as well. 

I know that I take our freedoms so for granted most of the time, but I am so thankful for Chad and others like him who gave their all to ensure our liberty and let others around the world have a chance at experiencing freedom, too. Because of moms like Tami and the rest of Chad's family, our military will know that they truly are appreciated and cared for. 


**A family in our Connecting Point (Sunday School) class also has a non-profit, Tickets for Troops, that supports our military by providing them with free tickets to fun events (like sports games, etc.) so that the families can enjoy qaulity time together after thier loved one returns from a deployment. Learn more about the great work Tony and his wife are doing here.                

The Birds Still Sing...

It's a messy life isn't, it? This world is full of people battling sickness, death, hurt, exhaustion, hunger, unemployment, discontentment, anger, and the list goes on. This morning as I was praying for the needs of dear family and friends, I had a moment where I thought, "Wow. This world is full of junk. We are full of junk." I was overwhelmed by all of the "bad" stuff going on in this life. BUT, just as I was thinking about all of this--I mean, the exact same moment--the Lord tuned my ear to the sound of the birds outside. They were just chirping and singing away, their melody seeping in through my closed windows. I felt the Lord telling me, "Yes, this world is full of junk and suffering, but this world is also full of good--full of Me." All of the hurt we experience in this life does not change who God is. His character--his perfect goodness--remains the same. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

And He is ever kind, ever gracious to give us reminders of His goodness...like the birds he made me hear when I started to get mired down thinking about the difficult stuff.
image via

Oh Lord, that you would tune my ears to hear (and my eyes to see) You, to hear your beauty and your grace echoing all around me.


{And as I finish this post, I realize God is still trying to teach me the lessons He first used Ann Voskamp's book to show me. If you have not yet read One Thousand Gifts, don't miss out.} 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

He's a Jokester...

My husband totally gets my laffy-taffy-joke-sense of humor. The fact that he gets it doesn't mean he doesn't make fun of me for it, but at least he gets it, right?!

So I went to my classroom today for the first time to try to get some stuff done. I texted Paul these pictures...



And his response...
"It looks classy. ;)"

I was seriously laughing, all alone in my little classy classroom.

Don't judge me. Don't you dare judge me! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

His mercies are new every morning!

Dew on the squash leaves.
The first bloom on one of my tomato plants. 
And those petunias just make me happy.

{Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you?} Matthew 6:28-30



Saturday, July 2, 2011

First Crop!

Picked my first strawberries this week! perfectly ripe and sweet!

And I've got more on the way...

It doesn't really hurt my feelings too much that Paul won't eat strawberries...more for me! :)

In other news...here's my little garden--that was planted extremely late and may be a bust...though I'm really hoping for better luck!
{sweet potatoes, squash, and tomatoes}
Thanks to my hubs for digging up all the grass, tilling, and making the box!

Squash is blooming. That's a good sign, right?!

I realllly want some tomatoes! Please, grow!

{My granddaddy would be proud, I think. He always had the biggest and best garden. We think he even invented the tiller--at least he built one before you could buy one. You can see a picture of it here. Pardon my bragging. One more example of why my brother told his kindergarten teacher that his granddaddy was "a genius"! :)}

I guess, I've taken a break from the mounds of homework for long enough...back to it! Happy weekending to you!

For Us Girls...

My mom has just recently moved and taken lots of stuff out of storage, so when I saw her last night she gave me a bag of some of my old stuff that she came across while unpacking. One of the things in the bag was a frame with a beautiful reminder that my sweet friend Roya gave me several years ago at Christmas. 

{Interject a little background...}
Roya is one of a special group of friends from Briarcrest--we go way back to 5th grade! Although I don't get to see these precious girls very often (just once or twice a year because we are all running in different directions), they are a blessing in my life, and we have the best time at our Christmas get-together every year. Roya is now in Texas working on her Master's in Genetic Counseling--we always knew she was going to do great things! Love you, Roar!

After re-reading the words in the frame, I thought I would share them here because they speak great truth and encouragement to all ladies.

I Made Her
I made her...she is different. She's unique. WIth love I formed her in her mother's womb. I fashioned her with great joy. I remember, with great pleasure, the day I created her.
Psalm 139:13-16

I love her smile, I love her ways. I love to hear her laugh, and the silly things she says and does. She brings me great pleasure. This is how I made her: I made her pretty and not beautiful, because I knew her heart, and knew she would be vain...I wanted her to search out my heart, and to learn that it would be Me in her that would make her beautiful. And it would be Me in her that would draw friends to her.
Psalm 139:17 & 1 Peter 3:3-5

I made her in such a way that she would need Me. I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be... Only because I need for her to learn to depend on Me. I know her heart, I know if I had not made her like this she would go her own chosen way and forget Me...her Creator.
Psalm 62:5-8

I have given her many good and happy things...because I love her.
Psalm 84:11 & Romans 8:28

I love her broken heart...and the tears she cried alone. I have cried with her and had a broken heart too. Many times she has stumbled and fallen alone because she would not listen to my voice. Isaiah 52:6
So many times I have sadly watched her go her merry way alone, only to have to return to my arms sad and broken. Isaiah 62:2

And now she is mine again...I made her, and then I bought her.
Romans 5:8

I have to reshape and remold her...to renew what I had planned for her to be.
Jeremiah 29:11

I want her to be conformed to My image...
This high goal I have set for her because I love her.
2 Corinthians 2:14

I hope these words remind you that you are a beloved daughter of the King, and He desires only the best for you! It's true. Do you believe it? Do I believe it? 


So if you're searching, you can find fulfillment and purpose in Him--and Him alone.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Philippians 3:8a

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Turning My Eyes

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

- Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

These words say it all for me right now. For the past couple of weeks I have felt like I've been suffocating in the busyness of life--just going through the motions--trying to keep my head above water. I decided at the last minute this morning to go to church with my dad since it is Father's day and it's not often that I get the chance to visit my old "home church", and as we sang this hymn, I was reminded that all I have to do is turn my eyes on Jesus. His eyes are already on me. I just must choose to "look full" in His face rather than at the spinning-dizzy world around me. Losing Granddaddy, work, the stack of books to read, the projects and papers to complete, the mountain of laundry and dishes to be done, etc., etc., etc.--all of that nagging stuff that makes me almost lose my breath when I let my mind dwell on it--"the things of this earth" will dim--will be covered up by the light, unending light, of His {glory} and {grace} IF ONLY I will choose single-minded focus. Choose to turn my eyes to the One who always has his eyes on me. 

Why is it that I run away from Him when I need His strength the most? Why do I refuse to spend time with Him when it's only Him that can make me stand? Why do I reject the Good Shepherd's always open arms?

Are you maybe feeling a bit weary or overwhelmed, too? Be encouraged, because HE is enough. 

This upcoming week, I'm praying for the strength and discipline to turn my eyes--to look full--in His wonderful, glorious, and grace-filled face. He outshines everything else.

[Ignoring the cheesy graphics on this video, I love this a cappella rendition by Selah.]

        

Friday, June 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

That infamous question shouldn't be quite so ominous...at least for a few weeks! 

$150 worth of groceries + 8 hours of cooking = 1 upside-down kitchen & 14+ meals in the freezer! 

I've been needing/wanting to do this for a while and Tuesday was finally the day! Getting dinner on the table every night or even just 3-4 nights a week is a big challenge for me with trying to balance work and school and everything in between. And I know it's going to be an even bigger hurdle come August when I add grading papers, etc. to the mix. 

So enter Once-a-Month Cooking. I found this little gem of a book hiding in the cabinet at my Dad's house, and his wife said I could borrow it.  It lays out everything you need--from shopping lists to the preparation order--to cook & freeze meals for either two weeks or a month at a time.  The book gives you three two-week plans and two one-month plans to choose from, along with side dish options. 

I chose one of the two-week plans...a) because this was my first time to try it and b) because I have limited freezer space.  I'm so glad I only did the two-week plan because it took me all day and I ended up with just enough freezer room!

So the freezer is stocked with:
Baked Jambalaya
Stuffed Pork Chops
Beef Goulash
Caraway Pot Roast (we already had this and I liked it, but Paul not so much.)
Spaghetti
Taco Soup (we had this last night and both loved it--delish!)
Marinated Flank Steak
Cranberry Chicken
Twelve-Boy Curry
Sweet Soy Marinated Chicken
Chili Hamburgers
Karen's Barbecued Chicken
Fiesta Shrimp Dinner

(There was one recipe that didn't sound too good to me, Baked Tilapia in Spaghetti Sauce, so I didn't buy the fish and we just have extra spaghetti sauce. The recipe made a gallon!) 

Technically this meal plan should feed a family for two weeks, but it is definitely going to last longer for us since it's just the two of us. When you factor in that all of the dishes serve at least four people (many of them serve 8-12), we'll have leftovers, and I divided a few of the larger dishes before freezing them.

It's so convenient to have meals in the freezer to pull out when you have a hectic day. The hard work is already done--all you have left to do is toss a salad or whip up an easy side dish.  And not only will this make dinner time less stressful, it is definitely going to help us manage our grocery budget better! No more last minute trips to Kroger where I end up spending more than necessary because I don't have a plan. When I did all the shopping for these meals, I scanned sales ads, compared prices, and used coupons--took some time for sure, but definitely worth it and I won't have to do it again for a while. Bottom line: $150 groceries/14 meals = $10.67/meal (but its really less than that since I know we'll probably stretch it to about 20 meals).

It was a long day in the kitchen, but at dinner time on hectic days or when I have night class, I know I'll be glad I did it!

{If you're interested in trying this cooking-for-two-weeks deal, but want to see what it's really all about before you buy the book, (you can snag it on amazon for about 10 bucks), I'll be glad to email you a scanned copy of the plan I used. Just leave a comment :)} 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Looking for Rest?

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, 
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

-St. Augustine

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fixing Up the Place...

Ah, the joys of home ownership. And really, no sarcasm intended here. We spent most of last weekend doing some much need repairs and sprucing up around our house and yard. (Thanks to Paul's step-dad for coming over and helping us out for a couple of hours--Paul needed a little more muscle than I could offer for a few of the tasks!)  Took lots of elbow grease, but I really had fun working with the hubs and by the end of Saturday night, we were pretty proud of what we had accomplished.  (Even though we still have much to do!)

I attempted to document our progress...

Friday night we began pulling up every one of these pesky weeds...there is some real grass under there, I just know it.  I continued this drive-you-crazy task off & on all day Saturday. We finally got the whole front and side yards knocked out. And many thanks to our neighbors for loaning us this little contraption! I was definitely sore and sun-burned by about 8pm. Let's hope those little devils, er I mean weeds, find a new home.  Fat chance.

{rotten trim boards from the front corner of the house}



 {new boards up!}

 {I like a workin' man :)}


Our fence has been leaning (severely!) for a while...
maybe this post had something to do with it?

{new post set}

 {$2 find at hobby lobby! now i just need to dab a little brown paint on the screws}


{no "before shot" of this, but a friend's bulldog got a little bored one night and decided to have a little siding snack :) so we had to replace that board. now just need to paint it}
 

{picked up a hydrangea plant--my very favorite flower...}
{and a strawberry plant}
 {now I just need to re-pot them! can't wait for some sweet, homegrown strawberries!!}

Lots of projects still to go, but that's ok...what would be the fun in having everything done?! Enjoyed this weekend of work with my Paul and looking forward to this Memorial Day weekend with some good friends at the lake!

Miss This Family!!

 
Jim, Anne, Walt (or the spider monkey), & Eleanor (or the back of E's wispy, curly head)
My second family at Mississippi State. Aren't they precious?!
They just posted this vaca pic on their blog, and I had to share it.

Freshman year, I took a modern American history class from a "Dr. Giesen" (just "Jim," now) and as they say, the rest is history. (Sorry, I can't help that the cliche fit so nicely.) I started babysitting their oldest, Walt, when he was just 3 months old. Look how big he is now! He will be four in September! Just a few days after Paul & I got married, little Eleanor was born. And since I still had one last semester in Starkville, I got to keep this little chickadee a couple days a week, too.  How can she be almost two?

Since you can't see W & E's faces very well in the fist pic...


 
They are growing up too fast, and pics like these make me a little jealous of whoever the new babysitter is!! :)  Miss y'all & Gus, too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Whatever you did...you did to Me.


"And the King will answer them, 
'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, 
you did it to me."
Matthew 25:40  

Last Sunday I heard this from our pastor.

On Wednesday, Ann Voskamp posted...

"We can worship Christ in our sanctuaries and we can pray to God on our knees, but how we treat — or neglect – the person next door, the poor, every human being, this is how we truly speak to Christ and this is how we really treat Jesus." 

Read the rest of this truth she expresses here

Why do I try to complicate it? Holy, Agape-Love God has one single, simple purpose for each and all of us:

Love God.
 Love People.

Once again, I find myself praying for the grace to really get it.  
And really getting it translates to {action}.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make-do Fondue

On my way home from class tonight {by the way, it was my last class of the Spring semester!! YAY for 2 weeks off before summer school begins!} I had a little craving...

Left-over Valentine chocolate from the back of the pantry +
  
1 banana that needed to be eaten =

Make-do Fondue.YUM.


I'm not a huge chocolate fan and bananas aren't my favorite fruit either, BUT when you put them together...the combo is pretty hard to beat. At least, in my opinion. :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What If...

Have you heard this yet?  I'm listening. On repeat...


{What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?}

Friday, April 22, 2011

Still Trying To Get It...

I said it in my previous post, and this post is just me still trying to get it. Trying to get--to grasp--the magnitude of The Lamb That Was Slain.

 4Surely he has borne our griefs
   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
   smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
   we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.
 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
   yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
   and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
   so he opened not his mouth.
No judgment here whatsoever for anyone who is dying eggs, etc.; I grew up with it, and it's all great fun. But for me this year, I'm having trouble with all the hype about "Easter dresses" and egg hunting, chocolate and the bunny. I want perspective. I want focus.  What's this really all about, and why are we watering it down?
image via
I teach a Lego class on Thursday afternoons at a private, Christian school.  Yesterday the kiddos all came in talking about Easter and the gobs of candy they had just gotten at their class parties.  I always start class with a few minutes of chit-chat to give them an opportunity to spew so that they will actually zip it when I'm ready to give instructions. :) So when we'd all circled up to start class, I asked them to tell me what Easter is about.  I heard getting candy, egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and everything else you can imagine.  But out of 6 little 5-8 year old little boys (who attend a Christian school), not one said a word about Jesus.  It broke my heart.  Of course when I said that it is really about Jesus, they were all, "Oh yeahhh..." 

But shouldn't our answer first be Jesus, and then the Easter Bunny. Or maybe not the Easter Bunny at all? Isn't He enough?

I don't know. And we don't even have kids yet. I'm sure this dilemma will be even more of an issue then. 
Still I'm wondering, should we be trying to "balance" the fun of traditional Easter trappings with focusing on the incomprehensible sacrifice of our Lord? It seems the scales should be more one sided. Couldn't we create some new family traditions--ones more centered on Christ?
If you're looking for perspective, too, these posts challenged and encourage me...

From Faith Parley, Austin New Church blog:
"So between ages 0-32, I celebrated Easter the fun way: with bunnies, baskets, and expensive clothes. I mean, what better way to say “Jesus reigns” than dressing my preschooler in a $45 dress to show her off in the church lobby? (You’re welcome, Jesus. Be blessed.)  
Jesus is a redeemer, a restorer in every way. His day on the cross might have looked like a colossal failure, but it was his finest moment. He ushered in a kingdom where the least will be the greatest and the last will be first, where the poor will be comforted and the meek will inherit the earth. Jesus brought together the homeless with the privileged and said, “You’re all poor, and you’re all beautiful.” The cross leveled the playing field, and no earthly distinction is valid anymore. There is a new “us” – a ruined people rescued by the Passover Lamb who adopted us into his family and transformed us into saints. It is the most epic miracle in history.
This is why we celebrate. May we never become so enamored by the substitutions of this world that we forget."

Read the full post here.

AND 

From A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp:

How You let your side be ripped open that our lives need never be split into sacred and secular.

How you were slashed that that our lives could be seamless — all holy.
 
That the veil in the temple rents in two because of You, and there is no longer a divide between the common and the hallowed and the whole earth is full of your glory and You are the continuous, unending, divine thread that weaves through all of the world, holding all together… even when you, Son, are rent apart.

And hanging naked and blood smeared and dirt defiled, You nodded slow and You said yes — You gave us your one-piece robe of seamless holiness and You clothed us, the filthy ones, in all your white righteousness.
 
Read the full post here.

{I don't want to water it down. I don't want to just pass over the Passover on my way to "Easter."  I want to really get it.} 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And Yet He Gave...

As I was washing dishes Saturday morning I had the gospel music channel playing--totally made scrubbing the *huge* pile of dishes a little less miserable. I'm {learning} to choose to find the worship in the work. [Paul was laughing at me listening to this station, but I didn't care--I love hearing Southern gospel songs and the old hymns I grew up singing. :)] So as I'm washing away I hear this song called "God Saw a Cross." I'd never heard it before, and the words just really grabbed me...

When Adam saw his wife sin in the garden
In the distance God saw a cross
When Cain killed his brother God was watching
And God saw a cross
When Moses slew the Egyptian man in anger
God saw a cross
And when David chose Bathsheba over honor
God knew there had to be a cross

God saw a cross being raised on the horizon
God saw His son being slain for one and all
God saw His blood being shed for my redemption
For every fall God saw a cross

When I was born the world just saw a sinner
Oh but thanks to Jesus God saw a cross
And when I first rejected His great offer
I'm so thankful God still saw a cross
And with each wicked choice I walked in darkness
My God saw a cross
So blinded by my sin, my soul was helpless
With eyes of mercy God still saw a cross

And when I finally gave my heart to Jesus
From that moment of time until forever
When God sees me He only sees the cross.

It amazes me--I can't even comprehend--that God still chose to create this world, us, knowing we would reject Him.  God so desires relationship with us--relationship with me, who daily says No to Him--that He chose to create us, knowing the Cross would have to come.  He planned it that way. Before He spoke light, before He stretched out his hand to separate the waters and the heavens, before He breathed life into Adam and formed Eve from the rib, He saw the Cross. And yet He created. And yet He gave All.  And now, like the last line of the song says, when He looks at me, this mess of me, He only sees the Cross.  What kind of love is that? 

I am reminded: it is selfLESS, graceFULL love.
imgae via
Oh, to learn how to love with that kind of 
unconditional, emptied of self, full of grace, love.

Hands turning to prunes in the dishwater, the very next song that played was "Because He Lives."  God's timing, how good?!

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

What hope we have because the veil was torn and He rose! Thanks be to God. 
Colossians 1 
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 

Matthew 28:6
He is not here. For He has risen, just as He said!    

I want to really get it this year, this coming Easter weekend, when we're traipsing to multiple family dinners and egg hunts. I have to stop and really take time to remember: God saw the Cross, and He raised Him from the tomb that we might have new, everlasting life in a relationship with Him.  This is the true, only hope worth sharing.  Oh, Lord, open my eyes and help me to open my mouth.




Monday, April 11, 2011

Taste of Summer

We were blessed with .gorgeous. weather this weekend! And we took full advantage of it--working, playing, and eating outside nearly all day Saturday. I made this {Honey Lime Fruit Salad} Saturday afternoon and ate almost the entire bowl by myself. scrumptious. Just the right mix of sweet and tart.  And it makes such a pretty dish, too-- wish I had thought to take a picture! This is definitely on my "make again" list.   

If you want to try it...
8-10 strawberries, sliced
2 bananas, sliced
1 20oz. can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
2 kiwi, sliced
1 15oz. can mandarin oranges

Whisk together & toss with fruit:
1/4 cup pineapple juice (reserved from can)
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey

And just because I think it's fun...
Summer Bouquet by Pablo Picasso  

Hope you soaked up some weekend goodness, too, and your week is off to a lovely start!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

She Turns Two!

Our niece, Taylor, (Paul's sister's little girl) turned two March 26th! Besides being super cute and funny, she's a huge Elmo fan, so Paul and I decided to take her to see Sesame Street Live since it was playing at the FedEx Forum the weekend of her birthday.  We had so much fun watching her dance and clap to the show.  And she totally melted our heart on the way home when she started singing--just out of the blue--"Jesus Loves Me."  
Here are a few pics...

Our beautiful Friday night date...on the way to Sesame Street!


Yep, he's smitten! and she loves her "Unca Pau."




Saturday we helped her celebrate with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party.  Kelly had her in THE most adorable outfit (see pics below), and even though the moon bounce was rained out, everyone still had a great time.  

{Super cute wreath Kelly made}
{Pre-party Primping}
{Ready to welcome her guests}
{Check out those heels!}
{Taste-testing before blowing out the candles}
{Post-party--Singing "Happy Birthday" to get her to smile...after 461 pictures we had to do a little coaxing :)}


We love this little chica and had so much fun celebrating her 2nd!
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