Thursday, December 29, 2011

We Are Better Together

So, this is turning out to be a quiet week.  I am using some of the time to get more organized and to do a few projects I've been putting off.  I am contemplating color choices for several rooms in the house too.  I'm ready to paint and be gone with some of these white walls!  The Christmas decorations are put up - the house is back to normal - and I am ready for routine to start again on Monday!

We had a nice Christmas here.  On Christmas Eve we met Tony & Sue at Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Charlotte.  It was the first time the kids had been in the downtown part of the city and the second time for Jeff and I.  Very pretty...can't wait to explore more.  It was nice to see Tony & Sue and eat lunch with them on a holiday.  We are so thankful that we have family here - even if they are an hour away!  We went to the Christmas Eve service at our new church and enjoyed it.  When we walked in one of the ladies who I met at the women's night the week before saw me and came and said hi - that was nice!  During the service the pastor spoke of how what we fill our lives with is never enough before we accept Jesus into our heart and let Him fill that hole in us.  He talked about how we fall over and over until we finally see that we need Him.  He then led us in a prayer so those who chose to could give themselves to Jesus and ask forgiveness for trying to do it on their own.  He asked that those who chose to pray raise their hand boldly.  We witnessed a man right in front of us raise his hand then weep with his wife and daughter as they rejoiced.  It was really awesome and I just know that Jesus thought that was a fantastic birthday gift.  244 people gave their life to Jesus over the 4 Christmas Eve services at Southbrook.  That is awesome!  Christmas morning came and even after a cup of coffee I felt pretty rotten.  I put on a somewhat happy, very congested, face and we drove to Southbrook's other campus in Monroe - about 20 minutes away.  Monroe is an area in our county that has many homeless.  The church hosted a pancake breakfast for the homeless, veterans, and city workers.  I have to admit that as we walked in and knew no one who was there to help (and there were so many there to help that not everyone had jobs!!) I just wanted to turn right around and go home.  They did get everyone assigned something to do.  Jeff and I and the kids were to greet people at the doors.   Not too many came for the breakfast.  A few of the people who did come though led some of the volunteers to the areas where others were living - they refused to come to the breakfast, so they made up trays of food and took them to these people living in tents.  I don't feel like our family made much of an impact on anyone by us opening doors that day.  Thankfully the warm food and the volunteers who sat with these people and talked to them, read verses, and prayed with them did.  God used us serving that day to bless us though.  Another lady I met at the women's night was there.  She and I talked some and then she introduced us to a couple who leads a Life Group (small group) in our area.  We talked with this couple for a very long time - they were so very nice.  And they introduced us to many of the people in their group.  They invited us to come and join their group on this Sunday and see what we think.  So, Sunday after church we will join them!  By Christmas evening I was sick.  I was in bed by seven.  Monday morning I sought out one of the few clinics open to get checked out.  Sinus infection.  With some drugs, by Tuesday I was feeling a lot better!

While I was laying around recovering I did a few things on the computer (besides Words with Friends).  I emailed all the neighbors to see about starting a bunco group.  It is looking promising - 7 already for sure.  Before Christmas I had contacted the PTO president about getting a Spirit Rock for our school.  Every school here has one - a huge (10-20,000 pound) rock in the front of the school.  It is reserved by parents and then painted to say certain messages - a  lot of the time "Happy Birthday so and so."  It is just fun.  Some schools use it as a fundraiser - charge a $5 fee to reserve the rock for a day or two.  Anywho...our school doesn't have one.  And you all know how much I like rocks!  LOL.  So, she said she'd love one and I could research the cost, etc.  Long story short, I found a quarry to donate the rock and the man I spoke with (happened to be a parent at the school) found someone to move it to our school for a very reasonable fee.  So, we are in the process of getting all the permits, etc.  I'm excited about this for our school!  And my kids are too!  When we were here looking for houses in August we told the kids that ALL the schools had these.  Wouldn't you know it that our school didn't. They kept asking if I'd ask the PTO for one - LOL!  I will be meeting with a lady from Southbrook on Monday morning to talk about Women's Ministry.  I have lots of ideas.  Still praying about how He wants me to serve in this way.  I can hardly believe all of the irons in the fire I have did that happen?  I need to be very diligent in prayer before saying yes.  All good things are not necessarily the best things to fill my time with...a lesson I have learned before, but have to revisit often!   I've had several people say they are amazed at how much I get out there and get involved...I guess I am too.  Growing up I was so shy and unsure of myself that I would barely speak to anyone. I guess now that I know that I can be confident in the Lord, it is a lot easier to put myself out there.  I also have such a passion for connecting people to other people and to activities...I want everyone to feel loved and surrounded by support and encouragement - that may sound hokey - but it really is how I feel.  We are better together.  This verse just happens to be the one that the women at Southbrook focus on.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Friday, December 23, 2011


My mom is the best!
We're home!  I can say that joyfully.  Being in Evansville made us realize that home is in North Carolina now.  Although we aren't 100% settled here, we are definitely not at home in Evansville.  We had a nice visit.  It was a learning experience for us though.  We tried to do entirely too much.  It is hard to think that maybe we can just jump right back into the life that we left 5 months ago.  It is amazing how life just continues to go on when 4 people are removed from it.  Not that I didn't expect it to go on -- I definitely did.  And, it doesn't even really hurt too much, it is just interesting to observe.  We think we are so significant and even when we are involved in tons of different ways in our hometown - just 5 short months later, there is no trace of our presence - just life continuing on without us.  Don't misunderstand me - I am not having a poor me moment.  It is humbling.  I watched a Criminal Minds episode with my parents a few nights ago and it was about a mother who was totally flipping out on the one year anniversary of losing her son in a terrible accident.  She observed how the world just continues on while grieving was her entire existence for a year.  Not suggesting that I am going to flip out and shoot people!!!  Just seeing that others experience this.  Thank goodness that in big life changes those who know Jesus as their personal Savior have a Constant in their life that NEVER changes at all.  Even when life goes on in Indiana, He came with us to North Carolina and will be with us no matter where we are.   
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6
That gives me peace about this change -- a peace like none other.  It is okay that our circles in Indiana are shrinking, for He is widening our circles in NC.  I am ready.  I am looking forward to it.  I feel incredibly blessed that instead of coming home to NC sad and homesick this year at Christmastime, I came home happy from our visit and expectant of all that He has in store for us at home!  Thank you Lord!

A special birthday cake
My favorite Christmas Tradition
We had fun staying with my parents, visiting with many in my extended family, Chris and Judy, Jenny and Jason, and some friends!  We got to carry on traditions of Christmas socks for Judy, Jenny, Emily, and I - Christmas sugar cookies made by mom - extended Lottes family celebration - pulling Uncle Dave's beard - a lunch with Aunt Kathy - ornaments given to the kids by Aunt Jenny (and a tacky snow globe for me from her!).
Aunt Tammy and Uncle Dave
What a blessing that we still got to do all of this even though we live so far away.  It is my hope that we will continue to get to spend Christmas with family - even if it isn't on the day.  We also enjoyed a few beers with Jimmy and Tiffany, a meal and special cake and great fellowship with Matthew and Kendra, and a dinner with some soccer friends.  I enjoyed a cookie exchange with my sister friends and a lunch with my eldest friend and mentor.  Jeff enjoyed a day visiting at the old office with his friends. Emily got to play with her friend Emma for a morning and Evan got to play with his friend Colin for a morning. It was a lot packed into a few days and Jeff and I ended up with colds.  We were greeted back home by two attention-starved fur balls and a pile of Christmas cards and a sweet birthday gift from another friend from Indiana.  Blessed.

Some prayer requests please:
  • I have contacted the lady who does most of the ministry to women at the church we will call home.  I let her know that I am interested in serving the women of the church and am praying about how that might look.  We will meet together after the New Year.  I am excited, but do not want to do any more or less than what God wants of me at this time.
  • For our house to sell soon!

Merry Christmas to my family and friends!  Remember Him this year and join me in meditating on what our gifts might be to Him on the day of His birth.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus!

my little elves
Last week was busy, but not so busy it was crazy.  It was fun!  I am beginning to feel settled and really enjoyed last week.  Yay!  I had coffee with a new friend from Rhode Island.  Alison is a lot like me and we could so relate to each other.  I look forward to this new friendship!  I also had time with Mary Kay last week walking and talking and shopping one day.  I enjoy both of these new friends so much!!  God is blessing me.  We went out to dinner with Steve and Wendy on Saturday night and went to their house for games afterwards and had a great time...lots of laughs - which is normal whenever I play games (for some reason I am not very good at games and usually do lots of stupid stuff!!)  The four of us get along great and I look forward to getting to know them even more.  All of a sudden we are connecting with people!  The kids both had friends spend the night on Friday night.  I helped in Evan's classroom with a Christmas art project and then went back another day and read them my all time favorite Christmas story, The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher.  We had Emily's Christmas program at school, a scout meeting (watch out it is almost cookie time!!), and her basketball practice last week too.  Things seem almost normal.
Emily did a great job reading about Hanukkah in the Holiday Program!
We went back to Southbrook Church yesterday and heard a fantastic message!  After church Jeff asked me if I'd like to stay at this church.  We both really felt it is a good fit for us.  The kids like it too.  So, Southbrook it is!  I am considering going to a fellowship night that they have for women on Thursday night.  Christmas is on a Sunday this year.  Southbrook is going to have a breakfast for the homeless at their Monroe campus that morning and have a service playing.  Jeff suggested that we go as a family on Christmas morning to help out and serve breakfast.  I was thrilled.  As much as we wanted to be in our own house for Christmas I knew it would probably be somewhat lonely and non-eventful.  This is going to be very memorable and meaningful.  We are going to have lunch with Tony and Sue on Christmas Eve and go to church in the evening.

We had a showing on our house last week and the people left very positive feedback indicating that they liked it and might want to make an offer.  But no word back now.  So frustrating...  I sent Vectren a nice email about the high bills we are continuing to receive even though we have nothing plugged in or on except heat at a very low setting!!  They responded saying basically, 'too bad.'

So, my birthday is Friday.  Yup, I am old.  Jeff always tells me so, since I am 5 months older than him.  Although he has more gray hairs than I do!  The kids and he got an Oreo ice cream cake which was just what I wanted.  But they couldn't find a 3 or a 5 for the candles.  So, they just used a 30 + a 4 + a 1.  ha ha ha - whatever.  Jeff has always done such a good job making my birthday special and distinct from Christmas.  Being born just 9 days before Christmas I have mostly loved this time of year.  Sometimes though I disliked the Christmas season birthday because my special day got lost in the busyness of everything going on.  People are busy and there are things to do, places to go, stuff to get done.  It is enough for people to keep their head above water this time of year than to acknowledge my birthday and make me feel special too!  When I was little (and not so little) it was hard to have parties that other kids could come to because people have other commitments.  I oh so loved the presents that were always wrapped in Christmas paper - "might as well use this, it's out - don't want to make a special effort to get out birthday paper" or the "this is for Christmas AND your birthday."  And, no one wants birthday cake when they've already had a ton of Christmas cookies and desserts and other crap at get-togethers.  See - it was just horrible!!  Ha ha ha!  But, I also have special memories of my birthday - a birthday sleep over in grade school when we all went outside in our pj's and looked up the road at all the beautiful Christmas lights on, a shared birthday lunch with my neighbor at Chi-chi's, my 16th birthday driver's license cake and party, and a bouquet of sugar cookies (even a moose) that my mom made me on my 30th birthday.  I have complained a lot in the last few years about the timing of my birthday.  Yesterday in church the pastor talked about how the season of Christmas has become about everything BUT Jesus' birthday.  We forget that it is a BIRTHDAY celebration, not just a fun gift-giving, red and green, holly and mistletoe holiday.  How do you think He feels as we make everything in December more important than His birthday?  As Christmas gets closer we stop talking about Jesus and talk more about "Do you have your shopping done?"  "What kind of baking are you doing?"  "Wow, that's a lot of activities this week!"  "Yeah, I am so stressed out, I can't get all of this done!"   I know how I feel when people are too busy this time of year to give me attention or celebration.  I had never thought that I had this kind of connection with Him with my December birthday.  The difference is - I only think I deserve this attention.  I don't.  But He does.  I definitely don't want Him to not get the honor and celebration and attention that He deserves.  It opened my eyes to making this season more of a birthday celebration than just a pretty and busy holiday time of year. 

Happy Birthday Jesus song

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Busy Week

Merry Christmas!
I am starting to feel a bit better from last week.  It is just going to take a while...I just need to realize that...and be ok with that.  I just feel weird...which I guess is normal - not like I've ever moved 9 hours away before.  If I could go back to Indiana now I'm not sure that I'd be happy there.  I have started putting down some roots I guess - otherwise I wouldn't feel that way.  It might be that we're this far in that we can't turn back now without more stress than what it would take to just keep moving forward!!!  I'll just look at it as a positive and say that I'm starting to get used to it here.  I like it here...if we had to move this far, I'm glad it was here!  It is still hard though.  Going to have my ups and downs.

Jeff had another late night of work on Friday night so I took the kids to McDonald's and some froyo.  Saturday we ran errands then I enjoyed a bubble bath then we had frozen pizza and watched Elf together.  Yesterday we started the morning at the last church on our list - Next Level Church.  All four of us enjoyed this church.  I felt very comfortable there.  It is probably most similar to what we came from - but yet still so different!  It is about 15-17 minutes from our house, has children church and middle school/high school church.  The worship was great - Jeff really liked the music.  The pastor was great - taught scripture.  They have more of a team of pastors here, so we need to go back to hear the other pastors.  The four of us have decided to revisit this church and also Southbrook - the one we went to first.  I am ready to decide and settle in and get involved!!  Yesterday evening I went to a Christmas Concert at a local very large Methodist Church with another mom who I met at school at the Spring Fling meeting.  She is from Rhode Island and just came here this summer.  It was good to get out with someone and do something fun to get me more in the Christmas spirit.  It was some amazing music!!  Wow!  Alison and I are going to have a cup of coffee in the morning.

I've started the week off well - I set my alarm clock in our bathroom instead of right by my head so that I'd actually get up when it goes off.  I do so much better when I am up and have had my quiet time before the kids get up!  I planned meals for this week on Friday and have gotten the ingredients, so I know what to make all week.  Went for a walk with my neighbor Mary Kay - we had some really great conversation today and really have a lot in common.  I am thankful for this new friendship!  And after texting with Lynette for a minute about how weird we both are feeling at times I got a call from her!  It was so nice to hear her sweet voice!  And to hear more about how our experiences right now are so similar.  We are not alone...

Stairway Gallery - I've always wanted to do this!
We have a busy week coming up.  Emily has a Christmas program Tuesday evening at school, scouts Wednesday evening, and basketball practice Thursday evening.  I have coffee tomorrow, weight watchers meeting (yes my first one here since we moved) on Wednesday, and helping in Evan's classroom on Thursday.  I am planning some time to do a few types of Christmas cookies/candy in the next week.  I asked Mary Kay if she wants to do some, too.  That way we can make a lot and visit and trade cookies, etc. 

Part of today's devotion out of Jesus Calling:    'Let My Presence override everything you experience.  Like a luminous veil of Light, I hover over you and everything around you.  I am training you to stay conscious of Me in each situation you encounter.'

If only I was conscious of Him in every situation I much different would I be?  How would I respond differently to things?  Help me Lord to remember Your Presence hovering over me always!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not Comfortable

Normalcy...gosh, I miss it.  I miss feeling totally relaxed, completely comfortable, and at home.  I think when we are uncomfortable we rely on Him more completely.  But, man, to just be totally relaxed...  

I spent some time texting this morning with a friend about how I was feeling.  She, being experienced at this, had such encouragement for me.  I then got a text from a friend that moved away a month before we did.  It was so encouraging for me to see that at that very moment one of my sisters was having a hard time too.  I could then pray for us both instead of making it all about me.  Although I really am even having a hard time seems like I just keep praying the same things over and over and over...and He has heard them so He now I am just waiting.  And hoping that in the waiting I am growing and learning.  Because it sure does hurt.

I went to lunch today with two new-to-Charlotte friends.  Christina and Mary Kay are both many many miles away from home just like me.  Lots of reassurance.  It is a blessing to be able to be around these ladies and others who are away from comfort.  We must let go of the past (remember it, love it, and cherish it though!) but move on...agree that this is our life now and step into what He has for us and make the most of it.  It is hard not to dwell on the past and miss it.

Vent Session - FULL of complaints, beware!!! 
I feel like I am stuck in mode "lazy."  I have just kind of stopped...stopped moving on or letting go.  This week has been a hard one - not horrible, but hard.  Jeff is working late every night and is probably under a lot of stress too, meaning he is a little shorter than usual (not in height, LOL).  A few big things that I had to talk through with the kids (and then you always question whether you did good or just scarred them for life!!!)  Increasing concern about the church we visited last week (Elevation) that had to be discussed with Jeff - we decided it is probably not for us since the concern/uneasiness is there.  I've gained 5 pounds and continue to eat to make myself feel better.  Oh, and anytime you profess your freedom of something, like I did in my last few blogs, you'll be sure to be attacked in that area!!!  LOL!  That's been fun.  I have had headaches more days than not for the past three weeks and my tummy has been less than happy.  Trying to fit in all the appropriate visits for our 5 days back in Evansville on the calendar and wondering if we are going to be able to keep up that pace for those days.  We missed a fun SNC concert with front row seats last night in Evansville.  These white walls are bugging me (I know...that is lame!!)  LOL.  I need COLOR - warmth.  It feels cold in here.  I can't seem to get anything accomplished - just scatterbrained and unorganized - not myself.  I just made our first double mortgage payment.  I wonder whether the buyer that looked at our house a second time last weekend is going to make an offer (doesn't look good though).  I wonder how we are going to do this....................sigh.....
Philipians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
So... I remember that God is in our tomorrows, so I need not worry or be anxious about things....He is there, therefore it will be manageable in some way or another.  In the midst of these things this week He has provided me with my most "social" week here.  I've been walking in the neighborhood, gone to lunch, gone on a shopping trip - all with new friends. He is there...and He always will be.  I am blessed...

I just reread this, as I always do and He brought to me what I need to focus on. Contentment. To be relaxed is to be content.  I thought I was 'ok' with being here now, but I probably need to revisit I content?  Am I truly joyful and at peace right now?  I want to be! Lord help me to be joyful, peaceful, content!  I want to move on and see what You have for us here!  I want to enjoy being here and what You have for us!  Thank you for the encouragement you have provided through old and new friendships this week! 

Philippians 4:12 says, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."      -Please make it true of me!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Friend

I wrote this in July 2010 when my mentor and friend asked me to write down my journey so she could possibly use it in a book she is working on.  I wanted to share it, because it is part of why I am who I am today...and how I am 'ok' 9 hours away from most everyone I love.

For as long as I can remember I had placed large amounts of importance on having a true and perfect 'best friend.'  It took me 29 years before I figured out that that perfect friendship does not exist quite like I thought it did.

Growing up and throughout school I had no problem having making friends or having best friends.  Although I was not a Christian and neither were they.  There was a lot of sin entangled and I was not able to recognize it.  As I fell in love with my husband, I didn't place a lot of importance on girl friends.  Things had changed in my life, like becoming a Christian, getting married, and having kids, and suddenly I longed for a best girl friend to share life with again and it was hard to find one!  I began praying for a friend.  Each time a new friendship formed I just KNEW that she was 'sent from God.'  I would dump out my whole history, my problems, my expectations and expect since she was 'sent from God' that she would fix my problems and meet my expectations!  What pressure I placed on these women!!  Sadly, more than a few, understandably, could not handle this pressure and bailed.  I wanted a friend so badly.  Someone to reassure me, love me, want to spend time with me, and to say, 'I choose YOU!' 

After this pattern cycled several times I sought counsel from someone I trusted.  "Why do I keep getting hurt?"  "Why is everyone so mean and inconsiderate of me?"  I was hurt, bitter, and broken.  God began a work in me.  Was I in for a ride!  He revealed who I was, who He wanted me to be, and who I must be in order to be a healthy and Godly friend.  It was not pretty!!  I realized that until I was a healthy individual, I was most likely not going to have healthy relationships.  I also really needed to work on my relationship with God first.  Until I acknowledged and accepted that God is my Strength, my Counselor, my Encourager, my Friend, my Everything -- instead of trying to make my best friend that -- He would not/could not reward me with a healthy friendship!  I was looking to friends to fill those needs in me that only He can fill.  I had fallen into a trap of idolatry that my jealous God despised.

After a year of growing in my relationship with God, getting over the embarrassment of struggling in this area as an adult, and repenting of my sins, God began blessing me with several healthy friendships.  It amazed me the differences I saw in healthy friendships and how much more enjoyable they were!  Yet...I still had a fear of these friends deciding I wasn't good enough for them and leaving me in the dust.  I was often quite miserable obsessively worrying about something someone had said or hadn't said or done or hadn't done. 

God loves me so much that in my 32nd year (3 years after beginning the journey of being a healthy friend) He made me aware that while I could proclaim that 'God loves me,' I didn't really believe it in my heart.  I believed I wasn't good enough to be loved by a Holy God, that I could maybe be lumped in to a group of "Jesus loves US" but not an individual, "God adores ME."  I had never accepted His love that He freely was giving me.  And how could I love others without accepting His love for me first?  My focus was still getting love from my friends instead of just loving my friends.  How in the world was I STILL not getting this?  I thought I was fixed!!

After wrestling with this and reading every book I could get my hands on about God's love, I finally just simply asked God to make it real to me and told Him that I believed and I ACCEPTED His love.  I had never allowed myself the privilege of having it although it had been there all along.  I physically felt His love wash over me and a joy that had not been there before became a part of me.  I gained a confidence -- now I can say that without a doubt, 100%, God loves me, accepts me, wants me, thinks I am worth spending time with, and will never leave me!  It is awesome to be able to say that and mean it.  And knowing that this was what God thinks of me makes it so much less important that I get that from friends.  My new goal is to love people more and need them less.

Accepting His love and friendship that comes with it has made every relationship easier.  I am relaxed and at ease.  Satan still likes to attack me in this is a weakness.  But I am armed with some pretty fierce ammunition now that I know how much God loves me.  I pray regularly to be filled, as a pitcher, overflowing with His love so that His love splashes onto those around me.  I spent way too much of my time behaving as a leaking cup, grasping at others, being disappointed that they could not keep my cup full.   The search for the perfect friend has ended. I am left trying my best to love my friends like He loves me now and keep my focus on the only perfect person - Jesus - who has been my friend all along!

I am grateful! I am grateful for what You've done!

Happy Fish/Turkey
The visit with my mom and dad was so nice.  It was fun having them here!  The kids were so surprised and we had a great visit.  They had to leave on Wednesday to get back home so my dad could work.  Thursday Tony and Sue came over for Thanksgiving.  It is only the second time we have hosted Thanksgiving since we've been married - the first was in 1998.  It was a yummy meal - we had a fried turkey from Bojangles (a fried chicken fast food chain in the South).  After lunch we went out to one of the ponds here and fished.  The kids caught their first fish.  It was fun!

Thursday night I went shopping with Mary Kay (the neighbor I met from California).  We had a nice time and had a lot to talk about.  I was home and in bed by two.  Jeff worked on Friday, so the kids played outside with neighbors and I decorated the house for Christmas.  It is hard to decorate and not know where to put anything, but I think I like it.  The Christmas tree made it, even though the movers threw it a few times. I got rid of a ton of outside decorations since we don't have room for them in the garage.  So, less is more, is my approach for the outside.  It looks nice.

Today was a visit to church #4.  Elevation Church in Matthews - about 15 minutes away from us.  This church has been recommended to us by a few people back in Evansville. Lysa TurKeurst evidently attends this church.  And when Jeff and I were on the pastor search committee at CFC we had to listen to sermons of pastors online of different churches.  Ironically this church was one of the ones assigned to our group.  We did not care for it then.  Seemed like they all have an overzealous love for their pastor and his vision for the church.  It is one of the fastest growing churches in the country.  5 locations in the Charlotte area I believe.  And they tell about all of that on their website.  So, we had the impression that it was kind of 'cult-like' - isn't that a horrible assumption to make!!  We were judging without experiencing it ourselves.  Anyway, we thought we needed to give it a try because of the recommendations from those we trust back home.  We left this morning after experiencing the service and looked at each other.  "I think I need to eat my words," I said to Jeff.  "Me too," he said.  It was really cool.  We really can't find much to complain about.  It is different than what we are used to, but it was ok with us - a good different.  When we were there this morning it was really a wonderful worship experience.  The music was loud, yes - set up like a concert with lights and stuff.  But then the pastor had us sing a song that just had the words "I am grateful.  I am grateful for what You've done." over and over, then he had us raise one hand then the other while we sang.  It was nice.  Then he gave his sermon - the most engaging one yet for both of us - on God's favor.  So many good points.  Lots of scripture.  Lots of examples.  The short version:

How do we walk in / receive the favor God already has for us?  
1.  Expect - frame your world with favor.  Ask "How is God going to bring success and greatness out of this?" - it is not an entitlement mentality - we KNOW the end of this story.  We don't lose.
2.  Recognize - open your eyes to opportunity.  Greatness can walk right past us but we are thinking about something else - something silly or insignificant.  Even in our setbacks recognize His favor - it might be a set up for success.  
3.  Respond - give yourself to obedience. Obedience positions us to receive His favor (spending time in His presence, having faith that He will do what He says He will do, confession of sin, serving God, running with a purpose.)
No matter what your circumstances, open your eyes!!!  He is giving you favor.  And be grateful.  We ended by singing "I am grateful" some more.  I was not in awe of the pastor - who many times said it was not about him, but what God is doing through him - I thought he was fantastic though!  I can see how/why everyone likes him.  We came from a church where everyone likes certain pastors is that wrong/how does it get wrong?  I don't know.  The kids both liked this church a lot too in their separate areas.  I also liked the fact that they reported on how much and where money was being used over the past month and it was all in the Charlotte area.  I liked that.  I do not see where they have anything for the kids though past 5th grade, so that is something we will probably consider.  We have one more church to visit next week.  Then we will go to a few that we liked for a few weeks in a row to see what we need to do.  I am praying that God places us in the right church - how important this choice is since we are here without family - these people will be our family.

We had a call a bit ago that our house was being shown to someone for the second time!  That hasn't happened yet that I know of.  Praying praying praying.  But knowing and resting that it will be ok.

The season of thankfulness.  I am so grateful this year for what He has done for us.  I am so grateful that He prepared our hearts through past experiences and past growth for what He had for us to do (and WHERE He had for us to do it!) - as if He would just throw us out there to the wolves without preparation!   I am grateful for what He has done in me - the work, the change, the healing.  I just look back over the past 5-7 years of my life and am utterly amazed at how changed I am.  I am so content with who I am at this stage of my life...and He is the One who shaped me into who I am.  It is not of my own doing.  And I am still SO far from where I need to be - don't get me wrong.  The progress I have made, did not come through willpower.  I was unable.  But He is able.  He brought me out of a pit and placed me on a rock, gave me blessings through mentors and wise friends, insight and revelation, and tools from His Word such as the knowledge of who I am according to Him, why I am loved, and what He has asked of me.  He reminded me that I need not be alone because He is always in me, helping me be more like Him and less like me.  He forgave me for always striving to be in everyone's good graces and and being addicted to pleasing others in order to feel loved.  He released me from the bondage of self depreciating thoughts and actions and negativity.  He taught me that just because so-and-so says I am this-or-that, it does not define me and he/she does not have control over me.  I am free.  Free of negativity.  Free of addictions to people.  Free of a need for a friend to fill that emptiness in me. He is the only One who can do that.  The devil knows how to get me though, just like he does you.  And during times when I am tired, hungry, sick, sad, away from His Word, or pms'ing these weaknesses make a reappearance!  Sigh!  The difference in me now is - I can 'shake it off' instead of being bound in obsession for long periods of time.  Yes, I have down days, and sometimes weeks.  But, no, I am not who I any means...and for this, I am grateful.  With change comes some loss...and unfortunately I am mourning some losses right now.  But I know that He is leading me.  I am waiting in expectation for the favor that He has in store for me and my family here and know that He will heal my heart.  I am grateful.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He Still Blesses Me - Even After Temper Tantrums!

So, today we visited church #3 - Calvary Church, which is the one that I have been doing my women's study at on Tuesday mornings.  I figured that it would be more of a classic/traditional service opposed to the contemporary style we lean more towards.   But, whoa!  It was definitely the most traditional type service (except for a Catholic service) that I've been to.  Jeff wore jeans and was a tad uncomfortable.  Men in coats and ties and definitely your 'Sunday best.'  The huge sanctuary was beautiful with a huge pipe organ and large windows.  Full choir and orchestra on the platform with very 'pretty' songs and traditional hymns. This church was as far as a drive as the one last week.  And they did not have a class for 4th graders on up.  So Emily had to go to the service with us.  She was not happy.  The idea is that everyone stays for the second hour for a Bible study and that is when they have something for her age.  Not a huge fan of that for her sake.  Although, the pastor was fantastic.  Dr. Munro is from Scotland and was a criminal prosecutor, then went to seminary to get a Master of Theology degree.  He was fun to listen to with his accent and he taught right out of the Bible, straight scripture - kept my attention.  Loved him!  Unfortunately we didn't like much of any of the rest of it.  It was ok if we are looking for something so traditional, but I guess we really aren't. 

This past week we got some extra dirt in my landscaped area and three piles of the great big rocks.  It is going to look so great in the spring when I can plant more stuff.  I got a few clearance grasses at Lowe's to start with.  We will still need to move the smoker off of the deck and down to this area here in the next week.

I started and finished my first crafty project for the house:  two window cornices for the living room.  I have wanted to make some since a friend in Evansville made some of her own, then the model home had some.  So, my dad built the wood frame and I covered them - which was a lot harder than I thought it'd be. They turned out great though - I am happy with them!

So, I had a very pity party kind of week.  I am lonely and it became magnified when Em came home from the Jr. Scout meeting that she had looked so forward to going to.  She was just bummed.  She misses her group from home that she'd been with for years.  Of course these girls all know each other and Em was sad that she didn't have a friend there.  It broke my heart.  The same day I got a call from my mom saying that her and my dad are going to be here on Monday through Wednesday - which was a total surprise!  I was and am very excited!  But, then I was irritated that they have to make a 9 hour drive in order to see us!!  I got mad again about this whole situation - had my "it's not fair!" tantrum and a good cry that night and the next morning and felt a bit better.  Dreary weather and 5 days worth of headaches haven't helped much either.  I miss my girlfriends and even my acquaintances - seeing people I know almost everywhere I go. I am thankful that a phone call and texting and everything else makes my friends seem close still, but it is not the same as seeing them on a regular basis.  And it is hard that communication with a lot of people have lessened and lessened.  I know it is hard to be far away...and I've never been good at maintaining long distance friendships.  Argh!  So I definitely don't blame anyone  - life is busy - and if you aren't in someones life regularly then it is hard to be intentional.  'Out of sight, out of mind' right?  So sad, but so true.  I am confident though that God will help us maintain friendships that are good for us and that He has amazing friendships planned for all of us here - patience is going to be necessary.  Friendships don't develop overnight, right?  I read in When the Boxes are Unpacked book this week:

"Who better than Christ would know what it's like to leave great fellowship and a home He loves, to come to a new strange place?  I wonder if Christ ever got homesick for heaven?" 

He is the One who will remain constant during this time in my life.  No, I don't have my friends and family here, but I have Him ALL the time, any time - and He understands perfectly how I feel.  He (even after my temper tantrum) provided these interactions/encouragements this week for me:  He had Petrina send me a message telling me how she loves my blogs and how to remember that I have new friends here.  She's even one who is in a similar situation as I am just moving here this summer...I am not the only one going through this type of thing - I need to remember this.  I also met a mom at the bus stop this week who moved here from California this summer.  MaryKay is so sweet and we got along perfectly - excited about this potential friendship!  At the Spring Fling Thing meeting on Friday I met a mom who just moved here this summer too!  The meeting was fun - I love event planning!  LOL.   I keep thinking it would be fun to have a get together for all of us newbies (new to the area in 2011 party)...must keep this in mind.  I keep comparing this place to being away at college.  Everyone is here from somewhere else, a lot are away from home and family, and are entering a new phase of life.  I am tossing around the idea of starting a bunco group for the ladies in the neighborhood - there isn't one yet!  And this morning in church I had a thought about doing a women's Bible study out of my home - I was just complaining that there aren't hardly any churches that have women's ministries and during the day studies going on.  These are some ideas I've had, but not acted on at all - definitely a way to make some friends.  Oh - we went out with Steve and Wendy and their girls on Friday night.  She is the one I met on the online moms group and go to Transformation Church.  We had a really great time!  

Since we've moved in I have not had as much anxiety about our house in Indiana.  Jeff and I have talked a lot about it and are accepting that it might be a long time before it sells.  We also remember that we made sure that we could do this financially before we agreed to all of this.  It is not going to be fun, but it is going to make us rely fully on Him for His provision.  I can not believe how much 'favor' He has provided me over just this past week with buying certain things, finding certain deals, and being given huge discounts - I could call it just good luck or the right place at the right time or savvy shopping, but it is not.  He is going to provide for us during this time.  We have had a couple week lull in activity on the house.  We've had a few showings this weekend though.  Jeff and I certainly are not thrilled about having two houses payments, but we are at peace...and we are trusting.  Evan was not heartbroken when we told him that we could not pay the almost $200 in fees just to JOIN boy scouts.  (But we are looking in to Awana for him.)  And the kids did not pout when we said we are going to get one family gift this year instead of gifts for everyone.  It will be ok...we will follow Him closely, going without a few things so that we can continue to be a part of this plan He has for us. 

Oh- please pray for safe travels for my parents who will be driving Sunday evening and Monday morning and then again on Wednesday evening and Thursday.  Thanks!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taking the Time to Allow Debridement is busy again.  So many things to do.  Just made a to-do list.  That always helps me feel less overwhelmed actually.  This week holds:  Emily's first Jr. Scout meeting, a few Spring Fling Thing meetings, a few basketball coaching meetings for Jeff, and our first dinner out with another family on Friday!

Over the last week I've slowly put pictures up on the walls.  I am on a quest to move anything out of the garage that I possibly can.  Our garage is teeny and our priority is to both park in it.  I also have been moving large rocks from the pile in the next lot over and making an outline of where our area of landscaping will be that holds our picnic table, smoker, firepit, etc.  I just asked our builder if he knows any guys that would give us a few scoops of dirt to help us out for a small fee...both Jeff and I have been doing so much lifting, carrying, and odd over the head work that our necks and backs are a mess!  Jeff grilled out a few times this week.  We went to some garage sales on Saturday and found some shelving for my craft room that was cheap.

I, emotionally, have had a hard week I think.  Between not interacting with too many people and no cable tv to flip on during the day - I'm lonely I think.  I need to be filling my void with God and I am filling it with food instead. 

The kids were off on Thursday afternoon and Friday, so they both invited a friend over.  Evan's friend Brayden played on Thursday afternoon.  He reminds me so much of his friend Colin from home.  And he said "yes mam" when I asked them to start cleaning up.  Wow!  Emily had Carissa over on Thursday and she stayed the night.  We got in the van to go get Wendy's for dinner and the radio came on.  Carissa:  "I love this song!  Is this 91.9 (the local Christian station)?"  Me:  "Yup"  Emily:  "Are you a Christian?"  Carissa:  "Yes, are you??"  Emily:  "Yes"  - which lead to some neat conversations at dinner.  I was SO thrilled.  They stayed up late doing hair, makeup, games, movies, little skits, and laughing more than I've heard Emily laugh in months.  It was so neat.  They had so much fun that they convinced Carissa's parents that Emily then needed to go spend the night at her house, but we just let her go spend the day there...too little sleep for Emily makes her not very much fun to be around ---who's daughter is she??  I reminded Emily how we had been praying for a good friend and how Carissa is becoming one.  God is faithful.

Yesterday we visited church number 2.  This one was the one that my new friend Wendy and her husband attend.  It right over the border in South Carolina - Transformation Church.  The pastor is Derwin Gray - he used to play football for the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers - then he went to seminary.  He was an extremely dynamic speaker and preached doctrinally sound.  It was a 25 minute drive though which would most likely limit our involvement some and all 4 of us felt more 'at home' at the church the previous week.  This church is doing some amazing things though in South Carolina and just announced that they are expanding to another building and another city!  They are definitely reaching people in an area that is "poor and multi-cultural" as Pastor Gray put it!  We have 3 more to visit.  All four of us are praying for God to show us the right church!

So, as I was carrying rocks yesterday afternoon I had a lot of time to think.  And last night I had a lot of time to hurt with the heating pad - ha ha ha.  First of all, I find this type of work not even work...I know, weird, right?  Love getting in the dirt and creating gardens that are peaceful and nice to look at.  It was so pleasant out - breezy and cool enough to not get sweaty.  Tons of geese on the lake and I LOVE the sound of the fountain on the lake.  Water is so soothing to me and it always has been.  Which, off track for a second - when I can HEAR water it is soothing to the ocean, rain showers, a fountain, a babbling brook in Gatlinburg, even a bubble bath running.  You don't even notice water that is not moving unless you can see it - and water that doesn't move just gets nasty and weird stuff growing on it - unfit for use.  Jesus is the living water inside us.  He says in John 7:38: "Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  and John 4:14:  "but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The water (the Spirit in us) is living and moving - you can hear it and see it from our is soothing and a comfort for us.  It is a source of strength and peace.  In the Bible there are so many analogies about us being like water that is moving - living water, peace like a river, righteousness like waves...  But not so many about us being like water that is puddled up with sludge on top attracting mosquitoes.  Let His peace flow through us like water would - touching every open spot, every hole, nook, cranny...  Let it soak and debride and cleanse... And let His Word flow on out of us to others in everything we do....I SO needed this this morning.  Guess I really didn't get off track...  I was going to write about something else that I was thinking about while I was moving rocks, but He blessed me with the reminder that I CAN be at peace if I take the time to let Him touch every single hole of emptiness that I have right now.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Boxes Are Unpacked

Well, the boxes are unpacked.  I can see the floor in some places.  We're getting there!  I've been busy for sure...lots to do.  So thankful to be in our house.  It doesn't feel like home yet, but it will come.  The kids are so excited to have their rooms, beds, toys, etc.  They are suddenly getting along better - go figure!  They got to meet some kids in the neighborhood this past week too.  The bus ride home is nice for me - I can see the bus stop from our front porch - I am enjoying not driving two hours every afternoon!!

I just have to take a minute and say, I am SO completely thankful for the time that we spent at Tony & Sue's over the past 2 1/2 months.  The kids loved learning different things from them and having the extra attention.  And I really enjoyed getting to know Sue and hanging out with her.  Sue is an extremely encouraging and positive person.  She taught me some good meals and taught me to sew and quilt!!  She offered to include me in everything she did.  She cheered me up when I was down.  They shared their entire space with us and made sacrifices beyond belief.  They thought ahead as to what would make us most comfortable and provided and did that.  Amazing!  I have thought often over the past few months - would I be able to extend the same gift of hospitality to others as they have for us??  It is the kind of gift that you can never express how much it meant - and you can never repay someone for!   What a blessing God provided to us through them!  We will be having our only Carolina relatives over for Thanksgiving this year.

It was absolutely fantastic having my mom and Judy here at the beginning of the week.  They flew home on Thursday.  But they and Sue were a huge help.  They unpacked all the boxes for me and organized the kitchen.  I hated to see them leave.  The week was a blur.  By Thursday when they left I had my bearings enough to make a taco dinner!  When Evan woke up Friday morning he had a sore throat, but no fever or anything else, so off to school he went.  When he got home he had a fever...bad mom!!  Off to the doctor we went.  We had already researched and decided on a doctor that is right up the road - less than 5 minutes.  He, luckily, could get us in on a Friday afternoon.  Positive strep.  Ugh.  But, at least he got started on medicine and was feeling much better by Saturday evening.  Jeff has been great - hanging blinds/curtain rods, hooking things up, hanging light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc.  He has really worked hard. We have been so busy searching for lost items, moving things around, hanging things, organizing that it still does not seem real that we are in a house in North Carolina and are 'doing life' here now.  Although it just makes me smile to take the kids to school in the mornings and be gone for 10 minutes round trip!  Halleluiah! 

This weekend in Evansville we missed the prospective pastor preach at church...and I missed the women's conference with Lysa TerKeurst and Laura Story.  It made me sad to miss out on things...things that were important to us.  I'm sure there will be many more things we miss though and time will heal...

This morning, after enjoying the extra hour of sleep from the time change, we got up and went to church!  We were all so excited!  We have about 5 different churches that we've looked at online and listened to some sermons of their pastors that we'd like to visit.  The one this morning was the closest to our house since we have so much we wanted to get done at home today.  Southbrook Church is 5 minutes away and Emily is going to play basketball through that church soon (Jeff is going to coach too!)  The kids both had a kid church type set up.  Emily was with just 4th grade girls - and one was a girl from her class at school! - and they joined the middle school for worship - it was loud music!  Jeff and I enjoyed the sermon, the pastor, the people, the set up, and most of all - the worship and music.  It was definitely our style.  I was so relieved to be back at church.  It felt good to stand in His presence and sing - and since it was so loud no one heard how off key I was...and since it was dark, no one saw the tears run down my face as we sang one of my favorites - "Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm.  Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low.  Lord, you never let go of me!"  Jeff and I have never 'church shopped' before.  We've prayed for the right one, but don't really know what to do to choose.  All four of us liked this one enough to stay there!  But, we also want to try the others out too so we know for sure what is out there - I guess that is how you do it?  Pray for us if you think of it!

Like I said, things have been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks.  I really don't think much of anything has sunk in fully.  I know that a lot of stress has been relieved, but I am sure that the journey is only starting.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turning the Page, but the Book Ain't Over!

Up early with thoughts running through my head and a need to write them down!  The past 4 days went fast, yet seem to have lasted forever too!  Sue and I left Wednesday morning and headed to Evansville.  We had a great time talking the whole way and sharing many stories.  The drive was easy and seemed short.  Sue went on to spend time with Judy for a few days while I had a nice time staying with my parents.  I got to go eat dinner with them and get ALL of their attention - LOL!  Didn't have to share it with Em & Ev!  Ha ha ha!  It was very fun to hang out with them and talk and watch the baseball games on tv too.  Thursday I headed over to our house and was literally shaking when the moving truck pulled up at 8am.  I walked the guys, Rob and Sven, through the house.  "Yes, that goes, yup, yup, that too."  I stepped out on the porch and fought back some tears.  "Crap!  There is a MOVING truck in front of our house!...To move us to NORTH CAROLINA!!"
Kendra arrived and we sat on the couch looking through magazines and catching up for the majority of the morning.  It felt incredibly weird not being able to work.  If you know me, you know I like to be busy and working and helping.  I brought some chocolates for Kendra and I.  Our husbands jokingly (I think...) tell us that we just sit around and eat bon bons all day, so I figured for our last days as neighbors we needed to actually do it.  Don't be mad that I put the picture in, Kendra - too cute not to share!
Rhonda, my favorite friend with a pet goat, came by to visit too - it was so good to see her!!  Someone actually even came to see the house in the midst of the chaos.  By 3pm the guys had the inside of the house packed.  I think it would have taken me a week.  They took off and I started cleaning a few things in the house.  I also started thinking of the mess, the amount of stuff they couldn't take with them that I was going to need to transport, and how long it is going to take to unpack and started to become overwhelmed.  The box of spaghetti that got spilled and then stepped on a hundred times that day throughout the house didn't help!  LOL!  I found it hard to pray while I was in Evansville.  I am not sure why.  Not for lack of trying.  Probably just the amount of stress and emotion involved I guess.  Friday morning the guys arrived and started loading the truck and packing up the garage and shed.  They underestimated how much stuff we had outside, so it took them about 4 hours longer than they thought it would.  It was amazing to see how fast they got it done though.  I felt a lot better on Friday because I was busy cleaning each room as it emptied out.  I also got to be a hero for finding some lost favorite toys for the kids AND the cats!  My parents and Kendra were there most of the day and the guys were joking around with us a lot.  Lots of laughing, which was so nice. The house actually looks really good empty.  I know that our realtor and everyone else says it is harder to sell an empty house, but I think we might of still had too much stuff in our house and now that it is empty it looks SO much bigger - some areas are open and nice that we had big pieces of furniture in - blocking nice window areas, etc.  So, I am very confident that it will be good for the sell.

As I left the subdivision after a long two days I could not hold back the tears.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.  My mom sat next to me as I drove away and reminded me that each chapter of our lives is sad when it ends, but the next one always has something to look forward to.  As I am typing this now, we are back at Tony and Sue's.  The kids are up now and all 4 of us are piled in the bed and the kids are watching something you'd never believe.  We have not watched it in years. 'Blue's Clues'  This show was a favorite of both kids when they were toddlers.  Both had Blue's Clues themed 2nd birthday parties.  (Emily even had the special edition blue ice cream with paw print shaped cookies in it that gave everyone some odd green colored poo for a few days afterwards, but that is another story! ha!)  What a fun time it was in our lives.  Cute little kiddos toddling around with a little diaper butt and cute words babbling out of their mouths.  But, what adventures we have had with them since those days!  How much they have learned.  How Jeff and I have grown closer to each other and to God since then.  How I have grown and changed and learned and become stronger since then.  It was a fun time and it is ok to reminiscence and to even get a little teary thinking back and missing it a bit. But, greater things have come and are even yet to come.  And as God has closed the Evansville chapter in our lives, just as the Blue's Clues chapter came to an end, He is leading us on to the next page in our stories which He prepared just for us.

1 Corinthians 2:9

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
   “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

I See It! The Light at the End of the Tunnel!!

Well this week has certainly gone quickly!  I have spent a lot of time down in our new area this week for this and that and it is feeling a bit more familiar to me.  Tuesday's Bible study was good.  I am amazed at how Jonah's story and this study is going along with my emotions and thoughts right now so perfectly.   Wednesday I had an almost 'normal' day - except for the fact I couldn't go home without driving an hour!  I volunteered at school to set up the book fair.  There were 3 other moms that did too.  Christina, who just moved here in July from New Jersey (From Bon Jovi's town!!!!) and I hit it off.  While setting up I asked her if she wanted to help with the Spring Fling Thing with the auction - I was meeting with another mom after the library set up in order to get details about what the Auction Coordinator job entailed.  So Christina stuck around and heard the spiel and we are going to work on it together.  Also, while talking we discovered that we both had been invited on Thursday morning to go to a mom's breakfast.  LOL  I think God wanted us to meet, maybe?  Thursday's breakfast was fun.  I met 3 additional moms and there were 3 there that I had already met.  Got lots of advice on moving/selling an empty house/etc.  All 7 of us had moved here from somewhere else.  It is definitely easier to meet people here than in other places I imagine.  Since there are so many new people - the new people can all be friends.  LOL. 

Jeff has had management training this week.  He has had some evenings where they've all gone out for dinner making him get home pretty late.  I am glad that he has had some social stuff though.  He hasn't really had a chance for any of that - just work. 

The kids are hanging in there.  They are so excited to move.  And their prayers are so sweet lately.  They are begging God for our house to sell.  They ask Him for our new house to get done quickly and safely.  Emily is excited to be a library helper once a week - she gets to go and help the 'little kids' find books - right up her alley.  Evan is going to his friend's birthday party on Sunday so he is excited.  Emily did come to me crying this week because she doesn't have one good friend like everyone else.  I had to explain to her how it takes time to make good friendships.  I've encouraged her to sit and talk to the girls and ask them about themselves, etc.  Emily wants to run and play games at recess, but a lot of the girls want to sit and talk.  She doesn't understand why she isn't getting to know anyone, but she isn't spending the time/making the effort to get to know them.  I told her to pray and ask God for a friend - I have been praying that for her - and for me too!  He WILL provide.

The light at the end of the tunnel has appeared.  Lots of preparations in order to get our stuff moved and utilities at the new house and things back in order at Tony & Sue's.  I imagine now I need to be on guard for not becoming overwhelmed with all I have to do.  After 10 weeks of not having many responsibilities at all it will be an adjustment I'm sure to get back into the groove.  To drive by the house now I already find it looking like OUR is familiar...  I am ready to live there.  I am excited.  It is neat that we have had this 'layover' here at Tony & Sue's so we could adjust to the idea of living here more before we actually do.  Does that even make sense? I also know now that we were supposed to build - if we would have purchased an existing home we would have already had two house payments here on top of the ones at home.  I love confirmations...and I am thankful that the Spirit is allowing me to see them.  So on Wednesday Sue and I will leave and drive to Evansville. (Apparently after only making it an hour and a half before getting so sleepy I couldn't drive on our last trip home, Jeff thinks I need a driving buddy!)  I will be with the movers on Thursday and Friday.  I will have cleaning and a few repairs to do in the house.  Looking forward to staying at my mom and dad's - my dad is off work those days - and hanging out with Kendra who is a pro with movers coming in!  On Saturday morning my mom, Judy, Sue, and I will head back with my plants, flammable stuff, and perishable stuff.  Can you imagine the 4 of us in the van for 9 hours....gonna be a lot of laughing I am sure - and maybe a few potty stops....and maybe some shopping...we might make it back...maybe...  We close on October 31st and move in on the first of November to start the season of thankfulness :)  Judy and my mom are going to stay through Thursday so they can be with us when the truck arrives and help unpack.  So thankful for that!  

This week I read in my devotion book that:  anxiety is the result of envisioning the future without God.  So when the thoughts of anxiousness have come this week about the future I have rested thinking 'but He will be with us, so it will be ok.'  Such a simple concept, but it was presented in just the way that made sense to me.  I also stopped by to talk to Rachelle this week at the model home and she said the simple phrase 'worrying won't fix anything or accomplish anything' - something like that.  Anyway, yeah, you have heard that a billion and a half times right?  But, I really focused on that.  No, it won't DO anything.

Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Worry
     “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?     “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Things We Know

We had a very fun week with Judy here!  Some highlights of this week:  Stepping in mud and getting paint on us while showing Judy and Sue our house Tuesday.  Some awesome slaw at a restaurant.  Watching fast cars go fast at the Bojangles Pole Night for the big NASCAR race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (and enjoying it!)  Both of the kids getting straight A's on their first report cards!  Bead shops, Quilting shops, Antique shops, Fabric shops, Yarn shops, and Consignment shops in Davidson, Concord, Kannapolis, Huntersville, Mooresville, Stallings, and Monroe!  (Don't worry, I barely bought anything!)  Eating at a Mexican restaurant who had their doors open since it was so nice out and being startled by the bird flying around above our heads.  Me receiving an early Christmas present - my first sewing machine!!! Which I am SO excited about!  Trying shrimp and grits and loving it.  Emily learning how to crochet a bit.  Sue, Judy, and I being so in to shopping and eating that we had to call Jeff away from work to go pick up the kids from school because we weren't going to make it there in time. Oops!

Our house is coming along that a word?  Jeff and I and the kids stopped by this afternoon and walked through it.  They have trim up, cabinets in, tile in, counter tops on, some appliances in, light fixtures up, toilets in.  The outside looks almost complete.  It rained for a few days this past week so the yard did not get worked on, but the stone is done, gutters on, sidewalks and driveway poured.  It looks so neat.  It is really exciting.  I never ever ever dreamed that we'd be doing this right now.  It just goes to show how unpredictable life is.  Not always are the changes good...sometimes they are bad, but sometimes the good comes with a lot of hard....  Some things we KNOW about this change in our lives:
  • We have been blessed beyond measure straight from God.  James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   
  • Yet we are hurting and are mourning a loss.  John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 
  • He comforts us!  Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • And He gives us strength through His Spirit and through others who have done this before. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 
  • And He prepared us for this already.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Thank you Lord~
Thank you for Jeff's promotion - for the recognition in the workplace that he has received.  Thank you for providing a warm, safe, and loving environment for us to stay while our house is being built.  Thank you for a new beautiful house!  We realize that these are straight from You!  Thank you for loving on us when we are sad and allowing us to mourn, but then allowing us to tap into that Strength who lives in us.  Thank you for surrounding us with encouragement from so many and especially those who have been comforted by You before and are able to comfort us with the comfort You gave them.  Thank you for preparing us for this - for shaping us into the people that You wanted and needed us to be in order to give us these blessings and be available for the next "good thing" You will have us do.

Not every blessing comes up all roses all the time.  God has promised that we will have trouble in this world - even amidst all the great things.  I am thankful that while we are enjoying our blessings and praising Him for them, we can also call on Him for comfort since this blessing is causing pain, too!  Thank you all for your encouragement and prayers!

"Blessings" by Laura Story - Click here to listen to a great song to go with my thoughts tonight!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Plain Weird

Going home was weird.  Just plain weird.  We loved seeing everyone though.  Friday we got the kids from school after lunch and headed nine hours back to Evansville.  They had today off of school for Columbus Day and the Fall Festival was this weekend so it was a great time to go.  We aren't able to go home for Thanksgiving this year.  We pulled into our neighborhood at 10pm and walked into our house.  It smelled weird - not bad - just different.  We all fell into our own beds very happily and slept like rocks.  Saturday morning we got up early and had breakfast at my parents house.  Then we went back to our house and did the walk through with the moving company person.  Then we hit Franklin Street - woohoo!  Evan was thrilled to run into his best buddy from home while we were there.  We got our tenderloin, pronto pup, fish sandwich, and haystack!  We also got to meet Jenny's new boyfriend, Jason.  He's a great guy and we look forward to being around him and Jenny again soon!! We had a showing on the house while we were at the festival.  Came back home and Jeff and I took a 3 or so hour nap.  Woke up to feedback that they didn't like the house.  But, someone else wanted to come and look on Sunday, so ok.  Had a nice family dinner at Turoni's with the Kissels.  Came back home and slept another 12 hours.

At this point we realized that we were just plain exhausted.  I think we needed to catch up on 7 weeks of rest...we have been constantly 'on' - not completely/fully relaxed at any given time.  I guess if you have ever lived with family while trying to keep your 2 kids and 2 cats out of trouble you will understand this!!?  I also started realizing that my heart was feeling like it was being ripped out again.  Ugh.  Really??  I thought I had grieved and we were done with this.  I had even asked Jeff if we could not stay at our house when we went home because I was afraid it might be hard on the kids emotionally.  Never thought I'd have such a hard time with it.  By Sunday morning I was sad, but angry too.  I was mad that we were home in the house that isn't sold yet.  Mad that we were going to have to go back to North Carolina.  Mad that we had missed out on all of our social stuff this fall.  Mad that none of our friends had missed out on anything.  Mad that I have to put effort forth to meet people.  Mad that we are starting over.  Ahhh!  Mad that the people that keep coming to see our house don't like it.  Jeff had to do some maintenance stuff on the house, then we had lunch with some friends, who unfortunately got to spend time with a very non-talkative and not-herself Amy.  Someone else came to see our house while we were gone and was only there for like 10 minutes, so it was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.  We ended up at Matthew and Kendra's for dinner.  We walked in to the most inviting environment.  Our good friends - the ones who have been SO completely supportive and understanding during all of this - making a great smelling dinner, windows open with the crisp fall breeze coming in, candles lit, and fall decorations everywhere.  It overtook me and within 5 minutes I was on the back porch with Kendra spilling my guts and crying 7 weeks of tears.  Ugh.  I told her how mad I was.  She asked, "who are you mad at?"  Silence.  "God."  More tears.  "You need to tell Him."  Ugh.  We had a great time catching up and being there in between me tearing up every now and then.  I just miss it all.  I am completely scared out of my mind that we are going to have two house payments soon.  Kendra and I talked a lot about this not playing out in the way that Jeff and I thought it would.  There is no guarantee that our house is going to sell before we move into our new one.  God does not need to make this easy on us.  And we need to become ok with might be next year before it is sold.  Jeff and I went home and talked...he held me while I cried more.  And then we slept....for the last time in our house.

This morning before we left Judy gave us a daily devotion book that she thought would be good for us.  Jeff turned to October 10th to read:
Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.  Relax, and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting Love.  My Love Light never dims, yet you are often unaware of my radiant Presence.  When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help.  This is a subtle sin -- so common that it usually slips by unnoticed.  The alternative is to live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment.  Rather than fearing your inadequacy, rejoice in My abundant supply.  Train your mind to seek My help continually, even when you feel competent to handle something by yourself.  Don't divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require My help.  Instead, learn to rely on Me in every situation.  This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.
Jeff said I needed to share how cool it was that we both needed this this morning and there it was.

We are back in North Carolina now.  Can't call it home yet.  I am still feeling pretty fragile.  Still teary.  Still hurting.  But, even as I am unaware of His radiant Presence, He is here...    Judy is here with us for the week, so I am hoping we will have a fun and relaxing time with her.

Oh, and the feedback from the short visit yesterday was actually good - they might want another showing.  And, we have another showing tomorrow afternoon.  Guess it isn't all gloom and doom...

A prayer from Becoming A Woman of Prayer pg 40
"Lord,  If what I ask for does not please You, neither would it please me.  My desires are put into Your hands to be corrected.  Strike the pen through every petition that I offer that is not right.  And put in whatever I have omitted, even though I might not have desired it had I considered it...Not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Not Just Obedience....FAITH

This question from God this morning:

"Why are you not trusting Me to sell your house?"

My answer to Him:

My first inclination is to say I don't know.  But that isn't an answer.  Is it that I am selfish and spoiled?  I want what I want and I want it now.  Is it also that I like to control things?  I do not know how this is going to play out and I want to fix it now.  Ahhh, I think that You just told me...  Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  I still am finding it hard to believe that we are easily trusting You in the whole picture - We trust that You moved us for a purpose.  Yet here I am completely and totally hung up on one detail of Your intricate plan.  I worry that You have forgotten about it, that it is going to cause us problems.  I am being the nagging mom/wife, only to You - "Now, don't forget - You are doing so good, but don't forget that this needs to be wrapped up in the next month so we can go on living our perfect, easy lives." How dare I treat You like that!  I am humanizing You, the One who created this earth and everything on it.  You forget no detail.  And just because You wanted us to come here and we did - does not give us a free pass to an easy transition.  Forgive me for basically thinking we need to be rewarded for obeying.  Ugh...

Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family."

So, Noah obeyed when You called him.  Did he ever waver?  Did he get hung up on ONE thing?  Did he ask You repeatedly to take care of the expense of having a home and the construction hanging over his head?  But Noah didn't just obey.  He had faith...he trusted You...completely.  We can obey you, but not trust you.  Two totally different things...and one of them we have not done such a good job at.  So, forgive us for being so high and mighty/proud for following Your lead and obeying, but then not trusting You in Your plan.  Lord, let us surrender to You completely.  Please take back the handling of the details that I have tried to take from You.  Forgive me for thinking that my solution is better than what You are doing.  Let us just rest in You and let us cast our anxieties on You since You care for us.  Let us trust in You with all of our hearts and not get wrapped up in what makes sense to us...  And again, forgive me for thinking I can earn Your grace with the house...not sure why I keep having those thoughts -"well maybe NOW it will sell since I realized I didn't have faith."  How embarrassing.  Let me surrender completely the hold I have on this.  It is Yours, I relinquish it to You.  I trust You have wonderful plans for us here...I also trust You will do what it takes to get to those wonderful outcomes.  I give up.  I give You control.  Thank you for taking this burden!  Help me to revisit this when I need to!!  Which will probably be in about 10 minutes.  You know me!! :)  LOL

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bring Peace To All Who Enter - Even The Thieves!

Another week is gone...time is going by so quickly.  I can hardly believe it is 4 weeks til we move in!  I am getting very excited.  Yet, the time getting short is causing Jeff and I to waver in our faith.  We are struggling hourly to trust Him in His plan with the sell of our home in Evansville.  The people who saw our home on Sunday and the people on Tuesday both liked it...but have since put other houses above ours on their lists.  The approaching two mortgages, company relocation money running low, and Christmas coming is in our thoughts - but He has our best in mind.  He will provide.  Amazingly the thousands that we had to pay for the medical stuff for Evan and Jeff has not been a burden to us...He works it out...and if it does become a burden - He will teach us, strengthen us, and make us better during that time.

This week has been weird.  Very roller coaster-y for me.  Besides the house stuff in E'ville, our new home had electrical wiring cut and stolen two nights in a row.  Frustrating!  I can't help but pray for them.  My parents wrote a prayer near the front door.

"Bring peace to all who enter."  - Yes, Lord, please do that.  So many of us have been so desperate to try whatever we can to 'fix' our situation.  Just let them learn that they can rest in You!

Emily has dealt with learning what popularity is.  I very much remember learning that in 4th grade, too.  I however began my descent into "I am who others say I am."   She has befriended a girl that isn't the most likeable and is 'one day a best friend one day doesn't like her' and has some personal issues going on.  Some decisions had to be made by Jeff and I due to some of what had been shared about her life to Emily.  Hopefully now some situations will be worked on for the benefit of the girl.  I am all for Emily being kind and showing the love of Christ to everyone, I do think though, that at this age, she does not need to put herself knowingly into relationships that could possibly cause her to stumble.  So a lot of encouragement this week from us and her teacher to continue to be kind, but to branch out and make other friends.  Not sure whether the teacher helped this along or not, but since we have been talking about this, Emily is now being invited to sit at different tables at lunch and play with different girls at recess. The girls in class are being very kind to open up their 'circles' and include her now.  I hope to sit down with Emily in the next few days and start going over some verses that I just had to learn over the past 5 years...ones that affirm who I am in Christ.  I never believed any of them with my heart.  "I am who God says I am now."  I can't imagine learning these truths and believing them with your heart at a young age...what a gift that would be!  If anyone would like this list of verses about how much He adores you I would love to share it with you.  A favorite quote of mine from pastor Rick Warren: 
"When you realize how much God loves you - with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love - then His love will change your entire focus on life."

I had lunch on Wednesday with 3 sweet moms from Emily's class at Panera.  Felt so normal to just sit and talk about school.  There is a new principal this year who is enforcing the rules, causing some of the 'strictness' so everyone (new or old) is learning together...lots to talk about! :)  Very sweet ladies!  I have joined a social website for Union County Moms.  There are tons of moms on there and it is a great resource to ask questions, etc.  Anyway, I've only been on there a handful of times and decided to introduce myself the other day.  I ended up starting a conversation with a girl named Wendy and we met up for lunch yesterday.  She moved here in March and lives in the neighborhood right next to ours.  She has a first grade daughter, a two year old daughter, and is due with her third daughter at the end of Oct.  I have felt like I have had to force myself to make these dates and do these things...I never want to do them, but afterwards I am always glad I do.  I could easily just be a hermit right now, no one would now.  But I know that I need fellowship.  Yesterday morning I was supposed to call Wendy and let her know if I did indeed want to meet up.  So, after a headache for two days, a crappy day before, and up at 4:30 because of that - I just did not want to...I sighed a prayer (or maybe it was a whine...God I don't want to do this...) and a verse came immediately to me.  "Do not stop meeting together."  Of course I don't ever know the whole verse or the address, but have since looked it up.  Hebrews 10:25 says "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  I called her up, we met, and she told me a pretty neat story about the nondenominational church they have been going to since they moved here.  I looked it up last night and it looks pretty neat.  Definitely one we will be trying out.  She has been saved and baptized since March.  I can't help but feel like it was a divine meeting.

Oh, and I just have to add that I was very proud of myself yesterday because I learned how to look up what indicator light was on in the van, check my tire pressure, and fill my tires to the appropriate amounts.  Yes, I have never done that.  I usually just freak.  :)  Go me!