Thursday, November 20, 2014

GIVEAWAY!!!

     For the 1st time ever, I am celebrating with a giveaway!  This blog has been up and running for almost 3 years now.   In just that short amount of time, I have been in awe at over 15,000 viewers from various countries.  Each post is read an average of 100 times, with some reaching closer to 200 views.  I am both humbled & amazed to say the least!  I have been blessed with many public & private compliments.  I have made several dear friendships that are special to my heart.  I appreciate every single one of you who have visited the site & taken an interest.  With each post, I give my best effort to share openly & honestly about our family & what is on my heart. 
  
& now for the giveaway details:     

     1.  Comment below on the blog/Facebook/Instagram or email me personally at npadgett1@windstream.net.  If you have my cell number, you may also text that you want to be entered into the blog giveaway.

     2.  Leave your 1st name & a few favorite colors as I will be picking out several nice gifts & something personalized just for you!

     3.  Our family will draw the winner on Monday, December 1st & announce it here on the blog!  We can't wait to hear from you!!! 

Thanks to each of you who have
taken an interest in SouthGAMama!
I am truly honored!
May each one of you be blessed
with a Happy Thanksgiving! 
I am giving thanks for each of you!!!    

Sunday, November 16, 2014

We Celebrate FALL

     At our house, we love this time of year!  We celebrate the changing of seasons from summer to fall.  We dig out our turkey, pumpkin, scarecrow, & other fall decorations in September.  We buy mums for the flower beds & porches.  Fall festivals & pumpkin patches seem to call our family's name!  We also build fires, roast marshmallows, & make smores.  Even candy corn & hot chocolate tastes better in the cooler weather! 
     Saying my kiddos LOVE to play dress up is a major understatement!  This time of year, costumes abound in stores.  We take advantage & stock up on new ones.  Any given day of the year if you visit us you may meet an array of animals, cowboys, or princesses that are also known as our children.  Other kids that visit love our costume collection.  We encourage imaginative play around here.
     Pumpkins are also welcome here!  We devote entire unit studies on them, grow them, pick them, carve them, & eat them.  Our kiddos look forward to guessing the amount of seeds different sizes will have & graphing the results.  We just don't believe that fall could be fall without big, beautiful pumpkins to enjoy!
     We set aside this season for a special time of Thanksgiving.  God has mercifully blessed once again.  We count our blessings.  We write them down.  We reminisce the past year as we head into the upcoming busy holidays ahead.  We also take time to dig into our past American History.  I want our children to appreciate our country's freedom & also recognize those who have gone before & still work hard to preserve our blessed country.  This year I have enjoyed reading Pilgrim's Progress with our 2 oldest girls in our morning devotional & prayer times before their school work begins. 
     Cooking & baking multiply in our home.  The kiddos pick up pecans in orchard for extra cash, & Nathan bakes the most delicious pies!  We all enjoy baking pumpkin & turkey cookies together.  This year the kiddos made a flag cake with friends in honor of Veteran's Day.  It was so delicious too!
     Next after God, family is EVERYTHING!  We strongly believe that.  We are that hugging, kissing family.  Here we are definitely not scared of all of us cuddling close together under warm covers in the mornings.  This is when we do a lot of talking to one another.  We believe in family conversations right in our pjs.  Often we are amazed at what our kids say.  They can be so silly & remarkably serious all in a matter of a few seconds.  I've experienced so many "only God" moments both at night & early mornings that I'm convinced that God ordained family pajama time!
     So what is my point?  What am I saying?  I'm saying to all of those "Halloween haters" that it's FALL, okay?  Fall is blessed by God.  Fall is for extra special family time.  In our house we in no way worship the devil or participate in any sorcery or witch craft.  That's just ridiculous for anyone to even say that of any Christian home.  Yes, we dress up.  Yes, we eat candy.  We also do that any other 364 days of the year.  If you want to turn off your lights, hide away from your neighbors, tell your kids that the devil is worthy of a "birthday" that we must hide from, & call that being a light, knock yourself out!  Call it pagan if you want, all the while justifying your Christmas season displaying huge trees, wreaths, lights, bows, & displays with maybe a tiny manger scene, spending tons of $$$ on presents for your OWN family, calling off church services if it falls on or close to Thanksgiving/Christmas, & hunting Easter eggs right on...really?  Wow, that makes tons of sense & really reflects a life for Christ...just saying!
     This post is controversial for many.  It may bring positive & negative comments & shares.  That won't bother me any.  Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion.  I am all for freedom of speech & people standing for what they believe.  As for me & my house, we will still serve the Lord right on through & enjoy the rest of fall & upcoming Christmas in the name of Jesus!          

Friday, October 24, 2014

Let It Go!

     Yes, the Frozen song~Let It Go!  That's what I've been doing lately.  I've been reading Forgive For Good by Fred Luskin.  It was awesomely encouraging & empowering!  Believe me, I know from experience that people in this life let us down...some even intentionally (& then step on us & dance a while).  Not that I welcome that but have completely felt it to my core.  I wasn't prepared emotionally or spiritually & had no idea what effect it would have on me physically either.  It's just that unexpected low blow that hits you out of nowhere.  Then, the hurt seeps in the wound, floods your soul deep.  Unforgiveness works much like an infection.  Its destroys any progress.  It prevents healing.  It prolongs the pain.  Knowing that doesn't stop it from breeding.
     Hurt is real.  Hurt cuts deep.  It all seems to happen so fast but overcomes it's victim like watching something attacked in slow motion.  The pain is real rather it was invited or not.  It just forced it's way into my life.  The offenses weren't ok nor will it ever be.  Finally enough was enough.  It all just kinda "hit the fan."  They did somewhat apologize but too many years of mistreatment had already cast a large enough shadow to swallow up any effort made at all.  I just felt so violated.  I didn't know real people, must less Christians, could cross so many lines.  I still can't wrap my mind around it.  I found myself replaying the situation out in mind repeatedly only to decide over & over again how wrong it really was.
     I remember hearing a preacher at a youth service a few years ago honing in on the topic of forgiveness.  I vividly remember his analogy of it being like a poison that you drink for another only to realize that it's actually killing YOU.  I sat there taking it all in.  I completely agreed, but that didn't change the circumstances.  My mind's replay feature never quit.  After all, it.was.unacceptable.
     Eventually we realized that something had to change.  We prayed (or more like begged) God for some kind of deliverance. Well guess what?  God ALWAYS comes through!  He knows best even when we are living through situations that are way out of our control.  He is still in control!  He began leading & guiding us.  During this trial, he called Nathan to pastor.  That has been one of the best experiences of our lives!  We were also blessed to purchase a beautiful 5 acres of land, build Nathan's dream taxidermy shop, & move on our new property.  Nothing shy of a miracle from Heaven!!!
     Even though things were looking up, making peace with this dreaded dilemma was still haunting me.  The thought of having to be around these people literally made me sick.  My pulse would race just by me thinking about being in their presence.  Nothing they could ever say or do would change the past.  Acting the way they did was inhumane in my book.  I soon realized that my resentment for our treatment turned into my personal feelings towards them.  I'm just being real here when I admit in type that yep, I HATED them with a passion!
     I went on feeling angry.  Yes, anger always seems to show it's nasty head somehow!  I was angry at this falling our lot in life.  What was done affected our whole family.  It was so unfair!  I was even angry at God for allowing this to happen as if we were super special & to be treated better than anyone else. 
     What stood between me & my peace with God?  THEM!  Wait, what did I do?  NOTHING!  It was more like what didn't I do.  I definitely didn't love. 
"God is love."  1 John 4:8
     Letting it go seemed impossible which made loving them (after what they'd done) hopeless!  Yet in all of this, God had undeniably blessed us, & I was determined to enjoy our new life more than ever before!  Nathan was happy again.  I watched him smile as the days passed.  I watched the sun shine on him again as he worked in his shop.  Yet here I was dragging around the clouds behind me.  I could hardly go a day without these thoughts entering my mind.  I had lost control of that completely.  It was trying to become my new sense of normal.  I was fighting back hard, but I was weak from the struggle.
     One night while laying in bed talking, I just started letting it all out.  I cried & told Nathan exactly how I felt.  I told him how I hated them even though I knew I shouldn't.  I told him how I couldn't get it all out of my mind.  I don't remember all I said.  There's just no telling.  I do remember him wrapping me up in his arms of love like only he can do & praying.  I didn't pray.  I couldn't.  I only cried harder & harder.  I realized there was nothing else he could do which felt even more helpless.  After a while, he fell asleep probably thinking I was doing the same.  Instead, I got up.  I got my laptop.  I searched the topic forgiveness.  I began reading scripture.  I also came across & downloaded Dr. Luskin's award winning book.  I did feel some hope but would my strength to fight or peace ever return?
     As the weeks went by, I had good days mixed in with bad. I kept reading & praying (maybe even reached the begging point again here). Dr. Luskin's book hit exactly in line with my feelings.  I began to challenge my thinking.  Instead of the "oh poor us syndrome" I had become accustomed to, I substituted "I am faced with a challenge & up for the task!  I will not let them destroy me!"  I began thinking of our situation as an opportunity for our heroic overcoming of an injustice.  Slowly, I felt more in control.  I could visualize trading the victim for the role of the hero.  I realized that nothing would change the past but I am the ONLY one, by the help of God, who can enjoy living my future! Emotional stress from desiring to help them see their faults started fading away.  It is pointless to try to change what cannot be changed or influence those who do not desire to be influenced.  I had written "rules" in my mind that any person who calls themselves Christians are loving & kind, especially within reason, yet this was not so.  I could not force this on others.  Changing little words changes the thought process.  Words are powerful.  In reality, I can only hope that all who claim Christianity are loving & kind.  The fact is, that cannot be controlled.  Anyone can claim anything.  Talk is cheap!  Amen?  It helped me to still have the best hopes but lower my expectations for how something has to turn out or someone must behave.  My frustration began to lessen.  As a result, I think about it less & less.
     I realize that no one has life handed to them on a silver platter & could look around at many struggling with similar (or WORSE) circumstances.  There's no amount of good you can do to deserve perfect situations on this earth.  That's why Heaven is worth fighting for!  For example, I can only hope & work to do my part to raise 5 beautiful, bright, happy, Godly children.  The fact is they are gifted their own lives & decide for themselves.  Many teenagers mar their appearance & flourishing minds with alcohol, drugs, etc which throws them into spiraling depression & on an ungodly path.  That is out of my control.  Similarly, this technique applies for my situation too.  I can only hope for the best, accept what comes, make the best of it, let it go!  Believe me, that beats the tremendous emotional distress, hurt, anger, hopelessness, & clouded judgement that spotlighting the situation brought.  That was a recipe for living miserably!  With all of that crowding my thinking, no wonder it left less energy for thinking through all the better options! 
     Looking back now I can see a glimpse of blessing through this nightmare.  I am forever grateful for our new place!  Without things rocking our boat, we would have never looked for anything more & missed out on our dreams that are living in right now!  Also, I have learned some valuable lessons.  I cherish my close friendships more than ever before!  I am blessed with real, loving, caring friends in this world who are great Christian people that pray for me & will help me tackle anything!  Whether I wanted this or not, I am obviously now more educated on how to deal with difficult people & possess a new boldness for dealing with tough situations head on.  However awkward that is, it is necessary for survival with a healthy amount self esteem intact & a sound mind that you can be happy with.
     The most important thing I've learned is that forgiveness is for me.  It heals my thoughts.  It clears my focus & frees my vision for what is important for my life.  It's not excusing wrong or forgetting anything.  It's about moving past it.  I am not "bestest" friends with these people.  I don't have to be.  God didn't demand that.  He asks that I love them because He loves them.  I am not perfect or without error either.  That's what makes us all human & faulty.  Only covered through Jesus' blood can I be anything for Him.  It's not all about me or what I want.  I turn my problems over to Him because He can handle them all!  I have greater goals to accomplish!  I have a life for Him to live!  He loves me, & I am valuable in His sight!  I have been blessed by Him with an amazing husband & 5 wonderful kiddos & have too many positive opportunities for a great, successful, happy life to let anyone else define me!  As I close this post, the old chorus that rolls over in my mind is, "I'm a child of the king!  Yes I am!  Yes I am!  I'm a child of the king!  Yes I am!  I belong to the Lord!  Yes I do!  Yes I do!  I'm a child of the king!  Yes I am!"  What more could I desire?  Nothing.  :)  He is all that I need!  He has once again made a way where there seemeth to be no way!  I only had to let it go!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The 1st Ever~PHGR 2014

     Our area of south GA independent holiness churches own the Calvary Holiness Campground in Broxton, GA.  It hosts our youth camp, camp meeting, monthly youth services, & other special services & events throughout the year.  A sweet sister was led of the Lord to organize the 1st ever Pentecostal Holiness Girl's Retreat on the grounds October 3rd & 4th.  We were so excited!  My girls & I counted down the days & boy was it worth the wait!!!  The sermonettes, testimonies, songs, classes, skits, games, food, & fellowship were all amazing!  There was even a consignment sale & booths for small shops, but the tea party was such a fun highlight!
  Hilarious Skit ~ "The Single Girl's Hairspray Ensemble"
  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Are You Brave?

     I recently read another blog which completely changed my thinking on the subject of bravery.  If you were to ask me before, I would have said definitely my middle daughter, Marianna, is our bravest child.  She would shoot a cannon or jump off of a bridge if we gave her the go (or weren't looking for that matter).  I have never seen her turn down a challenge.  She possesses a confident determination unlike any of the others.  Even when she fails, she gets back up, dusts herself off, smiles, & continues on.  While that shows many positive qualities & character traits, that no longer makes her our one & only Marianna the brave & my others more cowardly in my eyes.
 
Brave - ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage
 
     Brave by definition from this world's point of view has narrowed our perspective of only seeing someone who readily faces impending danger.  The picture of a valiant knight defending the love of his life while risking it all most likely runs through our minds.  Marianna standing wide eyed with excitement begging to ride the huge adult rollercoaster that she isn't tall enough to ride is one of the examples I often encounter that fits this description, but is there another kind of brave?
     What about my "cowardly" Kaley & Raegan who back up when they see the same or even some of the smaller rides?  What about when they don't participate because of fear when things seem scary?  Neither one of them even like looking at the costumes & masks in the stores this time of year.  Is that the opposite of brave?  Does that categorize them as unadventurous, timid, shy, cautious, or even weak?  I practiced that kind of thinking in the past but no longer.
     The other night, after all of the kids were supposedly asleep enters Kaley into the room visibly upset, shaking & crying.  I ask her what is wrong.  She gazes at the floor & says quietly, "I have to tell you something."  This is the part where my mama heart races, suddenly gripped with my own fears of the worst imaginable.  We walk quietly into my bedroom & sit on the bed.  I nudge her to speak.  She speaks through her sobs.  I listen & thankfully my worst fears are reigned in.  Nothing major has happened, but I don't belittle her worries.  I let her finish.  I ask a few questions for clarity.  I hear her explain, "I know I shouldn't have.  I have prayed & prayed about it & asked for forgiveness, but it just keeps bothering me because I didn't tell you the whole truth about it at all."  I am sure not to console her just yet.  I acknowledge that she was wrong & that I am disappointed.  I thank her for her honesty.  We pray together.  I embrace her in all of her hurt & tell her how proud I am of her.  I tell her how brave she is.  I try to explain to her how much I love her in words.  I send her off to bed & check on her a few minutes later only to find that she has fallen sound asleep. 
     My heart smiles as I am thankful for my heroic child.  Turns out, it's not the qualities I saw before.  It's the tenderness of heart that feels the conviction power of God that I now call brave.  It's the one who says no & walks away when everyone else in the peer group participates under pressure.  It is the sheep who has gone astray who comes back with his tail tucked & enters back into the fold.  It's the one who sees God for who He really is~like Moses, Daniel, David, Ester, Noah, the prodigal son, etc.  All of these men & women in the Bible are heroic.  They weren't always the ones putting themselves out front.  They all probably questioned God, but even though they didn't understand, they chose God's way.  In their weaknesses, God was made strong.  He was their "super power."  He is all we need!  
 
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  II Corinthians 12:9 
 
     Jesus' words are so comforting in these scriptures.  He is what this world needs.  May we stand for right even if it doesn't follow this world's definition.  May we listen to that voice inside gently nudging us even when there is another screaming in our ears.  Dare to be brave!

Monday, October 6, 2014

September's Busy End

     Seems like just yesterday that sweet little Graham Jack joined our family.  I delivered out of my "element" with a new lady doctor & in a different hospital near our new church.  It wasn't my easiest delivery.  I didn't have that overwhelming joy as this doctor, which I wasn't that use to, pulled my gown even further up & placed my screaming, sticky baby on my belly as he proceeded to pee all over me.  I recall my eyes brimming with tears because of the overwhelming situation.  I felt like my  husband & mother-in-law in the room were more qualified than any of the staff assisting me.  It seemed so chaotic.  I knew the time for the baby came before they were prepared.  I warned them & felt belittled.  My medication had worn off, & I was in pain.  My eyes met Nathan's, & I asked him to get the baby.  I couldn't even see Graham for my gown all bunched up under my chin between us.  I was disappointed that my amazing, best doctor in the world had retired knowing things would've been different with him caring for us.  Yet with this rough new beginning, our new baby boy was extremely healthy & has been one of our best babies!  I was all worried about having #5.  I mean, who has 5 children, especially with 3 of them still so small???  Clay was only 18 months old & very much ALL boy (& still is)!  We were pastoring at the time also, so I sat alone during church with the whole crew.  I was so nervous about that during the unplanned pregnancy.  Let me tell you, God knows what we need when we need it better than we do!  In fact, we didn't plan either of the boys, but none of us could imagine life without them!!!  Graham Jack is such a bundle of joy!  He has been our quietest.  He wonders around behind us like he's so amazed with all of us.  He watches our every move.  He makes the funniest expressions that seem to say "I can't believe I was born into THIS family!"  Just recently he began talking, & his words are so precious!  His life is truly a blessing!
     We knew we would be traveling to Mississippi on the day of Graham's 2nd birthday for a weekend fellowship meeting that Nathan was preaching.  My aunt made cupcakes for us to enjoy together one night before our trip.  We just simply ordered pizza & took his picture with his cupcake at my parent's home.  We woke up in Florida on his birthday headed on our way west.  We were very close to Foley, AL where Lambert's CafĂ© Home of the Throwed Rolls was located.  To say the kids enjoyed their lunch treat is a major understatement!  The food is always awesome!  The service is 2nd to none!  Graham got into the spirit of things & threw his fries at one of the guys that was throwing us rolls!  Lol  The rest of the day was spent driving to our destination & having church service that night.  The weekend was filled with fun times of food & fellowship with friends that we don't get to see often & ended with a trip to the Jackson Zoo in Jackson, MS.      
     On the way back home we were privileged to stay with the one & only "Grandma" Doris in Alabama for a few days.  She had a spread on the table to greet us~porkchops, corn, blackeye peas, okra & tomatoes, hot rolls, & homemade apple & pear pies.  Every meal was just as huge & delicious!  We rented a bounce house for the kiddos when they weren't working on their school papers.  It's so nice to have friends to school with sometimes!  It makes for less work & more fun for everyone!  Kaley & her friend Ireland were actually working on the same Abeka book report!  That was super neat!  We were honored to be invited to preach their Tuesday night church service.  We had never even been there before.  The service was amazing!  Our God is truly great!  There we met a wonderful group of believers!

     Our final destination was Pratville, AL to preach at a dear friend's church on Wednesday night.  Although that was a quick nightly stop, the service was a blessing!  We enjoyed close friends, food, & fellowship there also!  Nathan even slipped in a game of golf with one of his best friends before heading home to south GA!  ;)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kaley's 12th Birthday Trip

For Kaley's 12th Birthday she requested
that Meme (my Mother) & I take her
to Atlanta for a girl's only shopping trip!
 Kaley's 1st photo ID! 
Now she can shop in the Americas Mart
with her birthday $ from special family members.
Some of her Afternoon Finds at the Mart!
3 Generations of Shopaholics Refueling
on Bison at Ted's Montana Gril
 Night Out on the Town as Cinderellas!
 The Cheesecake Factory ~ Lenox Mall
We had a BLAST!  Thanks Meme for spoiling us!
Thanks Nathan for happily keeping the kiddos!
Happy 12th Birthday Miss Kaley!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Labor Day Is A Holiday Too!

   
     So if you've ever read here much, you know I'm into celebrations of any kind: new life, new beginnings, goals accomplished, birthdays, holidays, etc!  Usually in August we begin ordering homeschool curriculum, organizing activities, & making plans for the upcoming year.  We all look through the boxes of books with great anticipation.  We also take advantage of the back to school sales at our local Wally World, of course.  My oldest girls & I just LOVE browsing those isles & loading up on new supplies!  The beginning of a new school year is almost a natural high for me!  I especially get completely psyched!  We declutter the shelves, decorate the school walls, & count down the days!  We run to the school room on that 1st day just squealing!  It's pure JOY!
     Then. reality. really. sets. in.  We start getting more on schedule & waking up earlier.  I'm not a true morning person.  Our house is more of a "sleep late & wear our PJs" relaxing kinda family.  It becomes work, LOTS of work, lots of review, lots of papers, lots of tests, lots of new material to get use to.  Just when it feels this way comes Labor Day.
     THANK GOD FOR LABOR DAY!  We always sleep in!  It's like heaven on Earth on a Monday!  Seriously!  The kiddos are all tuckered out.  We've been through a major schedule change & adjustment.  This year we had just gotten back from a preaching trip to Alabama which made for an extremely busy weekend.  This brings us home dragging in suitcases, pack & plays, & an explosion of laundry at the very least.  Also, our van somehow appears to be lived in & even possibly infested with extraterrestrial beings!  Ha!
    & what do we do?  Wake up making commitments to unpack, wash laundry, & tidy up our vehicle like any normal human beings would?  I think not!  That would possibly rate right up there with blasphemy in my book!  It's a holiday!!!  Live a little!  Instead, we pull out the laptop & search out something rather local to do with the kiddos, trying to hold on to our last bit of summer!
     We decide on the islands of Jekyll & St Simons.  They are literally side by side & we can arrive in about an hour and a half or so.  We score a great hotel on the beach with several pools for a winning bid of $53.  Thanks Priceline!  Jekyll sports a water park with low fees for afternoon entrance while St Simons is home to several of our favorite restaurants.  So in record time, we dump suitcases literally in my bedroom floor, grab a change of clothes & swim clothes, & we're off!  The best part?  The holiday weekend is coming to a close.  Literally, I can count on 1 hand how many folks we saw on the beach or in the pools besides us.  It was like we had the place to ourselves!  We may have struck gold missing the crowds & having a great time relaxing together.  It makes this Mama's heart smile to sit listening to the waves, smelling the surf, feeling the water wash over my feet, squishing sand between my toes, & watching my kiddos blissfully play without a care in this world!  The fresh seafood & rich desserts were certainly a plus also!!!  I feel super blessed to enjoy this getaway as say farewell to summer!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Raegan's 5th Wedding Birthday Party

Little Miss Raegan celebrated her
5th birthday wedding style! 
She LOVES everything wedding! 
Sisters make the best bridesmaids!
Clay must be the ninja security!  ;)
Graham napped sweetly through
almost the whole party!
Thanks for cousins participating in
 "the walk down the isle" & dancing!
Brad & Heather, how can we ever repay
you for putting up with our craziness?
Thanks EE for the beautiful cake!
Papa, you grill the best chicken! 
Thanks Meme for the awesome party
& wonderful decorations!
She is still playing hard
with all of her presents! :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Our Honeymoon Spot...5 Kiddos Later

     With all of the new changes in our life, we needed a getaway!  So we planned very little, packed a lot, & headed north!  I was expecting fun, but it was so much more than that!
    First, we stopped in one of our favorite cities, Atlanta.  We met up with special friends of ours at the Atlanta Buckarama.  We all enjoy hunting, so these outdoor shows are fun for our whole bunch.  That night we made our way east, looking forward to being in Sunday services with even more of our friends.  Nathan preached both times in 2 different churches.  The fellowship in North GA is amazing.  It's definitely one of our favorite places to go to church!!!
    Monday morning we headed further to north.  My sweet husband had a special idea!  We revisited our honeymoon spot in Helen, GA.  Us & the kiddos were all very excited!  The alpine village is so beautiful!  We picked one of the many little German restaurants & ate a traditional German lunch.   This was a 1st for us, & surprisingly, all of us enjoyed it.  The weather, even in August, was awesome!  We tubed down the river for hours.  What a FUN adventure that was!  The rocks made small rapids in the shallow waters.  We are convinced that there is nothing more fun on this earth for $3 each!  We were all VERY impressed & would love to do that again sometime!  Then, we strolled around the village shops enjoying the ice cream, candy, & fudge.  The kiddos all bought several souvenirs.  Then, we loaded up for a curvy ride up the mountain roads for a small hike to see this beauty:
     After our hike, we drove even further north...in fact, we rode up to North GA state line.  Nathan has a cousin who owns North GA Taxidermy there.  How cool is that?  We own South GA Taxidermy, & he owns North GA Taxidermy?  We didn't even know each other 'til we meet through the GA Taxidermy Association a few years back.  Now, we are all very close.  Andrew comes down to see us, hunts, & they can both work together.  We have been blessed to meet him.  We are all the same age & share a love for the outdoors!  This is the 1st time we have visited his place!
Andrew's Place Hand Built By His Grandfather,
Which Is A Part of Nathan's Family Too
 His Beautiful Kitchen He Recently Remodeled
Using Rough Sawed Lumber

         Over the next few days, we all enjoyed spending time with Andrew.  As you can probably tell, he has a beautiful place!  Here in South GA, we are not use to the rolling hills that are filled with cattle & horses, mountain streams, less humidity with cooler temperatures, basements which make your houses 3 story, or being woke up at night by the BEAR IN THE YARD!!!  That was an experience!  Still as much as we love where we live, we both miss the open windows & sleeping as you hear all the beautiful sounds of nature!  After the kiddos would go to bed, we would all visit out on the porch for hours talking & laughing...catching up on all the funny stories from yesteryear when we didn't know one another even existed.
The kiddos LOVE Andrew too! 
He makes our big family feel right at home!
     On the way back home, we made a few more stops.  One was in the tourist town of Blue Ridge.  It was also a lovely little mountain town with lots of quaint shops & restaurants.  Since it was Wednesday, we also made one last stop to a friend's home to go to church with them.  They are our special friends who also own a taxidermy shop.  Their shop is Alvoy Taxidermy in Covington, GA.  The kiddos loved seeing their pet turkeys & chasing their rabbits all over the yard!  Mr. Ray smoked up some mean chicken & Ms. Judy cooked us a DELICIOUS home cooked meal full of garden vegetables!  It tasted like home but even better since I didn't have to cook it!  Lol  They are such a wonderful couple!  Not everyone can take all of us in, feed us, get us ready for church, & make us feel right at home all at the same time!  The church service afterwards was very touching.  We look forward to being with them again in the near future as Nathan accepted the invitation to preach a Homecoming Sunday there.  After service, Nathan was a great trooper who drove us a few more hours home while we all slept!
     This was a very refreshing vacation for us!  We enjoyed church services everywhere we went, fellowshipped with lots of special friends & family, ate tons of great food, fished, swam, hiked through beautiful country side, tubed down the river, spent tons of time as a family, shopped 'til we about dropped, & made it home safe!  Thank you Lord for such a wonderful vacay!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Have A New Kid By Friday

     On a recent trip to the Christian book store, I came across a new book "Have A New Kid By Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman.  No, I don't have terrible kids, but I am always on the lookout for new ideas or a better approach.  Almost a million copies of it had been sold, & it was only $5.  So I thought, why not?  I am very thankful that I did!  I'll summarize just a few things that the book covers, but you should definitely buy it & read it for yourself!!!  Each technique described is easy & practical.  It all makes perfect sense! 
  • QUIT repeating yourself.  Simply say what you mean only once in a calm voice, turn & walk away expecting your children to do as they are told. 
  • QUIT rewarding bad behavior!!!  Simply do not go to the next fun event or let them do what they want to do next when they didn't accomplish your previous request. 
  • QUIT explaining the situation out to your kiddos.  After all, they are kids.  They don't need long, drawn out adult explanations unless they come with questions and the right attitude to hear an answer.  Things are what they are.  Their choices = their consequences!
A few of the "funnier" suggestions in the book that we've tried by specific category~
  • The lazy child must pay another sibling to complete the task.  This worked well with our Marianna.  The 1st $1 she had to issue Kaley for hanging up her bath towel seemed to be no big deal to her.  Now, she is now out of a total of $6 & not liking that at all!  I don't even have to remind them after every bath to do this anymore nor do I issue the same exact tasks every morning of brush your teeth, make your bed, get dressed, etc.  I expect it, they are capable, & it gets done.  Easy as that!
  • The vehicle will STOP as soon as the chaos beings!  No.fighting.in.the.car!  It's distracting.  What's even worse is when you begin yelling back in attempt to stop the madness, creating even more chaos.  The vicious cycle continues as does the parental arm flailing.  It just can't be safe!  QUIT with the fussing & threats.  Just QUIT!  Stop driving.  Pull over in a safe spot.  Wait.  Soon they will get the idea.  Soon you will begin again.  If not, calmly exit the vehicle & breathe in the fresh air.  Wait a little longer.  Repeat as many times as necessary.  Their attempts at getting your attention as something convenient to do in the close quarters to pass the time just backfires.  If they are late for something they want to go to, even better!  When we tried this, both times you could hear a pin drop!  The 2nd time, they took the hint & quit.  It worked a pure miracle!
  • Children must bathe.  If not willfully, a parent will finish the task for you calmly with cold water.  The other night we had church which obviously rushes our time frame for baths & supper.  I made one announcement that we had church & I wanted everyone to get a bath & come to eat supper.  I didn't keep repeating myself.  I ignored Clay as he continued to play.  I just kept on cooking.  I even turned on some calming music since after a little while he laughed & said, "Mama, I'm not bathing."  I've never had him actually say that before, so it took a lot of self control for me to ignore.  Then, I guess thinking I had completely lost my mind by not telling him over again & that he was really going to get away with this, he got super rowdy running & playing.  The rest of the kids all bathed.  They even kept informing me of what Clay was doing.  I kept cooking & set the table, acting as if it didn't concern me.  At the announcement to come to supper, Nathan removed Clay from the table & proceeded to bathe him.  He was NOT happy about this at all!  His actions backfired on who?  Himself!  Once his cold bath was over, the rest of us were finished eating.  He looked very sad as he sat at the table by himself.  The next night, he was the 1st one in the tub & kept yelling, "I'm in the bathtub Mama!"
    If you like these principles, you'll LOVE the book!  Time & space won't allow me to expound on all of the topics & ideas covered.  Besides, I'm still learning!  Could you imagine your parents swallowing their pride enough to take you to church with your PJs or no shoes on???  I would imagine it would only take once for a very important lesson to be learned!!!
     I'm learning that parenting is more about how you parent than how your kids act.  In other words, the way you parent results in the way your household is run.  My new moto~ TALK LESS, DO MORE!  Actions are more powerful than words!  For example, kids understand not being allowed to eat ice cream because of their messy room that you previously asked them to clean up.  What I have witnessed in our experience of trying this out over the last few days is that this allows me to defuse & not punish them out of anger.  I can calm myself & breathe & not immediately enter battle over the fact that they chose not to obey.  In time, the punishment will come.  The child will be sorrowful, mind, & take your expectations more seriously next time.  This takes some major dedication to fulfill!
     By all means, if you want a chaotic household, repeat orders while getting progressively LOUDER over & over, get angry, & dish out punishments in the heat of the moment.  I choose not to do this.  I choose that what I say is important enough to be headed & obeyed the very first time.  I choose to be respected.  This creates the right kind of Attitude, Behavior, & Character in your kiddos!  My desire is to have a fun loving family that can enjoy each other!  I also desire to turn out adults into this world that can make a difference!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Content~To Be Or Not To Be?

"He who is not contented with what he has,
would not be contented
with what he would like to have." -Socrates
  
     I recently came across this quote in a book by my favorite author, Valorie Burton.  To say I have this all figured out would be a major understatement.  In fact, reading that quote & pondering what it means allowed me do a lot of reflecting & self inventory.  We probably are all very familiar with the scriptures in Philippians 4 "...for I have learned, that whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."  Yet I am anxiously awaiting, in our current state of limbo, for an answer & ask, "Where is your will for us Lord?"
     So how does Paul go from being a Pharisee which are known for being prosperous & ultra materialistic to being content with humble means or harsh circumstances in prison?  For in this same chapter he admonishes, " Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."  He thinks enough of this statement to confirm it over again with repetition.  When I think of this topic of contentment & rejoicing, thanksgiving can't help but flow!  We are so blessed with abundance!  We have plenty of food & to spare, beautiful property, a thriving business, a fully decorated home, an abundance of clothing & shoes, etc.  How can I even think about wanting more, more, more except out of greed & selfishness?  Hoarding up material possessions can most certainly be the devil's distraction!
     The single change Paul's life points to is Christ.  Jesus made the difference in his life & his outlook.  Paul seemed to have lived the full spectrum of having a lot & having only a little.  His words in these scriptures proves that he had broken his attachment to things.  It indeed is more of an internal lesson that I need to learn. 
     Just last night, our family devotional covered the basis of Matthew 6:33 & the theme was "The most important things in life aren't things."  We discussed several scenarios & tried to explain priorities.  We each shared examples of things we wouldn't really even miss if we got rid of.  The kids soon caught on.  They started rationalizing that they would rather toss the rug that was merely for decoration than their beds & soft pillows.  We even discussed computers, telephones, alarm clocks, toys, air conditioning, our frequent trips to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream treats, & other such luxuries that we so often take for granted & give no thought to the fact that these are our WANTS & not needs.
     Following Paul's example, I too want to grasp that things are just things.  There are not even any fancy words for things...just merely your stuff, possessions, & belongings.  Oftentimes, things can be lost much faster & easier than you can ever gain them.  We know with assurance that these things don't determine our value or worth & that you most certainly can't take any of them with you when you die.  Paul had some of the most tremendous ups & downs.  Yet, it was never recorded where his more prosperous times were his pinnacle of achievement nor does the Bible refer to him as a failure or a quitter as he finds himself imprisoned.  His goal was simply to fulfill what God called him to do & all of those other things were just peripheral, coming & going with no real relevance.
     Do I believe that contentment means always willing to settle for mediocrity?  Nope!  Instead, I see it as being satisfied at whatever place in life God has us at, while trusting that He does have our best interest at heart.  We don't have to have everything!  We can exercise patience & self control.  Do I believe he wants us to not succeed or rather fail?  Nope!  He sees fit to bless us in His time & according to His will.  So as our family plunges ahead into uncharted waters, I am trying to learn these lessons that Paul did and be content in my present circumstances of not knowing what lies ahead, while trusting that God is all knowing & taking me from glory to glory!  After all, our life is not measured by our material possessions but rather the only thing that matters is how much of our hearts we allow Him to rein in & possess!
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33
     I desire for my family to be of use to God & open to His will!  Pray for us as we seek His direction.  He knows what's best for us & continues to amaze with His perfect timing!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Farewell Aimwell

    Picture Taken Easter 2014
     We resigned pastoring Aimwell Calvary Holiness Church last night.  We are excited & feel good about it although we are kinda nervous with no real direction.  After all, we did quit farming to pastor.  However, we all know that God knows what is best & works mighty wonders especially when we cannot make any rational sense out of the situation.  We love Aimwell & were really comfortable there.  To clarify any questions maybe I should state that nothing happened that made us want to leave.  God just simply said go.  We struggled with this decision since May/June & God confirmed it during Broxton's camp meeting through Brother John Gabbard.  All we know to do is step out on faith & trust Him.  When God shuts one door, He will open another in His time.  Will we pastor again?  Will we travel & evangelize? Will we stay home to promote our local church?  God only knows.  Many things have flowed through our minds in the past several days.  Please hold our family up in your prayers & also the church during this time of uncertainty.  God will bless us all if we follow Him!  We are not discouraged!  We serve God that is all powerful & has conquered death, hell, & the grave.  NOTHING causes Him to wring his hands.  He is ALWAYS in control.  We want God's will above all else!
     Above is one of my favorite quotes!  Maybe I'll take this time to say he was a great leader for an amazing cause!  He stood for RIGHT in America even though it cost him his life.  At the 1st of this year our family read through the Addy books from the American Girl series to study the history of the United States and also as an introduction to the issue of racism.  I know my children notice that there are different races all across the USA & our world.  I NEVER want them to be so shallow that they form any judgements or opinions on others based on someone's nationality or to be plain the color of a person's skin.  God loves all & will NEVER esteem "white" people above the rest.  That kind of thinking is an embarrassment for the race that I am a part of.  God will never lift up those who esteem themselves but blesses the humble.  I wish I had just a small portion of the courage & effect Martin Luther King, Jr. had on this country.  His legacy lives on!  He made a positive difference in the lives of countless others that has changed history!  With God's hand on our lives & guiding our footsteps, I am encouraged more than ever to follow God's "staircase" even when I can't see but 1 step at a time!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A New Special Connection

     I had an idea I thought I'd share!!!  As many of you know, I LOVE to write!  I like doodling, typing, journaling, to do lists, calendars, counting my blessing, writing in margins of books, & just about anything that allows me to jot down & organize my thoughts.  I gain insight that probably would never occur to me otherwise.  It is an outlet & a huge blessing!  So back to my idea...
     I love writing + I love my kiddos, so why not mesh those two together?  I desire to have a special relationship with my children that continues into their teenage years & extends into adulthood.  I ran across a suggestion that sometimes it is difficult for a child to talk to you face to face about certain things & may feel more comfortable writing you a letter.  Thus, the birth of a new idea~to journal back & forth with my kiddos as they get older!
     My next trip to town included the purchase of a cute set of pens & a snazzy journal with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt about your dreams.  I sat down in a quiet moment & wrote to my oldest Kaley (almost 12).  I wrote what a sweet, beautiful girl she was growing into.  I tried to share my heart & how I want her to be able to ask me anything that she desires my opinion on & share what's on her heart also.  As a conversation starter, I pointed out the quote on the front cover.  I asked her about her dreams & what makes her happy.  I love to see when her smile shows so big & genuine that she has dimples!  I explained that when she had written back to sneak it onto my bedside table, & I would soon return it in a surprising place!  She was so excited!  Our house is full of lots of loud family time, so I plan for this to be a new way to connect with just her.  I want to encourage the quietness of thoughts & journaling in her life.  I want to share this blessing with her.  I know right now she may not have huge questions.  She may not have profound, earthshattering thoughts either.  I do want when those times come for her to know she can always come to me & us develop that kind of bond. 
     I am excited to see what the future will hold for my little ones!  Right now they have so few responsibilities & worries.  Their innocence & immaturity shows so strong.  I love it!  I relish these moments with each one!  They are fascinated with so much that we often take for granted.  I want to experience their view of the world.  I want them to discover their own ideas & beliefs.  I want to ask open ended questions & hear their hearts.  Already we have written back & forth a few times.  I surprised her with my response when she went to make her bed this morning.  I just can't wait to read what she has to say next!  Their lives are full of much opportunity, & I want to be a positive influence & an active role model for each one!    

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Fabulous June

     My June began with a bang!  After being a member of Weight Watchers online for 5 months, I reached my weight loss goal of losing 20 pounds!  I am so excited about that!  That came just in time for...
Calvary Holiness Youth Camp 2014
     Calvary Holiness Youth Camp is a highlight of our every summer!  The kids make a countdown calendar the week before.  They also help me shop & pack.  It's tons of fun for them to stay at our local campground with hundreds of kids that they know from all across south GA.  It's a week packed with VBS, art, games, talent, choir, train rides, skits, snow cones, & other activities.  Nathan was honored to be the night speaker this year.  It was such a blessing to see the altars fill up each night with children seeking the Lord & praying one for another.  The presence of God was amazing!  We had a BLAST! 
St George Island, FL
 
      My parents blessed us the very next week with a beach vacation to St George Island, FL!  My sister's family, my family, & my parents all went together.  They rented us a beach house with a pool.  There was tons of swimming, sunning, building sand castles, & relaxing.  Mid week we all drove over to Wakulla Springs for a boat ride & even more swimming.  The best part was being together...cooking & eating the fresh, local seafood from the island!  My parents are both famous cooks in our eyes.  The crab boil topped my list!  Daddy is a great griller too so steaks, hamburgers & hot dogs were also a must!  Swimming with family, smelling the grill, enjoying great food together, & all for free!  What a blessing June has been for us!!!  :)
Looking forward to celebrating this week too! 
Happy 4th to all!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Glory Barn Grand Opening

Saturday, May 10, 2014
Hanging Baskets $15
 Bedding Plants
6 Pack $2.50 ~ Flat $13.50
Large Ferns $20
Fresh Produce

EE's Daylilies $10 & Up
      In this picture you can see our home in the background.  We live at the back of our 5 acre pecan orchard.  We LOVE it here!
 Concrete $3 - $32
The Garden
     I'll try to take more resent pictures of the garden soon.  This was a month ago & it has grown so much!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Birthdays & Vacays

     March is a birthday month at our house!  We celebrated Marianna's 8th & Ninja Clay's 3rd birthday this year! 
      We saved up (plus family pitched in) for our AMAZING family trip to Discovery Cove & Sea World in Orlando, FL.  Our little dolphin lover finally got her dream come true!  

We all had a GREAT time together!

 


    
     Discovery Cove is the most spectacular place we've ever been!  We've looked into going several different times.  It is pretty pricey though, so we would always back out.  However, Marianna never relented on her begging to swim with the dolphins.  Finally, we decided to bite the bullet & buy the tickets.  Thankfully, different family members gave Marianna birthday money since the dolphin experience was extra.  She was beside herself excited!  We all LOVED the whole park!  It is worth every penny paid!  It is not crowded at all as they only pre-sale so many passes per day.  It is beyond beautiful!  It's as near to heaven on earth for 10 hours!  We snorkeled in coral reefs with fish & other sea life, fed & petted tropical birds, watched marmosets & otters play as we swam, floated around in the lazy river, & much, much more!  All of your gear, meals, snacks, lockers, towels, sun screen, strollers, & anything else you can think of is included in the price.  Even the bathrooms are fully stocked with shampoo, conditioner, soap, bags for wet clothes, & warm towels.  The staff members all walk around catering to you & your family.  All you do is show up dressed to swim as you lounge around & play on the beautiful, pristine beaches for the day!  I just can't say enough wonderful things about it!  We all can't wait to go back sometime!  Also included in the ticket package is a day at Sea World & Aquatica (though we didn't stay another extra day for Aquatica)!
          Sea World was tons of fun as usual!  It is the park's 50th anniversary this year.  They opened several new exhibits & shows.  The animal encounters are tops!  We also got to see all of the Sesame Street characters in Elmo Rocks.  The little ones really enjoyed that! 
       The older girls were really the only ones big enough for most of the rides.  They went off with Daddy while I kept the little 3 in the kids zone.  Raegan was content to eat ice cream.  Clay & Graham couldn't resist getting wet in the splash park.  I wasn't prepared for that, so I bought Clay something to wear.  Of course, they were too expensive, so I just let baby Graham get wet in a diaper cover!  lol 
 
 
     The last day we were exhausted.  We slept in.  The girls & I went shopping at the Orlando outlets while Nathan & the boys went to Bass Pro.
 The memories we made together are priceless!