Friday, November 22, 2013

The past several weeks have been filled with ups and downs (for many in my little circle of the world) – kinda like a roller coaster! But I have found its TRUE – our joy comes from the Lord! JOY!!! JOY!! JOY! Thinking I may try out that "pick a word for the year" deal and my word for 2014 will be JOY!

Here are some things from the past few weeks that are making me smile (and giving me JOY!) – and a couple that are making me think and taking my focus off of the things of this world and turning it towards Him and the true JOY from heaven!

1)      Jen Hatmaker – God love her (and I know He does)! For so many reasons I love this chic – so funny and so real and so in tune with God’s heart for His people. Not only have I (and am in the throws of) tackled her book “7” and have been living it out one week (not month as Jen did) at a time, I just read this blog post from several Christmas’ ago. A friend asked me at church if I was ready to ruin Christmas, and I *think* (AAAAHHHH) I might be leaning in that direction. IF we are to practice what we preach, I feel very strongly about the message she puts out there (in a way that only Jen can do). Lots of prayers will be going up to try to decide what is best for the Yates family – God knows (and I am afraid of where I am being led – is that bad? EEK!).

2)      And this jewel of a Blog post from Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience blog. What a great message for women and one I will hang on to FOR. EVER. As I told a sweet friend who messaged me with reassurance that I should never compare myself to others, I must admit, I, more often than I would like to, am the one trying to build MYSELF up and in my mind, bring others down. That was very hard to write --- but it is sadly the truth and my eyes have been opened and again, am praying that I can remember, if I “Walk through life with a measuring stick – my eyes get so small I never see God.” I certainly don't want to live a life like that.

3)      And last Sunday night was such a highlight to be in the presence of such AMAZING talent as the girls (and guy on stand up bass) from HighRoad III. What a blessing for our church! Got the new CD as well as the Christmas one. Kids can’t stop singing Hold me to the Rock and Lamps a Burning has become my new fave, as well as the version of Revelation Song, that only they can pull off! LOVE! IT!

4)      Enjoyed an awesome time at Mistletoe Market place, working in the booth of my friends at Ala Carte Alice (we sold lots of soups, y’all)! I also got to see a good friend from college who has a new (to me) jewelry line called Gemily (friends and family can expect goodies!) and a new friend Kristen at Thimblepress in Jackson who went back to her studio to get me her LAST individually wrapped cowbell print! Again, couldn’t resist a few handmade happies! (Trying to only buy handmade and give-back products as Christmas gifts this year!)

5)      Also at Mistletoe I pretty much made a spectacle of myself when none other than Sophie Hudson (AKA Boo Mama) who was signing books down the way, walked up to our booth to partake in some Ala Carte Alice dip goodness and I went “Oh my Gosh -- HHHEEEEYYYYYYY!” – just like we were the best of friends like we are in my mind ever since I read her book “A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet” – except I forgot the fact that we aren’t. Anywho, she didn’t report me to the Mistletoe police as a potential stalker, and graciously signed my book as well as two I am giving as Christmas gifts! Love her and we can still be best friends in my mind!

6)      During our Thanksgiving service, Becky Smith delivered a beautiful message from Philippians 4:4-8 (which just happens to be my life verse). The verse tells us not to worry but "with Thanksgiving" make our requests to God.
7)   Reed lost his first tooth this week (finally) so we are starting the year's of the snaggle toothed look! He and Luke were using a stick horse as a telescope (the imaginations of these two) and Luke pushed the "telescope" right into Reed's mouth and out popped the tooth!
8) Since we were sending out the group message and picture of the said lost tooth, the other two had to have their picture taken as well (hope to write later about the "real" drumsticks Luke is holding!

9)  I walked into the living room as Lilly sat down on her bed with a balloon attached to her collar -- not sure how long she had been doing this, but I swear, Luke will be the death of her. But it is sweet and hysterical to watch!
10)  My brother-in-law's mom passed away this week and the pastor focused on the verse from Phillipians 1:21 -- "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is Gain." Although I didn't know her extremely well, the times I was around her she was just a breath of fresh air and had such a warm spirit -- always smiling and asking about children and what we were up to." She loved Jesus and lived as Christ in the world. One thing the preacher said that Paul said, was "For me" -- Paul's personal relationship in HIS life -- it must be that way for each individual person -- our personal relationship with Christ. And now that she is healed and is in heaven, I just keep thinking about ALL (that my mind can comprehend--I know there is WAY more than I can fathom) she is seeing and experiencing. But most of all, she is sitting at the feet of about GAIN!
Excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving week! We have so so so SOOOO much to be Thankful for! Having my family in my home for Thanksgiving will be a first and we are going to have a wonderful time. Then off to Starkville for the Egg Bowl! Hail State! Maybe we can pull it off but I will be thankful to spend time with family and many friends -- win or lose!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Haiti -- the long version

My dear friend Laura Walton asked me to write a post for the HMM (Hispaniola Mountain Ministries) blog to talk about my experience in Haiti. They are the group who organized our trip and many others to the Dominican and Haiti and Laura is their Director of Communications! I jumped at the chance -- then she said (those dreaded words that I am never good at) it can be short -- EEK!! So I gave her the short version, but wanted to share a little bit longer version here for my peeps who keep up with us on the B.L.O. double G. So, without further ado: HAITI
As I looked back through my journal from our trip, there were several things that stood out to me.
In the weeks leading up to our trip, we prayed weekly (and some weeks twice a week) for our trip…..we became so close as a team and it was beautifully covered in blankets of prayer. During these prayer times our team grew closer and closer and I could always feel God’s immediate presence in our midst. It was beautiful! I would continue to feel Him as our journey truly began!

Many times people will tell you that when you go on a mission trip we ourselves are changed just as much the people we serve, and I would have to agree.  Upon our arrival, one of the first things I remember us doing was going over from the Dominican into Haiti. It was Sunday, and we got to experience a church service in the church on the Promised Land Compound. As Tim told us many times, Pastor Vilma is so important in his community and I can see why. We saw the church building where they had been meeting, which was little more than a thatch shack where they were now holding Children’s Church. About 20 little children from 3 to probably 15 were reciting Bible verses aloud that they had memorized. This was amazing. We then went to the church building where the people were meeting and although we could understand very little of what was being said, Jesus Christ’s presence was felt inside the four walls of that church. As the people sang, it was such a beautiful testimony of their faith. The words they sang came alive and you could see what strong faith they had in their Lord and Savior. They didn’t have other distractions getting in the way of that and it was beautiful. And when they prayed, they prayed out loud all at once, and it seemed to me God met those prayers before the sound reached the roof – yet another a beautiful sound (might be something we want to try here at our church sometime).  

One of the first mornings we were there as we were preparing for our first day of “work,” God spoke to me through the devotional book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Here is a part of what I read on May 27th: “Seek My Face at the beginning of your day. This practice enables you to “Put me on” and “wear me”….Thus you are well equipped to face whatever people and situations I bring your way. Clothing your mind in Me is your best preparation for each day. This discipline brings Joy and Peace to you and those around you.” NOW, since we were coming into contact with people and situations that we had NO IDEA how to handle – like poverty, starvation, sickness, and on top of that we were physically and emotionally drained, this devotion was just what I needed to hear. I have never seen a lack of basic human need as I saw in Anse A Pitre. There was a house on the compound that was only straw and the people living there had no possessions. There were several babies and a mom, dad, and grandmother. Even under these conditions, there was no sadness in their eyes. All the people and children we were with each day were happy. And this happiness wasn’t worldly happiness but joy. Part of this was because they didn’t know a lifestyle any different, and part of this was because they knew Christ and were taught about Him in their church and school.

We were around the school children each and every day. All the teaching is oral, very few had money to buy paper and pencils. From tiny little ones to High School age, it was a joy to hear them speaking and reciting their lessons. As we held them, played with them, and loved on them, we were showing them Jesus, and we let the little children come to us, jump on us, play with our phones, and gave them all we had.

As we interacted with the people of Haiti, DR, and each other, So much love could be felt. And as I said earlier, I feel confident that Jesus was among us. Hopefully instead of playing with us, they saw Him in our eyes.

In Haiti, I pray that I left joy, love, and hope.

In Haiti, I know that God turned it into a joy and hope that these people know only He can give.

In Haiti, our doctors in literally saved lives of many of the people they treated.

In Haiti, God saved lives of the spiritually sick, who will now spend eternity with Jesus.

In Haiti, we saw poor and poverty like never before.

In Haiti, God saw rich and strong faithful who put EVERYTHING in Him and this will continue to grow like never before as these people are witnessed to through words and actions and see our God at work in their lives.

In Haiti, we heard the voices daily of many crying out to be healed of their suffering to the only One who can heal their broken spirits and their country.

In Haiti, God hears the cries of His faithful, and answers them, and blesses them with lives where TRUE FAITH is alive and strong. Their faith is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.

In Haiti, God worked through our mission team to do some great work. But the greatest thing He did was to let those people meet Him through our actions (because words literally meant nothing) while we were there. We came home, and He stayed.

He is creating beauty from so much brokenness. And in a country ravished with poverty and sickness and corruptness, I saw SO MUCH BEAUTY. The people, the children, the land, THE WATER (PTL!!), the animals. Many people could look at this and see ashes, but God has consumed this land, these people, and turned them into such beauty. Made me think of one of my favorite songs, Something Beautiful, by NEEDTOBREATHE. Listen here!  If you don't have time to listen, it says,

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful.

Coming home was hard, because it seems like there was so much to do. Like we did so little. But Tim said this on our last night there: “Even if you start something, God can finish it.” I know God has some very special things in store for the people of Anse A Pitre, the DR, and other cities in Haiti through the work of HMM. Many lives have been saved for eternity. I feel extremely blessed to have been a part of this trip and hope that when these beautiful people of Haiti think back to our time there, and all the other people who have visited them and shared God’s love with them, that they don’t see us, that they see their Savior, with whom they will one day live in paradise and have beautiful crowns of righteousness for the suffering they endured while on earth.

Like, 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” I learned the true meaning of this verse from the people of Haiti. They live it out daily. I have never seen this more clearly! My hope is, God willing, I can continue not only to be a part of this great mission to Haiti, but here at home too!

No matter where God calls you to serve, in your home, in your church, in your community, in a foreign country, do it! Each person who “Goes into all the nations,” no matter what nation (home or abroad), is doing great work for the kingdom.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Happy Friday

Some things that are making me happy today:

1.       Mary Flynn is no longer demanding to watch Barney every single day (I wish someone could tell me how this show actually got made…talk about fingers down a chalk board). Who looked at someone in a purple dinosaur suit and said this is going to make a great show…they saw something I did/do not see. If there is a parent out there who enjoys watching Barney, please let me know how you do it. Thankfully we have moved on to Madagascar 3, which in my opinion is the best Madagascar, so I am happy.

2.       Rob discovered “What does the Fox Say” on You Tube hilarious and I smile every time I think about it. “Kee-kee-keek-keek-keek-keek-keek-kow”

3.       Loving new running shoes after wearing NIKE for years my sweet friend Courtney who owns the new Stinky Feet in Starkville helped me choose my new Newtons. A little different and I am still getting used to them, but they are better for knees and feet and help me to run on the ball of my foot instead of heel. And running this morning in the cooler weather was an added bonus!!

4.       It’s FRIDAY and we have a weekend of nothing! YES!

5.       Proverbs 31 devotional today – BE HAPPY NOW all about being content in all circumstances and being thankful for the little things (i.e. no Barney, “What does the Fox Say”, and Fridays, new running shoes). Philippians 4 is becoming one of my favorite chapers – so much goodness.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Convicted and conversion is coming -- one song at a time!


I’ve loved rap music for years, and when I started running about 4 and a half years ago, this was my music of choice. Must be the public school girl in me, but I am motivated by these tunes. Give me a base line and I am a happy girl. So, upon hearing this for the first time, people are shocked. It is pretty rediculous, I know. What in the world! Over the past year or so, I’ve been convicted to give it up. Bye-bye Jay Z, bye-bye Snoop D-Oh-double-G. So here I am again. I put it away and I sneek it back in on my playlist. My children (of course) have figured out the iphone and I walked in to find them listening to some of this music --- YIKES – not a very good parental example here. I am horrified! EEK!!!
Finding that they have a "love for the beat" too. Check out the video of Reed dancing to a song I found on a golf commercial (NO WORDS!!! LOVE IT!) dressed in goves, football pants, orange goggles, socks on his arms, and a basketball jersey.
Hello blackmail for future girlfriends!!! I guess it could have been a lot worse!!
But as I live out my faith, this is one of those “Secrets” that I keep on that hidden playlist. Ugh, sin – seems like a little one, but I know that God is convicting me to stop – while running I could be taking that time to praise Him and pray for others. And SIN is SIN! He does say, to pray without ceasing, and it’s kinda hard to pray or communicate with God when nonsense is screaming in your ear. It makes me think of Paul, who I can relate to when he penned this verse (I think of this verse literally DAILY):   I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15. What I should be doing is praying, studying the Bible, memorizing by Bible verses. But what I do is play on FB, instagram, watch TV, listen to rap music!!

Thankfully another verse was brought to my attention TODAY at our revival and this was it:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8. (Thanks again, Paul).  So lovely and most rap music don’t really go together…so thankful for this reminder.

And I love some praise and worship more than just about any music out there, and as God is molding me into who He wants me to be I am getting there. And I have listened to my Christian rappers Trip Lee and Shai Linne and I am learning to love them more and more. A few weeks ago, I finished one of the hottest runs in a awful time and short distance and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns and Roses came on (I know, baby steps), and I realized that I am God’s sweet child and He’s getting me there one message at a time! The added bonus that day, when my run was over  – Tim Tebow (via Nike run) told me what a GREAT job I had done and he couldn’t wait to see me back out there tomorrow!” Thanks Tim! Godly influences are everywhere aren’t they? Even when we least expect it.

Here are some favorites on my playlist at the moment:

1.       Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns and Roses

2.       High Road – High Road III

3.       Southern Girl – Amos Lee

4.       Something Beautiful – NeedtoBreathe

5.       Philosopy – Ben Folds Five

6.       Mirrors -- JT (gotta have a little JT every once and a while)

7.       Lose My Soul – TobiMac

8.       Speaking Louder Than Before – Jeremy Camp

So it’s a work in progress, just like we all are. Getting closer and constantly striving to honor Him.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hold Your Horses!

I love a project and sometimes I just get in the mood and I can’t do anything until said projuct is complete. Sure you can drink that COKE in the LIVING ROOM. Yes you can dump out EVERY SINGLE TOY out of your toy box(s) into the floor. Have fun while I am painting this canvas. Some people do drugs, my mom says she eats chocolate, I make stuff.

I also love Dirt Cheap!!! I know it’s pretty gross in there most of the time and when I was 9 months pregnant with Mary Flynn (acutally the day before I had her) I made Rob go in there with me and he proceeded to knock over 15 coffee cups off a shelf, and swore he’d never go back, and he’s kept his promise. Probably for the best since I sometimes look at my clock and realize it’s been over an hour – time warp. Still using and LOVING that Paula Deen dutch oven I got that day! I hate it, but I am hoping to see more of her stuff in there soon with WM not carrying her line anymore! I sometimes hesitate to buy things at Target because I am afraid they will get it at Dirt Cheap and I will be mad at myself for paying full price. I actually have a lamp shade on one of my buffet lamps in the living room that I got from there and I won't buy it at full price at target because I JUST KNOW I'm gonna find it at DC eventually -- so we have miss-matched lamp shades. Probably doesn't drive anyone crazy but me and it's my own fault. Anyway, it’s so sparatic it’s like a surprise every time you go in. But it’s the closest thing to Target we have in this little town, so I will take what I can get. I had become a little disenchanted over the last few months, but I have gotten some pretty awesome stuff there over the years! I digress…

Here is where two of my loves came together on Saturday. First, I saw this on IG!

 I just LOVE that saying – so Southern, so reminds me of my childhood, and so something I say just about every day to at least 1 of my 3! When talking to a friend about making it for me and we were talking about canvases I realized where to go – DC!!!  And like I said, I am quick to pull out the spray paint and ribbon and get my craft on from time to time (these times seem to be eternities apart – when I get to heaven, there will be lots and lots of crafts, art, ribbon, paper, paint, etc., in my mansion – I will finally get around to all those projects I have pinned on Pinterest. J).

So I pop in to my local DC and look what I found – this lovely canvas of some European city. And the price -- $2.00!!! Yeh-Yah!!!  PROJECT READY!

After spray painting white, then gold (LOVE! METALLIC! SPRAY! PAINT! – may be about to paint A LOT of stuff around the house with that), I meticulously cut out letters that I printed out HUGE. All while playing a Saturday morning game of CLUE! (which I lost because you have to pay attention and I was busy cutting, thank you Rob).

And then I glued the letters onto the canvas, let them dry (not long enough), then painted over that with Chalk paint. And here is the final project. My letters kinda stuck and my blue paint seeped under them too, but I must say I LOVE the look. And the saying!! And it now hangs right by my back door, where 9 times out of 10 I am saying, “Hold your Horses,” – I probably need to make another one that says, “You need some shoes on!”

p.s. I also made this dip this weekend from this month's Southern Living to test for tailgating and let me just say for the record -- it is awesome! It was in their Tailgating feature, which did not show Mississippi State on one of those cute cupcakes. :-( We will still have fun at our tailgate and cheer on our DAWGS though! This recipe WILL be “On the sidewalk” in 2 less than two weeks! Go DAWGS!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fits of Mercy

I love my kids, I really do but sometimes, somedays, they can suck the life out me and I have to laugh (and want to cry). Mary Flynn has taken to some “doozy” fits of epic proportions. You tell her “No,” (or yes for that matter) and well, all you know what can break loose! Yes, I know she is 2 and learning to make her own decisions but GEEZ!!! Rob looked at me the other day and said, “I’m taking the spawn to school.”
Saturday night, after a busy day of birthday parties, birthday dinners, and a visit with some friends (with no nap, mind you) we start home at around 10 p.m. This sweet little angel baby two year old starting screaming in the car. Luke, who was also exhausted, had complained of a headache, so when her screaming got to decibels even the deaf dogs could hear, so did his. At that point all you can do is laugh, and pray that we all get home in one piece because no spanking, words, or life lesson would work at that point, and a 5 year old and 2 year old with no nap, who are used to going to bed at 8! What ensued when we got home was something out of a horror movie.
I couldn’t believe my two year old could cry, scream, writhe, say “no”, pull out her own hair, and kick that much and for that long. GOOD LORD IN HEAVEN ABOVE – HAVE MERCY! She gave a whole new meaning to “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” At one point I looked at her and said, “Mary Flynn, I am going to win.” To which her daddy said, “She doesn’t know what that means,” and starts laughing. And he was probably thinking to himself, “A 2-year old and an only child who likes to get her way (which is me, in case you didn’t know) – now this should be interesting.”
Finally after promises of books, movies, etc., none of which worked, I decided to bed we would go and I was going with her to make sure we laid this hit to rest – PUN INDENDED! Laying there in her bed I looked at my sweet baby trying for the 100th time to make her way out of her bed to get away from me. Screaming, crying, and kicking, “Let me go, Let me out.” And I told her that I loved her and started patting her back. I felt like I had gone 8 rounds with Mike Tyson when she finally closed those big blue eyes and gave up. And at that moment, I realized that only a mother could love a child during and throughout a colossal meltdown like that. And a thought occurred to me: “This must be how God feels when I continue to push Him away. Crying, kicking and screaming, wanting my way – just like a 2-year old. Trying to do things myself and my way and throwing big ole fits when I don’t get it! And He says, “I have already won and I know what is best for you my child.” And what peace I would feel if I would just give it (whatever it is) over to Him and let Him do His thing. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO DO THIS! Why would I want to keep these burdens on myself when He is there to take them! Help me Lord not to fight but to listen and do what you call me to do.
And this verse from came to mind. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In a conversation with a friend we were talking about this and she said, “Let’s just give lay it at His feet and go have fun!” Now fun might not always be the way we feel, but it sure is nice to lighten our load and give it up to Him. A lesson both Mary Flynn and I are learning together…at 2 and 32 (sounds better than 35)! J

Monday, August 12, 2013

What in the world am I doing writing a blog. I am ordinary, but I can be used. For years, God has been telling me to write. Well, I've always enjoyed writing and talking (too much most of the time) -- and can be kinda funny at times. I am going to try to use my ordinary, sin-filled, fun, not-so-perfect, joy-filled, crazy busy, love-filled, wouldn't-change-it-for-anything LIFE!

I am listening to what God has to tell me and sharing it here as my journal. Hopefully I will stick with it this time, since my last post was 10 months ago!!