Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Undeserving

One week from today is Christmas. It's a little mind boggling. David is taking a final as I write this, I've been busy with my jobs, we were out of town over the weekend celebrating Erin's (David's sister) graduation from Auburn University... It feels like all month we've been thinking about getting ready for the next thing while intermingling the Christmas music, the tacky sweater parties, the gift wrapping... In the midst of all the holiday/December/end of semester busyness, I felt like we were doing a pretty good job of enjoying the season as best we could.

But, then I went to a store to buy a gift card for a family member. It was supposed to be a quick, run in/run out, kind of trip. I grabbed the gift card and got in the express line behind a woman who had easily 40 items in her cart and in front of her was a woman with at least 30. I tried not to let my slight frustration show on my face as I glanced to the left where the magazines were displayed, and there, on the cover of "People Magazine," were the Little Couple from TLC.

I adore their television show. I've watched it since it first came on and have secretly always loved to one day have the opportunity to meet them. When their show abruptly stopped a few months ago, I figured it was just holiday timing, and that they'd come back on after they'd gotten their newly adopted daughter home from India and spent alone time bonding with her. So, when I saw their picture on the magazine, I had to grab it to glean any information about how they and their growing family were doing. I looked forward in line and saw that 30 items lady was writing a check, so I quickly flipped through the glossy pages to find the article, knowing I had enough time to get the gist of it.

When I got there, my heart sank.

Cancer.

I read the tear jerking (in my case) article describing their present situation. Jen having to be rushed home from India, diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, a rare kind that only affects women who had been pregnant. The irony was painful, and I'm just a person who watches their show.

When David got home later that day, I told him about the article. David has, on occasion, watched the show with me, but only when he has no choice and is simply too tired to do anything else than veg for the 30 minutes it takes me to watch it. When I told him what was going on with their family, he froze, and everything just sort of stopped. We prayed for their family that night and have continued to pray for supernatural healing to touch her body...

This morning, I sat at our kitchen table and unpacked the Mary Kay order I'd been waiting two weeks for. I separated eye shadow samples and looked around our barn house from my chair.

The only word that could describe what I saw was "undeserving." We aren't the best people. We aren't the best neighbors. We aren't the best servants, or adult children, or friends, or even co-workers. Why are we so blessed with so much? Why has the Lord chosen to show us such favor? Why do other people who are so wonderful get sick? Why do families have to watch loved ones die?

My Pandora station played Christmas music in the background, and I remembered the beginning to every answer to every question has already come with the birth of Jesus.

We are undeserving, and God knew that. But, even though we were undeserving, He still desired relationship with us. He still wanted life for us. He was willing to watch His most precious loved one die... Die an agonizing death... So we would know how He really feels about us. Our present circumstances don't reflect God's love for us. God's love doesn't change. So whether we're snuggled, healthy into our homes on Christmas morning or laying sick in a hospital bed, God's love is the same for both.

Christmas morning, Jesus was sleeping among animal waste... Did Mary ask, "Why here? Why this way? Why us? Why Him?" Maybe. But, the circumstances didn't change the truth about God's love. God loved Jesus, His only Son, very, very much. And Jesus knew that fact as He grew up and as they nailed Him to the cross, He knew that his present circumstances didn't reflect how God felt about Him. God loved Him the same that He'd always loved Him.

This Christmas, whatever your present circumstances, I hope you remember that. That, when life is picturesque and when life is hard and scary, God's love for you is the same in both places... Great and merciful.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

When we heard a winter storm named Cleon was forecasted to impact North Little Rock, we were in denial at first, but the day before she came, everyone started to recognize we should probably take the storm warnings seriously... And, I'll admit, I'm glad we made that last minute run to the grocery store! Ever since the sleet started to fall late Thursday night, we've kept our cars in the garage and stayed put!

Yesterday, precipitation fell from the sky almost all day. Outside could best be described as slushy. For the majority of today, however, it has been bright and beautiful! I couldn't believe how bright it has been inside our house as the sun has reflected off the snow covered ground through our windows. It's really been very enjoyable. However, we have been very blessed to have not lost power nor need to get out and go anywhere.

We ventured out for a walk this morning, but honestly, with the windchill being 8, my fingers were not coming out of their ski gloves to take a picture of the white, shiny streets and houses, no matter how pretty they looked.

David is taking advantage of the forced-indoor time to continue preparing for finals, which start this week. (We're almost half way through law school! Woo hoo!!) I'm happily getting things done inside, like wrapping Christmas presents and cooking.

This afternoon, David took Sperry in the backyard for some exercise. So, while Sperry ran back and forth across the back yard chasing a frozen tennis ball, because the temperature had risen ever so slightly since this morning, I managed to take a few quick pictures to document the season's first snow fall.








Come Monday, we're praying the streets will be clear enough for the city to be back to business as usual. But, for now, we'll claim the rest of the weekend as a snow day... : )

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Lonely Fog

It's afternoon, and the fog is still just as thick as it was this morning when I left for the grocery store. The meteorologist's morning forecast echoed as I pulled out of the driveway, "There is .0 visibility on the roads due to fog. Major delays. Drive carefully."

I don't know all the science of fog, but I fully understand fog's present reality...

When it's thick, I can't see through it. When it's thin, I can't see well. And no matter what it's density, when it's present, I can't see as clear or as far as I normally can.

After bumping into my neighbor at the grocery store and hearing about her recent half marathon, I was encouraged to get back into my exercise routine and go for a run this afternoon... But I looked through the store windows at the fog and wondered, "What if a car doesn't see me? What if the fog hides me from the driver, and I get hit by his car?" 

So, I considered doing yoga inside and not running this afternoon instead.

Later, David and I ran an errand to the other side of town. I was glad we were running this errand together. It would have been more ominous if we had tried to find our destination by our individual selves. I couldn't see past the sides of the bridge as we crossed over the Arkansas River. The fog had hidden everything.

Even though we couldn't see far, or well, we pressed forward through the fog grateful that we'd been taught how to drive through it. We encouraged each other that the fog would eventually lift. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but Little Rock would not always be foggy.

On our way home, I reconsidered my exercise choices for the afternoon and realized I wasn't going to let the fog get in the way of me doing something I wanted to do. There was an easy way to be safe in the fog if I did choose to run: I could stay on the sidewalk. I could run where I'm supposed to run regardless if there's fog or not.

I've had seasons in life that were foggy. Seasons when present circumstances made it impossible to see any distance into the future. And within those seasons, I had moments where I was too fearful to put even one small foot in front of the other because I was afraid of what might be hidden in the fog.

I've had panic attacks so intense I thought I would never move again until someone found me and physically picked me up. I was entirely aware that just me by myself didn't have the power inside to overcome the phenomena overtaking my body.

The truth is, nobody has it in them to do it all by themselves. You don't. You've thought, "I just can't do it anymore." And you're right. We, by ourselves, can't do it alone. We're just built that way.

We were made to live life (all of life) in relationship with other people AND our Maker.

"Well, Lindsay, that's a nice sounding sentence there, but you don't know me, and I AM ALONE."

You don't have any friends, family, or co-workers? You live alone, work from home, and live off the land out your back door? Even if the answer to all of those questions is "YES," you're still not alone. I don't have an "out" for you. And believe me, you can try.

Because the One who made you has crosses plastered all over this world reminding you of the death He let His Son go through so that you and He could be in relationship.

So in our foggiest seasons, when we can't see more than one hour in front of us, and when one hour feels unmanageable, you don't have to go through that one hour alone. You don't have to fear the fog. You don't have to give into the paralyzing sensation anymore. The only thing you have to do is make a choice not to do it alone anymore.

Cause I'll tell you something, no matter what you try to make it feel better, it's not going to fill that loneliness you've got inside. The alcohol will numb it for awhile, the drugs will make you feel better for awhile, and the cutting will provide a different feeling instead... for awhile. The power, and the sex, and the money won't satisfy. You'll find yourself searching for numbness or a high as soon as you slow down for a second... Or, you might go searching for the means to an end to it all.

That thing that's missing from your life is the thing you were created for... relationship with your Maker. (Christians, that statement doesn't only apply to non-believers... We were all created to be IN relationship with our Maker.)

God isn't who you think He is. He wants to do your life with you. He wouldn't have made you if He didn't. You're here. No matter how you were conceived, you're here. You don't have an "out." You're the proof that the Maker of the Universe desires a relationship with YOU.

Jesus showed us that even in the middle of a storm, something much more ominous than fog, there can be peace when He is present. (Mark 4:35-41) The terrifying feeling of loneliness. The fear in the uncertainty. Peace can be present there. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

So, if you're in a foggy season, remember it's just fog. It will lift. And until it does, you don't have to live the way you're living... And, you certainly shouldn't feel like you're living it alone.

There's Hope that wants to walk through the fog with you. Choose it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

There's no place like Orlando for the holidays...

Like my rendition? My family has spent many holidays in Orlando, Florida. With the exception of David, the rest of the family prefers warm weather to cold. So, growing up, we NEVER traveled anywhere cold. Water, sun, and warmth usually describes every vacation spot.

When my parents presented the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Orlando this year, there was no need for discussion. We were all game.

It was absolutely my favorite Thanksgiving thus far. We had such a great time riding the rides, enjoying each others' company, and snacking on caramel apples. It was definitely a very, very special Thanksgiving, and David and I were truly grateful to be able to spend quality time with my family in a such a fun way.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from our trip.

Our first night together: dinner in Downtown Disney at Rainforest Cafe.

(Dad, David, Paul)

(Katie, Mom, Me)

(Mom and Dad)

(Paul and Katie and a Brownie Volcano)

 
(Mom and Dad)

Thanksgiving Lunch at Mythos in Islands of Adventure

(Katie, Mom, Dad)

(Paul, David, Me)

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

(Marmaduke, Dad, Katie ... Hold on tight!)

(Dad and Mom in line for the Spiderman ride)

(The one picture of ALL of us!)

(David and Me)

(Mom and Paul)

(Katie, Mom, Paul, and Dad ... In line for the Simpson's Ride... Katie is redoing her hair.)

Dinner our last night in CityWalk at Pastamore.... Delicious!

(Katie, David, Me)

(Mom, Paul, Dad)

(Dad and Katie ... Let's just say they had a little bit of fun at their end of the table.)

Our fun and precious time together reminded us all of how much we have to be thankful for. As our family proved, it's not about how you celebrate the day, it's about intentionally remembering how blessed we are and giving thanks for it. 

Happy belated Thanksgiving! 

"Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God." Psalm 95:2-3

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ann V - Boring

I'm a huge (and grateful) fan of Ann Voskamp. If you're looking for a quick read this holiday season for your car trips or lay-overs, consider her book "10,000 Gifts."

I follow her blog, a holy experience, and was more than intrigued by the title of  her November 15th entry, "The Real Truth about 'Boring' Men - and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring".

Her words touched my heart and challenged me to notice and appreciate the every day romance David shows to me.

I started to write my take-aways from her post, but I felt like she does such a better job elaborating on this point than I could....

So, follow the link, and I hope you get as much out of her post as I did.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Savoring The Season

Could it really be time for the holidays already? Are many of you like me, looking at the calendar realizing the month of November is half way past, and another holiday season is upon us? Where did 2013 go? How did it go by this quickly?

I sip my guilty-purchase from Fresh Market (Salted Caramel Coffee) as the soundtrack from "Home Alone" plays through my iPad's Pandora App. It's dreary outside today. Overcast, drizzling, and cold. I had popped into a few local businesses this morning seeking out sponsors for my Mary Kay unit's Adopt-A-Grandparent project for Christmas. "Weren't we wearing t-shirts and shorts a month ago?" I had thought as I got in and out of my car wishing I had worn a thicker coat instead of my black blazer.

The salted caramel coffee is festive and warms not only my hands but feeds the holiday spirit inside of me ready to deck the halls.

This holiday season is going to be very busy for me and David. We have a lot of traveling to do, family to visit, and people to celebrate exciting times with. I'm tempted to pull the Christmas decorations out this weekend, even though it's not yet Thanksgiving.

I used to be an avid, "No Christmas till Thanksgiving" person, but I feel like this year, if I wait until after Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations just won't happen at the Warford House.

David's worked so hard this semester... Really, all year. When Fall semester ends, he'll get his first real break in a year. I don't want to rush around trying to get things done, check the boxes off our lists, and make it through the holidays. I want to savor them. I want to enjoy the visiting, and the celebrating. Enjoy the people who matter most to us. The fellowship with loved ones. The camaraderie found in joining together, stopping and remembering why we have a holiday season to begin with. I want to savor the holiday time...

Before we know it, the season will have past. It will be January, and we'll put putting the decorations away, and we'll comment, "I can't believe it's 2014. Where did the time go?"

I want to do better at savoring where I am today. This season the Lord has us in now. Our law school season. The barn house season. The Sperry is driving me nuts while I try to make work calls from home season...

One day we'll look back at this season of our lives and say, "It went by so fast."

There is so much to savor here and now. Sure, I'm ready for the next season of our life to be here. For school to be over, for babies to be on their way, for my business to grow, for the next step in David's career to be taken... But, the future is like the holidays. The future is wonderful and exciting, and I can't wait for it to be here. But, there's a lot to savor getting there. And, one day we'll look back at this season and recognize the sweetness we're surrounded by now. Instead of waiting to look back and recognize, is it possible to stop and recognize now as well?

I finish my coffee and head to the laundry room where the Christmas decorations have been stored. "Deck the halls," plays through my iPad. I hear David opening the door into the kitchen from the garage as he gets home from class. I pull the box down and carry it into the kitchen. It's time to start savoring.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall Leaves

David dedicated last Saturday to tackling the yard. You know, weed hacking, grass mowing, leaf bagging... I had genuinely told him I'd help. But, as he was heading out the door to get started, I decided I needed some coffee first. Well, by the time I was done with my coffee, he had already finished the back yard. (I might have ended up FaceTiming with the family in Atlanta...)

Coffee drank, spirit lifted, old fleece sweater pulled over, and gardening gloves slid on, I made my way out of the house to help my help mate. 

He had just finished raking the entire front yard and was bagging leaves by the side walk. 

I gave him an apologetic smile for bailing on him, and ever so sweetly he responded he was glad I had gotten some family FaceTime. 

I started to help bag leaves, and when we were done, I turned my attention to the front garden. 

When we were finished, the yard really did look great. David had high hopes that it'd be awhile before we had to go out and tackle the yard again.... 

Almost a week has gone by. Pulling into the driveway this afternoon I could hear him sigh before deciding, "We need to take a break from yard work this weekend. We'll tackle this next weekend."

We got a lot of rain this week, and a good bit of wind. I think there are more leaves on the ground now than there were last Saturday.

I adore my husband. I didn't want to tackle the yard again either. But, I was already adding it to our to-do list for Saturday anyway.

I'm very much GO GO GO. I do too much too often. And he is so good about reeling me back in. Showing me (not telling me) when it's time to slow down. Time to stop. Time to rest. Time to be present in the present. 

Isn't that part of what the leaves of Fall remind us to do anyhow? Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year. So much change, so much excitement. Many of us can't wait for the upcoming holidays to get here. But the beauty of Fall demands our attention. Demands that we stop. Demands that we marvel at the transformation. No matter how busy we are a red leaf, a mountain of colorful trees, a single orange birch tree ... each can stop us in our tracks. 

It's good to stop and soak it in. 

If we keep going going going, doing doing doing, it's very likely that we'll miss the beauty God's placed all around us this time of year. Missing out on something as beautiful as the Fall leaves would be unfortunate. So we'll leave them in the yard for another week. And as we pull out and into our garage each day, we'll marvel at their beauty, at the beauty of Fall, and we'll remember that it's good to stop and be present. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween



You're thinking this is a previous Halloween picture, right, because today is Halloween? 

Nope!

This, dear readers, is simply two sisters, about 4 years ago, having some good, clean fun on a Saturday night. (And, yes, I'm wearing a wig.)

I went hunting through my computer files to find an old picture of either me or David trick-or-treating as a kid to share, but when I stumbled upon this one first, I knew it was a winner worthy of sharing. 

Growing up north of Atlanta, everyone participated in Halloween. In the safety of our subdivisions, Halloween was simply a community gathering. All adults would get home early enough to park their cars before the sun went down so children could have free reign of the roads to run from house to house trick-or-treating. Meanwhile, parents would walk behind their children through the neighborhood, on the way bumping into neighbors they hadn't visited with since the last neighborhood swim meet over 4th of July. 

However, I recognize that for many people, Halloween doesn't conjure up such happy feelings. For some, Halloween is truly scary because of the violence that occurs in their communities that night every year. For others, Halloween is confusing since there are people who've used the holiday as an excuse to worship Satan. 

One of my favorite opinions on Halloween comes from Ray Comfort. In his article on Living Waters.com, he challenges believers to, "Make the most evil night of the year into the most evangelistic." 

Halloween reminds me that almost everyone has a fascination with the spiritual realm. Whether it's the un-dead or ghosts or zombies or exorcisms, just take a look at modern entertainment. The television networks and movie studios keep rolling out tv shows and movies about topics that involve the "darker side" of the spiritual realm. People eagerly watch them because they are curious about death and evil. And here we have a day on our calendars where it's socially considered "okay" to dress up like or watch a scary movie about these things. Furthermore, it's all expected to be done publicly. Not in secret. Halloween is an out-on-the-street holiday.

Honestly, I can't help but laugh and wonder if Satan realizes his failures with October 31st...

He thought he could claim just one day for himself to be honored. That on that one day he could squelch the joy and peace of Jesus by confusing people and instilling fear.

That if the weather was eery (like it is in North Little Rock today) people might jump at the shadows or believe the creaks in their attack are ghosts coming to haunt them because they're fearful and confused.

He thought, in their state of confusion and loneliness, people would seek him out, but instead, on this holiday, lonely people will be visited by children. There are people tonight who never get visitors and never receive special deliveries, but tonight, eager children will knock on their doors with big smiles.

And most excitedly, because of all the hype Halloween and evil gets this week, our neighbors who are walking up and down the street are primed to talk about spiritual things they're curious about.

Our God can take the most horrific thing and turn it into something beautiful. 2000 years ago, to look upon a crucifix was gruesome. Today, we wear them as beautiful pieces of jewelry reminding us of the glory of God's grace.

Today and tonight, many neighborhoods and subdivisions and churches and communities will choose to use something Satan tried to claim for himself as a platform to shine the light of truth.

When the sun goes down, and the wind picks up, turn on the lights in your home. Remind your community that not only is there a light in the darkness, it's shining right there in their communities.

Don't let Satan have this day. Use it as the day God made it for, not the day Satan wants it to be.

A couple other Christian opinions on Halloween:
Christianity Today - "Matters of Opinion: Hallowing Halloween"
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - "Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?"

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Who You Are" - TheAnimaSeries

Yesterday morning, my Mary Kay Exec. Senior Sales Director, Gerri Anne, shared this video with her team. 

It took me a whole day to carve out 3.5 minutes to watch it, but I'm so glad I did! 

So, here's 3.5 minutes of encouragement to the women who visit our blog...


And, we couldn't leave out the guys. So, this one is for the men!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sharing

A little over a week ago, David and I started a new business... I became an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay! I have known about Mary Kay since I was old enough to say Mary Kay. My mom was an Independent Beauty Consultant when I was just a toddler, and I can remember playing with her burgundy, accordion style file-folder that was always stuffed with samples of eye shadow and blush. Little did I realize that one day I'd be adding "accordion style file-folders" to my shopping list for my own Mary Kay business.

This past week, I've spent every spare moment absorbing everything I could about the Mary Kay company and their amazing products.

That's just my nature. Even in nursing school, one of my professors had commented on how detail-oriented I am when I was reciting memorized drug information back to her.

I just responded, "If I'm going to give it (i.e. a medication), I want to know all about it!"

As I began to entertain the idea of starting this new business, I knew I would have a lot of research to do before I ever offered a sample of a Mary Kay product to anyone.

Last night, one of our sweet neighbors dropped by to play with the Mary Kay starter kit I'd received in the mail. I gave her the disclaimer that I didn't know everything about all of the products yet. I was still learning. She comfortably sat down at our kitchen table and shrugged, "That's okay. Let's play!"

And so we did. In between cleansers, moisturizers, foundation, and mascara, we talked about our opinions on the American food industry, nursing, and how social media seems to be our biggest distraction in our walk with the Lord.

I realized after she left with her bag full of samples that it didn't matter that I didn't know everything about every product, what mattered was meeting my friend where she was in her skin care regimen and my attitude about sharing what I did know about the Mary Kay products I had.

Reflecting on my little revelation reminded me of another time I'd humbly met another woman where she was... It was in Destin, FL on a family vacation the summer I was 17. One night, a few of us had walked down to a pier overlooking the ocean. Boats and helicopters were searching the dark water with bright lights. The waves had been rough that day, and a teenage boy had never returned back to shore...

My family and the other tourists on the pier all just stood against the wooden rail in silence watching the search. No one wanted to say what they were thinking, "I hope he's not dead."

I noticed the woman I was standing closest to as she whispered to a man next to her. I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to speak with her about death. I knew I didn't have the answers to every philosophical question she could potentially ask me, but I did know who Jesus is and why we need him. So, as my family started to head back to the vacation home, I gave my dad a reassuring nod and remained leaned against the railing. "I hope he's not dead," I murmured.

The woman looked at me with a soft smile, her coarse blonde hair blowing up against the side of her suntanned face, "Yeah, me too."

And so there it was... The common ground. Two women hoping a boy wasn't dead. So, I asked her, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," she replied.

"If you were to die today, where do you think you'd go?"

I don't remember how the conversation ended. But, I remember being surprised walking back to the vacation home that she actually didn't ask any questions I didn't have answers to. That the tough questions (and answers) didn't seem to matter. What mattered was my attitude. I didn't want to sell her anything. I just wanted to share the basic information I did have. And, even though I didn't know everything, just offering to humbly share the little bit I did know was enough to have a conversation.

So, today I feel a little more confident to start introducing the Mary Kay products to women, even though I don't know everything, yet. And, I feel a little more convicted to share the solution to the death problem with more people than I currently am.

Mary Kay was founded on the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12)

If someone else knew something really great that could benefit/save my life, I'd sure want them to share it with me!

Maybe it's the right color foundation or the Gospel of Salvation.. Either way, let's start sharing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Peach Sweater

This morning I carefully folded our laundry, like I do almost every morning. When I came to my white and blue stripped cardigan, the one I'd worn on my wedding day, I smiled. I was grateful the butternut squash soup from yesterday hadn't left a stain. I hung it over a hanger and placed it next to my most beautiful sweater of all. The peach one I'd bought this summer.

The one with delicate fabric. The one I'd paid more for than I had planned on when going on my shopping endeavor to find something warm to wear to a wedding in Colorado. It was so beautiful, and I knew it would go with everything. I adore that sweater, and I'm glad I bought it. It is beautiful and soft and really does go with everything.

However, this morning, in horror, I noticed it's shoulders had been stretched out by the hanger it was hanging off of. And as I looked closer, I saw a hole right there in the shoulder.

I quickly grabbed my sewing kit from the closet and found a light gold spool of thread... I didn't have peach, so gold would have to do. Carefully, I examined the seems and determined the best way to pull them back together.

Carefully, I tended to my beautiful sweater. I'm not proficient enough to do it quickly. So, I took my time. I carefully folded the fabric over to check my line; to make sure it's straight.

I finished mending the hole in the shoulder and noticed the tag was pulling at the delicate fabric. I wished I hadn't accidentally put it in the dryer that one day. I knew the damage I was fixing was a consequence of my negligence in the past.

When the knots were tied and the thread cut, and I held up the sweater to assess it's condition, I happily realized my work would suffice. My sewing skills were satisfactory. No one will notice anything had ever been wrong with the sweater.

But, I can't help but wonder, how would the designer of this sweater have fixed it? Of course, she never would have accidentally put the sweater in the dryer, so she wouldn't have had this problem to begin with. But, if I knew her, and could ask her to repair my damaged sweater, what would she had done differently?

She would have used the right color thread. And her lines would have been perfect, because she knew exactly how they were supposed to be to begin with. She would have considered more than I did. How will her repair hold up during future wear? Will her repair affect the purpose of the sweater? Will it still be beautiful?

I was just trying to fix a hole so no one would know it had ever been there.

She would have considered more. She would have considered the whole picture.

A realm I do not understand, because I know so little about sewing and fashion design.

But she would know everything. And my sweater would be in better hands if they were her's and not mine.

Isn't this our life? We have so many holes as a result of our negligence, or shortcomings, or weaknesses, and we try to patch them and fill them, all by ourselves, so no one will know we ever had anything wrong with us.

Some of us might do okay, for a while. We might even be able to convince others that the holes are fashionable. But, inside, we know that wasn't how it was designed to be. And we know we don't have the skills, or knowledge, or strength to keep fixing and filling anymore.

So let's stop trying to do something we're not equipped to do.

Let's give it back to the Designer.

He'll repair the holes. He knows the best way how. The method of stitching might hurt a little. But, when He's finished, we'll be whole again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lindsay's Top 5 Tips for Selling on eBay

I've had several people ask me questions about my experiences selling on eBay lately, so I thought I might share a few pointers and hopefully, get a few back from you!


So here they are....

Lindsay's Top 5 Tips For SELLING on eBay:

1. Buy something off eBay before you start selling on eBay. If you're going to be successful selling anything on eBay, you need to understand the process from the buyer's perspective. Every item I choose to sell from our home is evaluated based on whether or not I would purchase it as a buyer. To evaluate the item, I ask these two questions: What kind of condition is this item in? Will it ship easily? As a buyer, answers to both of these questions take top priority before cost is even considered. (Don't understand my point? Then you probably have never bought anything off eBay. So go buy something, and you'll see what I mean!)

2. A picture's worth a thousand words .... So make the most of your free 12! eBay allows sellers to upload up to 12 pictures per listing for free to help showcase their item. Use your photo opportunities to show off everything there is about your item, including it's faults. It's a lot easier for your buyer to understand what any flaws are if there's a good picture of them rather than trying to decipher through your description. If there are no flaws, be sure to take pictures showing off your item's excellent condition. Take those pictures from every angle with good lighting in front of a neutral back drop.

3. Understand your personal settings. If you don't want to ship an item out of the country, don't get caught off guard when someone from Indonesia is the winning bidder. You can adjust your seller preferences as to where you'll ship items to AND who can see your listing. I have all of my listings set to "buyer restrictions." This means no one who lives in a country I don't ship to can bid on my listed item. This saves me the headache of going through the translation service to explain to my buyer that they violated the terms of the listing, attempting to reach a resolution, usually failing at reaching a resolution, and then terminating the sale. (Can you tell I've done this before?)

4. Save on shipping! Shipping can make or break your sale AND profit. I've gone negative on sales because I wasn't smart about how I shipped the item. When listing your item, consider shipping from the get-go. Do you want to offer free shipping to attract more buyers? Will you still make a profit? If you elect for the buyer to pay for shipping, which shipping service are you going to use? Do you have boxes/padded envelopes/packing supplies already, or will you need to buy them? eBay has a handy calculator that makes it easier to figure out how much your item will cost to ship. You can also print a shipping label right off of your computer. This tool usually saves me money if I already have all of my shipping supplies at home. Don't loose your profit because you spent it on shipping!

5. Re-list! If an item you listed doesn't sell, re-list it! However, you might want to consider a few factors before you republish the listing. Is your starting bid to high? Do you need to upload better pictures? Is this a seasonal item? It never hurts to re-list, and you never know, this might be the week your buyer gets on eBay looking for your item. I re-listed a broken iPod stereo (for parts) five times. The fifth time I re-listed it, I lowered the price by a dollar. It ended up going for MORE than I had originally listed it in the weeks prior after all of the bidding was over!

If you have any tips to selling on eBay, please share them below! Happy eBaying!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Autumn

This is Autumn Gwaltney, and this afternoon she is boarding a plane for Newcastle, Australia to partner with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). While in Newcastle, she'll receive ministry training and then will be assigned to an unknown location where she will enter full time ministry as a missionary, most likely working in the realm of Human Trafficking


I've known Autumn for a very long time, and at this moment words escape me to explain to you just how special she is to me and David. We see the Lord's fingerprints all over her life and feel truly honored to have been able to be a small part of her teenage years. We both consider Autumn to be family. I call her sister. 

Autumn's heart has always been for loving her Maker by seeking the Lost. 

I can remember multiple times over the years watching Autumn's heart as it broke for those who didn't understand the Lord's love for them. Even in the midst of going through hard, dark times personally, she never failed to share the love of Christ with those around her. She knows who she belongs to. She knows her purpose. She's selfless and loving. The way she loves others challenges me. 

This opportunity to partner with YWAM, while exciting, has truly been a step of obedience for her. It hasn't been the easy road getting to this day. She's definitely encountered a good bit of spiritual warfare up to this point. We thank the Lord that today is here. And, we anxiously await to hear that she's arrived to Australia safely. 

Will you join us as we partner with her? Will you please pray for our sister-in-Christ, Autumn? 

Pray for protection, pray for good health, pray for luggage to make it to Newcastle, pray for team unity, pray for overwhelming financial support, pray against loneliness, pray against transportation problems, pray against fear, pray against the enemy.

If you're interested in getting more information about what Autumn's up to, please follow her adventure on her blog, YWAM Journey.

Thank you for your prayers and your support. 

Blessings, 

David & Lindsay

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:15

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

No Quick Fixes

"It's viral, and you're infectious. You can't go to work for at least another 48 hours. Antibiotics won't help. You just need to rest."

"And suffer!!" I thought to myself. I'd been fighting through this cold for 4 days. The way I do colds, by day #4, I'm better! But, this was day #4, and I was the WORST I'd been.

I had remembered the consequences I'd endured last Christmas when I stubbornly refused to see a doctor while suffering similar symptoms - a full blown sinus infection, a trip to an urgent care, and missing one of my best friend's baby showers.

I wasn't going to be stubborn again. We have a lot going on this week. I couldn't afford to be sick. This time, I'd be a good patient and go to the doctor.... And what happens? He tells me there is nothing I can do but "rest" and "lay low" and "push fluids." All the stuff I'd already been doing...

Where are the meds? Where's the smile and little piece of paper with the chicken scratch on it with the affirming sentence, "Fill this and you'll start feeling much better by tomorrow."

But instead, nothing. Not even a prescription for Zofran.

In my mind, I stomped my foot and clenched my fists while on the outside I forced a smile and said "Thank you, doctor."

This morning, after a night of tossing and turning, I stuck a straw in my breakfast smoothie and slowly let the cold matter slide down my sore throat.

"Why do I have to go through this?"

Last weekend, David was sick with a milder version of this plague. Since starting law school, every time one of us has been sick, I've always said, "I'd rather be sick than David." Last weekend I'd murmured, "I wish it was me, not you."

While carefully drinking my breakfast, I remembered the way Christ willingly took on our punishment. There wasn't a quick fix there. He knew what He was going to suffer in order for restoration to be available to the world. He even asked God to make another way. But, He was The Way. So, He suffered. And, now we're free because of it.

I rinse out the green plastic cup I'd been drinking from and place it in the dishwasher and wish I had the energy to do a quick run through our home with some lysol. But, that wouldn't exactly be resting. There's only way to shake this thing, there are no quick fixes.

So, I sit. I rest. And I thank God for using my current state of suffering to remind me of the suffering I'll never have to endure.

Tissue box in hand, I make my way back to bed, and rest.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reality

Are the days flying by in your home as quickly as they are in our's? David and I can hardly believe October is next week.

This past Saturday, David was running on fumes fighting a virus. So, he and I intentionally decided that  we would actually make the next day, Sunday, a "day of rest," like the 10 Commandments say.

As Monday rolled around, we both noticed a difference to the beginning of the work/school week having come right off a full day of rest.

Physically, David felt much better. I wasn't stressed as much as I usually am on a Monday morning (even though I still needed to go to the grocery store). We were on the same page regarding where the other one was emotionally (because we'd actually had plenty of time to talk about what was going on deep inside the day before). We knew what the schedule for the week was - and not because it was on every single one of our calendars, but because we'd had time to talk about it.

Have we been stress/problem free all week long because we rested on Sunday? No.

Were we better prepared to embrace the struggles of the week because we rested? Yes.

When we were growing up, my Dad had a rule in our home that we couldn't do homework on Sunday. And on Sundays, Mom rarely prepared dinner. Legalistic? No, not at all. Dad wanted us to get it done before Sunday so that on Sunday we could rest and enjoy family time before the week started back up again. Mom didn't make dinner because, for her, not cooking/cleaning up provided a way for her to rest.

Not only is resting on the Sabbath something God wants us to do, like all of His commandments, it's GOOD for YOU to do it!

However, have you noticed that all of the 10 Commandments, including honoring the Sabbath, are hard to follow, even though they are good for us?

Is killing someone a bad idea? Yes. Have I ever considered killing someone (Exodus 20:13)? No. But, I've hated someone. And Jesus said hate is the same as murder (Matthew 5:22).

I've never committed adultery. But, Jesus said that lust is the same thing as adultery! (Matthew 5:28) 

Whether we like it or not, a white lie is still a lie.

And we hardly ever honor the Sabbath as we should.

We break the 10 Commandments every day.

So, we're ALL in trouble. NONE of us are perfect. NONE of us will ever be good enough to get into Heaven because whether we like it or not, none of us, up to this point, have followed ALL of the 10 Commandments every single day for our entire life.

Feel like you're listening to a crazy evangelical in the middle of an intersection?

They usually focus a lot on the "going to Hell" part and forget the relief part, the good news, the guess what, it's not all fire and brimstone.

Yes, our God demands justice, but because He's merciful, He provided a substitute to serve our punishment (death/Hell) for us.

That gruesome death Jesus endured on the cross, that was it. Jesus never broke a 10 Commandment - or any other rule. (Hebrews 4:15) That made Him the perfect sacrifice.

Just this week my family was reminded that 10 out of 10 people die when our dear friend David Yankey unexpectedly passed away.

Unexpected deaths remind us to keep our affairs in order, to make sure those who we leave behind will be taken care of.

But what about how your death is going to affect YOU? What about what happens to YOU after you die?

We already know we're not good enough - the 10 Commandments showed us that.

We now know that God did something about it and sent Jesus to serve our punishment.

The next part is a lot easier than you might think... Receive the forgiveness being offered to you and turn from the sins (like not following the 10 Commandments) you've been engaging in.

It's really not that complicated.

For those of you who live nearby and have questions, I'd love to grab a cup of coffee with you and talk about this if you'd like. For those of you who don't, you probably already have a friend who follows Christ nearby who would be thrilled to discuss any questions you might have. For those of you who fit neither category, check out these churches/ministries and get yourself a copy of the Bible.

It's time to stop being flippant about reality - 10 out 10 people die, there's only two places to go, and thank God there's a Way for us to spend eternity in the better place. : )

The Way of the Master
Need Him Global
Proverbs 31 Ministries
The Life of a Single Mom Ministries
Passion City Church
The Church at Brook Hills
TeenChallenge USA
Focus on the Family
KLOVE
Luis Palau

Friday, September 20, 2013

Faithgirlz

Last week kicked off the beginning of Faithgirlz at the AR Dream Center! (Faithgirlz = girl scouts meets devotional groups.) We had 30 girls ranging in ages from 4-11yrs old on our first night. It was such a GREAT time getting to know each other, decorating cookies, painting nails, coloring, and making bracelets.

Our verse for the year is "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

In preparation for yesterday's second Faithgirlz meeting, I thumbed through old magazines looking for pictures of beautiful models. I arranged the photos in a collage on poster board, and at the top I wrote, "What is seen..."


I flipped the board over and wrote, "What is unseen is ... Eternal!"


I realize it's an abstract concept, so I hope the poster makes it tangible.

After lots of hugging, giggling, and glitter filled mirror decorating, we gather and settle down for "talk-time" yesterday night. 

I've thumb-tacked the poster onto the wall so the girls can see the models, and I point to different women on the poster and ask the girls to tell me why they're beautiful. 

One has pretty eyes, the other pretty hair, another has a pretty purse...

I agree with them, and then explain that as time goes on, those qualities that make them "beautiful" can change or go away. I write "temporary" over their faces. 

I can tell the girls are surprised because it's the first time they've all sat still at once. The poster was so beautiful, but now it's ruined. Just like that, the beauty is gone.



I flip the board over and ask them to identify something that they can't see that lasts forever.

It takes a few moments, and they start with the "Christian" answers... God, Jesus, your Soul.... I ask them about "kindness," and they start to understand....


I squat low to the ground to get eye level with them and tell them the magazines and the movies tell us that beauty looks like these models, but God made specific things about us that cannot be seen, that are inside of us, that make us beautiful. And I prayed in that moment, with every eye looking at me, that they would remember the truth in my statement, the truth enveloped in 2 Corinthians 4:18. 

After small groups and game time, when most of the girls had gone home, I took down the poster. Two girls, about 9-10 yrs old, stood next to me and asked if they could have the poster. After asking each individually why they wanted it, I was shocked at both of their answers. 

"Because, I want to explain it to my mom." 

So, yesterday night, the enemy lost. : )

At least two girls understood the difference between seen and unseen, temporary and eternal. 

And not only did they understand, they desired to share the truth with those who don't. 


"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our eBay Adventure Update



So, as previously posted, this summer David and I ventured into the seller's side of eBay. We started slow with a couple old iPods to test the waters. We wanted to see if we could make some money on items we weren't using at home - things that were just collecting dust or taking up space.

It took about two months for us to really get the swing of it - how to handle international buyers, how to save the most money on shipping, what to do when you don't get paid, which number on the USPS receipt is your tracking number, what to do when your buyer won't pay, what to do when you have an international buyer not pay, and the most important question of all ... Is the time and effort worth it? Are we actually making a profit??

I treated this endeavor as a business from the beginning - so I've kept every receipt and logged every expense into a spreadsheet my dad would be very proud of. When I got September's eBay invoice today and was able to plug in my final numbers for the transactions during the past 30 days and calculate our profit, I was blown away! I was honestly just hoping to be in the green. (One month this summer we only made a grand total of $6 because I'd gone negative on two items after shipping.) September was a success! We were in the green this month! And, we'd turned a pretty significant profit considering we'd only sold things that we weren't using / didn't need anymore / hadn't touched in years.

So, what are we doing with our extra cash? Right now, we're putting most of it into a travel fund. It feels like putting pennies into a piggy bank. But if eventually some unused articles of clothing and last semester's textbooks can turn into a plane ticket, we could be looking at the best version of up-cycling yet.

If you have any eBaying tips! I'd love to hear them!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Twenty-four years ago today I became a big sister. Paul and I were so close in age (not quite 17 months between us), Mom says it was like raising twins!

Of course, at 17 months, I was far too little to understand the gift God blessed our family with On September 9th, 1989.

I've often said that I forget that Paul is my "little" brother...  Maybe it's because we were so close in age, or because he's always been the best protector. He would take a bullet, or worse, for me. He's taught me far more than I've ever taught him.

Most of my fondest childhood memories involve my brother. Tossing beanie babies across the hallway in an all out beanie baby war, building lego fortresses, laughing, his antics during road trips, running around the yard with our family dog Duke, running away from the UPS truck...

I call him "the coolest person I know" because he is.

Most people who know my brother only know maybe one or two of the things about him that make him so special.

Most people who know the basics about Paul are just impressed by all he's "overcome."

Others are impressed by his charm and dashing good looks.

And then there are others who get to hear his heart, and those I consider very fortunate.

All the while, I look on with a heart that overfills with love and adoration for a young man who loves his Maker, seeks the lost, and does everything with humility. A young man who lives up to every name he's been given.





Happy Birthday, Paul Stapp Clark. I'm so proud to call you brother. I'm so blessed to have been able to grow up with you. I miss and love you more than words. 


Friday, August 30, 2013

Sperry...

As a car whirred past me during my morning power walk, I barely heard my Dad's voice through my ear buds, "How's Sperry?" Although the words were tough to hear, I could hear the small smile on his face.

Sperry. Our cute dog. Our "bundle of mischief." He couldn't have asked at a better time. "Sperry's on my list!" I exclaimed as I pressed onward up the hill towards the busy intersection with mini-vans and school buses nearing the elementary school.

"Uh oh!" Again, I heard my Dad's smile as it grew across his face followed by a soft chuckle.

Over a year ago, David and I rescued a sweet little puppy from Little Rock Animal Services. Honestly, he's still just as cute as he was then. Like my dad says, "Cute dogs can get away with anything." And Sperry seems to be no different.

I recount to my dad how Sperry has learned that there are times when we leave food unattended on the kitchen counter and that if he stretches just right, he can reach it. In one week he'd managed to steal two chicken breasts and at least a third pound of ground bison left-overs. I walked into the kitchen, horrified, by the sight of that expensive bison strewn all over the kitchen counter, under the Keurig, and across the white-tiled kitchen floor.

He'd done a few other things lately that were out of character. Too much, and really not important enough to write about here, but basically, after it all, I'd decided that Sperry was going to become an outdoor dog. No forgiveness. He was a dog, after all. He could sleep inside and come in and stay downstairs if it got too hot, but I'd had it.

I informed David of my decision, and he reminded me that banishing Sperry outdoors wouldn't fix the problem. He'd still jump and steal meat off the grill if we didn't address the issue directly.

I knew he was right ... on so many levels.

So, I resolved to permit him to maintain indoor/outdoor status ...

Later this afternoon, as I plopped myself on the living room couch and opened my laptop, I felt a heavy, hot, furry mass lay itself on my feet. I looked down and saw Sperry tenderly put his paw over one of my feet while resting his head on the other.

I remembered a comment David had made to me several weeks ago when I'd gotten mad at Sperry and threatened to send him to my in-laws new farm ... "Lindsay, we adopted him. We made him our responsibility. We're not giving him away when we can teach it out him."

Teach it out him. Here I am supposed to be teaching this dog, and as he nuzzles my foot I realize how much God's using this dog to teach me.

It doesn't matter what I do to him (leave him outside, threaten to give him away, or haul him to his crate for punishment when he eats my leftovers), no matter what happens between us, Sperry always loves me. When I shower, even when David is home, Sperry lays in front of the bathroom door as my protector. When I'm working, he lays nearby between me and the nearest door. And in these moments of complete ignorance, when I don't know or care where he is, He comes and sweetly reminds me he's there, and he wants to be my buddy.

Isn't that how God is? When I go a week without doing my quiet time, the whole day without praising His name, or when I doubt His plan, He is the same God who stood at the door of my heart and knocked and knocked and knocked. He's the same God who forgives me over and over again. His love never fails, even though I don't deserve it.

My foot begins to fall asleep under the weight of Sperry's head, but I let it stay there a minute more. I reach down and rub my cute dog's head and am grateful for a Lord who is faithful, a husband who is steady with a heart after God, and a dog who occasionally drives me crazy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Nice To Read Again

I finished a great book over the weekend ("Full Disclosure" by Dee Henderson). It has been a LONG time since I'd read a novel that I enjoyed that much. 

I started another book last night. I put it away when it was time to go to bed, and David asked me how I liked my new book. I honestly replied that I wasn't sure yet because I wasn't that far into it ... but, regardless, it was nice to read again. 

He asked me what I meant by that. As I tried to form an answer, I felt this strange release inside, like something was waking up...

When I was a young girl, I'd read every night before I went to bed (ask my sister - we shared a room!). I read Nancy Drew, all the Little House on the Prairie books ... so many novels. I just loved to read! It might be part of the reason I ended up falling in love with writing - I desperately appreciate the written word. In fact, I got pretty fired up in college during my speech class when we learned about the creation of the printing press and how the world was so dramatically changed after that invention. I've placed Johann Gutenberg above the guy who invented air conditioning on my list of most appreciated inventors!

I can't remember exactly when I stopped reading, but I know by the time I was in nursing school I wasn't reading for fun anymore. There just wasn't any time. Eventually, I managed to pick up a non-fiction, Christian book every now and then and finish it over a period of months. 

Then, a couple years ago, David and I were in a used bookstore, and I picked up a novel. It was about a First Lady, it looked good, and I thought I'd give it a try. Little did I realize it's contents were X-rated. After returning the book and notifying the store they might want to move it to the "adult section," I was incredibly hesitant to try reading a novel again, simply because I didn't want to stumble into that kind of content again. I decided I'd just wait until someone I trusted read something good and referred it to me, then I'd start reading for fun again. 

Then, a couple weeks ago we were in Barnes & Noble while a horrible thunderstorm poured down outside. I mean sheets and sheets of rain and lightning that looked like it was going to come through the windows! While the clouds dumped their furry over North Little Rock, we had fun waiting out the storm looking at board games and puzzles before making our way over to the law section for David. We passed a table featuring Christian fiction. I stopped and skimmed the titles as David pressed on down the wide aisle. "Full Disclosure" caught my eye. I picked it up and read the back of the book. It sounded really good and apparently the author was well established and had won several awards for her books. And she was a Christian. It was like a light bulb turned on. I realized that I didn't need to wait for someone else to refer a good book to me. There are plenty of Christian authors out there who write good fiction, and their books would not only be entertaining but likely not include the racy material I wanted to avoid. 

I was blown away by "Full Disclosure." It is amazingly written and captivating, and more so, I feel like processing the characters' stories challenged me in my walk with Christ. Usually it's the non-fiction, Christian books that do that. But this was fiction - a story

I shouldn't have been surprised. After all, isn't that how Jesus taught... with stories? Isn't that how I teach best... by incorporating a concept or lesson into a skit? 

If you're looking for a good, fiction book, try one of Dee Henderson's. I've just ordered another one of her's online and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival by mail. Maybe, like me, it will wake up a part of you that was asleep for a while. Or, light a flame that is yet to be lit. 

Maybe, like me, reading a good book will birth a passion inside of you too. I think every good writer started out as a good story lover. But, I also think good stories can teach us just as well as personal experience can. A wise man once told me, "When I feel like I need to give someone advice, but I know they don't want to hear it, I'll tell them a story." Stories are powerful things. Thank goodness there are good writers to put them on paper... and printing presses to put them into good books. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Transition

I've been waiting all summer for this weekend. This is the weekend everything changes. The weekend when we transition from summer to Fall Semester.

David and I have been thoroughly grateful for the cooler temps that blew into Arkansas (and much of the South) this week. It's made gearing up for the Fall Semester THAT much more exciting. Pumpkin things are popping up everywhere, Razorback decor is on every other front door, we even have leaves on our back deck.

It's seems kind of ironic, but things in our home will feel as if they've returned to normal pace on Monday.

I mean, technically, our days and evenings and weekends during Fall Semester will be filled with more extracurricular activities and meetings and service opportunities etc, and of course David will be taking another full load of law school (and doing an internship), so you would think life would be feeling as if it were picking up, but to me it just feels like it will be getting back to normal.

My dear friend Libba and I were talking about this wonderful time of year just this week. As we talked about the transition that takes place between summer and Fall Semester, we both agreed, we prefer Fall Semester to summer. Of course, there's so much excitement in the Fall (cooler weather, holidays around the corner, football games) ... We both love these things, but mostly we prefer the routine that comes along with it.

I feel like I learn so much more about myself with every passing season. My mother will laugh and my father will smile as they read this, but this summer I officially learned that I prefer structure. I like knowing where the lines are. I like routine. To an extent, I can go with the flow (David can certainly testify that I'm getting a lot better with this), but I do better with go-with-the-flow when it's the time or place for it.

I think about how God established order in Creation, and I'm so grateful to see that this preference I have is something Our Maker is quite fond of Himself.

This week, as I excitedly welcomed this transition, I came to another understanding about summer. While Spring is ending and Summer is approaching we're excited about the unknown adventure Summer brings. All of us are. (Even those with seasonal depression look forward to summer!) Summer is when you'll learn that thing you've always wanted to learn, you'll finish that task that's been on your to-do list since New Year's, you'll meet THE ONE and fall in love, you'll go an adventure to somewhere new or someplace incredibly familiar where you always feel yourself... Summer is a blank slate of new beginnings and opportunities. But, for most of us, no matter how wonderful our summer might be, the reality is our summers never pan out to be exactly what we expected them to. Sometimes they're better! Sometimes they're not. Summer, quite simply, if full of the unexpected.

As I chew on this realization, I feel that perhaps summer reminds us of the reality that life itself is incredibly unexpected. That we all look back 5, 10, 20, 50 years ago and marvel at the experiences we walked through and say, "If you had told me 5, 10, 20, 50 years ago that this is where'd I'd be, I'm not sure I would have believed you..." That's when I'm glad life wasn't up to me. When I'm glad I gave up the pen to my story some time ago. That it's only through the unexpected, unplanned adventure of the story God's writing for me that I've become the woman I am today.

So, although I gratefully embrace the routine that's beginning this weekend, I remember that routine is not control, routine is simply order. I like order. But I don't want to control my life. I want God to do that. He did a pretty good job with the World. I think He can handle my life. We surrender this semester to Our Maker. And we pray that if it too is filled with unexpected twists and turns, He'd faithfully remind us that He's still in control.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Amazing Love

"Hey, can you preach on Saturday?"

I looked at the text message and stopped in my tracks. Gasp. What day is it today? Do I have time to pull together a talk? What is the topic? I should know what the topic is ... I was in the planning meeting....

I text Nati, my friend and director of the children's ministry at the AR Dream Center, "Yikes! Um, not sure about that!!! What's the topic??"

She texts me back, "It's Jesus birth... It's the Bible lesson on God loving them so much that He sent His Son!"

I relax as I realize it's Wednesday, and I can definitely make time to pull together a talk on that. I mean, Jesus' birth, I could tell that story without any prep work.

But it's me, and I take ministering to children pretty seriously, so of course, the next day, I sit down with my chronological Bible and read the various passages describing the events surrounded Christ's birth.

I consider the gravity of my little talk. And decide I'll share the story from Mary's perspective in costume. I rehearse in the kitchen the day after while homemade granola bakes in the oven and the smell of chocolate wafts through the room.

I'm one of those method actors. I put myself there where my character is. I consider everything surrounding the scene and go back into my character's history.

Standing on the white tiles of my kitchen, I picture straw and hay surrounding my feet. A goat to my right laying down. A small lamb nestled into a sheep. The smell of animal waste hangs in the night air. And then the baby cries. Mary's tired. They'd barely made it into the cave before the baby had begun to crown. No one could spare even a corner of their home. Bethlehem was so crowded because of the census. It's dark in the cave, and Joseph has gone to get water. It's just Mary and the Baby. Just Mary and the Savior of the World ... with ten little fingers and ten little toes. With eyes that look like hers. Men's voices are getting closer, they sound excited, something about angels singing... And as she picks up the Baby to re-swaddle Him and the gravity of the story is simplified ...

He must have loved us a lot to come to us this way...

The timer goes off, and I take the granola out of the oven.

Saturday morning I sit on the floor with four little girls at the AR Dream Center and tell them about the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth. With bright eyes they listen. And when I ask little Tiffany, "Isn't that crazy?" she shakes her head. I ask, "No, it isn't crazy?" And she just looks at me confidently and shakes her head, and I realize I chose the wrong word... "It was amazing." And she nods and quietly whispers, "Yes, it was amazing."



Amazing love. That's what it was.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lake Trip 2013

Lake Martin, AL is a huge, beautiful lake about 45 minutes from Auburn, AL. All summer we'd been really excited about spending the week with my family there. In fact, we were so excited, that we left Arkansas a day early to ensure that we'd be there as soon as my parents could pick up the key to the lake house they'd rented for our family.

 A quick stop & walk at the Chick-Fil-A in Olive Branch, MS.

We had so much fun swimming, tubing, jet-skiing, playing games, and learning how to drive the boat. (Mom taught me, Dad taught Katie, and I think Mom taught Paul... David was already a pro.) Plus, Danielle, Katie's best friend got to come as did our grandparents, Grampa & Gramma Clark! And, of course we can't forget Scarlet.... : ) Scarlet came too, for a day, and then went to "camp" up the road!

This Summer Scarlet realized she could swim and has become quite the dare-devil jumping into pools! We weren't about to watch her jump into the lake without a flotation device!

Every evening was filled with star gazing (except for two nights because it was cloudy) and fishing.

Grandpa was being a great model for me!

David found the most comfy fishing spot... 

And it paid off!

Danielle was a fish catching machine this night! She could have fed the whole family!

One of my favorite pictures from the whole trip! Katie Marie & Dad .... and the fish.

Mom caught the first catfish! 

Of course, I wasn't the only one NOT fishing. Gramma sat back with me soaking in the last bit of sunlight and watching for the first stars to come out.

Gramma Clark & Katie Marie

Mom & Paul

Grampa surprised us all by taking Dad out for a spin on one of the jet skis. They definitely looked like they were having fun!

Dad & Grampa Clark

For dinner the last night, the five of us who were still at the lake (me, David, Mom, Dad, and Paul) went out to eat after returning the boat and jet ski. We had such a great time eating funny, fried food (i.e. Fried Oreos - yum!) and enjoying each other's company. 


David and I were so grateful to get to spend time with my family. It was hard for me when we moved last year, so long weeks like this where we're all in one place are truly a special gift to my spirit. My sweet friend Sarah reminded me last night that we're not promised tomorrow, and her words have been echoing in my mind all day. So, I'm soaking in the fun, happy memories of our week at the lake, and am praising God for the multitude of blessings that He's bestowed upon my family.