Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Caution: God at Work

I am so thankful that we were able to spend Father's Day with Jeffrey this year.  Last year, if you'll remember, he was away at CHBOLC.  We missed him terribly, but all in all, things are working out according to God's plan.
God is working.

You see, back in 2004, we surrenderred our lives to Jesus.  Since then, we have been living for Him.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be a military wife.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be teaching Sunday School to adults and children each Sunday, being a leader in my church. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that my husband would be a preacher.

That's what happens when you turn your life over to God. 

Our dreams are good.  We have plans for our future, things we want to do and accomplish.

But my, oh my!  God's plans are so wonderful.  His plans are far beyond our wildest dreams. And so much better!

Our lives are far from perfect.  But we don't worry about perfection.  We seek guidance from God.  We seek knowledge and wisdom to be able to lead the lives He has planned for us. 

God is at work in our lives.  Our lives are not about us. Our lives are about Him.

Recently, our pastor preached on seeking God's vision and asked us to sincerely do just that.  And as I did just that, I got butterflies!  It was like God was telling me, "Really?  Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it!"  Its wild I tell ya! Doing God's work!  Is there anything better? 

There is so much that is unknown in living for Him.  What does He really expect?  Where will He lead?  How will He provide?  Am I really in His will? God's rewards are amazing.  He doesn't make us millionaires, but He does make us rich.  We know Him intimately; we are given grace and mercy. He is just and compassionate. God is loving and forgiving. He provides in ways we can't fathom.

I am so thankful to be His.

I am thankful to have a husband whose heart's desire is to be a man of God.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tour of Duty: Chapter 3

We are on week four of our Tour of Duty Bible study. Although we are not facing deployment at this time (not even eligible), I find this study so useful.  It just isn't about our spiritual walk during deployment, but also about our daily walk with Jesus.  I am learning and reflecting and applying.  It is great to have conversation with all of these military wives.  Below are the questions Sara posted for this week and my answers. Feel free to comment on anything whether you are participating or not.

1. What unexpected disasters have you experienced in your spouse’s absence? Share both the funny and the serious.

Although we have not experienced deployment yet, my husband and I have spent time apart due to work and Army training.  The first time we were apart, my husband had just been hired by a new company and sent to Japan for 6 weeks of training.  One night while we were on the phone, my son whom was 2 1/2 years old at the time locked himself in the bathroom with the bath water running. My father in law had to come help me get the door unlocked.  During that same time, our heat went out twice.  I remember waking up one night and the thermostat said 55 degrees.  As I have mentioned before, while my husband was away at CHBOLC last summer, my grandmother passed away, I got a flat tire, and our electricity in the front of our house went out.

2. This week you learned about the value of trusting God in the middle of chaotic situations and drama. What tips or techniques do you call on to stay calm when the unexpected comes calling?

When the unexpected comes along and I feel overwhelmed, I stop everything and pray.  I tell God that I can't do this on my own and I need His help.  He always provides for me in his own way and timing.

3. Detours are not always bad things. What fun experiences did you list to answer the question on page 43 regarding the back-road detours?

I gained more confidence in myself last summer.  I was able to get my family on a schedule that worked.  We had our routines and made time for some fun.  We played at a local park after getting ice cream. I got some driving experience too!  

4. Which detour seems to hit home with you the most – marriage detours, family detours, financial detours, or life detours? How can you better cope with these particular detours?

The financial stuff really got us last summer. I was on maternity leave from March to the end of July and my husband was gone from June to September.  Needless to say we stretched our money! We have to be smarter with our money.  We're learning! 

5. Detours in deployment happen to every military family. How did you learn this week to face these detours with confidence in God rather than to take on a defeated mentality?

Just reading about Joseph's experience proves that God is always with us.  When things seem like they can't get worse and then do, we need to remember that God is still there. He has a plan and we MUST trust him.

6. A challenge from this week was to get off the sidelines and run the race God has for you. How can you put this challenge into action this coming week?

Regardless of what I am going through, I can still put my best foot forward.  Our Soldiers can't decide to give up and feel sorry for themselves, so we shouldn't either.  God has called us "for a time such as this" (Esther 4:14). Therefore, we should be faithful to him.

7. You spent a lot of time this week in Genesis 39-42, studying the life of Joseph. What stood out to you in those scripture passages as you studied them?

Joseph never felt sorry for himself. He never blamed God. Two things we are sometimes quick today. He gave credit to God. He remained faithful to God.  

8. Joseph learned from his detours and his unfortunate experiences, and they helped him to be the leader he was in the end. How have your detours and unfortunate experiences made you more thankful or more equipped to handle life’s situations and circumstances?

I think just having the experiences equips us with knowledge and understanding. We can step back with a whole new perspective and say, "ok, God got me through that, I know He will get me through this."

9. What else about the chapter that stood out to you this week you’d like to share with us?

I LOVE what Sara said about our good and God's best.  So many times I think we are so content on "just being." We dare not make a splash for fear of change, more demands, or pressure.  We want to stay within our comfort zone and that makes us happy. It is good enough. But good enough isn't God's way. His way is BEST.  He will mold us, break us, rebuild us in whatever way he so desires to make us his best.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Heaven is for Real

Recently, my friend Glenda, who also happens to be our pastor's wife, recommended a book to me. The book is Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. 

Glenda wanted me to read it because it reminded her of my oldest son.

When Glenda gave me the book yesterday, I started reading it while the kids were having recreation during VBS.  I didn't want to stop reading to take them back in. I read all evening, making myself put it away after midnight and finished up moments ago.

This book touched my heart.

The book is about a little boy who becomes very ill. A misdiagnosis causes poison to leak into his body and the child is almost to the point of death.  His father, a pastor, and mother fear they have made the mistake of trusting the doctors and the mistake may cost them the life of their son.  Prayers were answered and Colton survived.  In the months to come, Colton gives clues that he had gone to heaven for "3 minutes."  He vividly describes things he saw that scripture gives in details that many adults don't understand.  The only explaination Heaven is for real and Colton had been there!

The author shares almost losing his son, the anger he felt toward God, and being restored by having prayers answered through this humbling experience. This book reminds us to have a childlike faith so that we can know God intimately and experience the blessings of his promises. 

I highly recommend this book.  It is touching, heart wrenching, cute, and simply amazing. 

Tour of Duty Chapter 2

Last week, I read chapter 2 of my Tour of Duty bible study. The chapter was all about FAITH. I have to say that I am enjoying the study.  I hate to admit, but since my 90 Days study, I haven't been into the Word like I should.  I can make excuses, but I won't. What's the point?  As I do this study, I feel that God is preparing me. What? I don't know.  I do know that we are in a hurry up and wait mode with the Chaplain thing.  I know I haven't posted about that in a while, but I will. Eventually. Anyway, below are the author's questions, along with my answers. I've already posted my answers over at Wivesof Faith.  We are having GREAT online discussions. Please feel free to respond, even if you aren't doing the study. 

1. In the “From the Home Front” section, I listed some of my “What if” questions. What “What if” question haunts you the most during deployment? How do you combat those questions?

Although we haven't experienced deployment, we have experienced long periods of time apart where I had my own "what if" questions.  Last summer when Jeff was away at CHBOLC, I did wondered what I would do in case a normal everyday crisis occurred.  I didn't worry for his safety because he was only training in South Carolina. Needless to say, I did experience some things: my grandmother died, I had a flat tire, our electricity went out in part of our house.  God provided for me then, and I know he will provide for me and my family if and when we do face deployment.

2. What did you learn about faith from this chapter?

I learned even more that fear and doubt can crush our faith....if we allow it.  God offers us so many promises and we must hold fast to those.

3. Which verse in the life jacket on pg 29 did you choose as the one that’s most encouraging to you? Why did you choose that verse?

Isaiah 42:16 was most encouraging to me.  I think it is a beautiful promise of what God will do for us during the uncertainty of deployment. 

4. We talked about Jeremiah 29:13. How hard is it to seek Jesus during times of deployment? How have you personally found this verse to be true during hard times?

I think it is hard to seek God many times in our lives because we get caught up in life itself.  Last summer, I felt like a single mom with 3 kids. We had baseball, VBS, then soccer, and back to school.  The busyiness can very easily allow us to "put God off." sometimes I don't think we mean to, we just get busy and exhausted.  If we fail to make time for Him, our doubts and our fears begin to terrorize us and before we know it, we are in a dark pit and need His gentle hand to rescue us.  We have to make Him a priority all the time.

5. What does it mean to be courageous and what does it mean to take heart? What stood out to you in this section?

So many times we are lead by our emotions.  So many times it leads to disaster.  When I think of being courageous and taking heart, I think of standing on our faith, on what we know and believe God can do.

6. What “impossibilities” did you list on page 35? How have you seen God help you face these seemingly impossible situations?

My impossibility is all encompassing: to be everything I need to be to be successful in what I am facing. In situations like this, God has given me a refreshed outlook, He has provided me with what I have needed, and He has allowed me to be what I needed to be and see what was less important.

7. What part of Peter’s story spoke most to you this week?

Peter wasn't perfect.  He believed in what Jesus could do, but his faith grew weak.  He had to be restored.  Not to be ugly to Peter, but that is refreshing. If one of the disciples struggled with his faith,  it is only natural that I will too.  However, I must be able to admit my weakness, my, doubt, my fear, so that I may be restored as well.

8. What other part of this week’s chapter stuck out to you that you want to discuss with the rest of us?

Our faith is about trusting God. We read the miracles Jesus performed in the Bible and sometimes we look at those as good stories or special characters, but they are real.  We are just as special and our stories can be just as good.  God has so many promises for us, so many wonderful things in store.  If we allow are faith to be little, to be weak, we can miss out on his blessings.  Our country was built on faith. Faith that this would be a better land.  Our lives should be built on faith as well, that through Jesus we can do anything.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Adventures and Misadventures of Big Bottom Church

I have just finished reading the book Adventures and Misadventures of Big Bottom Church

I purchased my own personal copy from the author, Bill Patterson, when he came to our church for a one day revival and witnessing seminar.  He has visited our church on other occasions as well. 

When I saw the title of the book, I was hooked.  I wondered what to expect out of a church with the name Big Bottom.  The thing I learned from the book was you never know what to expect out of Big Bottom.

Just as the title hints at humor, there were many humorous parts of the book.  For instance, the pastor of Big Bottom went to visit the home of a church member he thought had passed away.  When she open the door, he said, "I thought you had died."  At the cemetary right before the graveside services of the lady's sister, Ms. Wingfield and her other sister fell back in their chairs, legs dangling in the air!

Pastor Paulson and his wife began their ministry at Big Bottom church after moving from a life they loved in Kentucky.  Immediately, there was drama to welcome them and they began to wonder if they had made a mistake. The antics of some youth gossiping in the men's room, the impropriety of a staff member, Wanda W. Washburn and her snide remarks, and the self proclaimed Council of Elders all cause strife with the new pastor.  Most of the people in the new church welcome and love him, with growth in the church occurring.  Pastor Paulson develops a deep friendship with Ms. Wingfield who becomes a prayer warrier for him and the church. 

Although I enjoyed the storyline of the book, I there were also some real life applications involved.  The self proclaimed Council of Elders were the deacons who wanted,  and had up until this point, to run the church.  Patterson wrote that the "deacons should be involved in ministries to people, not in running the church." That is a statement in which I agree.  One of the characters even reminded the men they were to be servants, not masters.  One major them of the book, at least for me anyway, was the power of prayer and study of the Word. These are the key to an intimate relationship with God.

I highly recommend this book.  If you ever wondered if your church was the only church where crazy things happen, Big Bottom assures you it isn't! 

he was after me

I absolutely love VBS. Today at Calvary we started our Big Apple Adventure.

My day didn't start out as a great adventure though.

As I was finishing up getting the boys ready, hurrying to get out the door, Colin's friend that was going with us called to make sure I knew I was supposed to pick him up. If you aren't sure which friend, click here. So then on our way to get our friend, Colin lied to me about his Poptart, yes, his Poptart. When we got to church, I had found that some things in my room had been messed with. I spent a couple of hours Friday getting that room ready, so having things out of place added to my frustration. Then Hilarie comes in and said "they," whoever that was, moved furniture out of her room so she needed the cushions I was using from the couch she wasn't planning to use. Several little people found their way to my room and started getting wild so I had to kick them out.

Finally, I began to take deep breaths before I lost my temper. Yes, in church, on the first day of VBS.

I started feeling better until my 5 year old decided to suffer from ODD. For those of you non teachers, that means oppositional defiant disorder. Usually it is diagnosed by a doctor, but I have had lots of experience with it, so I know it when I see it. Said child was miraculously cured when I threatened a spanking, yes, a spanking in church.

Whew! Breathing deeply again.

Morning Bible study goes well. My 11 kiddies are well behaved and much smarter than me! So after rotation of extra classes we head back for closing Bible study.

There are youth in my room setting up a ping pong table! Yes, a ping pong table, in my room, at church, on the first day of VBS. I informed said youth we were having Bible study. Their response, "Oh."



All in all it was a great day. I stayed as calm as possible and didn't let things discourage me to the point of forgetting the POINT of the day. I know Satan was after me. He knows my weakness and knew it was a prime time to attack me. But God is stronger. He kept me calm. He allowed me to keep my mind on teaching my 3rd and 4th graders today.

I love VBS. Not only do I get to teach children about Jesus, but He reaches my heart too and draws me closer. I am thankful he stood by me this morning so I would be my best for my kids.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tour of Duty Week 1

Last week was the beginning of our Tour of Duty Bible study.  We spent the week over at Wives of Faith introducing ourselves and read chapter one.  This week we are discussing chapter 1 and reading chapter two.  After responding at Wives of Faith, I'd like to post each week's questions here along with my response.  Feel free to comment whether you are doing this study or not. 

Chapter 1
1. What were your initial thoughts about this chapter/this topic this week? What’s one thing that stuck out to you?

As I began reading, I was thinking of how you can't truly receive the blessings of God unless you have a relationship with Him. 

Last summer when my husband was at Ft. Jackson, I felt like a married-single mom of 3.  Our home, our finances, our everything was my responsibility. During those 3 months apart, my grandmother passed away, I got a flat tire 30 miles from home with our new baby, and our electricity in the front of our house went out, not including the normal everyday stuff of coaching soccer and going back to work and school.  Everyone asked me how I did it, how I got through those months without Jeff. My answer was, "God took care of me." He provided me with a strong support system of family (blood and church). He placed people in my path that helped me, not took advantage of me.  Needless to say, I was kind of freaked out when those 3 burley men approached me at Target about my flat tire! But they helped me out and offered all kinds of advice.  

You see, I see those things as blessings, those that God placed there for me, the strength, comfort, and wisdom He provided, even the timing of our time apart. It was all God. I don't think someone who doesn't have a relationship with Him would recognize that.  

Because of my relationship with Him, I know he will take care of me whatever the circumstance.  To me, that was the overall "theme" of the first chapter.

2. On pg. 11, what were your early expectations when you were first married or you first became a military wife?

I have to say that I had always dreamed of the whole white picket fence thing, 3 kids (2boys and 1 girl), dayshift jobs, lots of fun and love!  Never in a million years did I expect to be a military wife.

God definitely has His own plans!

My husband and I started dating early; I was 13 and he was 15.  We married my senior year of college and moved in with his parents for a few months.  We moved back in with them when we were remodeling our first home. I was VERY pregnant at the time. Jeff travels alot for work (he missed Thanksgiving one year because he was in Japan, almost missed Christmas due to an ice storm). We opened our hearts to Jesus just days apart and were baptized together.  Needless to say our lives are not ordinary. We did have those 3 kids, just not the girl! 

Jeff has surrendered to the ministry. He is a deacon at our church where we both teach Sunday school. Our children are active in the children's programs as well.

Our lives are far from perfect. We disagree and we get behind on our bills like most people.  I think though that we are an example of what God can do if you let Him.  HE is the center of our home and that has made all the difference in the world.  Being equal, the comfortable lifestyle, the picket fence...none of that matters.  We have learned that following God's will is what matters most.

3. What are some of the things you’ve done to prepare for deployment?

This study is what I am doing to prepare for deployment so far.  At this time, my husband is non deployable as a Chaplain candidate, but we know that a deployment could be possible within the next year or so.

When time comes, I hope to use what I learn from this study and all of you as well to help prepare.

4. In this chapter, we describe deployment as hills, valleys, sharp turns, U-turns, thick fog, desert heat and stormy wet roads. Have you experienced some of these conditions? Which ones? What are you experiencing now?

Losing my grandmother while my husband was at Ft. Jackson last summer was definitely a low point.  I never thought I would have to go through anything like that "alone." I don't think I grieved the way I would have if my husband would have been home. I felt like I had to "stay strong," especially for my two oldest boys and my dad.  

5. In the section, “God has His best in mind for us” (p. 13), we talk about the big picture and “God’s best” versus “our best.” What is the difference? How have you seen this played out in your own life?

I think knowing that God has a plan for us, that He has HIS best in mind for us in comforting.  

I think back to how He showed me He knew best when my husband and I were considering having another baby.  WE were trying to plan it around the military. We knew what the timeline would be with CHBOLC and felt WE couldn't get through that time with a new baby.  When we finally decided to let God take control, I was pregnant in no time and all of the Army "stuff" starting falling into place. God had plans to show how HE would get us through that time.

When we look back and honestly reflect on things that have happened, we can see how God worked in those circumstances. It makes it easier to trust and depend on Him.  

6. We talked about choosing bitterness versus trusting God. It’s easy to resent God for what He allows to happen to us. How can you trust Him despite your circumstances?

We can focus on ourselves and our circumstances which can easily make us bitter.  However, we must place God as our number one priority.  In doing that, we allow Him to use us in ways that will bless others and it allows us to work through our situation in a healthy way.

7. Which letter of the SET acronym do you struggle with the most? What steps can you take to struggle less with it?

I think that being SECURE, EQUIPPED, and TENACIOUS work hand in hand.  If we are not equipped, we won't be secure or persistent.  The best way to be SET is to keep God the focus of our lives.  To be honest, I'm sure I am weak in all those areas at times.  

8. What’s the hardest thing about deployment for you? What do you need to do to turn this fear/challenge/struggle over to God? (And how can the rest of us pray for you in this?)

Although we have not faced a deployment yet, the hardest thing for me to do when my husband is away for trainings or work is to let go of my independence.  I do not like to depend on others; I'd rather do things myself.  I have been learning that needing others is ok.  In fact, I have seen when I have denied someone's help and they have been disappointed. Some people receive a blessing when they are made useful and I am becoming more open to that.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday!

We were so thankful that Jeffrey was home for his 36th birthday this year! We enjoyed lunch, Colin's last baseball game, dinner, and a delicious Gigi's Cupcake.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Boys of Summer


It is probably my favorite sport of all.

One of my favorite things to do....

Watch my boys play.....

 BEWARE: There is some jarring of the video at the end because Carson said he saw a spider and I HATE SPIDERS!

Yes, I know Carter isn't technically playing baseball, but he still loves the game too!
And yes, I know Jacob isn't my personal child, but I still like watching him play.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Graduate: PreSchool Edition

Last Thursday was Carson's PreSchool graduation.  The children were wonderful and I know Mrs. Terri will miss them.  She still gets to have one more our children in the future.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Why this study?

Monday starts the beginning of my new Bible Study: Tour of Duty: Preparing Our Hearts for Deployment.

You may be wondering why I'm doing this study. Are we facing deployment? Is there news I haven't shared with you?


When I saw this study, I felt drawn to it.  Being in my position (not the sharpest tool in the shed, deer in the headlights look), I felt that this study could do a few of things:

1. Bring me closer to God
2. Prepare my heart in case we are faced with deployment in the future
3. Connect me with others

One thing I have mentioned before about being a "Reserves" wife is that sometimes I feel left out.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love my life. I love the way things are.  I don't wish a deployment on us ever.  I only want to make a connection with other military wives.  I want to be prepared for that JUST IN CASE.  I want to strengthen my relationship with my Father.  What better way to do those things than through this study. I want to learn.  I want to be a part of something bigger than me.

This blog has opened doors for me.  Not only have I been able to express myself and share my life, but I've met some wonderful "friends."  I told my husband the other day that there is something about the connection you have with others here.  When I heard the news of devastation in Tuscaloosa, I immediately thought of Kathleen.  I found joy in "celebrating" the birth of CrazyMum's baby.  I am encouraged by the sweetness of Cole.  I've felt privileged to "watch" Nicole grow in her relationship with God.  I am able to share my faith and my experiences with others in hopes of them knowing God better.  I found a way to get women involved in a Bible study when probably they (and me too) would never have done it themselves. I was given the opportunity to review an awesome book.

God is using this blog in so many ways.  Not me. Him.

What better way to honor Him, to grow in wisdom, to serve, to learn, than to do this study?  I am honored to be a part of it. 

When I first started this blog, I made this comment:
I pray that as I use this blog, that God may break off my weak branches to make me stronger in Him. I pray that my words would inspire each of you to allow God to do wonders in your lives.

I hope that that is what this blog is doing for you.  I feel I have changed in so many ways in the past couple of years. For those that know me personally, I hope you can attest to that change. We all make mistakes, I still do, always will, but all in all I hope I am on the path to becoming the woman God has planned for me.

Memorial Day Service

On Sunday, we attended a Memorial Day service at the cemetery.

 This is Milli McIntosh. She is our HR person for the school district and a Veteran.

After the service, the Veteran's were asked to line up.  Jimmy Madison, a friend of ours from church (on Jeff's right), asked us to attend the service and asked Jeff to line up with the Veterans.


Some catching up

I know we have some catching up to do.

Yesterday was our last day of school (doing the happy dance). It was also preschool graduation (wiping away tears). I will have pics to post. Right now though I am sitting in a differentiation meeting. Can you tell I am TOTALLY not into it? My official last day is Tuesday.

The boys are with their daddy today. I think they are going to the Patton Museum at Fort Knox. Should be a great day for them.

Although summer is starting, we will still be busy for a couple of weeks. Both big boys are still playing baseball. Carson has two more games. Colin has at least 2 -depends on how the tournament goes. Tonight is Relay for Life, not sure if we will go. Jeff has drill this weekend plus his cousin is graduating. VBS will be in a couple of weeks and soccer sign ups are starting. Life as we know it continues!