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!