Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back

Today is New Year's Eve and I am looking over this year on it's last day. I must say that 2010 has been one of the most difficult years I have ever experienced. (and when I say that, I recognize that my life has apparently been one of extreme ease!)

It has been an emotional year. It has been a sacrificial year. It has been a year of growth.

The emotions have been primarily due to my age, I think....(hormonally inconsistent and crazy) :)

The sacrifices have been me having to give up time with loved ones. (Ben entering seminary and needing to spend so much time and energy on that)

The growth has been exponential! I have learned to not be so attached to everything. God has worked on me to be thrilled when good things happen and to be neutral when disappointments come my way. That has probably has been the greatest thing for me. I am learning to live with my hands open...if God chooses to put things in my hands, then I praise God for that! If God chooses to take something out of my hand, then I praise God for that!

So maybe by "difficult", I mean FABULOUS!!!! (though I wouldn't mind a little less growth in 2011!) :) Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Endurance & Patience

I love when I hear clearly from God! The leadership from our co-op has been asked to "go to the mountain" to seek and hear from God about all things co-op. Ideally, we are to spend 4 hours away with the Lord. I haven't been able to find or carve out a 4 hour block of time, so I am doing it in small chunks.

Today I did the first hour. I hate feeling like I am rushing God to speak to me, but I'm sure HE was able to see my need to honor the request to do this and yet the inability I have had to make it happen.....so HE spoke pretty quickly! What a blessing!

I was able to get some administrative details worked out on the calendar, but then I got to the big question I had been pondering for a couple of days.

Colossians 1:9-10 was what came to mind and made the impression on me for the answer from God. "....asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding...live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power....so that you may have great endurance & patience & joyfully giving thanks to the Father."

Having great endurance and patience....these are the words God spoke to show me the answer. Praise God that even in the midst of a rushed time schedule and a busy, noisy place (Panera at lunchtime), the God of the universe spoke clearly to my soul and gave me peace!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overwhelmed

Feeling a bit overwhelmed with life recently. I have taken a few things off of my plate to help out with that and it HAS helped....but should I take more off? I am feeling bipolar lately. I am not bipolar, but having contradictory thoughts and feelings about lots of things.

I don't like being this way and am trying to stay in the Word and cling to what I know is true. It will all work out and be ok. In the meantime, I will just keep venting here and having a periodic catharsis.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Boys

I love my boys. They are fun, energetic, sweet to their mama, and ALL boy. But boys grow into men who have heavy burdens on them. They have to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. They have to be able to work hard to provide for a family. They have to be gentle and kind, yet firm and strong.

I carry a burden for raising boys who turn out to be men of integrity, honor, poise, and grace. Lately my boys are going through phases of difficulty and challenging authority. Now, I know that this is normal, but when it's boys going through this, I feel an extra layer of responsibility for handling it well. You might call me sexist, but it's the way it is. (and as I always say: saying one thing about one doesn't mean the opposite about the other)

I want my two boys to grow up to be men of God....able to follow an unseen authority, therefore able to follow seen authorities. I want my two boys to grow up to be men of poise....able to handle disappointments with grace and humility. I want a lot for my boys!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ready.....

A few short days left in 2010. Time enough to reflect on the year, what has happened, what went right, what went wrong.

I can't wait until 2011 and attempt to live with my hands open...ready for God to do anything! To live expectantly....ready for God to do anything! To live with some boundaries....ready for God to do anything!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Almost....

So today is Christmas Eve Eve! It's almost to the perfect spot. I have probably mentioned this before, but I heard something from a comedian once that I believe wholeheartedly....next is the best place to be!

So...tomorrow is "next". Tomorrow still allows for the possibility of anything to happen. Absolutely anything can be under the tree on Christmas Day. Anyone can ring the doorbell. Anyone can be on the other end of the phone.

The anticipation is the most joyous and brings the biggest smiles when you are "next".

I pray for this great anticipation of being next for all of us....for smiles as big as Texas....for love as grand as the universe!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Anticipation

Only a few days until Christmas and the anticipation is ever growing. It's growing for all of us, not just the kids. We all love this time of year, but this year seems to be extra special. Can't really pinpoint why, but we feel like God is really moving in our lives recently.

We have been in a several year "wait" mode. God has had us be still and has not been speaking much. We have been serving while we wait, and though we feel as though we have more time in this stage, we do think that HE is moving and beginning to stir our hearts toward new things.

We are in anticipation of what HE is doing! It is always exciting when this happens....and we have learned that we can't predict what is going to happen, just that something WILL happen.

So...Ben and I are just as anxious as the rest of the brood...but not necessarily for what is under the tree...but to see what is going to be planted in our hearts, ready to open when the time comes!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

I am finished with my Christmas shopping! Today and tomorrow we wrap and then we relax for the next several days and enjoy the season. I am doing as our pastor said and expecting the unexpected. I am awaiting the celebration of the birth of Jesus and, even more than that, awaiting HIS return!

For the next few weeks, the pace of our lives will slow....the moments are going to be lived to the fullest....the thoughts of Jesus will be constant!

I pray your Christmas is expectant and fulfilling...joyous and peaceful...full of love and laughter and life! I pray that the baby born is real in your life and the HIS return is anticipated.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 6 (last one)

#6...Sara...she is the epitome of a faithful follower of Christ! She lays all her burdens and concerns at the feet of Jesus...and there have been a lot of burdens and concerns in her life in the last many years.

I NEVER see her without a smile on her face and to be hugged by Sara means you are enveloped in the warmest embrace you can imagine. She is encouraging to others in the midst of her own struggles. You leave Sara, after having tried to comfort her, having been comforted and edified ever so much more than you gave to her!

I love her dearly and aspire to be more like her.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 5

#5...Janie...she is amazing! Janie is a fabulous, loyal friend. She is the mother of 2 energetic great kids and the wife of one terrific guy.

God has allowed some difficult times in their lives recently and Janie hasn't skipped a beat! She has carried on being wife and mother extraordinaire. She gives grace unceasingly. She loves with all her heart. She laughs with her whole body. She hugs with every ounce of strength she has.

I love being around her. I consider it the highest of honors to be her friend. I count it a privilege to be a sister in Christ.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 4

#4....my mom. My mom is a wonder! As long as I can remember, she went to bed extremely late and got up at 3:30am. She would exercise, do laundry, make breakfast and begin dinner, and most importantly, she would have her quiet time with Jesus. By the time she left for work, she had already put in a full day!

My mom has MANY great qualities, gifts, abilities, and talents...but what has made the biggest impression on me lately is how she is caring for Daddy.

Daddy has Alzheimer's and a host of medical issues that require doctor's visits and medications. My mom loves Daddy with all her heart and takes care of every need he has. He still lives at home and goes with my mom everywhere. Daddy is a bit lost without mom, so she rarely does anything without him, as it begins to cause him distress.

Whenever anyone asks my mom how she is, she says, "I'm blessed." That is not just a pithy saying for her....she truly is blessed...she knows she is blessed....and she believes it with all her heart.

My mom inspires me to be a better wife and mother. She inspires me to have an even better relationship with Jesus. Thanks mom!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 3

#3....Nikki....The minute Nikki walks into a room, there is sunshine! At least that's how I see it. She always has a smile on her face. She is the littlest bit of a person...very skinny and not too tall...and the most bubbly thing you would ever meet!

Nikki has some people in her life who are difficult at best. She doesn't even seem to notice that! She loves on each and every one of them. I have NEVER heard her complain about what they do or the things they don't do that maybe they should be doing. She picks up their slack and carries on with life.

She has two boys who are the world to her. Her oldest has had some difficulties. I have not known anyone who has searched out how to help another person as Nikki has done for her oldest. She has read every book....she has talked to every person....she has tried professionals...in short, she has been the most humble person I have known and taken every piece of advice she has ever gotten and tried it. She has worked tirelessly for his cause.

I am always amazed by Nikki and her positive, bubbly response to life. I just talked to her the other day on the phone and though the beginning of the conversation, I was trying to cheer her up, by the end, she had done the same for me! Now how does that work?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 2

#2....Hilda....She is this wonderfully unassuming woman! The only reason you might normally notice her is that she wears something on her head all the time. She is very short with extremely long hair. Her true inspiration has come from how she has handled a difficult situation recently. It has made me see just how God has wired Hilda!

In early September, Hilda's son, age 30, disappeared. His car was found near a river. No body...no witnesses...nothing. There has been no activity on his credit cards or money taken from his bank accounts. There have been no phone calls or contact with anyone.

Hilda calls his cell phone daily hoping that at some point, he will answer or at least return a call. The cell phone is about to be turned off by the cell phone company for non-payment and then her last way of potential contact is gone.

Hilda has never once, not had a smile on her face. She is hoping in a positive outcome, but realizes that that might not be the case. She keeps picking up neighborhood kids and bringing them to AWANA and continues to teach guitar for our homeschool co-op, missing only one week during this situation.

Hilda laughs and has a way of making the rest of us feel better as we are trying to comfort her. How does that work? She is amazing and wonderful. I could only hope to respond to such a difficult time in the same way she has. I am proud to say I know her. She inspires me in my walk with God, my trust of HIS nature, and HIS promise that all will eventually work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Women Who Inspire Me Part 1

I know six women who have inspired me greatly this year. They, on the outside, are ordinary women...you might not even notice them in the grocery story. They aren't flashy or loud. They aren't the center of attention. But they are my heroes for this year.

#1...Helena...she is the mother of five kids...has been homeschooling them while being a wife to a firefighter. She found out that her husband had done some things that got him arrested...and while she thought the whole issue had been dropped by the DA, all of a sudden he told her that he had been going to court and taking care of it and that he made a plea bargain and he was being imprisoned for 15 years! The next day, he was taken to prison!

She never didn't have a smile on her face. She immediately enrolled her children in school, which killed her, and moved in with her parents, and filled out every paper she could to get on assistance. She walks with her head high! She brings her children to church still and sits on the front row. She has turned down some of the assistance because she feels as though they have been given so much and surely there must be another family who needs it more.

She relies on God and through friends, the church, and the school system, God has provided for her immeasurably more than she could ever hope or imagine.

Over the next five days, I will introduce you to the other five women. I hope you love them as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Trees

I have noticed two distinct camps in Christmas tree decorating, this year more than any other. It seems like either people decorate with a "fashion" tree or a "kid" tree. I have a combination of both, but it probably leans way more to the "kid" side.

I have this ornament that was given to me on my first Christmas, 45 years ago. I never let anyone else hang it up and I hang it very close to the top of the tree so that it is protected. I really love this one!

I have the macaroni-spray-painted-gold wreat made by one of my kiddos. I always hang it on my tree! I love it too!
Then there are the picture ornaments made mostly in Sunday School. Darby is the only one who doesn't have one....where were her SS teachers?

Then we have beautiful Lenox ornaments given by my sister-in-law for many years. Most of the kids have them and they are all done by year. They are stunning! When my kids leave the house, all the Lenox will be gone and take any hint of a "fashion" tree with them!! :) That will be sad.

Our tree is not gorgouse, but it is FULL! Each branch has one ornament and some have two or three! We have boxes and boxes of ornaments and we use them all! I love looking at the homemade ones and the picture perfect ones alike.

Fashion trees are beautiful, but I have decided that they are a bit too sterile for my tastes. I'll take the kid ones any day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Almost Here!

I just want to say for the record that I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! I love the true message of Christmas. I love the gifts. I love the baking. I love the creating of surprises. I love Santa. I love counting down the days. I love decorating. I love shopping crowds. I love it all!

I love emulating, in the best way I can which is still pathetic, God who loves to give good gifts to those who ask (Matt. 7:11). It brings me much joy to give good gifts to my children! The anticipation of the awaited Christ-child, the Savior of the world, the Lover of my soul..is about more than I can take and I just get more and more thrilled at the coming days.

I hope your Christmas is as lovely as can be....bright and peaceful...expectant and exciting! That's how ours is every year and I expect this year to be no different.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tolerance

I see couples around me who seem to just tolerate each other.

What does it take to get to that point where there is simple, unadulterated toleration?

Did they wake up one day and decide enough was enough, but they weren't leaving?

Did it come on gradually where the touches stopped....then the laughter died...then it was just easier to stay that way?

Ben and I see this so often as we work the marriage conferences. Not anger. Not rage. Not sadness. Not frustration. Just toleration.

God did not intend for us to be that way! He wants us to live the abundant life (not necessarily meaning monetary wealth)! He wants to provide your marriage with more you could ever imagine or hope for! He wants your marriage to be a light to others in the world! When all others fail, he wants you to show His grace and mercy through your marriage. Your marriage is one of the smallest missionary units there is!

Live it well! Toleration is not ok! Just don't tolerate it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Really?

So are there really people reading this blog from all over as it seems to indicate from Feedjit? Or is this a scam to get me to pay for Feedjit upgraded services? Though it would be the ultimate in cool to have people from those places reading my blog....seems a bit odd.

But....if you are reading this and you are from some faraway destination....welcome and I hope you know that Jesus loves you and HE has a plan for your life.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jill Brannon is a Genius!!!

There is my crazy crew...minus the two smart girls (Bailey and me)...those hay bales were high!
Just the way we walk around everyday! :)
23 years....still love each other madly!

The girls...Darby (12), Bailey (20), Kally (9)


The boys...Rainey (7), Rawley (4)
Jill did such a great job! (If only she would have shaved my three extra chins off and placed my curves in more appropriate places...*sigh*...I guess I'll have to do that work myself!) RUN...don't walk to get Jill to take your pics! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Re-prioritizing Results

Have begun really working on the re-prioritizing thing...and....it's working!

I am happier!

Ben is happier!

Life is good!

I find that I am a sheep and really keep doing the things for which I get rewarded. So...I will keep doing it.

Mole Hill Out of a Mountain

It bothers me that little things bother me. Does that happen to you? I can get so easily annoyed with the tiniest, infantesimal item and then easily brush off something that is quite large. I hate that!

It seems to me, in my limited experience, that women seem to be more like this than men. Men seem to move on, get over it (if it even bothered them in the first place), stay friends with the horrible offender.

Don't get me wrong....I love being a woman! But I hate this part of myself. I want to work at not being this way...but I know I can't do it. So, I will add that to the list of things that I pray about for God to work in me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Different Perspectives!

Do you know how you have one opinion of yourself? One way that you think you look? All from your own perspective?

Well! Yeah! I had that too.

I have been given yet another dose of reality...as with my last blog post...except that this one is much more painful to face. uugghh!

What is the reality? you might ask. I JUST SAW A PICTURE OF ME!!! Oh my goodness! Not the picture I have had in my head. I wish I could keep the picture I have had within me, but now I am having to face the reality of my current situation.

Grrrrrr.......

Monday, November 29, 2010

Priorities

I have been given a wake up call lately. I have to re-prioritize things....and I am more than happy to do it. If my actions were a distraction to my family and made them think that I cared more about other people/things than I do about them, then it's time to get rid of them.

I love my family deeply...more than words can express. I have had to apologize for the perception that they came in second, or third, or even fourth!

So...I am on a new course. I want my actions to reflect the way I genuinely feel....and I am growing in the process. Praise God!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ode To Benji

I am madly in love with my husband!!!!
I have learned of late that he hasn't been sure of my unceasing love and respect for him.
So....I want to make it crystal clear!
I think that Ben hung the moon and stars!
I think that when I look in his eyes, I would follow him anywhere.
I feel most safe when he is near.
I feel completely enveloped when he holds me.
I am a bit lost without him (though he thinks that I feel the opposite), but also know that if something happened to him, he has provided me with such security and love that I could get through it....
I miss him when he is away from me...even for a little bit.
He makes me smile and laugh like no one else ever has.
He has stayed with me when it would be much, much easier to walk out and rid himself of me...and because of that, I will forever stick with him like glue.
Though I have girlfriends, he is my best friend.
He always wants to please me and make me happy....what he doesn't seem to know is that he accomplishes that just by being in my life!
I am devastated to the core when I make him sad or disappointed.
He never makes me sad or disappointed.
I love you, Ben! With all my heart....when I see the moon tonight, I know that you will have somehow, without me knowing it, climbed up and hung it, once again, just for me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Intervention

I hate the fact that I sin!

I hate, especially, that I tend towards the same sin all the time.

I love the fact that HIS mercies are new every morning.

I love, especially, that people love me enough to confront me and then come alongside me to help!

I am grateful that I get to begin again.

I am grateful, especially, for GRACE from so many!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Whatever It Takes

I attended a conference a couple of weekends ago. It was a leadership conference. I don't like those kinds of things usually. This was no different in many ways....and then again....maybe it was.

I don't sit well...conferences make you sit on chairs that are really comfortable for the first two minutes and then they are horrid!

Lots of information is presented that sounds perfectly logical and rational while the speaker is speaking. (think Algebra when it sounds so easy to work the problem until you get home and you and your book have a date that isn't going so well....)

The info comes at you like water from a fire hose...you catch a few drops and then all you can do it sit there squeezing your proverbial eyes closed because you can't take anymore!

This conference was exactly like that!....except for this conference also had some of my most favorite people in the world there too! I was sitting right by them! We made each other laugh (picture 8 sixth graders not able to stop laughing...probably had to be horrible for the presenter). As we all began talking, I realized that the few drops of info I got, were not the same as the others, so we could share what hit us the most.

But over the last couple of weeks, God has reminded me of things I guess I heard when my eyes were squeezed shut! :)

Here is the nugget I keep remembering: Whatever it takes.

I should do whatever it takes to do whatever it is that God is calling me to. Pretty simple really, but it has been playing around in my mind over and over.

So now I get to add to my other life mantra: Love God, Serve Others....Whatever it Takes! I even like the sound of it all together. It works and I am trusting that God is going to help me do that....whatever it takes!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Do You Stop A Train Wreck

I happened to stumble upon a facebook post from a daughter of family friends. It was a puzzling, sad post. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I began to really pray for her knowing that God knew what was happening. Then some concerning pics from the same gal. My heart was breaking and I wasn't even sure what was going on. The praying became more intense.

I finally decided that I needed to message her and offer to help and let her know I was praying. Over the last few days, we have had many messages back and forth. She is allowing (even encouraging) her life to fall apart. She thinks it's for the best. She is very young, 20 years old, and I think discovering for the first time that the "faith" that she had was really her parents' faith and not hers. She is not a believer, though I think it's just now dawning on her. She is discovering new "friends", she has left her husband, she is exploring new (to her) ways of thought...Hinduism, feminism, freedom....

I love that she is willing to talk to me. I am not sugar coating my words. I am talking to her honestly and asking the hard questions. I am praying for her constantly. I hope as you read this, that you will pray for her too. She thinks she is happier, but she uses an awful lot of words to try to describe this freedom she has and I think it's all a mask. I don't think she is lying, I think she really believes what she is saying. But I see a train wreck about to happen.

I have known her since she was about 9 years old. She and Bailey are the same age. I am beginning to really love her and so desperately want to help her. I pray the talking continues. I pray the Holy Spirit talks to her and that she hears HIM because Satan is really whispering in her ear. She wants happiness, HE wants holiness, I want contentedness for her.

She could be Bailey....I would so want someone to speak into her life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Growth?!

Lately, there have been a couple of things that have happened that have been a bit disappointing. Not life or death things, but things that I started to get excited about and then it was decided that they couldn't happen.

Not too long ago, when something like that would happen, I would really get mad! I would fume inside (and out as well)....I would smolder and continue to think about it. I was sure that there was a conspiracy to sabotage the things that I was hoping for.

But lately, I have noticed that, though for a second I begin to feel that same ol' feeling, almost immediately, I am ok with the whole thing. I try to think of a plan B (or C or D) to try to work it all out.

Surprisingly, I feel much better! I let things go more. Though I don't understand the reasonings usually any better than before, I figure that there was probably thought behind it and good reasons.

I would say that's growth and I am so grateful for it!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In A Blink Of An Eye

This morning I got up early (5:30) to get some things done before the day really began. It was great...I got a lot accomplished. I was going along perfectly wonderfully and then in a blink of an eye, my attitude changed. I remembered a task that I needed to do for my husband. Don't get me wrong...I love to do things for him, but this one bothered me.

I had to leave the house to do the errand for him. I get in the car. I drive to do the errand, all the while pouting. Why couldn't he get up and do this? Why is he still at home and I am the one out here? on and on...you get the idea....

On the way home from the errand, in a blink of an eye again, God began to show me all the great things that Ben does for me....for our family. How he is sacrificing to go to seminary. How he works hard to provided for us. How he lets me do just about anything and encourages me to have evenings out with friends. How generous he is all year, but nothing compared to what he does around Christmas time! How he indulges my desire for traditions for our kids to have. How he gives in to my thoughts on creating memories for our family.

In a blink of an eye, I praised God for giving me this opportunity to serve Ben...to take something off of his already loaded down plate...to visibly serve as his helpmate. This small task is what he needed for me to help him with. Why was I complaining (if not visibly, then in my heart)?

HE changed my perspective in the blink of an eye and I am forever grateful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Public Notice

I know that I have chosen to have 5 kids. I know that they are not perfect. I know that my last child is a bit different and more difficult in some areas than my others. I also know that he is funnier than my others. He makes all of us want to pull our hair out one second and then he turns around and makes us laugh.

I KNOW all of this.

Why are there two people who insist on commenting on my last child just about every time I see them? Why do they feel the need to teach me things about him and how I should be doing things differently? Why do they "tsk, tsk" me as though it is inevitable that he is headed for prison?

To you two: I really do like both of you. I really love my last child desperately. I love him and want more for him than the two of you could ever desire for him (especially since you aren't even extended family of any kind). I am doing my best and yes, there are times I need help with him. When I need it from you, I will ask for it. Until then, could we just have pleasant conversations about just about anything other than my son? Because I really do like both of you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Challenge to my Thinking

Our new pastor is challenging my thinking as of late. He keeps making comments like, "When the Spirit moves, and we move out of these walls, you WILL be uncomfortable with who you end up being with within the walls."

Sounds innocent and good enough, but here is my dilemma....

Is church (the physical structure) the place for all the unbelievers was can muster up from surrounding neighborhoods?

Is church a place for folks whom the Spirit has begun to move and they are honestly seeking the answers to what God has placed inside of them?

Is church for the edification of the Saints? A place for recharging and gathering together so that we are stronger to go back out into the world and evangelize?

Is the corporate church charged with evangelism or are individuals charged with evangelism with the church teaching/encouraging the individuals to go out?

I have my own personal thoughts on these things and, at the moment, they are not lining up with the things our pastor are saying. I could be the wrong one. I could be the one that is not thinking clearly. I could be the one that the Lord is speaking to in the challenge to my thinking.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mad Smile

Apparently, I have a seemingly invisible sign on my head that reads, "Complain to Me" on it. I get folks coming to me with the strangest complaints and problems.

I also, apparently, smile while I am listening to these complaints. Various members of my family and some friends have noticed that while I am standing with a complainer, I am looking at them with a smile on my face. My family now refers to this as my "mad smile". I think that the complainer doesn't know this and they just think that I am nice and listening.

Who knew? I learn new things about myself everyday!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blessed...

I was just given the best gift by my friend, Janie, and my husband, Ben! Because of the two of them, I was able to fly to Little Rock, by myself for four days! What a blessing. It was the loveliest of days there....going out to eat, shopping, seeing great old friends, surprising gals, and serving.

Whenever I go there, I can almost feel the wind calling me...enveloping me...greeting me...and drawing me in. The sun seems to shine brighter. The air feels crisper. The smiles on friends' faces bigger.

And then I was blessed to return to six people who love me even more! I appreciate their sacrifice on my behalf and loved their HUGE hugs...smoothering kisses...non stop telling me of happenings in my absence...and hearing the word "Mom".

I am one blessed woman to have so many people in my life who love me. Who love to see me. And who love giving me fun gifts!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Boys

Rainey had his last football game today. He learned a lot! Today he scored two touchdowns today!!! One was run in and the other he caught in the endzone.
Rainey and some of his football buddies. They became good friends this season.

On the other hand....while Rainey was being intense and manly...Rawley was getting stuck in the soccer net at the fields..

Papa had to rescue him. It will be a few years until he has the intensity of his big brother...or maybe he'll never develop that! :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Princess and the Kiss

Kally and I are participating in a group of girls and moms who meet once a month. We call ourselves God's Girls and we are working through the book Princess and the Kiss. There is the hardback book with the original story and then there is a lesson book.
We are meeting once a month for 21 months! The emphasis is on purity and God's design for the girls. It's a beautiful story.
I am grateful that I have been asked to participate in this with Kally. What a joy! I get to spend some great time with Kally and she gets to spend time getting to know other wonderful young girls learning some new things about God's plan for her.
My goal lately has been to finish well. This is really helping me to do that with the last of my girls!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cheese Twists

I just ran across this fabulously easy recipe in House Beautiful and right away had to try it!
You need:
puff pastry
fresh grated parmesan cheese
On the counter, spread out 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Place the thawed puff pastry on it. Put another 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese on top of the pastry. Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry until the cheese is incorporated into the pastry. Cut the pastry into strips and twist them as you place them on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet into an already preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Watch them! They cook quickly!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fun Gift

I have been given a gift of plane tickets to fly up to Little Rock to see a good friend. I am so thrilled! I am going by myself....and though I am excited almost beyond words...I also feel a bit guilty. Why is that?

Are moms never allowed to do anything without the rest of the family? I don't quite get it.

Don't get me wrong...I am not so guilt-ridden that I am not going. Oh no! I am still going! It will just take me a bit after I get dropped off at the airport to begin enjoying the experience.

What a fun way for God to bless me! Especially when I don't deserve it...but HE loves me enough to do it anyway. Thank you, God.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stronger

So a couple of days ago, I wrote about the choice of pushing through hard things that come along in relationships or choosing to break ties. Today was the day that we pushed through. We talked things out. We came out the other side stronger.

I love this group of women. They make me laugh. They raise the standard. The encourage me. I don't know what I bring to the table...but they sure add new dimensions to my life for which I am forever grateful!

Days Like This

This is our week off of school. We are working on a different school schedule this year....we love it! We have three weeks of school and take a week off. I can't believe that I haven't thought of doing this before now. But I am awfully glad that God placed the idea in my thick brain this year!

We have already begun packing our Operation Christmas Child boxes, done several loads of laundry, gotten lunch, and put MANY, MANY clean clothes away! The kitchen is clean and the boys' room is clean.

I love days like this!!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Waiting...

Our new pastor gave his first sermon today. He was wonderful....the message was thought-provoking...God was there!

The sermon was on waiting. It seems as though we are going through that waiting thing right now. Waiting for Ben to finish seminary. Waiting for life to settle down. Waiting for God to let one of our kids know the next part of the plan. Waiting for next Monday to come so that I can go see some dear friends. Waiting....waiting...waiting.

This is what we heard this morning: Waiting is a critical part of how God works. If we undermine the process, it undermines the very thing we need from God. God does something in us so He can do something through us. So wait....on God!

What are you waiting on?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lisa's Choice

At points in each of my children's lives, I've said the following: "This is the point in your friendship when you need to decide if this relationship is worth pushing through and working it out to get a stronger relationship, or if it's not worth it and you cut off the friendship."

Almost every time, my kids have decided that it's worth fighting for the friendship...working out the problems...and having a stronger bond on the other side! I have been very proud of my kids for this. I think I've helped them develop a way to have healthy relationships as they launch out on their own.

I, too, have faced those same situations and have chosen one or the other. I have a couple of folks that I have chosen to not remain friends with....either too much drama or sucked the life out of me. But most of the time, I have fought through and have several great friends because of it.

I am in that situation again. There is a group and they are so worth working it out! I love these gals and want to deepen my friendships with them. I will be working it out...pushing through...and fighting for these friendships!

Seems like at my age, I should be really settled in this area..but alas, I am still working on relationships. I am grateful that God has provided so many people in my life whom I love dearly!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I've Got The Joy, Joy, Joy Joy....

I have been enjoying life recently...I know that sounds odd, but there are times that life seems hard, overly complicated, and just all around not enjoyable.

My life has not changed. I still have five kids. I still homeschool four of them. I still fix each and every meal for all seven of us, wash most of the laundry, change sheets, shop for groceries, buy all clothes, get things ready for all birthday parties (ours and others), etc...

I still have a daddy who has Alzheimer's, a mom who is lovingly caring for him at home, family members with others diseases and disorders.

I still have friends who need encouraging, surprise birthday parties to attend, flights to catch to visit dear ones.

I still have errands to run, co-op to run, and a track down the street to walk (you thought I was going to say run, didn't you?).

But I love my life. I love it right now particularly. I love that I meet Jesus most every morning and learn more about HIS love letter to me. I love that three of my kids go with me down to the track three days a week to play while I walk.

God has given me a joy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Next Summer Already?

I know it's not even Halloween yet, but I must confess that I am already thinking about summer opportunities for my girls. It is time for Darby to go on a mission trip! Bailey went on her first trip when she was 13 and it was time for her world to be expanded. It was a terrific experience and made Bailey appreciate the 13 varieties of cereal we have in our pantry along with the days and days of food...on top of many other things.

Darby will be 13 soon. It's time for her world to be expanded. It's time for her to have an opportunity to see how many others in the world live...and it's not like we live for the most part! I want her to appreciate what she has here and I want her to develop a love for others that attempts to mimic Christ's love for us.

So....I am beginning to pray and think about where God would have the girls go this summer, if anywhere. We have a saying in our home: At around 13, the books say it's normal for children to rebel and begin to live in their own little world....but in the DeBusk home, it's not required (and we don't do that)!

Sending our children on mission trips has been a great way to help them be outward focused....to live out the other DeBusk saying: Love God, Serve Others!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They Are SO Different!

I've had two interesting days with a couple of my children.

Yesterday I went shopping with my oldest daughter, Bailey. We knew just where we wanted to go and went straight there once we got to the shopping center. I knew what I was looking for, vaguely, and found tons of things! We tried things on....and on....and on. We carried items around and kept looking. Then we bought our items and thought we'd stop in a couple of other places.

Basically a very relaxing time sharing lots of laughter and life with my daughter. And several hours and a diet coke later, we arrived back at home.

Today I went shopping with my oldest son, Rainey. We knew just where we wanted to go and went straight there once we got to the shopping center. He knew what he was looking for, exactly, and found just that. He went straight to the section that carried the game he was wanting, he picked it off the shelf, and brought it to the sales clerk. He never wavered! He never even turned his head to see what else was in the store!

Basically a very hunter/conqueror type of experience. We shared....well....not much really! And 15 minutes later, we arrived back home.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why We Homeschool

The subject of our homeschooling has come up quite a bit recently...not just with non-homeschoolers, but a lot with homeschoolers. This is our 15 year to teach our kids at home and it's been a big boost to realize once again why we do what we do.

Ben and I are not the "vision statement" or "family mission statement" kinds of folks. We don't have a 5-year plan or ponder the future too much. We try to live in the moment, trying to understand what God would have us do, and we try to do it. We hold on loosely to our stuff and our "plans". BUT several years ago, we were discussing our homeschooling and after much discussion realized that we were stumbling upon our reasons for why we homeschool.

Ever since then, we have had a focus and have aimed in that direction! It has informed everything that we do from what curriculum we choose to how we spend our time. It has allowed us to be excited for others' results of graduating their children from high school at age 10 instead of having a knot in the pit of our stomachs that we the stick figures our children were still drawing weren't even close to high school graduate type of work! What a joy that is!

Though most non-homeschoolers out there really wonder in the back of their minds if homeschoolers really school their children, I have NEVER come across one homeschooler who didn't want the best for their children and loved their children more than anyone else in the whole world! Our lives just look a bit different.

So...why do we homeschool? We homeschool for mainly these four reasons. (there are so many others, but these are the BIG 4)....and in this order!

1. To teach our children about our FAITH.
2. To teach our children about our FAMILY.
3. To teach our children how to SERVE.
4. To teach our children ACADEMICS.

We want our children to grow up to be strong women and men of faith in the Almighty God of the universe.

This list has truly freed us up and given us a direction for how we spend our days, what activities we choose to get involved in, and most certainly the curriculum we pick.

So, though we still don't have a family mission statement, and probably never will, we do have 4 core values that hopefully are beginning to define what it means to be a DeBusk in this world.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rainey Through the Years

Rainey 2 days old...pretty sweet!
Rainey 6 months old..pretty cool!

Rainey 2 years old...pretty wonderful!



Rainey 3 years old...pretty serious!

Rainey 4 years old...pretty smiley!

Rainey 6 years old..pretty wet!

Rainey 7 years old...pretty perfect!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

24 and My Sons

I have become a bit addicted to the show "24". And by "a bit", I mean that on the nights that I can't sleep, I can end up watching an entire season on Netflix! I LOVE the show.

I have begun to wonder why I love it so much when it's really deep and a bit depressing and creates a knot in the pit of my stomach wondering how it's all going to turn out. But today, as I began watching the third episode of season 6, it dawned on me! .... I love the man that Jack Bauer is! I love that he is patriotic. I love that he is courageous. I love that he loves his daughter (and loved his wife before she died). I love that his word is his bond and everyone who works with him for more than a minute, knows it.

In short he is full of integrity. Oh...he is not perfect by any means! But he is a man of integrity.

Ben and I say that word a lot in our home. We say it to our boys. We want them to be men of integrity. We want their word to be their bond. We want them to be courageous, even in the face of fear. We want them to be patriotic and serve their country.

So...I will continue to watch 24 and LOVE it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Bit of a Hole

For quite a while now, I have been the co-director of our church's homeschool co-op and the director of our women's ministries. Two really big hats! Our co-op is our church's largest ministry by far! We have almost 400 people coming each Friday!

I love both ministries and have felt that for this short time, God has called me to both of them.

Today, I gave up women's ministries. That was really hard to do! But I know that there is someone God is calling to head that up for now. I do pray that one day I can go back to it, but for now, it will have to be some other gal.

Kind of odd feeling all day after I turned in my resignation. I know God is meeting me here and that it's going to be great...but for now...it's odd and I feel the hole.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Things Work Together for Good!

Have you ever wondered when God is going to make good on HIS promise to work all things for good? Ever think back on sins you have done over and over...maybe don't do nearly so much (or at all anymore) and wonder when you will be able to use those experiences to help someone else?

Well, I have wondered those things a lot! And I got my answer to some of it yesterday.

A gal I know only as an acquaintance, called yesterday to discuss payment issues pertaining to her kids coming to our homeschool co-op. She and her husband are in a couple months of difficult financial times. As I was trying to think of a way, while she was speaking, about how the co-op could maybe scholarship her, she said something that snapped me back to the moment...."My husband has said he doesn't want us doing co-op this year, but I am overriding his decision on that."

WOAH!!!! I really felt called right there to share my struggles with submission and then to share God's extreme faithfulness when I HAVE submitted...especially in the hard things. I probably preached at her, but it was such a clear case of her choosing to reject her husband's wishes in this area. He had asked her to do this to help their family in several areas and she was willing to just toss that desire aside for her own feelings. She mentioned in the course of our discussion that she was wanting him to step up and be more of the spiritual leader in the home, but right here, when she could have encouraged him in that way, she was doing just the opposite!

I was able to speak to that because 1) it's the truth God lays out clearly and 2) I have been there and know just what choosing to go against Ben does for Ben, for me, for our marriage, and for my relationship with Christ!

God did just what HE promised yesterday....worked out those bad things I've done for good...by being able to help a fellow believer to see the path she was beginning to walk down. What a blessing for me to be able to do that! I praise God that HE allowed me to see that so clearly and to speak up. And though her absence would hurt our co-op, I pray that she calls me today to say that she wants to take her kids out of co-op and that she is going to do what her husband has asked even if it's difficult for her.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Darby-less For A Week

This sweet little girl who is peeking out from a tree....
this little girl who is safe, without a care in the world, on her papa's shoulders....

this beautiful girl trying out a new coy look for the camera....


is the same girl leaving by herself on a plane bound for Little Rock for a week.
We will miss her...but oh! what fun she is going to have!
I will miss you, my friend.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chocolate Creamcheese Bars


Bakerella.com had a great recipe the other day. The minute I saw it I knew I had to try it...and soon!

This is the top of the Chocolate Creamcheese Bars....yummy! chocolate...come to mama!
It was almost painful to make that first cut...ruining the perfect chocolate lake. But cut, I must. And I was not disappointed!

Yeah! That piece was all mine! Perfect crust...silkly smooth middle...delectable ganache. So lovely. I WILL be making this again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

1st Annual Barbarian Night

We had our first annual Barbarian Night! Spaghetti and meatballs on the table with no plates, no silverware. Here is a snapshot of what it looked like:

Spaghetti and sauce had to get cooled off to room temp so that we could eat it with our hands.
Bailey and Darby being a bit prissy.

Ben being not so prissy.
Kally taking after Ben!



The hands!
What a great time! We will definitely be doing it again next year and for many years to come.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

23 Years and Counting!

In November of 1986, I met Ben. The first date we went on was to a fancy restaurant in San Marcos, Texas called Katy Station. It was wonderful! I had to leave that date a bit early to attend an RA meeting in my dorm. A couple days later we went to a concert in Austin. The next day, because the first two dates ended without dessert...Ben made an apple pie and cookies and brought them to me to make up for the no-dessert dates. I was hooked!
He wrangled an invitation from my mom to come to our home for Thanksgiving. A couple of weeks later, I had to go to Minnesota for my cousin's wedding. When I arrived back, Ben picked me up at the airport and asked me to marry him. I was hooked!
He went off to pilot training and I stayed in Austin to do my student teaching. We didn't get to see each other very often. He made it down when he could, but it was difficult. But no matter how hard it was, I was hooked!
We married on August 8, 1987. It's been fun to get to know him over these 23 years. We laugh a lot! We have to! Five kids, 8 moves, 2 dogs, 2 birds, 5 fish, 11 cars, and 15 answering machines later...I am still hooked!
I can't wait to see what the next 23 years bring. I love you Ben.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why Is That?

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? Either curious as to what HE directly seems to be involved in or what HE allows? I do!

I have a friend whose mother and sister both have cancer and has been ministering to them; on top of ministering to her own husband and three mostly grown children. Now, she finds out that something else has been added to her plate. Why is that?

I have a mother who has been a faithful, loving wife for over 50 years and now is taking care of my daddy who has some serious concerns. Why is that?

We have friends who have five children, have two more foster children, and are in a fight with governmental agencies for a passport for a son they are to adopt from Haiti. The husband is working on the battle and the wife is headed to Haiti in a couple of days. Why is that?

We have a church who is looking for a senior pastor. They think they have someone, but now all are on pins and needles waiting for the vote to happen. One man said it best, "It's going to be painful either way. Either he is not voted in and we go through this process yet again. Or he is voted in, and change begins to occur." He is most likely going to be voted in. Change is going to begin. Change is painful. Why is that?

I am in a joyous state at the moment...perfectly content with my status. I try to leave my life in HIS hands..not always easy. But I find that though I am content, part of me is almost waiting for something not-so-great to happen.

WHY IS THAT?

Friday, July 23, 2010

On The Wagon Again...(do you hear Willie Nelson in the house?)

My mouth used to get me into A LOT of trouble! And I do mean A LOT! (Have I told you about my 4th grade teacher who literally slapped my hand with a ruler every day of 4th grade for talking?) The trouble got worse and much more serious as I got older....it was no longer the simple fact that I was talking...it became the words I said, the hurt I caused, and, I'm sure, the untruths I perpetuated.

God has done some radical things in my life to help me with that problem. HE has worked mightily in my life in this area, and I am so grateful. But just when I think I have that problem mastered and I no longer have to think about it (similar to an alcoholic who thinks that they can have one little drink because surely, after all this time, they can control it!), I am reminded of my weakness and my constant need to stay vigilant and to let God work in that arena for me.

So...I had been "clean and sober" of tongue issues for 364 days...and then just as I was about to celebrate my one year sobriety...BAM! I fall off the wagon!

I am back on that said wagon today. It's humbling to be here once again...at day one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Women of Faith

Women of Faith is coming to San Antonio this fall! What a great two-day event! This year it is even better...the additional session early in the day on Friday (that also requires a separate fee) is included in the price! $89!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How To Really Love Your Child

So ends another mini-era. Today was the last Bible study for the summer. I was privileged to co-teach a parenting study based on the book How to Really Love Your Child by Ross Campbell. What a great book and an even greater study!

Our study was filled with women who so want to be the moms that God has called them to be! They are women who love the Lord, love their husbands, and love their children; but there are days that the love they feel isn't being demonstrated in the way they would desire. Do you ever feel like that?

I sure do! I love my family, but someone from the outside might not be able to tell from the words they hear, the tone they hear, or even the actions they see. How terribly sad!

I learned so much from the women in the group....thanks gals! I wanted to bless these women in some way today and so I copied an idea from a wise woman I know....I prayed over each woman today. I was so overcome with emotion, as I so often do when I pray and I feel the Holy Spirit move. I can only pray that they understood my words and desires for them and their families!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ben's 48th Birthday

Yesterday was Ben's 48th birthday! What fun we had at dinner at Abel's...a local old-school diner that serves home-cooked meals....all I can say is fabulous!







Our waitress made this funny hat on Ben at our table. He was such a good sport to allow it and then to wear it for most of the meal. It was so funny to see her do this! There are only about 12 tables in the whole restaurant, so all participated in his embarrassment.
Happy Birthday Ben! Hope your 49th year is even better than this one...and this one has been pretty darn good! Of course, to me, you just keep getting better and better.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Warm Dip

Last night the Women's Ministry at our church had a UFO Night. UFO = UnFinished Object. So the idea was to bring anything you had been working on that you can't seem to finish and work on it at church and while there....eat some great snacks and meet some wonderful women. All in all, a bonding time for a couple of hours. It was great fun!

I brought some of the snacks and, though I have probably posted the recipe before, I thought I'd post this one again as so many gals loved it last night!

8 oz of each of the following:
sour cream
mayo (you may not sub Miracle Whip)
cream cheese
grated cheese
ham cut up

1 Hawaiian round bread hollowed out to a bowl.

Mix the things together (add a small can of diced chilies if you want it a bit spicier), and put it in the bread bowl. Wrap aluminum foil around the bread edges (as you might the crust of a pie) so that it doesn't burn. Place in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. We use Tostitos Scoops to eat it.

Enjoy! We sure do!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Have Found My Place!

Many of you know (read Little Rock gals) of the struggle I have had with God over the years of where my ministry is to be. The funny thing is that God seems to confirm it daily (or almost daily) and yet I keep asking and wondering.

It makes me laugh as I have just been in that thought mode lately....what is the ministry God really has for me? And yet...just in the last couple of days, he has revealed it to me again!

My ministry is to women! Whether that be teaching a Bible study. Or organizing a women's event. Or helping a mom out with homeschool things. Or talking to a woman about marriage and parenting. Every single one of those has happened within the last two days! And some of them more than once.

God can and does use me. It's a humbling notion for me. It scares me sometimes. It brings me great joy. It makes me exhilarated. It makes me tired. It gives me confidence. It plays on my doubts.

YUP! I think I am finally getting the idea. This is my place. I think I might try to rest in that for a little bit...before I begin the questioning again. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thorn in my Flesh

I have a lot of faults and weaknesses! I mean a lot! But what I have discovered the last few days is that I get really grouchy when I am not feeling well. Now...when I am sick, like with a cold or the flu, I do ok. The problem is when I am hurting somewhere. The last many days, I have had a swollen lymph node in my neck. It hurts from my left ear down to the middle of my neck. At some moments, it feels like an ear infection, and other times feels like strep throat. (I have been to the doctor and neither of those is the case!)

But much to my chagrin, I get short and cross with those around me...well, not just anyone around me...really just my family.

I am saddened that I am like that. I don't like being like that and I want to change it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are They Getting in the Way of Your Ministry?

How do you view people with whom you come in contact? I mean folks that you speak with...maybe those involved in the same activities you are...or those that you see frequently at various events or places.

Not long ago, I was with the kids at the library and Darby and I noticed a mom and her two children. I don't know why we noticed them in particular, but we did. Later that day, we saw them again at the grocery store; and then later we saw them walking on our street as we were driving home.

Fast forward about a month, and we are sitting in church, and next to me are two empty seats. The usher brings two people to sit in the chairs and as I look over to greet them, I notice that it's the woman from the library/store/street! I can only assume that the man with her is her husband.

Did God really want us to meet these folks or what?

There is a gal in my Bible study class who also brings her kids to AWANA and participates in our church's homeschool co-op. Today she asks if there is a time we can get together to chat about various things. Well...today ended up working...so for the afternoon, we had company.

These two situations have made me think about divine appointments. Does God bring people into our lives for a purpose? Is every meeting just a chance meeting? How do you view these events? Do you view them as getting in the way of your ministry? Are they making you late to your church meeting? Could it be that they are supposed to be your ministry?

I am not perfect at this, but years ago I began to think that God was bringing people into my life for a purpose. It's pretty cool to think that the God of the universe sees what I do and allows people to either come to help me, get help from me, or to walk side by side with me through something.

Praise God!

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Day of School

Though the calendar says it's the middle of summer, for the DeBusk family, it's the first day of school. I know that sounds crazy, BUT...we ended our school year in April when the weather was really great and the kids could just spend all day outside playing. Before school started this year, I asked Ben if he would take out our kitchen table and put up desks...and he did! He found amazing desks on Craigslist and put them up this last weekend. The three older kids have their own desk and Rawley is with me.
Here are the three desks in the bay window of our kitchen area.
As the most special first day of school treat, my mom brought my daddy over! She was able to take him out of the nursing home and bring him to see us. Isn't he just so handsome?
Daddy and the kids...Rawley didn't want his pic taken and both boys still have one tattos from Fourth of July celebrations.
I love my daddy! And his visit made the perfect first day of school!