When the bottom falls out grace is right around the corner

It’s just been one of those times where you get hit broadside with news you don’t want to hear. Two very different situations. Both close to us.

It’s the kind of feeling where you think you can’t catch your next breath. And then you come up for air and remind yourself that your God has not changed. He is faithful. He is good. And yes, He even has a plan in the midst of the hard stuff. You simply can’t see it but you know it’s true because of who God is. Still…..getting it from your head to your heart can be hard. Checking emotions, capturing run away thoughts and refusing to be overcome with negativity is not easy in these situations. But this is where our faith makes a difference. Trusting God in our low times makes a difference.

A friend sent me an email out of the blue and encouraged me to praise God seven times during the day. She has no clue about my heart ache right now. And so God leads me into a time of praise and worship. Praising in the midst of pain changes things. It does. I can’t explain it. I can’t even say my heart was fully engaged in the praise – like my mind and heart believe it but as it comes out of my mouth it feels more like a damp statement being uttered. Yet still it affirms who God is and there is power in speaking the Name and attributes of God. Eventually our hearts catch up. And he accepts our praise – when we’re fully engaged and even when it takes a force of our will to get it out. That’s the kind of God we have. He loves us right where we are and accepts us no matter what.

Fast forward to yesterday. My sweet Sophie helped usher a classmate into a relationship with Jesus on the playground at school. Both girls were so excited. This has been a work in process as the girl’s Mom has told me before she thought her daughter was ready to accept Jesus but they were waiting for the right time. Well the time came and it was clearly the time because there was not a doubt in her mind she wanted to become a Christian. She was ready. The Holy Spirit had primed her heart and as our friend and Woodlands Camp director Jon Estes says, “she was low hanging fruit” and Sophie snatched it right up. She asked her friend if she was saved (because she really wanted her to be her sister in Christ if she wasn’t) and when she said, “no” Sophie told her what it meant to be a Christian and asked her if she wanted to pray to accept Jesus as her Savior. Her friend said yes and Sophie took her to her teacher to pray with her. And there on the playground our sweet little friend started her new life in Jesus.

Now that will put everything else into perspective.

Yes, the pain of difficult situations are still there but the fact that God picked this time for our daughter to help lead someone to Christ couldn’t have been more perfect. It was like a bundle of  grace waiting around the corner. God saved this girl because He died for her and it was part of His plan including the timing. But I can’t help but know He knew we needed our chin to be lifted up. To be reminded that this life is all about pointing others to Jesus.

And so in the midst of hard times I seek to trust and praise God knowing He loves me and will make good of all things.

7 things I’m praising God for today:

  • That He is Savior
  • That God is my Provider
  • Praising Him that He sees all our situations
  • Praising God that His word is active and alive
  • Praising God for divine intervention
  • Praising God that He is capable of anything
  • Praising God that He is sufficient for all our need

Linking with Kristin and Holley today.

 

 

Plantation ferns, cucumber sandwiches and peonies = Simply Southern

I’ve never done one of those home parties before where you have a representative come and sell their product and people that are interested come by and look and purchase if they want. I have a friend who asked me about hosting one for Jamberry Nails and I agreed and asked if we could also combine it with a Silpada party and so we did. And it was a lot of fun!

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Sophie was a really big help in the process. She was excited about this party herself because she got to have her nails done ahead of time by the Jamberry Nails Rep/Friend and she LOVED her soccer ball nails and her other funky ones too. She was excited about the potential of getting to pick out some wraps herself. She helped make the cucumber sandwiches which I got from here. They were really good even if I did make them! Now my lemon squares? Not so much. Let’s not talk about that.

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There were a lot of great give-aways and fun games. I regret I didn’t get any pictures of the Silpada table because there were some really nice pieces and the rep/now friend (I didn’t know her before) also did a great job making people feel comfortable but was not pushy in any way. I like that in a sales rep. Just tell me about your product and why you love it but don’t push me to buy it thankyouverymuch.

I think my favorite part of the day was preparing for it – flowers oh my goodness, I could eat them petal by petal. Seriously I love them. So arranging them was a fun part for me. Also, giving away door prizes is always so.much.fun. I love it!

 

 

Secret Keeper Girls was a BLAST!

We had the best time at the Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair Tour last Saturday! Mom’s of tweens, (ages 8-12) if you ever have a chance to attend this conference with your girl I promise you it will be an awesome time together with your girl. FUN, Spirit-led, Biblical truths that you want your girl hearing from other people than just you….and so much more. Awesome event. Only $15 and so worth it. Get your girls friends and their Moms to go with you too. It’s this good people. Really, it is.

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Sophie and I are going to be working through this book together on Saturday mornings at McDonald’s. I also have two others that we’ll be going through in the future together. There are some really good materials through Secret Keeper Girl that hit important topics with directness and from a strong Biblical foundation.

 

 

 

Because you’re never too old for affirmation.

A mentor taught me years ago the beauty of affirmation. You know…..telling someone the character qualities that stand out to you. Building them up through words of encouragement. It’s not flattery because the focus is not on complimenting but on speaking positive truth into someone’s life for the purpose of identifying what God is doing in that person. It’s like a verbal “Amen” to the things God is doing in that person.

So over a good ole’ country breakfast this morning we did that for our son.  Aunts, Uncles, Grandmother, Mom and Dad all spoke over him with words of encouraging truth. And from the grin on his face I think it’s safe to say that even teenagers (maybe especially teenagers?) are never too old for affirmation.

Happy Birthday Mitchell. We love you so much and are so thankful God created you for his glory. He strategically planned long ago – before you were even born – to place you in our home. And we feel so blessed to call you our son. Your father and I are proud of you and we know God will continue to work out his plan in you.

I was filming so I didn’t get on the video but my words to Mitchell included his willingness to stand for Truth even when it’s hard. He’s had several experiences this year to stand up for Truth and has done so with great courage. I also love the compassion he shows to others.

 

April Fool’s 2015 in our household

And I thought April Fool’s Day was going to be a total bust this year! Sophie and I have been sick all week with the flu I think? – didn’t even think you were allowed to get the flu in the Spring but apparently it’s perfectly legal because we’ve had it since Saturday. When I realized it was April Fool’s and I had no energy to be pulling a prank I was so sad. Like seriously sad you guys. How lame is that? To be sad that you don’t get to trick people and watch their epic responses while you stand back and hold your ribs in laughter. That’s just sick. But it’s the truth.

So here’s what ended up happening this year on April Fool’s Day in our house:

1) I went outside while kids were getting ready for school and opened Randy’s glove compartment, center console and threw trash around his car, receipts, etc to make it look like that lady who stole money out of his car a few weeks ago had come back.

Response: Randy got in the car to go to work and came back inside immediately without trying to alarm Sophie (she cried last time and was so upset about the whole thing) and said, ” That lady came back and went through my car.” In utter shocked voice I exclaimed, “What?! Oh no!” And then as he walked down the steps I said, “Hey Randy?” As he turned and looked at me I said, “April Fools.” And then I got that adorable grin he gives when he knows he’s been had.

2) Decided to go out for the first time all week. Sophie in her pj’s still and me with no make up but did change out of my pajama’s for the 10 minute errand. We went to the bank to get our monthly cash budget withdrawn. It’s a large sum because it’s what we spend on groceries, miscellaneous, eating out, etc for an entire month for our household. So when I gave the withdrawal slip to the banker I said, “And I’d like that in pennies please.”

Response: Double take. “Could you say that again Ma’m?” I smiled sweetly and said, “Sure. I’d like that in pennies please.” She stammered a bit and said, “I don’t have that much.” Still being nice I replied, “Well, I’ve started shopping only in pennies as well as paying bills and I need to pay our mortgage today. In pennies.” She was puzzled and said, “I can give you half in pennies but would need to give you…….” And then I busted out laughing and apologized. She started laughing with me and it was all good and fun. Sophie was more mortified that I had played that joke on the banker than the fact she was wearing her pajama’s – granted it was the drive thru.

3) At 10:30pm Wednesday night Sophie realized we had not pranked Mitchell and she begged us to do something to him. And I was very anxious to do something as well. Not having much energy to pour into it I knew it had to be simple. A prank call would have to do. We got it all figured out and put the plan into action. Home phone rang and Randy asked Mitchell to answer it. I was upstairs hiding in our bathroom with Sophie with the lights out. Mitchell answered and the conversation went as follows:

Mitch: Hello, this is Mitchell.

Me: (in shaky granny voice) This is Ethel Blackstock and I just left the nursing home and need a place to stay for the night. Do you have an extra bed I could sleep in tonight?

Mitch: (throws the phone to Randy and says it’s an old lady wanting to stay here????)

Randy: I can’t take that call right now. You handle it.

Mitch: (Dad, this is creepy. She wants to stay with us tonight!) Ummm are you still there Ms…..what did you say your name was again?

Me: (about to wet my pants) Mrs. Blackstock. Yes, I just need to know if you will let me stay at your house for the night. I’m outside your house right now.

Mitch: (goes outside on porch to look for lady with Randy)

Me: Young man please let me speak with your father.

I leave my phone in the bathroom and Sophie and I go downstairs to find Mitchell and Randy looking for Mrs. Blackstock. Mitchell is thinking it’s the same lady who broke into Randy’s car because he wasn’t convinced she was really “old”. He’s nervous and on the front porch looking for her. I decide to help look for her too because I’m just a nice person like that. Well, things take a twist when Randy turns on ALL of us and yells “BOO!” from behind the bushes and sprays us with the water hose. We all screamed and ran inside and locked him out.

I look at Mitchell and yelled, “HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S!”

4) At this point it was 11:00pm and way past our kids normal bedtime. So we all went upstairs to go to bed and Mitchell plopped in his bed and…….fell smack to the bottom of the floor.

Randy had taken the slats out except for one. It was classic. Flailing arms and legs in the air. Couldn’t have been better. Just wish I had it on video.

Response: He jumps out of bed and runs into the hallway and looks at me and says, “I can’t believe you did this to me!”

I said, “I didn’t do that to you!” And he knew immediately his father had just gotten him good.

And it felt more than right to crawl into bed knowing we had fulfilled our April Fool’s delight that day.

Happy Day After April Fool’s!

 

When opposition accompanies sharing the Gospel

Our church has adopted a local park as a place to show the love of Jesus by giving away free stuff, serving food, praying with people and sharing the Gospel. We call it “Community Cares” and we plan for months in advance and ask God to show us how to reach the people of our community with his love.

Saturday we hosted an egg hunt, gave out donuts/muffins and shared the Gospel through resurrection eggs in small groups on the grass.

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(Until my van dies I figure I might as well decorate it and use it for advertising. My husband won’t let me graffiti it with spray paint but how cool would that be? Like classy graffiti if there is such a thing.)

It was an incredibly awesome day and God was in that place but I will tell you it was not without a struggle.

The weather – was freezing!  The wind – flipped over two tents that couldn’t be put back up – the prayer/counseling tent. Not that prayer has to take place under a tent as seen here by the registration crew below. And not that freezing windy weather will keep people from showing up to an egg hunt. It just made it that much harder to set up. Still yet, people jumped in and served whole heartedly. 

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Another set back came when we blew a fuse and couldn’t make coffee. But the crew worked it out by getting a generator. One of our food servers got light headed and ended up having to go to the ER. She’s okay thankfully.

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The kids had plenty of eggs to hunt as we hid over 3,000 eggs and had around 125 kids. We had 200 “prize eggs” which was indicated by a slip of paper in the egg with a gold egg graphic. They turned that in later for a prize from the prize table. We also had a few dozen gift cards to give away as a raffle for the parents. So that was really fun.

After the egg hunt we gathered the kids in small groups of about 10 around the field. There were trained kids and adults sharing the resurrection eggs with their group.

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I will never forget this fellow below coming up to me with sheer delight on his face as he said, “I am just so happy right now. I can’t explain it but I am just so happy.” I asked him why and he said, “Because I just shared my first Resurrection Egg Gospel story in my life and it just feels so good!” He worked with his teacher from last year to present the Gospel to their group. A few other kids had the same opportunity and it was just amazing to see them take it so seriously and to see the impact that sharing the Good News can have, not only on the people who receive it, but those who tell it!

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There were about 10 groups of kids hearing the Gospel at the same time. Not all the kids stayed but many of them did and we were so thankful.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in how I handled my group. I felt scattered all morning long and was having a hard time keeping my thoughts together. I woke up that morning at 5am throwing up with a migraine. As soon as we got the park our daughter started a fever and was complaining of nausea. My head was throbbing and I was concerned about Sophie and torn between a million places. When I finally sat down to share the Gospel I was rather discombobulated. I uttered a prayer to God and said, “You gotta do this.” Our son, Mitchell, gave the Gospel story to our group and did a fantastic job. And I closed out our time with a recap of why we need Jesus and for anyone who wanted to stay after and talk more about believing in Jesus they could. I can only trust that God filled in the gaps. We committed this day to Him and so I have to leave it in his hands. I want to learn from my mistakes but also learn to leave it with Him and not overanalyze things.

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At the end of the day we loved people, we served people and we shared the Good News with people. And that’s really what we’re here for. So yeah, it was a good day. We accomplished what we felt God called us to do. There were hiccups and chaos along the way but I’m convinced that sharing the Gospel won’t ever be all crisp and clean. It will be messy and haphazard at times. And our God is big enough to work through that.

We are all people who stand in need of Jesus. We all need reminding that He is our God who is Faithful, Merciful and our one and only Hope. And these people were worth pushing through the opposition.

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Using the week of Easter as a platform to share the Gospel

Oh man, I can’t believe I did a vlog. Please don’t make fun of me. I didn’t want to do it but I can’t explain how compelled I was to share this message with you. Maybe you’ll take the 5 minutes you don’t have to listen to a creative way you can share with others this week the amazing Good News that is truly life changing.

Choosing to un-believe the lie that it’s “too late”

Today I was reminded of God’s sweet grace in my life. I had blown it big time in one of my relationships.

Oh alright, I’ll tell you.

I mentor a little girl at a school in our community. We’ve been “lunch buddies” since last year and I see her once a week. Well, about mid November when sickness hit our family over and over again I found myself every Thursday either at a Doctor’s appointment or at home with a sick child or sick myself. Then flu season hit. Eventually I fell out of the habit of meeting my girl who I had faithfully mentored up to this point. More time went by and I felt so guilty for not going. Not calling. Not letting the school know why I had not been there and so I didn’t want to show up. I was too ashamed. Three months had passed. I was committing the cardinal mentor taboo – not showing up without communicating anything. These are kids who need a positive influence in their life and to be one more person who doesn’t show up in their life pours salt on a wound.

The last two weeks my girl has been heavy on my heart. I knew God was nudging me to get back to seeing her but I didn’t want to face her. In my time with Him this morning He clearly showed me this was now an issue of obedience and there was grace for me in my lack of faithfulness. This was not about me and saving face. This was about a calling He put in my life.

I pulled into the school parking lot and couldn’t help but wonder if she would be mad at me. Or on the other hand would she even remember me. I spoke with her teacher who was as gracious as could be. And then my sweet little lunch buddy came over with a huge grin on her face and gave me a bear hug. And we picked right up. I told her I was sorry for not coming. Explained the sickness in our family and that I wished I had let her know through her teacher what was going on. She was quick to forgive as children so often are. I felt so much better. I was so thankful I had pushed through the awkward and uncomfortable scenario I had conjured up in my head of her throwing her lunch tray at me when I showed up three months late.

I’m so glad I got over that hump and fought satan’s lie that it was “too late” and that I had done too much damage to make it right again. Oh how thankful I am for God’s grace. His word is alive and active. God’s Spirit through His word spoke into my heart this morning about sincere love from Romans 12. Sincere love has a very distinct description. God used my time meditating on those words from Romans 12 to open up my heart to do something I didn’t want to do.

I’m so glad our God is faithful even when we are not. It makes me love him so much more and give me a desire to be more faithful to Him and others.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and Kristin

 

I’m that ‘well she tries’ girl in the kitchen

It was a long-time-waiting warm Spring day outside yesterday. And those kinds of days make me do crazy things all in the name of warm weather. I dreamed up this visual in my head of our family rocking on the rocking chairs of our Southern front porch eating warm pound cake with strawberries and watching traffic drive by. As if any of us have time for that but it sure sounded great. So I whipped one up real quick while prepping dinner.

While the cake was in the oven smelling quite divine I decided I would be super Mom and let the kids do what they’ve been dying to do ever since we’ve lived here. Make a mud pit with quicksand. After all it was warm and Springy feeling outside. I even went to say out loud (which was a mistake) to the kids, “You know, sometimes playing is more important than homework!” I do believe it’s true to some degree but really should have kept that thought to myself because boy did they ever latch on to that one. I dread what the teachers might hear today at school from our kids. An exaggerated, “My Mom said that playing is more important than school or homework ever will be!!!!” Oh dear.

So the kids are doing this:

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while I’m cooking dinner and smelling the cake in the oven and running out every 15 minutes to be sure nobody was drowning in mud.

Randy came home to this…..

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Thankfully my man is cool with things like this. He wasn’t worried about the grass because there was none to begin with. This is the spot where our trampoline has been for several years but we moved it to a different location.

I assured Randy I would make all this up to him by pulling out a beautiful warm pound cake. He  excited about that. I don’t have a light on my oven and knew better than to open the oven – it might make the cake “fall”, whatever that meant. I’ve never had a cake to fall and have never understood what that means really. So I just waited the hour and a half to pull out the cake.

Finally we heard the long awaited ding of the timer while we were finishing up dinner.  I jumped up and grabbed my oven mitts and swung open the oven door to find this:

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I let out a shocked scream. The kids said, “What’s wrong Mom!” Randy could see from where he was sitting the damage. My mouth fell to the floor in complete shock. I’d never seen a cake do this before. I looked at the oven to be sure my temperature was right and it was and then it hit me….

I swung open the cabinet door and yanked down my flour bag and sure enough I had accidentally bought “self rising” flour instead of plain all purpose.

I took the cake over and put it on the table and looked at Randy and said, “This is what happens when I try too hard to be all domesticated.”

Sophie said, “Well, then don’t try so hard.

Mitchell quips back immediately and says, “Actually, try harder please!!”

And that’s when we all busted out laughing and started scraping off the sides of the cake. I was ready to pitch the thing but Randy scooped it up into bowls. Yes, bowls for cake. Let’s just pour the salt on the culinary wound why don’t we.

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And you know what? It was was actually delicious! We loved it. Randy said, “I think this is the best cake you’ve ever made!”

Have I mentioned that I love my man? He’s so sweet. The cake was good but really now, it wasn’t the best cake I’ve ever made.

So yeah,  I’m the “well she tries” girl occasionally. Not all the time because generally I can pull together  decent meal and dessert but when I blow it I blow it big. Ha!!

So, care to share any of your “well she tried” kitchen episodes? Dare you to. 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad’s, date your daughters before others do.

Dads, you will never know how much special time with your daughter means to her. All little girls desire to be cherished and loved by her earthly Daddy. And nothing says “I love you” more than special time set up for just you and her. A Daddy-daughter date. A Father reaches a daughter’s heart in a unique way that a Mother can’t and so that special time together is so important.

This is what it looked like for our daughter and her Daddy as they went out on a fancy date tonight. Randy gave her a handwritten invitation and had it ready for her this morning at the breakfast table. She was surprised and beyond thrilled to open something with her name on it.

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She ran upstairs and said, “MOM! Daddy and I are going on a date tonight and we’re going to eat at a restaurant and then see Cinderella!!!” And then we screamed together because that’s what girls do when they get asked out on a date. They feel so special that they scream and dance in place.

Later Sophie said, “I don’t know what half those big words mean in that invitation but I sure am excited.” We laughed and then Randy explained what the “big words” meant. Ha!

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It’s cold and rainy outside and Easter hasn’t happened and in the South you don’t pull out white anything until Easter Sunday but for Daddy-daughter dates all those rules go out the window. You just dress like a princess and nothing else matters. I curled her hair and she put on some lipgloss and she felt beautiful. And then she walked down the steps with her Daddy waiting downstairs for her.

I assured Sophie she would have a blast with Daddy because he is FUN to date. “He makes you feel so special on dates and treats you like a queen,” I assured her. She smiled and said, “He doesn’t have to be doing this but he is.” I said, “You’re right sweetheart. He doesn’t. He’s choosing to be with you tonight.” She was a sponge soaking up the thought that her Daddy wanted to be with her.

I kissed them both goodbye and off they went on their date.

I’m at home by myself tonight and I couldn’t be happier about it. My prayer is that while Sophie is on a date with her Daddy that she will learn what to desire in a young man one day. Not only that, but that she will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her earthly father loves her unconditionally. And that this love will point her to her heavenly Father who not only loves unconditional but loves her perfectly. This what a father can teach his girl if he chooses to take the time to date her.

Some people call this video creepy but I think it’s really cute and demonstrates clearly that even the smallest of little girls love to be with their Daddy on a date.

Some Daddy-daughter date ideas:

  • McDonalds lunch just the two of you. Ask her about her friends and what they play on the playground.
  • Get an ice cream cone together. Ask her what her favorite song is and pull it up on your phone. Share earbuds and listen to the song together.
  • Take her out somewhere special for dinner.
  • Go see a movie together
  • Invite her to the hardware store with you and let her help you with a project. Doesn’t sound like a girly date but little girls love to be a part of their Dad’s world. Let her help even if it’s harder to do with her help.

If you’re a single Mom and your daughter does not have a Father figure in her life right now I want you to know that her heavenly Father is the Father to the fatherless. This is what He says of Himself and if you believe God to be true to his word then you can find such comfort in this. Your daughter has the heart of her heavenly Father in a unique way. He is watching over her and I believe with all my heart as you seek Him He will redeem what is lost in the years of not having an attentive earthly Father. Do not grieve with no hope on behalf of your daughter but cling to the fact that her heavenly Father is sufficient and nothing – not even the absence of her earthly father can thwart God’s plan for you or for your daughter.

So Dad’s, start dating your girls before the boys in her class do. Set the standard high. Open the door for her and pull the chair out for her. Treat her with a gentle respect that might be hard to find but will be worth waiting for one day. Tell her the things you see Jesus doing in her life in addition to how pretty she is. Let her know by spending special time with her that you cherish her. And know that it’s never too early to start praying for the man that will one day be dating her more than you.

Linking with Laura and Jen