Thursday, May 31, 2012

To Texas and Back

Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas. - Senator William Blakley

For my birthday trip this year, Tim and I flew out to Houston to visit friends.  Last summer I met an amazing group of people from Bear Creek church when they came to Alaska to volunteer with GraceWorks.  Our friendship has carried on beyond that week and has been a blessing to me throughout this past year.
Flying standby is always a guessing game, but when it works it's awesome.  It finally "worked" and we arrived on Friday evening...a little later than we had hoped, but we still made it.
Driving to our friends' home, Tim looked out at our newest state visited and simply stated, "Mom, Texas doesn't look like Texas."  I totally understood what he was saying.  Houston just doesn't fit the image that is portrayed about Texas.  It looked like a flat, big skied Atlanta.  Not even a cowboy or a tumbleweed on a billboard; the only indication we were in Texas were the state flags flying over everything.
Saturday we drove down to Galveston to go to Moody Gardens.  We so wanted to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream facility and receive our freebie treat at the end, but we looked online and found out they do not have weekend tours.  Bummed, but thankful that we saw that fine print before we drove over there early in the morning ready for a tour.  The drive to Galveston on a holiday weekend reminded me of driving north in MI over a holiday weekend...congested and slow at times, but worth it!
We saw all that Moody Gardens had to offer, but were not aware that the Palm Beach was open and a fully functioning water park that was included in our tickets.  Next time we'll know and be prepared with swimming attire!  My favorite attraction at MG was the Rain Forest with the butterfly exhibit.  Something about butterflies just makes me happy.  And, when one sits on my son's finger and makes him so totally excited, who wouldn't say it was the best part of the day?!!


Sunday was church and relaxing by the pool before we headed out for an Alaskan team reunion/pool party. Only one couple that I came to know and love in Alaska wasn't able to make it.  They were missed!  It was so nice to catch up on life events and reminisce about Alaska...and look forward to our next adventure up there this year.  Our paths will cross for a couple of days in Anchorage this year...I'm leaving a couple of days after they arrive.  We'll make the most of it, not to worry.
Epic fail on picture taking over the weekend with my friends.  Cannot believe the lack of photos I took, but we'll just have to have a next time so that I can remedy this.  Smile.

Not your normal beach, but ocean waves are always awesome!

Ocean waves + no sand = one happy boy!

berry picking time

Last week spontaneity took over and the boys and I found ourselves elbow deep in blueberry bushes and strawberry plants.  Adam's Farm is not very far from where we live, but I have never taken the boys to pick berries...until this year.  Strike off another item off of our bucket list, people!
We had a lot of fun.  I wasn't out to pick a year's worth of berries, so that probably helped.  Just wanted the experience...and a few berries to eat.
The boys were troopers!  I love how they make the most out of new situations and play along with my spontaneous ideas.
Now to get them to like the berries they picked...maybe next year.






 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MtR: piano recital

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.  Colossians 1:9-12
Last night was piano recital night; Alex's second, Tim's first.  They have grown tremendously in the bravery department.  They have outgrown the shyness and fearfulness that plagued them just a few years ago.  I could not be more proud of them!
It is nothing that I have done, but it is to the glory of God, who hears and answers prayers I pray for my boys.  He has begun and continues to grow them and strengthen them with His power.  It is so awesome to watch God work in their lives.
God is good!
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Six Flags Over Georgia!

Six Flags had their annual Homeschool Day at SFOG on Friday.  This was the year to introduce Alex and Tim to the wonderful (this is up for debate) world of roller coasters outside of Space Mountain in The Magic Kingdom.  They liked that one last year when we went to Disney World.  Well, Alex liked it; Tim tolerated it.  
We all rode the Cyclone together as soon as we entered the park.  
Let me just insert here that I am not a roller coaster fan...not the fast, furious, and thrill-seeker's-dream kind of coaster fan.  Been there, done that, got whiplash a sore, stiff neck from it.  The last time I rode on a roller coaster of the fast and loopy kind was back in 2001...at SFOG.  I just do not get any sort of warm fuzzies or thrills from a 20 something second ride at warp speed.  
But, I was willing to take one for the team.  
It was important that we all try at least one big coaster...meaning:  it was important to me to ride so that Tim would get on it to give it a try, too.  At first, I could hear him screaming like any normal kid.  It quickly turned to scared, intermittent screams during the descending parts.  Then I could hear him saying over and over again, "Please just end.  Please just end." (I was praying the same thing, honestly.)  And then silence.  He stopped making any sound.  We got off and he and I were done with big coasters for the day.  We encouraged Scott and Alex to venture on to the extremes while we remained slightly lower to the ground going at a mere crawl compared to them.  And we were totally okay with that. 
We made a day of it...from 10:30 to 5:30...walking, riding, enjoying a picnic lunch together.  It was nice being able to get on alot of the rides with little to no wait.  Scott and Alex walked onto Mind Bender and Goliath with ease.  All of the rides were worth the wait, though.  One roller coaster that Tim wanted to ride in Bugs Bunny World, Wile E. Coyote Canyon Blaster, had the longest wait for us all day.  We stayed in line just for him.  It was his kind of ride at his kind of speed.  Thankfully we went down Splash Falls early in the day before everyone else got hot and wanted to be wet.  The boys both loved the water rides!  Alex was so excited to tell me all about his newest adventure when we'd meet back up with them.  He is so brave!  
My favorite ride was the swing ride, Gotham City Crime Wave.  So fun...and one we could do over and over again due to short lines.  Tim's was Splash Falls.  Alex's was Wheelie and Goliath and Mind Bender and...well, you get the picture. :)  Scott's is and always has been Wheelie.  
There has been strategizing going on already for a return trip...
Thank you, SFOG, for hosting a homeschool day!  It was a great way to close out a school year!          

Friday, May 18, 2012

MtR: right place, right time

This week I was privy to seeing God work behind the scenes and placing me at the right place at the right time in order to help two people out of a jam.
In a conversation among friends, a young man's job situation was discussed and I heard him say that he was looking for something else during the summer.
A few days later, I heard my husband say that we needed to bring on an extra man for the warehouse/yard work during the summer months.
Phone calls made.  Our extra man started the following day.
God is good at providing what we need when we need it.  It was exciting to be used by God to throw around a name when it could benefit two parties at the same time.
That's how my God rolls!

a healthy dose of loyalty

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  1 Chronicles 29:17-18

Wikipedia states loyalty is "faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause."

The Free Dictionary's definition of loyalty (and loyal) includes:
1. The state or quality of being loyal (unswerving in allegiance).
2. A feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection.
Often "they" say love is blind.  I say loyalty, like love, can blind you if you let it.  Loyalty has the ability to cloud our vision of reality.  When our hearts have turned with devotion toward an individual/group/cause so much that we are placing in second place, Jesus, our Redeemer, Healer, and Wonderful Counselor, we have lost a healthy perspective.  On life.  About ourselves.  Of truth.
Failure to remember that my devotion and loyalty lies to Jesus Christ first and foremost will only lead me to failure in other areas of life, including when I am trying to take a stand out of loyalty for someone else.
I understand hurting along with someone we love while they are hurting.  I understand wanting justice for someone we love who has been treated badly.  I understand wanting answers for those who can't seem to find them on their own.
However, help and encouragement come when truth is spoken and lived out.  Prayers said and attitudes checked at the door, the best way to see things clearly is to step back and stop demanding things for those we love from others who are unable or unwilling to give them.  Realize it or not, demands of answers or justice may just be making things harder or worse for the ones who are seen in need of "help".   Making a scene does not help or encourage anyone.
Affection for or devotion to someone would be better served if filtered through the eyes and heart of Jesus first.  Look honestly and make sure you aren't trying to get things the way you want them to be.  Look intently at the situation and see it for what it really is.  Look ahead to the future with an open heart and mind and trust that God does indeed work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
God is God and is good at what He does.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Marking the Remarkable: the prequel

So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.  Joshua 4:8-9
{This is a prequel post to my first "Marking the Remarkable" post...this one has taken me a long time to think through and find time to write.}
Whenever I am somewhere and see where people have stacked up stones, I am always reminded of this passage in Joshua 4.  This photo was out in Yosemite National Park along a hike up to Vernal Falls.  The little stone stacks made me smile...someone's been there and they've marked their place in history.
We were challenged one recent Sunday morning by our pastor to mark the remarkable moments in our lives in one way or another...so we can go back and see and remember the goodness of God and so those after us can come to learn about His faithfulness in our lives and believe in it for their own.
If I don't tell my story, who will?
Often the praise song from my college days at Taylor rings through my head when thinking about this...
"Ain't no rock gonna cry in my place...As long as I'm alive I'll glorify His Holy Name..." 
This song comes from what Jesus said of His disciples to the pharisees in Luke 19:40...
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
My spiritual growth story...
Born to John and Hazel Wilson on May 31, 1972...watch out world, here I come!
Grew up being a shy girl, embarrassed easily...was afraid of a lot of things.
My mom took us to Sunday School at a church not too far from our house and I remember really enjoying and loving my teachers.  They always had great crafts and helped me learn alot of Bible stories.
In the summertime, there was an awesome VBS at our church. I loved VBS!  Some were two weeks long!  Oh, the good ol' days...
Started staying for big church after a few years went by...it wasn't always my favorite thing, but I know now that it was the first step of many down a path to my now personal relationship with Jesus.
We started attending Bethel Mennonite Church when I was in jr. high.  This was so difficult for a still rather shy preteen girl, but God used this move to grow me into the person I am today.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior during a revival meeting at church one Sunday night.  I cannot for the life of me remember the date.  I was baptized on Easter Sunday in 1987.
It took me until that summer at my first year of Bible Memory Camp, however, to really understand the path that I was now on with Jesus.  There I learned more about what a daily walk with Jesus was all about and that I longed for it and Him with all of my heart.  It was an everyday relationship that required my attention and effort...God was just waiting on me to come to Him with my everything.  That summer I met so many awesome Christian teens and counselors that were genuine in their walk.  They were sinners saved by grace just like myself, but there was a zeal about them that drew me to them like magnets.  I wanted to be like them.  I learned just how contagious Jesus is that summer.
My years in youth group were awesome  No, really...they were extraordinary!  My relationship with Jesus continued to grow and I made great friendships that still hold water today.  Had godly youth sponsors whom offered their knowledge, time, homes, and love to me and all of the others.  We became a family and I felt loved.  Jesus kept us together even through the tough times.  He showed Himself mightily to us in the little things and gave us each a chance to grow in Him while surrounded by people who cared about us.
Church was a favorite place of mine.  Finally.
As college days rolled around, the friendships took new paths...people married, people moved, lives changed...but God remained the same and as awesome as ever.  I stayed at home for two years attending and graduating from a community college.  In those two years, I was a Sunday School teacher for a couple of different age groups...onefor the little guys and one for the 5th graders.  I tried to get those 5th graders to realize that they could begin to think for themselves when it came to making wise, godly decisions about things.  I prodded them for more than the typical SS answers.  We worked on memorizing the books of the Bible and some verses that year.  Some days I was met with tired, blank stairs...other days they seemed interested.  God has grown those kids into wonderful followers of His today.
At the end of my first two years of college, I transferred to Taylor University, Fort Wayne (TUFW).
God grew me in ways amazing those years at TUFW!  I praise Him for His goodness to me in those years.  His will became my sole desire (with marriage a close second, but that didn't happen for several more years).  He opened my eyes and heart one day in chapel to the fact that differences can be blessings.  I was worshiping with a Methodist on my left, a Lutheran on my right and a Catholic in front of me all attending a Missionary Church on Sundays {they had the latest church service in town :) }.  He loved all of His children and died for all of our sins at the same time on the cross.  Belief in Him as Savior was the key...as it still is today.  What you do with Jesus is what matters.
Since those first days of my new walk with Jesus, I've had times of doubt and of rebellion against His will...and times of sincere repentance and  major rejoicing.  Nothing I've done has surprised my Savior.
He knows me and my heart.
He forgives more and loves better than anyone else can.
All along my walk, I have come to know Jesus as my friend, my rock, and my redeemer.
He still draws me to Him in comfort when I need it.
He never has left me even when I have strayed away from His path for my feet.
He has made me to love and is teaching me how to do it His way.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marking the Remarkable: a different plan

"I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!" Deuteronomy 32:3


Our Alaska mission team had saved, sorted, baked and priced items for a yard/bake sale this past Saturday.  A few of us gathered Friday evening to unload a few things at the church and price the last few items. The forecast was favorable for a morning sale...not too hot, not too cold, and rain holding off until late afternoon.  
The next morning, around 6:00 AM, we began set up and it was, indeed, a nice morning. Right around 7 AM, treasures all set out, I was putting the last few baked goods out under the canopy tent.  A strange sound came from above as I was standing there.  
Plop...plop...splat!
I looked up at the roof of the tent (as if that was going to tell me anything).  In disbelief, I stepped out from the shelter.
Raindrops cascaded down from the ominous clouds that now hung directly above our heads and yard sale items.  Several things went through my mind in those few seconds I stood there out in the rain.
There was no rain supposed to be in our area at 7 AM.  
This cannot be.  
It cannot rain now.  
But, in spite of my state of denial (which is more than a river in Egypt, by the way).
Forecasted or not, rain was present.
It really was raining.
And, it can rain when it wants.
Apparently, it wanted to rain right then, right there...on all of us and our hard work of the wee morning hours.  I had no control over it.  I just had to work through it.  I had a few moments where disappointment set in and it was apparent.  I leaned on my team and they helped me remember that our plan isn't always going to work and that God has a better one in store.  We worked through it together and thanks to an awesome idea from one of our friends who stopped by we had an even greater way of re-storing our now wet and holding water items for "next time" that saved us alot of time and alot of manual labor!  
Thank you, God, for Rachel! 
We had made 3 sales before the rains came pouring down...a total of about $15, I think...and we had our baked goods remaining.  We decided to sell the goodies at church the following day (Rachel again helped us out with purchasing a few of those from us before she left that day.  She's awesome, I tell you.)  
Leaving the parking lot, I was wet, a wee bit tired, and more than slightly disappointed in our not happening sales.  
Fail.
Enter God's plan.
The next morning I arrived a few minutes before Sunday School began and was wonderfully surprised to see a table already set up with our remaining goodies on it and some boys having a grand time selling the items to our church family as they walked through the door.  The goodies for sale, by my estimation, would have been around $80-$85 if we sold them all.
God multiplied that by 2 and gave us $163 for our time and goods by the end of services that day.
A double blessing from His hand through His people.

"God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours."  
Hebrews 11:40 [The Message]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

pep talk

Reading through some of my journal entries over the past few years, I found one titled "lessons learned".  As the words that I had written sank in again, I was reminded of the place I was at the time I wrote them.  I was revived by the faithfulness of my God who was with me then and is here now and will still be with me all of my tomorrows.  And, I am thankful for the pep talk I gave myself.  The lessons learned back in August of 2009 are still relevant today.  

*no matter what people may say, listening to God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit always is the best thing!

*waiting is HARD, but so totally worth it!

*God gives you gifts AND places you where you can use them!

*You cannot let fears, no matter how founded they are, get in the way of following your heart.

*somewhere, somehow...God is the author of these!

*being in God's will for your life is so much better than any other place even if it's hard to get through at the moment.

*passion is important

I think I just gave myself a present by finding this list tonight.  Happy Day! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yard Sale Advertising

I love the free yard sale ads you can easily post via the internet these days!  I have in 5 minutes created and posted an ad for our up and coming mission team yard sale on yardsaleserch.com.  It's awesome!  And, for linking it to my blog and sending them an email with my post link they say they will move my ad up the the top of the list for easy hunting for free.  I like free. :)
Find newnan yard sales on Yard Sale Search.
Happy treasure hunting this weekend!

made to love

I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love
And be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said You'd keep me
Never would You leave me
I was made to love
and be loved by You
~Toby Mac, "Made to Love"
 Standing in a crowd of about 5,000 people with Toby Mac performing on stage in front of us, I had a God moment.  Seriously.  An "Aha!" moment when, for a few seconds, all else faded into the background except the message that God was placing on my heart right then and there.
I was made to love...for some reason it just became real in a new way.  It's hard to describe why and how...but somehow I saw the definition of love differently in those few seconds.
God made me to love like He does.  
It has nothing to do with butterflies...being twitterpated...or even finding one's true love.
He made me to love deeply, sacrificially, and unconditionally.
He made me to love with compassion and understanding.
He made me to love justly.  I have to know when to draw the line and discipline out of love.  I have to love within the confines of His Word.  I have to make tough decisions because of love. 
Maybe this was speaking to me that night because I tend to become self-absorbed in my own little world.  My own little world is just that....little.
God is calling me out of my comfort zone...again.  I do not know the details, but I am willing.  He never fails.  He will never leave me there alone.  He has it all covered.  He loves me that much.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the 5000

RUSH 2012 was the next on the birthday season's agenda...and it didn't disappoint!  RUSH Ministries, Reaching Unchurched Students for Him, is a grassroots ministry that took root back in 2004 with its first youth conference held in 2005 at a church in Lagrange, GA.  It has been blessed by God through the years, beginning with hundreds of students and leaders and now reaching nearly 5000 students and leaders from Georgia and the neighboring states.  A church can no longer house the event...it has gone to pasture, literally.  Being held at The Rock Ranch does something special aside from drawing you out into beautiful countryside in the middle of nowhere, it requires determination to get there...to be intentional about getting there.  It's not convenient.  You have to want to be there.  And, apparently about 5,000 people wanted to be there this year.
I'm not a big concert goer...not really even a little...but I have found out for myself that the rumors are true (for at least two Christian artists) that a concert can be just a really big worship session in disguise. :)  In my book, that's awesome because I love to worship God with others...and with 4,999 others it rocks!


I videoed little snippits of Kristian Stanfill and Toby Mac during the evening session last night...for all of those people in front of me, there were thousands more behind.  The voices raised in praising God were many and strong.  Several hundred students accepted Jesus as Savior over the two nights.
God is good.


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In spite of being hot, tired, and covered in sweat, dirt, and sunscreen, it was a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

to the beach

Time to catch up on the happenings during my birthday season so far...I was away at the beach and did not want to steal time away from the family to post while on vacation.
On Wednesday evening we drove down to Panama City Beach, Florida.  We had not been to the beach as a family yet this year and it was long overdue!  Usually by May, we've been to the beach at least twice.  It's been a busy year...
The highlight of Wednesday was feeling the coolness of the white powdery sand inbetween my toes as we took a stroll down the beach around 11 o'clock pm when we arrived at our hotel.  It was so worth the evening drive and the late hour of arrival!
Thursday was spent poolside and oceanside all. day. long.  No leaving and doing anything but swimming, playing in the water park, and relaxing.  Well, I did climb the 10 flights of stairs to our room twice, so that's something different.  I have a personal policy on vacation to always take the stairs (unless I have to run back to the room in a hurry because I forgot something), but I've never had a room on the tenth floor before.  Ouch!  The boys and Scott played putt putt golf which was located about 50 paces from our hotel's parking lot.  I watched for 13 holes and then scooted over to catch the ending of the sunset over the water.  Always a treat!
Awoke Friday morning to a more sunny day.  Took a walk on the beach...watched the boys play in the pool...and then packed up everything and headed out for a new adventure.  We were wanting to go to Shell Island and tried to get on a boat, but they weren't having any more tours that day.  As our second chance effort we went to the marina and found Captain Mike who rented pontoon boats.  I love it when Plan B is way better than Plan A ever could have been!  When God closes a door...look for a window.
We loaded the boat down with our cooler of water and a few snacks; grabbed our swimsuits, towels, and sunscreen and off we went onto the Gulf of Mexico with our map in hand and sunshine on our shoulders making us happy.
Shell Island is simply beautiful.  I had always heard it was a great place, but now I know firsthand!  I can only imagine that during the summer it must be a busy place filled with boaters taking a break.  The west side of the island has calm waters filled with hermit crabs that are fun to watch as they scurry about in the sand.  The east side has fun ocean waves and plenty of white sand for everyone...and, of course, a few thousand shells.  A perfect day!
On the drive home, we were given a beautiful rainbow to enjoy for a few minutes.  It was actually a double rainbow.  The largest and highest rainbow was barely visible, but it was there, nonetheless.  (I played around with the photo's contrast so that the colors would show up just a little better.)
So, having spent day 3 & 4 of my birthday season at the beach, one might wonder what the rest of the month holds in store...we shall have to wait and see!  Today is a youth conference, RUSH for me and baseball games for my boys and Scott...and tomorrow is church and AWANA awards night.  During birthday season anything and everything is worth celebrating.  It teaches me how to appreciate even the littlest and most routine thing as a blessing. :)  Happy Cinco De Mayo, everyone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

30 reasons why 40 is better than 20

I know who I am.
"Daughter of the King" is the title by which I want to be known over any other.
I hear "I love you!" every. single. day.
Two boys make me laugh out loud.
My best friends now are the best of the best back then.
I have been out of the USA...three times, even.
"You're beautiful!" is no longer just something I dream about hearing one day.
Age does not define me.
No more awkward first dates.
I own matching living room furniture.
Alaska!!!  (Need I say more?)
I admit now that I was wrong to think that 40 is old.
No more college loans.
I believe that dreams do come true.
God shows Himself mightily...I anticipate Him doing so now rather than be surprised when He does.
I am a "regular" at the Y.
South African penguins are real!
I realize that pulling an "all-nighter" is highly overrated.
Writing blog posts and status updates are more enjoyable than term papers and finals.
True love exists.
I have the best job ever!
Road trips are longer than just a weekend.
Marriage and motherhood are not just for my closest friends.
Cell phones, email, Skype, facebook, and even computers in general are a part of my everyday life.
I really like my roommates!
I can testify of God's forgiveness for the worst of mistakes.
No longer do my friends refer to my car as "The Beast".
I actually tan rather than burn and peel.
My bed is not a couch during the day.
and
I understand this statement:  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ~Frederick Buechner

Birthday Season: opening day

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free..."
Galatians 5:1
Yes, indeed, it is the month of May and my birthday season has officially begun! Today was full of time with my boys...school, shopping for their summer clothes, and making cupcakes.  Along with those things were prep work for tomorrow's meal at church, laundry, and signing on the dotted line to put our house on the market.
In the back of my mind I am beginning a list of reasons why 40 is better than 20...check back time to time to see when it has been completed.  It may surprise you; it has me so far.
Wanting to get this post in on 5/1, I sat down to complete it and realized I had but 5 minutes before the strike of midnight...I've been too busy getting other things completed for tomorrow (which is now today).  I guess I'll go ahead and find my 5:2 verse for later today because I know this day is just as full as yesterday.  
Oh, how I love the month of May!