Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today my little family and I are going to look at some houses ... again.

So far I have fallen in love with two homes, only to have them snatched off the market before we could jump.  One of the dangers of looking too soon I suppose.

A few people have suggested we stop looking until we are closer to the end of our lease, but we press on.  We know that there is a chance of the process taking a LONG time with so many bank owned and short sales in our area.

This afternoon we will be looking at two such properties ... in our desired neighborhood.  One is prettier on the outside but smaller and would take more work.  The other is NOT as pretty on the outside but bigger inside and a better yard.  From the pictures online, the second house looks like it will need work cosmetically - but I aint skeered, as long as it is structurally sound!

Now, I know that this might NOT be our house, but you tell me - just for Saturday morning kicks - what YOU would do to make this house pretty...

Ready... set ... GO!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I love chatting with my girls ... and, y'all, please note that I DID say girlS ... as in plural. Cause Hattie is really starting to communicate.  And, as in all things, she does it in her own way and on her own terms.  Bless her!

A few days ago Hattie brought home a note telling me she had had a rough morning. In fact, it said that she had hit someone.  So I asked HER what happened and told her to tell me why she had hit.  I immediately recognized that she had something to say, but struggled for the words with which to say it.  But, lately, she has found her OWN way to press through such situations, so I knew just what to do. I grabbed some scrap paper and a pen and asked her to show me.  She jumped at the offer and set to work, drawing many stick figures, a few letters here and there and a whole lot of emotions.

Within about five minutes she came to me with her pictures and I asked her, again, to tell me what happened. She pointed at the first picture and told me the whole story.  Just like she explained, using pictures, how she broker her collar bone, her day at the zoo, how Big Bird found himself in a cage ... and blue, and why she wanted to go to the park.  She has learned to draw her emotions out and then use the pictures to tell us what she needs us to know.

Have I mentioned that this child is stinkin AMAZING?!  I was discussing it with my sweet friend Dedra this morning (she has been my shoulder, prayer warrior and BFF in this autism walk. I LOVE her dearly!!) and told her that I used to be afraid I was not strong or wise enough to lead Hattie ... now I find myself wondering if I am worthy of sitting back, following and watching her sprout wings and fly.  Cause I am certain that God has a plan for this one.  Oh, how He will use her. IF she lets Him ... Lord, please let me lead her to You so she WILL let herself be used by You.

She is also pretty stinkin funny.  She loves to pretend, make things up and change the stories she already knows to make us giggle.  I have been told that imagination is rare with her diagnosis - they pretty much like the black, white and certain. Hattie likes adventure and the great unknown.  Heaven HELP me!!!

Now, SOPHIE - girlie has NEVER been one to lack for a voice.  She has been a "talker" since birth, pretty much.  She, too, is funny and inventive and clever.  And she cracks us up! All.the.time.

She also has NO problem telling us what she does and does not like.  THIS can be not so much fun ... we need to work on her, shall we say, delivery.  I have often picked her up from school and, when asked what she did today, has told me "I told my teachers no".  Yeah ... ummm ... STOP THAT!

Sophie also likes to plan ahead.  When we are on our way anywhere, she is already planning out conversations in her head.  On the way to church she sits in her seat saying things like "I'm gonna ask Mrs Becky where Mrs Sue is" (she has only recently realized that the two ladies - who look NOTHING alike - are not the same person!), "I need to tell Mr Darcy to look at my pretty hair" (she crushes on Mr Darcy), "I'm gonna ask Mrs Mary 'where's Caleb and Cassie' ", "I want to ask Mr Andy what's his favorite color"...

When in an unfamiliar situation, her "go-to" conversation starters are "what's your name?" and "what's your favorite color?"  They serve her well with cashiers, waiters/waitresses, random strangers and friends in a pinch.

She does love to talk.

One more instance in which my sweet girls prove just how polar opposite they truly are.  We have our work cut out for us with these two ... but isn't God just so sweet to lead us on such an adventure?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

But HOW?

This is my absolute favorite time of year - the colors, the chill in the air (yes, sorry, the AZ girl LOVES the chill), the anticipation ... so much about fall becoming winter that makes my heart smile.  And my heart rejoice.  And my spirit wonder.

I LOVE that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.  Giving thanks before the Gift ... how many lessons we can learn from that.  How many times have we lived it?  We learn of a coming baby and we give thanks - long before we ever HOLD or SEE the baby we praise Him.  Long before we breathe in that sweet baby breath we exalt Him for the life. Long before we get to lay finger on that soft flesh, we have planned out a life full of Him.  Long before the gift, we offer thanks.

And, oh, when that baby comes - healthy and strong - we SURELY praise Him then!  Or when we get the promotion, when we feel His protection, when we feel Him near ... we can thank Him then.  Of course we can.  It's easy, in these and other such instances, to give thanks for what we take from His hand and even for the not yet received.  But that is not always the case.  What about when life is hard?  What about when life does NOT come?  How do we give thanks THEN?  Do we even try?  We know we should ... but how?

When we receive a diagnosis, even the worst kind, we are called to praise Him ... but how?

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:25-26

When we lose our income and the bills pile up, we are called to give thanks ... but how?

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

When we feel alone and small we are called to exalt Him ... but how?

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

When life is just stupid and hard and painful and disappointing and ... just ... blech, we are called to be thankful. Yes, even then ... but HOW?!

...Be still, and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:2-4)

When we face something which scares the life out of us, we are called to press on in faith and thanksgiving ... but how?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV
(the Message translation puts it this way: God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.           Psalm 18:32

And THAT is the key... not our strength, but HIS.

Not our provision, but HIS.

Not our promise ... oh, our promises are so futile ... but His.

Not our love, but His.

Not our life, but His.

We can give thanks when life is beginning. And all through the mucky middle.  And even when it is ending ... because, in HIM, it IS just beginning.  And, just like that brand new baby, a new life is reason for praise.

Especially life in HIM.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gotta love....

Friends that listen - even if it means reading between the lines in a text - and understand & encourage through life's junk.   Thanks SuperModel!!!

The random text in the middle of the day that turns out to be JUST what you needed to hear ... read ... whatev!  Today is was the PERFECT scripture for my next memory verse.  Out of the blue. Just when I needed it.  Thanks Mary!

That moment when you are at the limit and you tweet a distress signal threatening to DIVE into the Halloween candy and, literally, within seconds, there is a message telling you to grab some coffee, help (in the form of conversation with a real live adult!!!!) is on it's way.  Thanks Hollie!!!!!

Knowing that God is present ... even in the midst of my junk ... and sometimes with skin on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Gift

A few months ago I was given a gift.  A book.  I had heard so many good things about this book that I could not wait to dive in.  But, life happens and it didn't quite happen that way.  See, I was reading another book (one that took entirely too long to finish ... I used to be a fast reader, honest I did!) and was in the middle of an AMAZING Bible Study (Beth Moore's Breaking Free - the revised version!) - and I am STILL trying to process the words to tell you about that one, but let me just say GO! Do that study and do it NOW!

No, really.  I'll wait.

Anyhoo ...

Where was I?  Oh yes...

So, life got in the way and I did not get to read it right away. But the other day I picked it up and thought "I have a few days before the next study starts, I have time..."  Little did I know.

The book is "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp.  Within the first few pages I realized that THIS is not the kind of book that one can just skim through. THIS is a book to be read slowly, intentionally and with great purpose.  Every paragraph is a gift in and of itself. Her words lilt like music in a quiet room and take me to a place of complete worship in the presence of THE Gift.  Truly, she is redefining the word "thankful" for me.

And y'all, I am only in chapter three!

And this is the chapter where she begins her list.  A list of gifts ... a list of thanks.  And so, I will begin mine.

But, this morning, as I sit in my pajamas missing church because me sweet Sophie has herself a little "Bieber" (that would be fever!), I have begun diving into the Word looking for and studying the instances of His gifts.

And, oh, what a giver of Gifts He is!

There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence.  Romans 5:16 (Message)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (NIV)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.   Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)

And then I came to James and read this:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17 (ESV)

And I realize that THAT is the real gift.  Not the things that we treasure here on earth - the things that wither and die, but the GIFT that does not change.  You see, HE is not in the light where the shadows move and change and cloud and color our perception of what we think we know.  No, He is not in the light ... He IS the light.  And the light is never changing.

He was, He is and He shall ever be.  

He is the I AM.

He is the answer to every need with a simple I AM ... you need a friend, He says I Am.  You need provision, He says I Am.  You need healing, he says I Am. You need love, OH, my friend, He says I Am.  And you need saving (don't we all?), you need salvation ... he says I Am.

He says I Am.

And He is.

Oh, my friend, HE IS!

And, in those two words, in His I AM, we find the truest gift of all.

We find HIM!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

So, the very first gift on my list of one thousand (and maybe even more), is HIM ... the Great I AM!