Thursday, December 31, 2015

CHRISTmas 2015 & CHEERS for 2016

     Hope everyone had a very blessed Christmas 2015!  This year was filled with many new memories.  As usual, my shopping was completed in our annual shopping spree a few days prior to Thanksgiving.  This allows us time to decorate & enjoy the holidays ahead filled with many parties & time with those we love.  We traveled to the mountains for 6 days but of course came home for the big day.  Christmas Eve is always spent at Candlelight service with my Walker family in the church I grew up in.  It's such a special service that we look forward to every year.  There is just something magical about singing Christmas carols mixed with the Christmas story in candlelight with my family right beside me.  I couldn't imagine spending Christmas morning any other way than with excited kiddos waking up too early to rip into presents & all of our family coming over for Christmas breakfast.  This year it was extra loud & livened up with a karaoke of cousins singing & dancing.  Nothing short of a hilarious show of laughter!
     I'm thinking Christmas is getting to be a bigger & more of an expensive production each year.  Of course with 5 kids, anything can become a big production!  I will have to be the 1st to admit, I love the decorating, shopping, & planning family activities each day.  The festivities began with the preteen & teenage church Christmas party lock in with a night filled with fun & games for our oldest girls.  NO sleeping allowed!  I wasn't there to take pictures but the ones I saw & all the feedback suggested it was nothing short of a HUGE success!  Our local homeschool group gathered for an exciting time for a group party, Mom's only party, & also an exclusive teen party.  Here's a picture of the moms who were able to attend our Mom's Night Out.  I LOVE this group of ladies.  It was such a wonderful evening of great food & fellowship, devotions & tears, & also lots of games with fun & laughter!

This year we were blessed with an advent box from a very dear friend.  It went right along with our Christmas Bible curriculum stories as we counted down the days.  They all absolutely loved lighting the candles!
We even ventured back to Aimwell to help retell the Christmas story:

& yes, our Christmas is also filled with too many presents!

     I know, I know...many say Christmas is too commercialized.  It is definitely true that the retailers really hit it big right at the end of their year.  I am one of those shoppers.  It runs in my blood thanks to my sweet mama.  My parents are gracious enough to give us all a Christmas "bonus" & bless us with a fun trip to Atlanta too.  It has been growing for years.  My kids really love it.  We are blessed with so much abundance as is the majority of America.  I can cry a river & live with my heart sinking low thinking about how ungrateful we are & how neglected others are for even bare necessities.  Instead, I choose to rejoice.  I am thankful for what we have.  Not eating does not feed another just as not buying does not provide for one in poverty either.  I do stress over the fact that some don't have.  We do reach out to others to help during this time especially as I'm sure many others do also.  Nothing ever feels sufficient enough though.  We have to find some sort of balance of gratitude & giving in our lives.  That's the hard part.  Always remember it never costs you a dime to smile & live JOYfully.  Share your love with others!
     Tonight as 2015 comes to a close, I am excited about the New Year ahead.  Who doesn't love NEW?  Plans don't have to be too extensive.  Resolutions aren't necessary.  Keep your head in the game, goals in focus, & never loose sight of your vision for your life!  Savor the moments that have passed, learn from the unpleasant ones, & face 2016 with a purpose for making the most amazing memories ever!  CHEERS!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Latest News Flash On Us

     Sorry to my readers!  I've been so busy with my own family & my husband's new business that I haven't taken the time to blog lately.  So much has happened & so much is going on...where do I begin?  Over 10 years ago, Nathan was unhappy with his job for various reasons so one day I casually asked him if you can have any job in the world, what would you want to do?  His response was almost immediate.  For the first time ever, he mentioned his dream of doing Taxidermy work.  I was shocked that he had such a quick answer for me.  We dated for what seemed like forever, had celebrated a few anniversaries as newly weds, & already had a toddler.  Why hasn't he talked about this before?  You just have to know Nathan, quiet & a go with the flow kinda guy.  That's the conversation where it all began.
     Before long, I was searching online & making many telephone calls.  Who would've thought that the Telfair County 2001 Salutatorian & Star Student would have called her old high school counselor to find out how to become a Taxidermist?  Lol  I did!  He was the one who guided our decisions & encouraged us to follow the dream.  We researched & researched schools that taught the trade a long ways from home only to conclude that we should order the VHS instruction tapes.  I don't think they even make VHS tapes anymore, but I can't tell you how many hours we watched them together.  For Nathan's birthday, he asked for supplies.  We also invested $3,000 in a storage type building.  He was ready to get to work!  I had never seen him so excited!
      That is where it all began.  The outside of the building matching our home, but the inside was a totally different story.  There was always blood on the linoleum floor, no running water, old rusty freezers in every corner, & a tiny work area in the middle of the floor that we never could keep very organized mainly due to lack of space.  None of that mattered to us though.  He was doing what he loved.  He sported a new smile.  Ten years flew by like it has a tendency to do.  All 5 of our children ran & played in the yard while he learned the trade.  We began to pastor in 2012.  His business was completely outgrowing the tiny building.  Juggling the farm, church, & his shop soon became completely impossible.  Of course, he chose what he loved-doing the Lord's work 1st & then his Taxidermy shop.  Many don't understand or agree with those decisions, & that is ok.  It was his decision to make, & we wouldn't change it for the world!!!
     In 2013, we purchased a 5 acre pecan orchard on the main highway.  May I insert here that we have the most AMAZING friends that love us!  As soon as the foundation was completed, they started showing up from out of state along with Justin Sage from Big J's Construction...
& in just a matter of about 10 days, South GA Taxidermy as you see it here was completed. 
     The grand opening was a success.  Some may have thought the dream was finished but it had only just began.  Years of planning went into this reality.  There would be more to come...& this year Custom Processing was added on.  Now he literally has his original dream come true-a one stop shop, a hunter's dream!  We have even began to carry hunting products!
     Yes, his work load has probably tripled or more, but the whole work day is full of smiles & fun!  We now have employees.  They even talk about it being their favorite job they've ever had & how "Nathan is just so happy!"  Seeing the hunters come in with their trophies & hearing their stories never gets old.  We never realized our little county produced so many great bucks!  Nathan still gets to hunt Mondays-Fridays, but Saturdays are crazy busy here.  We wake early to cook breakfast for our customers & begin our day.  The business he has built for himself is truly amazing!  Of course our Sundays are still spent at church.  We no longer pastor but evangelize & attend a local church when we don't have a scheduled place to preach.  This year more doors have been opened for us to minister than ever before.  It's such a blessing to see lives changing for the better.  God has really blessed us to see miracles in our own lives & also through others.  God has been too good to us!  The zeal Nathan has for God, our family, & working hard at what he loves is a marvel to witness.  He has worked out Nathan's dreams & also given him new yes, with the good Lord willing, soon there will still be even MORE TO COME!  Maybe I should wonder if he has become obsessed with saving $ for all of his new building projects!  ;)  Since I have spared you all from seeing the taxidermy & processing pictures, look up South GA Taxidermy & Custom Processing's public Facebook page if you would like to see more!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Celebration Weekend~Birthdays Galore

 Kaley Mariah's 13th~Girls ONLY!

     We enjoyed every single minute celebrating with Kaley!  We appreciate everyone who came & made this day special for her.  A big shout out to Meme for making this possible, EE for the beautiful, delicious cakes & Aunt Heather & Ms. Cheryl for helping out too!
Our very own Ms. Cheryl (well actually Meme loans her to us)!
AKA My Children's "Other Mother"  We ALL love her dearly!

Then off we travel to Atlanta for Graham's 3rd~Boys ONLY+mama too!
 Chowing down & watching the show:

     We started the day off at Horsetown buying new boots & boot cut jeans.  Thanks for the investment you made in them Meme & Papa!  Then, off to Medieval Times we go!  It was TONS of fun for all of us!  This was their 1st trip having us to themselves.  The show was amazing, the company even better!  :)  Sometimes I don't know what to do with all these boot wearing, sword fighting, rambunctious boys, but I wouldn't trade the world for them!
     September is always a fun filled birthday month here celebrating our oldest & our youngest.  Kaley's birthday is on the 12th, & Graham's is the 26th.  Both are such a blessing.  Kaley is such a sweet natured young lady.  She is my helper in every way imaginable & always eager to please.  She's definitely a talker & great to share with us her thoughts & feelings.  Graham is our quietest child.  He always sports a smile though.  He makes the funniest faces & is really coming "out of his shell" lately.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for their lives.  I am blessed to be a part of it!  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Raegan's 6th

Celebrating Raegan style as Princess Elsa
 Raegan's Dream Came True~Visiting Babyland General Hospital
EE's deliciously cute cabbage patch cake made especially for Princess Raegan

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Miracles STILL Happen

   Image result for miracles

     Nathan is an extremely hard worker.  It seems natural for him to rise before daylight, silently get ready for the day, & slip out of the house without a peep.  Usually he's walking to work right across our yard or either headed out on his next hunting or fishing adventure.  It all depends on the seasons & the weather.  Either way, he's not much on sleeping late or being lazy.  He learned to work ridiculously hard (& overwork) from an unheard of young age as labor on his family's watermelon farms.  Sadly, according to every doctor we have seen, those sacrifices cost him tremendous damage to his joints.
     Nathan loves most every outdoor activity & sports.  He may be just a tad bit on the competitive side.  ;)  He has never been one to sit on the side lines.  He enjoys getting in on the action at whatever event is going on, especially with the church youth & of course with our 5 too.  Even the south GA heat doesn't stop him either.  He'll just chug down water & keep on going!
     Once Nathan reached his teenage years, he began experiencing pain in his wrists & knees that would be common for a man 4 times his age.  He worked right on.  He was never taken the doctor to address the issues.  He just wore a brace from time to time.  The pain would come & go.  Not long into our marriage, he broke his ankle getting off a tractor.  This was the 1st time the situation was addressed.  In a local ER, x-rays confirmed the break in the joint.  That night after he finally drifted off to sleep with the aid of pain medicine, I lay wide awake.  I didn't know what we would do without him being able to work for the rest of the summer in the fields.  We were practically kids ourselves raising 2 little bitty girls with not a dab of savings.  I cried & I prayed.  I begged God to heal him.  The next morning we drove about 3 hours away from our rural area to a specialist from one of the best hospitals around.  After the doctor confirmed the break, he ordered more x-rays.  He explained that he needed to see different angles in order to come up with the best possible plan for surgery.  Nathan was wheeled out.  I sat & waited.  He returned.  Soon the doctor came in carrying the new x-rays, displaying them on a white board side by side with the others.  To all of our amazement, the new x-rays showed no break at all!  It was a miracle!!!  Yes, his ankle was still hurting, swollen, & black but no longer broken!  They allowed us to bring both sets home.  You know how in the Bible days they would erect an alter & name a place in remembrance of a particular time God moved for His people?  We keep them as a sign from God that He is able.    Needless to say, we left amazed!
     Several years passed by.  In an after church basketball match with the youth, Nathan injured one of his weak knees.  Immediately, we gathered around him in prayer.  As the years rolled on, his knees became easily injured.  Playing volleyball with church youth would regularly end with another injury for Nathan.  When we snow skiied, you could count on a major knee injury occurring.  Finally, the pain became an every day challenge.  His knees regularly give way, & he falls just walking around.  We sought opinions from several different specialists & he's been prayed for more times than I can name.  We knew God was able but seemed like surgery was going to be a must this time.  The scariest part was the recovery time of 1 year.  We finally accepted the fact that he would have to hire extra workers for his business instead of being the main guy all the time.  The dates were lining up.  We picked out a doctor.  Our insurance has even approved the procedures.  We would wait until after CHYC since he was the night speaker.  We had one empty week to rest up at home the holiday week of the 4th before the final plans would begin to take shape for him to go under the knife...
     Normal people would just relax at home & enjoy the holiday, right?  Right!  But not us...what do we do?  We unpack from a fun filled (but exhausting) week of youth camp & pack up to head north!  There was a campmeeting with a great children's church program to attend, messages from the Master to deliver, & great friends to fellowship!  Just because Nathan had an upcoming surgery, that doesn't stop him!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at each church!  We were even invited to attend somewhere we had never been before only to experience the power of God touch lives through the message & move in a mighty way in the alter service.  We planned a big 4th for the kids in Helen since we were up that way.  We had tons of fun tubing, picnicking in the park, wading the mountain streams, eating ice cream, & watching an amazing firework show to boot.
     We were encouraged although the surgery seemed to loom on just ahead of us.  Everyday I could tell it stayed on Nathan's mind.  He gave in prayer requests everywhere we went. Even I dreaded going home as the days counted down for I knew what lie ahead.  One night during alter service at a church full of hundreds where we don't regularly attend or know many people, Nathan was approached by an elder gentleman asking his permission to pray for his knee during the alter service.  People were all around the alters praying with one another.  Nathan said no one else gathered around them.  The gentleman just humbly prayed for Nathan's knees.  There were no fireworks, no lightning flashes, no Hollywood sound effects, nothing.  I never even noticed myself.  Soon we all were back at our pews & dismissed.
     A few phone calls came in which called for a change in our schedule & meant for a hard Sunday.  We would now be rising extra early to pack & get the 7 of us ready in time to attend Sunday school & to minister in the morning service in a church in Athens, eat after service with friends, & hit the interstate for a 3 1/2 hour drive west to minister at a youth service in Alabama.  The only thing that made this possible was the hour we would "gain" crossing state lines.  Our minds were focused not only on carrying the messages but also on surviving our day.  At this point, all of us were over tired.  As much as we love to travel, 7 worn out passengers can make for misery.  To be openly honest, $ we had allotted to cover trip expenses were dipping way below our comfort level which also added a dose of stress.  Nothing blew up on the road though.  No one fussed.  It seemed as if a silent fog of sadness entered our van.  Disappointment came tagging along to.  We were doing everything we knew to do & our circumstances were looking bleak.  Quickly, we rolled into AL.  We rushed around in a frenzy getting everyone ready & barely made it to the service on time.  I could tell during his preaching that Nathan wasn't his usual self.  Not only had the long day taken it's toil but no doubt the upcoming days ahead worried his mind.  It was as if a great storm were brewing & we were heading into it instead of away.  After the youth service, we stayed for the supper & games in the gym.  It was after midnight before we headed off to bed.  The next morning we awoke to the frenzy of packing & loading up for the drive home.  Not much was said 'til Nathan broke the silence...
     All of a sudden it just dawned on him that his knee hadn't bothered him a bit since the man had prayed for him.  He began to tell us all what occurred.  He began reminiscing the volleyball game he participated in the night before, how he played harder than he had played in years with no pain.  Suddenly, our long faces turned into smiles of rejoicing.  Only God can do that!  He began poking where his ACL was torn & would normally cause sharp pain.  He was pain free!  Our van filled with praise!  He began calling those close to him that were keeping up with his situation to deliver the amazing news.  Our cell phones began ringing off the hook.  The 4 hour ride home seemed like no time at all.  We rejoiced together!
      Right now I am blessed to watch Nathan & all 5 of our kiddos running around playing ball in the yard.  Their laughter abounds.  He's running & falling in the grass with them.  The smiles are priceless.  It's been several weeks now & still no pain.  He's cancelled his appointments.  No need in going now.  PTL from whom ALL blessings flow!  I can't thank Him enough!  I don't understand why bad things happen but I do know a God who can handle it all!  He is more than sufficient!  He has never let us down!  Our faith is increased in Him!  Whatever you are facing, don't quit before your miracle arrives!  Today could be your breakthrough day & your life could change forever!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CHYC 2015

     Just a few pictures from our local youth camp!  We all look forward to attending!  The kids make a countdown calendar each summer in anticipation.  It's basically a full week of morning VBS classes, fun daily activities, & nightly youth services.  For the past 2 years, Nathan has been honored to be the night speaker.  This year hit a record attendance of 433!  I can't say enough wonderful things about it! What can be better than spending a week every year learning, laughing (definitely TONS of laughing), drawing closer to God, & watching hundreds of children & youth establish their relationship with Christ!?!  Nothing shy of our most amazing week of every single year!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Am I Settling For Simply Mediocre?

  1. of only moderate quality; not very good


    STOP & ask yourself the question, 
    am I settling for mediocre?  

     Right this second I am sitting in a beach house on Saint George Island looking across a huge porch overlooking the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  I have 2 handsome little boys down for naps, an amazing husband just off the island actually being able to enjoy a break playing golf with my Daddy, & watching my girls play a fun game of wiffle ball with my sister & Mama on the beach.  I can make out their smiling faces as they run & play.  Nope, I'd quickly answer the question with a straight forward no.  Then, I challenge that thought.  Next, I certainly begin to offer up more evidence to back up my claim.  I have a free, paid for vacation down to the gas & groceries for the week.  I have eaten a boat load of America's finest foods from fresh seafood to special ordered, hand cut steaks cooked to perfection.  I have the choice of the beach, pool, or hot tub at my disposal for 7 whole days.  I have brought a New York Time's best selling Dr Phil book that I have been enjoying reading with my toes in the sand.  I can take naps (something highly unusual for me) under the shade of our beach tent or while laying out basking in the sun another of the 6 adults watch the kiddos for a while.  Even this morning as it rained we sought out the Apalachicola Nature Estuary Reserve.  This by definition is definitely both exceptional & exciting.  There is nothing mediocre about this week, but what about my usual week?  As I bask in life's blessings & finish up a workout by Tiffany Rothe on youtube, I sweep the sand tracked floors, fold laundry, & reorganize the messy 'fridge as I listen to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Larry Winslet who challenges me with this exercise:

    1~Write down EXACTLY how things are in each area of your life (in detail).  Be brutally honest!  Don't lie to yourself.

    2~Write down EXACTLY how you DESIRE things to be in each area of your life (again, in detail).  Dream BIG!

    3~Write down what you are willing to give up or do to change in order to have the life you desire!

      He begins in his own Larry way to cut to the chase & give statistics about how the vast majority of people life a mediocre lifestyle~financially, spiritually, in their home life, relationships, work, health wise, etc.  No one really ever wants to rock the boat or do whatever it takes to get ahead.  Change is difficult because fear of the unknown creeps in.  This fear is so natural that many do not even realize how powerful it is.  It cripples us.  We resist change.  We become insane... as in doing the same old things over & over again as if we expect different results or our lives to magically POOF & get instantly "better."  In reality, it's not magic or wishful thinking or repeating a great meaningful mantra.  It takes an effort to know what you want, plan how you are going to achieve it, & getting off your lazy behind to do something about it.  Most anyone can dream & complain but real success begins when you take action.  Put your own 2 feet under those dreams so they can take off!  It's that easy.  Our lives are ours & what we make of it.  Sure, uneventful things come our way.  Guess what?  That happens to everybody.  Bones break, sickness comes, diseases attack, accidents happen, people die, others are cruel, etc.  Deal with the situation but don't buy the T-shirt!  Try viewing those as our own personal chances to shine!  Sing "Overcomer" by Mandisa loud & proud.  Pick up the pieces, regroup, & continue on your right track.  This is our life & our only chance at it, no dress rehearsal going on here!  Be all that you can be!  Live your BEST life!  It was gifted to us by God & is what we make of it.  My real life example:

          During our entire day of beach packing, I fretted over what they could wear for pictures.  Several had cute "beachy" outfits.  Then no one would have anything that would really coordinate.  I finally just picked these without being fully satisfied.  On our last night on the island, it took us probably over an hour to rush everyone inside early, bathe everyone, get them dressed, etc.  I curled the girl's hair.  Finally they were all ready.  From the moment we began, the wind picked up.  The girl's hair was flying everywhere.  The boys wanted to play as they had all week out there in the sand.  No matter where we posed them, hair was swirling in circles all around their faces.  Curl was no where in sight.  Needless to say, this did not go down as I had envisioned.  Every year we take these cute, posed pictures where everyone cooperates & is usually way too matchy matchy.  Not.this.year.  I did get frustrated with the wind.  I didn't yell or loose it though because I hate myself when that happens.  I just let them play.  They all got soaking wet.  They laughed out loud.  The smiles you see here are genuine.  They have never enjoyed beach pictures this much & never have I been so proud of how they turned out (& at myself for regrouping rather calmly).  Winds blow.  That's just life.  When I learned to accept that, I moved on & the pictures turned out perfect!  
         My new prayer is this, "Lord, help me not to settle for simply mediocre.  I know you see so much more.  I want to live that extra ordinary life that you have planned out just for me!"  Anything is possible with God!  The real question is, am I willing to do what it takes???        

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Not Always As Planned

                           Image result for i believe everything happens for a reason, good things fall apart so better things can fall together

     Sorry for the silence lately.  To say things have not been going as planned as of lately would definitely be an understatement of understatements.  Easter surely didn't.  We went to bed with all the cute Easter clothes laid out along with the baskets of Easter prizes too.  I was struck with a pain that just wouldn't pass though.  I am no sick person.  I hardly ever take meds & surely don't visit ERs either.  Yet, this wouldn't go away.  I had fought it 3 different nights that week thinking I just came down with a bad stomach ache.  2 ER visits, doses of IV morphine, GI Dr, 4 tests, & a visit to a surgeon would reveal that my gallbladder was only functioning at 11%.  Before these episodes, I had not experienced pain like that before.  Even birthing 5 babies didn't compare.  Once they pinpointed the problem, the pain had subsided as I had been days without eating, 8 days to be exact before surgery.  The surgery itself seemed a piece of cake to me.  They rolled me in & knocked my lights out.  I woke up relieved that it was all over with.  Since I have been eating like a pig again.  ;)
     During the ordeal, special family & friends all poured in to help.  I couldn't begin to name all the names nor deeds that were done for us.  I just know that was the longest time anyone else had ever taken care of my kiddos.  They survived it all & seemed to have a great time too.  I went at least 2 weeks if not more without really cooking, cleaning, washing laundry, or anything I normally do.  I didn't run errands or grocery shop.  I didn't even change diapers or rock babies.  For the 1st time in over 12 1/2 years, I rested for days on end while someone else took care of all of that.  Yes, I did see all of my babies most everyday.  I mostly sat & visited with friends that brought food.  Finally, we had to call the help off.  We had more food than we could possibly eat!  I recuperated at my parent's cabin with no internet for those weeks.  I watched as the kids swam in the river, fished, dug in the dirt, stacked blocks, read books, played with toys, etc.  As soon as the staples were removed & I felt like it, we spent a day at the beach.  That's one blessing of living in south GA, the beach is never too far away!  This time of year, the sand, sun, water, & crab legs seem to call out our names!
     One of the things that stood out to me the most during my one & only health issue is how blessed & loved we are.  Living in a small town where everybody knows everybody & worshiping at a country church seems to usually drag around a bad rap.  Not for us!  Those that love you always show up & show out!  There wasn't anything undone nor a moment when our phones weren't ringing or dinging with messages of love & support.  Also, Nathan had 2 homecomings to preach with weeks of revival following.  Yes, in the south we still do have homecoming Sundays where church families gather in with dinner on the grounds.  Both revivals were absolutely amazing!  I can't say enough about that!  God has not failed us nor let us down as of yet!  He always takes our situations & works them for our good!  God's love is amazing & indescribable!  I have seen Him move just for our family in a mighty way this year like never before!  PTL :)
     Now, I am feeling a lot like "myself."  My incisions have all healed up.  I am back to our normal routine.  I can pick up & carry my kiddos around again.  We have even been playing games of family kickball together in the afternoons right out in our yard, enjoying the spring weather together.  I hope you too are blessed with beautiful spring weather!  Our formal school lessons here are all finished up.  We are looking forward to a week with my family at St George Island really soon, our local youth camp where Nathan is honored to be the night speaker again, & an upcoming trip to the mountains later this summer!  I think we should go make countdown calendars...the best is yet to come!                  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Celebrating March


     March is a birthday month here!  Marianna turned 9, & Clay turned 4.  I don't even know where to begin!  It seemed like we spent all month celebrating!  We've definitely went out more times than usual.  Marianna requested her favorite Mexican restaurant in honor of her birthday, adopted Prince Charming (our new kitten) on the her actual big day, partied large with the extended family the next day in honor of our sweet cousin's 1st ever birthday, partied small the weekend between the 2 birthdays before traveling to see the Disney on Ice show, ate our favorite Japanese on the way home that night with more singing & chicken dance craziness, celebrated with Clay's classmates Lego ninja style on his actual birthday, made another trip for Clay to the same Mexican restaurant later for his big day...want me to go on?  Lol  Plus we made a few trips to nearby towns to spend birthday $ from various sources that absolutely seemed to have been burning a whole in their pockets.  Therefore, March has marched right by us in the midst of all these celebrations.  It was fun though!  They must know they are both a special part of our family.  The whole month seemed to be created just for them!  Both can surely be quite a mess but bring a special JOY to our home as well!        
      As usual, my awesome Aunt EE made their cakes.  That is such a huge blessing.  Marianna requested a Barbie cake.  Of course Clay had Ninjago.  They were super excited & enjoyed every minute of it!  A big thanks is extended to Meme & Papa for a great birthday & the rink side TICKETS TO DISNEY ON ICE for your whole family too!  We cherish your great love & how big you show it.  Seeing the delight in each little one's eyes as all the cousins crowd together to enjoy the show was priceless.  $ cannot buy how you love us deep & the time spent making us a priority reflects your heart.  :)    

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Just A Few Things I LOVE

Baby Graham's expressions~
He has always been a quiet little fellow
that makes the biggest faces!
He is talking more now than ever
& listening to him is so funny!

Watching Raegan play~
She is so happy & loves to sing & dance!
She is a genuinely happy girl!
She expresses her love about everything-
even says things like, "I love
you to wash those dishes mama!"

Rocking Clay to sleep for naps~
He loves me to sing him nursery rhymes. 
It's the only time he is actually still & quiet. 
He's so happy & peaceful
& just so stinking cute too!

Laying on our bed with our oldest girls,
Kaley & Marianna,
having heart to heart conversations
& us praying with them!
What a way to end a day! 

These are all priceless
& money can't buy these moments!
My heart is overwhelmed
with joy in the blessings
of my little family!

     Sometimes you just have to stop everything 
& count your blessings!
I'm happy to share these with you! :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

He's Still God In The Storm


     February is ending with a dreary, cold, rainy, wintery weather day here in south GA.  North & even west of us are blanketed in snow with even colder temperatures.  We drive home in the rain.  My mind runs back to a storm in our life.  Our youngest daughter, Raegan, was born with an absence of skull on the top of her head about the size of a quarter.  Otherwise, she was a healthy, happy baby.  We soon became regulars at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, which is almost a 3 hour drive.  X-rays & tests were run over & then over again.  I watched them draw blood & listen to talk of putting her to sleep for this or that more times than I want to recall.  Hotel rooms were not cheap.  The medical care bills were racking up.  Leaving my 7 & 3 year old overnight for these trips became part of our life too quickly for this mama.  A storm had set in around us.
    At 6 months old, Raegan would be facing brain surgery on a Monday morning before sunrise.  That Sunday at church we showed up as usual.  I have no idea what we were wearing, how our hair was fixed, nor what purse I carried at that time.  None of that frivolous stuff ever matters in the scheme of things.  We were, in fact, enduring a storm.  I remember how our pastor Bro. Steve had us bring her up for special prayer.  Family that was present & special friends surrounded us.  Different ones passed her around.  Everyone prayed & cried, begging God to intervene.  The love one for another & for our little family was what was so overwhelming.  After service, we headed out with those prayers surrounding our path.
     We dreaded facing this storm that continued on ahead.  As much as I love to travel, love Atlanta, love staying in the luxurious hotels, love the 5 star restaurants & shopping surrounding us, none of these seemed appealing during this storm.  I remember feeling sick to my stomach.  I stayed up all night long watching her sleep & holding her between us.  She couldn't eat after midnight.  That concerned me.  I didn't know how that would go once she woke up.  I dreaded the whole day ahead.  I felt forced to face the storm of our life.
     Before dawn, I picked up our Raegan & headed out to face the unknown.  Not a word was spoken in the elevator.  I don't think I'll ever forget standing just inside the oversized sliding doors of the Westin cradling our baby girl.  Nathan had gone to load our bags & fetch the truck.  It was dark & flooding rain.  I began to cry as I sang quietly, "I woke up this morning.  Rain was pouring down.  I felt my spirit sinking as I looked at the darkest storm around.  Then, I thought of all my blessings & the good things in my life.  The day is dark but my soul is filled with beautiful light.  It sure looks like a beautiful day.  I woke up this morning & went on my way.  There are troubles around me, but still I can say it sure looks like a beautiful day."  A calm settled around us.  I knew Jesus had showed up on the scene.
     Soon, we were in a tiny room with our parents & pastor, handing our gift from God into the hands of a stranger.  It was the nurse who would take our baby into surgery.  We briefly met with the anesthesiologist & surgeon again.  The clocked ticked by.  Not much was said.  We just waited.  & waited.  & waited some more.  Before too long, a sleeping Raegan was returned to us.  Relief flooded my bones.  The storm passed.
    Like that storm, the one we are facing now was not asked for.  Storms just have there way of popping up every now & then on us.  It's kinda like pushing out a buggy load of groceries to learn that it has suddenly decided to flood rain.  Do you just quit?  Do you just leave the groceries behind?  No!  You just deal with it.  You suck it up, & RUN for your life!
       I invite you to RUN to Jesus!  I listen to this song as I type.  The glory of God fills my heart as I listen.  I'm guessing that the lyrics were inspired from the following scriputures.  It's the verses I cling to in the midst of this storm.
Image result for images of Genesis 50:20 KJV
Image result for images of Genesis 50:20 KJVImage result for images of Genesis 50:20 KJV
     It's still raining outside.  I can hear it making a beautiful, peaceful sound as the drops land on the metal roof above.  I think of how at the beginning of the week it seemed like us running a revival was almost impossible.  Yet, God knows just what we need.  He is leading us in the midst of the storm.  We've weathered them before with Him.  He is guiding us once again.  He is not scared.  He saw the beginning & sees the end.  He is taking care of us.  We've seen God move this week.  Nathan has preached wonderfully.  We are so encouraged in the strength of the Lord.  Revival has continued on.  The rain doesn't stop God.  He does NOT forsake His people.  We don't even have to understand it!  
Image result for images of Isaiah 55:8-9 KJVImage result for images of God's Got This
Hold on...Nathan interrupts my typing with more GREAT news!!!  I better go celebrate!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Blessed & Rejoicing Right On

  "BLESSED are ye, when men shall revile you, & persecute you, 
& shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  
REJOICE, & be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven!"  
St Matthew 5:11-12

     The above verses are Jesus' words.  In our human minds, these words are difficult to comprehend.  Yet lately, they have proven true.  If you follow my last 3 posts, you know that Satan has come our way.  We stuck out our Eviction Notice.  We even went on vacation & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We returned home only to have found his army to have regrouped.  Surprised?  Not a bit.  The enemy of our souls battles on.  He sees he is loosing ground.  Grasping at straws, he attacks our ministry claiming that he is sent under God's authority.  His opinion of our ministry rings in our ears.  War is LOUD.  Words hurt.  It's sad to watch those that we love & care for bear arms for him, but that is their choice.   That's when these scriptures flowing from our Creator's lips touch our hearts so deeply.  He is the soothing balm we reach for.  We pray & wrestle with the question, should we lash back out? & reason with God to remind Him of how He blessed those in the Bible that defended their bean patch.  We pray & pray some more.  Let go, & let God!  Those are His hard words for me to hear.  Hours stretch by to form days.  I begin to think about the saying:
  Image result for your opinion of me doesn't define who i am quotes
Something rises up on the inside.  I began to study the word opinion.  I realize that a huge difference exists between fact & opinion.  The difference lies in the grounds of evidence of truth verses the lack of evidence which results in insufficient certainty.  Opinions are formed based on a certain personal view & most often with a lack of knowledge.  Furthermore, opinions are variable & can change endlessly.  Obviously this is why opinions are dismissed in any court of law.  In order to be charged with a crime, sufficient evidence must be produced.  I even looked up the population of the world.  As it turns out, over 7 billion people live on planet Earth every day which could produce countless opinions on any and everything imaginable.  That would make a single opinion basically...well...worthless.  I begin to realize just how blessed we are.  God is not swayed by man's opinion.  He is not caught off guard.  It doesn't create chaos that He can't handle even if they are shouted from a rooftop.  Opinions are nothing new to Him.  Someone else's opinion does not define anyone.  It actually doesn't even amount to a hill of beans.  That leaves absolutely nothing for us to defend.  Joy fills the hurt in our hearts.  Are we blessed?  Indeed we are!  Abundantly, too!  God has blessed our family right in the midst of this confusion.  A miracle has happened that we didn't even ask Him for!  He just knows our hearts & poured it out!  Also, countless text messages, visits, & telephone calls of encouragement began pouring in from other Christians.  Do they know what is going on?  Not a clue as far as we know.  God is just God.  His ways are right.  Following His will even when we do not understand is most imperative.  He is still on the throne!  Rejoicing in God right on also?  Planning on it forevermore!  HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentine's in West Virginia

     My parents have gifted us & my only sister's family for the past several years with a Valentine Trip to Snowshoe, WV.  Here in south GA, it doesn't snow.  There are surely no ski resorts.  Therefore, we load up & drive!!!  Daddy loves to ski & has shared that love with his oldest 4 grands.  Raegan & Clay have skied some.  They get cold very quickly though.  Our little Graham LOVES the snow & would play in it all day long!
     Every year we stop half way in North Carolina.  My parents are always concerned with the kiddos having fun on the journey as well as the destination.  This year, among other adventures, we visited the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC.  Feeding the wild animals out of the back of Papa's truck was nothing shy of awesome!  In seconds flat, an array of wild animals swarmed us from every direction!  Raegan got scared of the close encounters & screamed while literally jumping through his open back glass.  She loves animals but definitely prefers barriers.  It was lots of fun!  The ride through the ranch was long but not a bit boring.  We saw more than I can name in this blog post!
     Snowshoe Mountain, WV is a long drive but definitely worth it!  Driving up this year, there was very little snow.  We made very good time.  The kiddos slept from our last lunch stop to arrival.  They were giddy with glee to throw snow balls in the beautiful weather.  Soon the snow rolled in.  We skied, swam, & snow tubed together for days.  A highlight is always Meme's gourmet meals in between.  We play like kids ourselves & eat like kings!  It's a true vacation!  No cell service, no work nor school, no cleaning up either!  It's just fun & relaxation at it's finest!  We all have a BLAST!
     A big thanks goes to the best Meme & Papa ever!  They could travel the world, build a house, drive fancy vehicles, but instead choose to spend on their family being together.  To little kiddos, $ means nothing.  Time is everything!!!  I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford blessing my 5 future families with lavish trips, but you can bet we'll be close & loving.  Time is a gift I am willing to give to my family.  I dream of spend the nights, get togethers, holidays, & the every day with my chaotic crazy crew running in & out making messes & memories together!  :)        

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Eviction Notice

"If you only knew what I was gonna be,
After the storm, you wouldn't have even bothered me.
And now I'm STRONGER!
And I got more POWER!
I'm a little bit WISER!
And I've got more STRENGTH!
Got God's FAVOR!
And we're still STANDING!"

     Most times, the enemy of our soul barges in with his same old tricks.  This time, we were ready for the battle.  The verses to the above song say,

"You may have thought, you won the last round.  You may have laughed (cuz) I almost fell down.  Maybe you think I give up easy.  But it's not over, I got more in me!  You thought I stopped, you thought I sat down...You hit me hard, I should be knocked out.  Things I've been through, don't even wanna talk about it.  You crossed the line this time.  You violated me...Battle's not mine, the battle is the Lord's.  In the name of Jesus, I'm taking it by force!" 

     He's come around here TOO many times with that!  This time all he found was an EVICTION NOTICE!  Life is TOO short to fight the same battles.  God has rescued us so many times from your wiles.  Last time, what you didn't realize was we prepared.  We didn't cave.  We never quit.  We kept fighting.  We have drawn strength.  When you tried crashing in this time, all you found was a wall with an EVICTION NOTICE.  Our family is safely tucked inside God's presence.  He is not the author of confusion.  In His presence, you must flee!  Your artful beguiling behavior & cunning trickery is not allowed up in here.  We will not back down.  People we love can allow that devil to use them outside that wall all they want to.  My family will not bow for that.  We have too much invested.  Too many prayers have been prayed, too much worry & fret has been spent over past attacks, too many days have been wasted waiting for this storm to pass.  Now we will make lemonade with your lemons & dance in the rain!!!  It's like a party over here that you're not invited to devil!  I don't even know how to put it into words.  The SAME old attacker is back with a different scenario but his SAME old tricks.  Yet, we have more joy & peace than ever before.  Our family is surviving & thriving.  Sadly you will not take part.  All you will read is that EVICTION NOTICE!  Don't let anything or anybody inside those walls of divine protection built by the Master that only want to tear you or your family down!  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Surrendering Brings JOY

     I have just now finished reading The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle.  Do I have it all figured out?  Nope, but I am trying!  That's got to count for something, right?  Some things I have become increasingly aware of as I experimented on my dear husband:

  • Respect is the key for having a happy husband.  I have always said that Nathan was head of our household but interjected my opinion in over drive.  Am I saying that having an opinion is wrong?  NO!  I am saying that what he is a person too.  He has feelings.  I wouldn't want someone else picking out my clothes, pointing out that I was wasting my time, mentioning that I left my towel in the floor, suggesting what I say on the phone, making lists of things I needed to do, getting on to me about how I fussed at the children, asking if I had brushed my teeth, asking me what I spent my cash on, telling me how to drive, etc.  Those are just a few examples that wives probably all have been guilty of from time to time.  I mean, who would want to deal with that ridiculousness?  That all chalks up to being his mother instead of his loving, supporting wife.  He is who we fell in love with.  Us pointing out his faults does nothing more than crumble his spirit.  Also, trying to control EVERYTHING so it will be done to our perfection just stresses us out.  In turn, men rise to the challenge of being all that we treat him to be.  He will bottle up respect & shower us with his love.
  • Relinquish control of the finances to your capable husband.  Yes, I will be glad to write out checks or deliver them if he asks.  No, I will not keep a check on our balances, make anymore budgets, open that whole crazy stack of mail, nor figure out which bills to pay when.  I am tired of stressing over that.  He makes the money & is a smart adult who is capable of keeping our lights turned on & other bills paid appropriately.  This will give him encouragement to work to bring home what our family needs & provide desires we can afford.  He will no longer feel his income is being chopped up & divided how I see fit.  It also helps him fulfill his need to take care of us.  All I need is X amount of cash $ each week for groceries & miscellaneous expenses if it is available to share.  
  • Self care is critical for being a happy wife.  To neglect ourselves is to fold in defeat.  Our happiness depends on doing something we enjoy & also making time for things that make us a better person.  I enjoy reading, writing, bubble baths, shopping, traveling, scrap booking, crafting, socializing with special friends & family.  Enjoying these activities make me a happier person.  Praying, keeping a gratitude list, eating healthy, exercising, cleaning, & organizing are all things that take effort for me but bring peace & joy into our home.  The old saying rings true ~When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!!!
  • Ask for what we want.  Husbands are not mind readers.  His heart's desire is to take care of his wife.  I wanted to go out to eat pizza.  I simply said, "I would love to go out for pizza tonight."  He rearranged a few things to meet my request.  I didn't confuse things with asking if he wanted pizza or hint that I wanted some.  I asked.  He blessed.  I thanked him.  Speak up nicely, hoping for the best instead of expecting. 
  • Be thankful.  Appreciate all of his efforts, however small.  Common sense tells us that if what we do for someone is accepted with gratitude, we will want to bless them again.  Begging & expecting get my children no where.  Being appreciative definitely does though!  Another example is how Nathan's Granny reacts with such kind words & appreciation each time we bake her a pecan pie.  She tells those who enter her kitchen how great it tastes.  Naturally, we can't bake pecan pies without thinking of her & usually bake her one too!  No, we are not out for the compliments, but being grateful definitely encourages the giver to give again.  Your husband soaks up your praise.  He can't help but feel loved, appreciated, & encouraged to do more.  I began a secret gratitude list.  There are so many things about him that I cherish!  They far out weigh any stupid little fault.
     Am I perfect now?  Certainly not!  Have I caught myself being disrespectful or overly "helpful"?  Absolutely, & I sincerely apologized.  Our home is now flowing with less drama.  I have noticed how critical one of our oldest has become of a younger sibling.  I realize that how I was acting before has taught them to act this way.  I did table a discussion to nip it in the bud.  I also realize that actions speak louder than words.  My children mimic me.  They are usually in my company all day long.  I desire to make positive changes that will reap a greater JOY in our home!
     Critical updates:  I've been handed more cash to spend than I would've ever given myself, our lights & telephones & cell phones are still working with him paying the bills, I have less stress & more free time, Nathan enjoys taking care of us, & we've had a date night that he planned!  I think that spells EXPERIMENT WORKED, SURRENDERING BRINGS JOY!  :)