Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My thoughts - take them or leave them!

I’ve been mulling a blog post for a while now and even posted one for about 24 hours and took it down a while back.  The Lord is working in our lives in such a tremendous way right now doing things that I never thought possible.  But, for our family’s sake, we feel it best to keep those cards close to the vest for a while!  What I will share is that we have a beautiful little girl who came to live with us on October 29th and with whom we have completely fallen in love!  She is perfectly suited to our family and we are so thankful to have her, for however long we may get to keep her! 

 But, that’s not what today’s post is about.  The last post you see when you scroll down was written after a tragedy occurred in our small town.  Writing is cathartic for me…it helps me to get everything out and down on paper.  Lots of times I write random e-mails never putting someone in the “to” line…just to get it out.  (Tell me I’m not the only one, please!)  I’m sitting here now, hoping that writing will help me process and figure out what’s going on.

Of course, this time the trigger for my need to write was prompted by another display of the Evil with which our world is inundated.  Last Friday the world was once again reminded that when Evil is left unchecked, it will devour, just as 1 Peter 5:8 says it will.  Almost immediately, as is human nature, people were asking two questions:

1.       Why did this happen?
2.       How do we prevent it from happening again?

I submit that there is one reason and one reason alone that this happened.  And, unfortunately, it’s not a shock to me why it happened.  It happened because man is fallible.  It happened because man is sinful.  It happened because man is not inherently good.  No, in fact, I believe it to be the opposite.  Man is inherently evil and is born with a sin nature.  There are two individuals who were not created with sin nature and by one of their actions, sin entered this world.  (Romans 5:12)  I caution you not to read that statement and assume that I’m saying all men would act on this evil nature.  But, what I am saying is that but for God’s grace, we ALL are capable of such destruction.   1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that any temptation you have ever had is common to ALL men.  So if the Bible says that all temptations I’ve ever had are common to all men, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same logic could be applied in the reverse…that all temptation any other man has ever felt is common to my nature as well? 

So why do some act on that temptation and others don’t?  Darkness – that’s all I can figure.  All the psychiatrists and drugs in the world cannot overcome true Darkness.  Darkness cannot be measured on a scale.  It cannot be “treated” out of a person.  Sure, it can be stayed.  It can be mitigated to a point.  But we are foolish to believe that our worldly efforts can drive out Satan and His desire to steal, kill and destroy.  Our pastor addressed it this way and it was eye opening to me.  We push God out of our lives, out of our society because of our fleshly desires to partake in “misdemeanor” sins.  We (and yes, I am using the word WE…including myself here) desire to act on fleshly impulses and enjoy sin for a season.  That is our nature.  We push God aside making excuses and justifying our actions vowing to make time for God tomorrow.  Then, we ask God, “where were you?” when we commit those sins that WE would consider to be felonies.  I am not of the opinion that this was planned, sent or sanctioned by God – and the discussion of why bad things happen to ‘good’ people is not something I wish to give my opinion on right now.  However, if we wish to blame anyone, let’s blame the author of confusion.  Let’s blame the one who Isaiah describes as weakening the nations.  (Isaiah 14:12)  Sure, we can try to blame upbringing.  We can try to blame mental illness.  We can try to blame any number of issues – all of which may have real merit!  Ultimately, though, NONE of this is God’s plan or desire for our life.  There is one who takes delight in evil and who uses His power to confuse and confound and tempt.  The sin, as my pastor stated, will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay. 

As there is one reason this happened – there is only One Way to make sure it won’t happen again.  Jesus said I am THE WAY.  (John 14:6)  And yes, I know that He was talking about being the only way to get to Heaven.  I know I’m using that in an unusual context.  But if we think for one minute that any of our worldly actions (better psychiatrists, more drugs, more locks on doors, gun control) will get us out of this mess and prevent another tragedy from happening then we are sadly mistaken.  Just as 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that temptation is common to all men, it ALSO states that God is faithful and that He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but that He will make a way to escape.  He has provided us that Way, that Truth and that Life.  A few months ago, when teaching a bunch of 1st-3rd graders, our lesson focused on Ephesians 6 and the armour of God.  I taught the children the lesson and tried to make it interesting by really focusing when it says to stand against the WILES of the Devil.  (Picture me making myself look like a fool when discussing the WIIIILLLLLEEESSSS of the Devil)  The chapter continues saying “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.”  What is the armour of God?  It is armour God gives us to protect not against principalities and powers, but against the “rulers of darkness in this world.”  It is the breastplate of righteousness and the sword of the Spirit.  (The Bible)  Until we (collective) humble ourselves at the feet of the Almighty begging His forgiveness and inviting Him back into our lives, we can’t prevent Satan from having His way.  Matthew 16:18 says that only a life built upon a Rock can prevail against the gates of Hell. 

To whom is that Rock offered as a foundation?  There’s one simple answer for that.  “For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His Only Begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16 – I don’t see any restrictions on that, do you?  We are all sinful.  (Romans 5:12)  The wages of sin is death – eternal separation from God.  (Romans 6:23)  Jesus’ blood is the only payment for sin.  (1 John 9:17 and Hebrews 9:22)  All we have to do is accept that He died for our sins and accept His sacrifice as full and final payment for those sins.  Please visit http://ardenroadbaptist.com/salvation1.html for a more thorough and much better thought-out response than I’ve provided here!  Or – call me!

And, lest ye think I am coming from a “high and mighty” place, I would like to once again emphasize that all throughout this I’ve used the word “WE” – I am a sinner.  I am capable of the most heinous sin.  I sin every day.  But, I am forgiven – Jesus lives in my heart and by the Grace of God Himself – I have found the escape route offered!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Paralyzed is how I'm feeling today.  Numb from raw emotions still gnawing and swirling in my heart and in my head.  I've heard people say that coming face-to-face with your own mortality will shake you to your core, but I've never understood that...until now. 

Tuesday morning, I received a phone call that absolutely rocked my world.  My sweet husband called me and started a story about two of our classmates, but was fumbling through his story and stumbling on his words, trying to relay to me the awful news that one of them had been tragically murdered the night before.  I knew something awful must have happened by the tone and pace of Thomas' speech, but never in a million years did I expect to hear that a good man had been murdered while protecting his home and family.  And, not only is that tragic, but the fact that he left behind a beautiful wife and two adorable little boys brought me literally to my knees, in my office, in broad daylight.  All I could say was "Oh my gosh...Oh my gosh" over and over and over again.  So, I did the best thing I knew to do and prayed for peace, for strength and for comfort from the Only One who can adequately address those needs in such a terrible situation.

Then, today, I attended the funeral of that man with my husband and was absolutely shaken to my innermost being.  The man that died and his sweet wife have a story which could've been taken from the story of my life with Thomas.  High school sweethearts who fell in love younger than most would think possible, who stayed in love until the very end and who had beautiful children together.  Even the stories told today were the same as ours.  Just switch the names and put our faces where theirs are in prom pictures and football game victory photos.  We have the same memories from the same time.  But oh, how 11 years later can make such a difference.  I get to go home to my husband and my little boy tonight, sleeping next to the love of my life, feeling his warmth and loving embrace.  She...does not. 

To say that it's not fair would be, in essence, questioning God's plan which I hope I never do.  However, I can't, for all the life I have in me, wrap my head around it.  I can't imagine, and am terrified when I try, what it would be like if her experience now was to be replaced with my face and my name like so many of our other experiences could be.  I have a husband who has worked to organize our life, provided for Malachi and I not only for the here and now, but for the "just in case" as well.  And while that's all responsible and gives me so so much comfort and peace, all the preparation in the world cannot replace a hug, a kiss, an embrace or just "being."  The depth of my heartache cannot possibly be adequately described, nor can the depth of my prayer for peace and comfort. 

I do know that God is in control, just as He is in every other situation and that when He says it's time, that's it.  There's no arguing, there's no fighting it.  You better be ready.  Your loved ones better know deep in their souls how much you love them.  You better have lived a life of obedience to God, one that will leave a lasting and eternal testimony.  And, you better make sure that you have given your heart over to Christ and asked Him to come in and save your soul.  Because, you never know when that midnight call will come from Christ that it's time to go.  Will you go Home with Him when He calls?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part II

So where I left off, Thomas and I were driving into Burbank to pick up my mom, dad, Malachi and Kadi Jo. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and picked them up at the airport to head straight to Lancaster for that evening's baccalaureate services! The kids were fantastic on the trip and received many compliments from other passengers on both of their flights!  The next morning, my mom, Dad and Logan all got up and went off to Commencement while Kadi Jo, Malachi, Thomas and I took our time and headed to Downtown Disney for lunch!  It's an outdoor mall right outside Disneyland and when we found out there was a Rainforest Cafe there, we knew we had to take the kiddos for lunch!!

Here's my handsome big and little man getting ready to walk around and head to lunch!

Kadi Jo and Malachi at the entrance to Downtown Disney!!

Rainforest Cafe - which Malachi was NOT a fan of!!!  Those moving animals freaked him out a bit!

Buzz and Woody!!!

Because they were both so stinkin' adorable in their new mouse ears...they needed ice cream!  (We may or may not have washed off in one of the fountains afterwards!)

We headed to our hotel around 3:00 and met up with Lolli, Pop and Logan to head to Huntington Beach!!  It was a little overcast and chilly, but the kids had SO much fun!!!

That water was COLD!!  Lolli playing with the kiddos!

Lolli, Pop, Malachi and Kadi Jo!

My parents watched the kiddos for a little while so Thomas and I could go for a sunset walk along the beach!  It was so nice!!

Malachi finally bundled up after all the playing in that cold Pacific water!

We still have sand in our car after that adventure!  haha  But, it was a blast and the kiddos had SO much fun splashing around and building sand castles!!  We got back to the hotel, shoved some food down our throats and slept that night in preparation for our next, and the most amazing adventure, DISNEYLAND!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

What happens in...

VEGAS!  Last week, Thomas and I had the opportunity to spend some fantastic time just the two of us on the first leg of our 2012 Vacation Extravaganza!!  We were headed out there because my little brother has completed his one year Bible Certification at West Cost Baptist College in Lancaster, CA and we wanted to be there to celebrate with him and drive him back here for the summer!  So, we drove out on Sunday to Las Vegas and spent Sunday night, all day Monday and Monday night there before heading into CA to the airport pick up my parents, Malachi and our "niece" Kadi Jo for the rest of the week!  Because I took approximately 260 pictures, I'll just post about the first leg of our vacation...Las Vegas!  We had been warned about the nature of "Sin City" and knew (we thought) what to expect.  But even still, it was more than we were comfortable with.  Suffice it to say that from the hours of 8:00a.m. to 4:00p.m., it was a lovely place.  After that, had we not had a reason to be out (to see the Phantom of the Opera), we probably would have holed up in our hotel room!  Definitely not our speed and way more in your face than we ever expected!  We had our fill and it will be a good long while before we go back...if ever!  (I'd be happy to explain exactly why if you're interested...just shoot me an e-mail!)  However, as I said, we are very thankful for the time we had together and genuinely had a good time looking through all of the hotels and seeing the sights!

As I said, we left Sunday morning around 5:00a.m. to head out and drove the whole way to Las Vegas...which landed us there around 5:00p.m. their time! THIS is what my bed looked like on Saturday night!  Not only did we have to pack for ourselves for a week, but we had to pack Malachi for Saturday night, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for staying with Lolli and Pop.  Then, we had to pack his bag for the time he would be with us, from Tuesday afternoon through Saturday night!  So, yes, it was a little chaotic getting everything together!  I'm happy to report, though, that I only forgot my razor and picked one up at the Walgreens near our hotel in Vegas! 
Our first major stop prior to Vegas was the Hoover Dam and we are SO glad we did! It is absolutely amazing to me that such an amazing marvel was constructed from 1931-1936 without the major machinery and technology we have at our hands today! Over 100 men died in its construction (though none are buried in the concrete as is rumored) and cost $49 Million to build in 1931 dollars! Since September 11, you can no longer travel between Arizona and Nevada on the dam. A new bridge has been built apart from it for security reasons and that's the bridge you'll see pictured!

The Dam itself!  The white area along the bottom of the rocks on the right side of the picture shows how low Lake Mead's levels are right now because of the extreme drought situation! 

My hunky hubby and I in front of the dam!  (For the record...although I LOVE rollercoasters...I did NOT love being this high!) 

How high were we you may ask?  THIS high!  This picture was taken from the dam itself as we drove across and prepared to turn around!

Finally, we arrived in Las Vegas and, after a brief respite to clean up and change clothes, we headed out for our first night!  From our room we could see the Eiffel Tower of the Paris Hotel!  (This picture was taken at street level)

Here I am waiting to utilize the public transportation system to get to breakfast on Monday!  (Eating on strip is RIDICULOUSLY expensive...so we headed down to Main Street for a $6.99 buffet!)

My sweet hubby standing in front of the New York skyline!  I just LOVE the juxtaposition of the New York sights with the palm trees!

This was a beautiful indoor garden area in one of the hotels!  I think it might have been the Palazzo?

Of course - no trip to Las Vegas would be complete without a trip to M&M world!! 

Thomas eating at the Cheesecake Factory before we went to see...

The Phantom of the Opera!  Now THAT was incredible!  An amazing experience and one we're SO glad we splurged on! 

The next morning, before leaving for California, we headed over to the Pawn Shop made famous on  History Channel's "Pawn Stars!"  Behind me you'll see a "WT" brand from West Texas State University (now WTAMU) that was pawned a few years ago by some WT professors!  I attended there for 2.5 years before we went to Texas Tech!

And here's my husband in the signature "Pawn Stars" pose!

And, while we were sad to see our time together end, NOTHING could prepare us for leg two of our journey...Huntington Beach and DISNEYLAND!!!

To Be Continued...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

Our "Resurrection Sunday" experience was unlike any other we've ever had because, for the first time in our lives, we were actually able to host a family dinner at our own home!!  It was a wonderful (stressful) experience trying to get our living room painted/decorated somewhat before family came over!  We spent the 7-10 days before painting our hearts out in our living room (with a vaulted ceiling) and culminated that time by cleaning our carpets!  It was INCREDIBLY special to feel proud of our new house and create our new tradition of where we want to take Easter Pictures of our little family knowing that it'll be SO awesome to see how we all change throughout the years against the same backdrop! 

Here's the kids on Good Friday after they colored their eggs!

The Kids' Table!

The adults' table!

My Sweet Family (And Bob the Tomato...that's a whole 'nother post!)  This is in front of my Mom's fireplace!  We had to drop Malachi off so we could go early to our special Resurrection Sunday Choir Practice!

I know I'm biased (and I know it's okay), but we sure do have a beautiful little boy!

 Can't wait to see how tall he is next year next to that giant Double T!  (Yes I can wait actually!  Can't he just stay this little forever?)

SWEET SWEET!!  On another note...this picture sure does point out just how great my husband is looking!  He's only 3.5 pounds away from his first goal weight!  WAY TO GO Honey!!

I'm telling you, I live with the best looking father/son duo there is!

My sweet handsome and I!

My sweetHEART and I!

Man those kids sure have grown since last year!  But you can't tell me we haven't gotten our money's worth out of those buckets!!  

And, because it seems like there's a picture of my boy crying EVERY year for some reason, I couldn't forget to include this one!  (He was crying because Karter found the prize egg first!)

Here's a sneak peak of our newly decorated living room!  I have a project (pinterest...where else) to work on for our large wall, but I'm VERY pleased with how everything has turned out so far!!

Finally, an update on everything else in our lives!  We have stopped trying (medically) to get pregnant for a while!  We just needed a break and it has been VERY good for our sanity and our marriage to do so!  My wonderful husband has lost a TON of weight and is looking GREAT!  And, to top it off, we are going to California in 10 days to see my brother graduate with his Bible Certificate, then go to Huntington Beach THEN TO DISNEYLAND!!!  So, I'm sure I'll have lots of fun pictures to share of that trip!  Thomas and I get to drive out a few days early to go to Las Vegas and we are SO excited for some fun couple time!  We are going to see the Phantom of the Opera and are generally looking forward to just some quiet time! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's April so...Christmas Post? SURE...Why Not?

I can't believe I haven't posted since December. I think it's one of those things that the longer you go, the harder it is to get back into it!! But, here we go! I'll keep it short since I've got some CUTE pictures to share! But, Christmas 2011 was just wonderful! We had my baby brother home from Bible College in California so that was great! It SNOWED like crazy and was just perfect for Christmas! And, although much of our extra money before Christmas was spent on fertility treatments (which didn't work), we were still able to have a wonderful Christmas Day remembering that Christmas isn't about what we can give or get...it's about the Giver of All Things Good!! And now, to the part you all care about...(if there's anybody that is still reading here!)

The Annual Happy Birthday Jesus Cake Lick-a-Thon! (L to R Karter 7, Robert 7, Malachi 3, Kadi 5 and Me...29 and holding!)

Reindeer food (oatmeal with glitter!)

Raider (mine) and Magnum (my Mom's!)  BEST BUDS!

This next series of pictures is all of the kids watching personalized Santa videos and their subsequent reactions!  (Lolli is thrown in some of these as well!)

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Santa?  Is that you?

And, it looks like Santa came through on the train set!  WAY TO GO SANTA!

Raider and Malachi...dreaming of sugarplums in the floor of the guest room!

Looking at his Santa gifts for the first time!!

 His favorite candy...and one which he asks for constantly...Air Heads!

 Yep - that's about right!

 The boy can't color ANYTHING without that tongue hangin' out!