Thursday, March 24, 2011

Diary of a Mad White Momma

And by mad - I mean absolutely crazy.  I thought I would give you the day in the life gone wrong but trying to do right.  There is a reason why the following paragraph runs together.  I started leading Esther and wanted to have a mini Purim celebration for the kickoff.  So here goes....  This is yesterday, March 23. 

Wake up.  Get out of bed ~6:55ish.  Did not do my daily bible reading right away.  My son is up and I hear my baby girl making noise.  I turn on the TV for my son.  I get in the shower.  I get dressed.  Get the baby, change her, nurse her.  Make lunch for my oldest two.  Wake up my oldest daughter.  Feed them breakfast.  Dress them.  Decide to attempt my daily bible reading.  Turn off the TV.  Get shoes on the kids.  Get back packs on the kids.  Take everyone to the car.  Buckle the baby in.  Wait for my son to buckle himself in.  Running behind on schedule.  Drive to the preschool and drop the kids off.  Realize I haven't eaten breakfast and drive to a drive through.  Eat and drive home.  Put the baby in the crib for a nap.  Finish my bible reading.  Look at the computer - facebook, bloggy stuff.  Back and forth emails about a meeting.  Text a friend about a meeting and remeeting.  Write an email about the bible study I started leading last night.  Make a worksheet for it.  Wake the baby.  Nurse her.  Go back to church.  Once again I am late.  Meet with a friend for a talk and reconciliation.  Feed baby cheerios and chase her around while we talk.  Talk on the cell phone and counsel as I drive to Homewood to pick up baklava, pita bread, and spanakopita for bible study.  Get something to drink.  Drive back to the church to pick up the kids.  At the end of the carpool line to pickup the kids.  Go home.  Feed baby.  Put baby down for another nap.  Kids play on the back porch.  See that the cookies I was going to make require overnight dough refrigeration.  Decide not to make them.  Decide to make them anyway.  Make the dough.  Refrigerate it.  Work on prayer sheet for Kurdish women.  Find maps of Persian empire, modern day Kurdish area, and modern day Iraq, Iran, etc.  Print worksheets.  Get dough out of refrigerator.  Roll it out.  Cut cookie circles out.  Place jelly in the circles.  Shape into triangle.  Repeat several times.  Cook cookies.  See that they totally fell flat instead of doing what they were supposed to since I did not follow the directions.  Let them cool.  Put the spanakopita in the oven.  Put my bible study materials into a bag.  Cut pita bread into triangles.  Get baby up.  Say hello to my husband.  Nurse baby.  Wrap up spanakopita.  Wrap pita bread.  Put baklava into bag.  Box up cookies.  Put into bag, along with hummus, pita bread, and spanakopita.  Drive to church for a meeting.  Once again - late.  Put stuff in bible study room.  Put stuff in conference room.  Get a cup of water and gather plates, napkins, and forks for food for bible study.  Take them to study room.  Go back to conference room for meeting.  Meet.  Leave early for bible study.  Go to the bathroom.  Hang out waiting for people to arrive.  Get video ready.  Have bible study where hardly anyone eats anything.  Watch Esther video.  Pray.  Depart.  Get video out.  Clean and pack up food.  Drink water.  Go home.  Eat a spanakopita.  Nurse baby.  Put her and oldest daughter into bed.  Come back downstairs.  Look at bloggy things, and write a guest blog on adoption you'll soon see.  Email it to appropriate folks.  Do more bloggy stuff.  My husband says he's going to bed, so I close the computer, and follow suit.

I was going the entire day - I didn't even eat lunch or dinner all because I was preparing for a bible study celebration in which no one celebrated.  And I spent no time at all with my kids or hubby.  Me thinks I will not do that again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Me and You

I've been doing some thinking about you and about myself.  I have been struggling.  Before I spoke at the women's retreat in January, I began seeing posts on facebook about coffee.  Over and over again, it was things about coffee.  Coffee will be in heaven.  Blahdy blahdy blah.  Coffee.  I don't drink coffee.  And honestly, I don't want to start drinking coffee.  I am just too sensitive to caffeine.

Our women's retreat was about The Sacred Echo, basically about how God will use repeated messages and things to help you find your way and His plan for you.  So after the women's retreat, I was poking around the blog world.  Pastor Calvin had mentioned a blog post on the Valleydale blog about journaling.  I wanted to find out more about this blog post, and I found that the website was Coffee with Christ.  Once I saw the blog name, I knew I was to contact the blog manager, Nikol, as coffee had been echoed over and over to me.

I began to think maybe I was to write for her blog or something.  Then I thought maybe I was to write and speak with her.  And honestly I have no idea what our partnership is to look like at this point, only that God purposefully placed us together.  In the mean time, He began speaking to me and telling me that I was to begin in ministry - to write (which I was already doing here) and to speak (which I would prefer not to do.)

His call to begin doing all of these things was confirmed through Scripture He would bring to my mind and through our David bible study.   But I began struggling - surely not me, Lord!  I think I was my own worst enemy.  Old insecurities popped back up.

Tonight I am embracing the call.  Earlier tonight we went to Chuy's for my birthday.  I looked up and saw this:

The round picture in the upper left looked like an optical illusion like this:
When I first I looked at the restaurant photo, it looked like a red blob, but as I looked further I saw that it was really a photo of a woman.  As I stared at it, God brought to mind this verse:

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

God said to me, "Jamie, you look at yourself from a distance and you see a blob.  You are unable to see what I see.  I see a beautiful woman who I have created with a special purpose and plan.  My call for you is real.  I see the real you that you are unable to see."

And as we drove home my husband looked at me and told me that I grow more beautiful with age.  I don't feel more beautiful today than I did yesterday, but not only did I know my husband was speaking something he believes to be true, but words that God believes to be true, because I am more mature today in my walk with Christ than I was yesterday, and Christ finds that beautiful.  

My friend, if you struggle with God's plan for you - He sees you as you are, as He fully created you, and He sees every bit of what you are capable of.  You may see a blob and He sees something complete and beautiful.

Nikol's blog is about relationship and hearing God speak.  She meets with Christ by sitting down and having coffee with Him each morning.  I found this idea so simplistic, but it has reminded me that I take my relationship with God for granted in some ways.  God and I are old friends, and I have heard His voice in many ways at many different times in my life.  When I write my blog posts, I am taking you into the ways that God works to speak to me.  Through nature, through emails, through dreams, through the TV, through children, through people, through His Word hidden in my heart, through a picture on the wall.  Everything is usable for God to speak to You.  The problem is most of us do not listen.  If at the end of my days I am only recognized for listening, then listening to His precious voice will have been a truly great thing.  It is because of Nikol's simple idea that I have been made to recognize that many of you do not truly hear God's voice.  You can know all about God, but until you begin to meet with Him each day and listen to Him, I promise you, you are missing out on something you are going to want, more than just knowledge of God, but a genuine relationship with the Highest of all Beings - the One True God - the Holy of Holies.  God does not speak to each one of us in the same way.  No, He speaks to us as we are uniquely made.  He uses a variety of ways and techniques.

Friend, what is God trying to say to you today?  Stop, Look, and Listen.  He is speaking.

You Are Not A Lie

Click here to read a great post about lies and how you are not the sum of them.

Vlog #2 - Psalm 139

The microphone did not pick up the last minute or so of whatever I was saying. And for whatever reason my voice does not coordinate with the video. I hope to figure out the technical details soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Break 2011

I have enjoyed my spring break immensely. I LOVE having all my kiddos at home. So, what did we do this week?

Monday,we pulled out the couch bed and watched a movie.  Then we went to visit my mom.  We had lunch at a strange chinese restaurant where the tea pitcher served me some tea-grown mold, which the manager insisted was an onion.  We might have believed him if he had said "mushroom."

My 11 month old eating cheerios

Watching a movie and eating popcorn on the foldout bed.

Dancing on the back porch

Princess and Speed Racer stayed the night with my mom.  She did not have a place for both of them to sleep, so Speed Racer slept on the floor.  I couldn't wait to pick them back up on Tuesday, and we went exploring, and then came back home.  They found sleeping on the floor to be a novelty and decided to sleep on the floor the rest of the week.

Princess on the floor - looks cozy.

Speed Racer on the floor

Doodlebug safe and sound in her crib with her favorite blankie
Wednesday we had some sweet church friends come over.  Six kids and two moms are just about more than we could handle.  But Doodlebug napped a lot of the time.  The big kids played, and we tried to entertain the almost two year old to the best of our abilities.  He is very active.  Everybody went outside for a while, and then everybody was hungry at once and we quickly worked to get the food ready for 6 hungry little mouths.  After lunch, Princess led her friends into folly by drawing all over their faces and bodies, and then our friends had to go home.  :(

That evening was a very stressful evening for me.  I guess all good mommies lose their sanity sometimes, and I am trying to wean my sweet DoodleBug.  I know everyone has an opinion about nursing and I'm not here to judge or give mine - only to say that nursing has been very sweet for me with all my babies and I am less ready to give it up this time than in previous times.

Thursday we went to visit my grandparents.  That was a great trip as we got to have great conversation with my grandmother and got to see my aunt as well.  We had grandmother's home cooking and biscuits - a real treat.  And of course, she had ice cream for the kids.  When we left, DoodleBug was super tired and even Speed Racer fell asleep in the car which is very rare.  We came home and rested.  Daniel was supposed to be out late last night, so we rented a movie and stayed up a little later than usual.

Today, Friday, Daniel took off of work and we went on an outing to Oak Mountain State Park.  We had a blast.  We went on the Treetop Nature Trail and saw several birds - something we like to do every time we go to the state park.  Then we found our favorite spot for a picnic and ate our picnic lunch.  The kids could barely sit still for admiring the water right next to us.  Then we walked over to the beach area.  I had anticipated letting the kids get their feet wet, but I did not throw towels or swimsuits in the car.  Daniel was Mr. Mom this morning and he didn't think of it either.  They managed to get wet from toe to chest and it resulted in an interesting car ride home.

Tonight we had steak, potatoes, and asparagus for dinner.  We decided to give DoodleBug a chunk of the steak.  She loved it, but could not really eat it seeing as she only has 2 tiny teeth.  Surprisingly, she did manage to take several bites off of it, but we didn't let her swallow them.  They were still too big!

First taste of steak

sucking on the juice
DoodleBug has been saying words lately.  She says:  mama, dada, book, up, uh-oh, and "mo" for more.  She signs "more," "all finished," and "eat."  She has started cruising around the furniture and is pretty good at communicating her wants and needs.  She even dances to the music.  She is a very good imitator and pretty much does whatever she sees us doing, which means if one of us is dancing so is she.  She is generally very happy and laid back.

I am one blessed mama. 

Couponing Discussion

Check out the coupon discussion where Tara gives my thoughts their own post.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Faith Story - God's Friendship with Me


I grew up with a sense of aloneness, but I was 4 or 5 years old when I made my first friend.  When I was 6, I moved away and I never saw her again.  I grew up in a small town in Alabama where everyone knew one another, and I had about 2 or 3 closer friends off and on throughout elementary and middle school.  When I was in 10th grade I transferred high schools but lived in the same small town, and although I tried to remain in contact with my old friends, we grew out of touch.  I made 2 new friends for my sophomore and junior years of school.  We were close, but when they disrespected my mom and granny on a beach trip, our friendship ended.  My senior year I was close to no one in particular, and it was the year I joined the church and was baptized.  I had asked Jesus into my heart many times before that, and even though we were Baptist, I still sorta felt like I had to be baptized to be saved.  Needless to say, an 18 year old kid who regularly attended church but was unbaptized was rare.  Baptism was, however, an act of obedience that spurred on tremendous growth.  After I graduated high school, I moved to Auburn University and majored in engineering.  I grew an enormous amount spiritually while I was in college.  I have always been extremely socially awkward.  If you imagine the shyest person you’ve ever known and then add a little bit more awkwardness, that was me.  I don’t imagine myself quite so shy anymore, but one never really knows how they are perceived.

When I was at Auburn, I asked a girl in the dorm room across from mine to be my prayer partner.  She and I became best friends and considered ourselves kindred spirits.  I had several friends, but only a small amount of close friends.  I was still socially awkward and even though I got involved with the Baptist Campus Ministries, I found it very hard to break out of my comfort zone when it came to developing friendships.  Sometimes just attending a Tuesday Night Together praise and worship meeting was more than enough stretching for my comfort zone.  However, for the most part, the friends I made in college are life long friends.  I did summer missions my sophomore and junior years of college.  During this time, God and I were tight.  I loved the adventures I was having.  I often felt God’s leading and prompting even in others, and felt one with Him in heart and in soul especially during these times on mission.  At the end of my sophomore trip God clearly said to me, “Follow me and you will receive.”  At the time, I foolishly thought he meant a husband.

I finished college and after I graduated, I could not find a job right away.  As I said before, I was socially awkward and therefore I gave a horrible interview.   In finding a job, I was biding my time until I made enough money to go to seminary and be a missionary or something in ministry.  I tried my best to move anywhere else besides home or anywhere else in Alabama, but I got no bites from the resumes I sent out.  No one wanted to hire me, and I moved home for 6 months before I started working for Southern Company.  Six months later, I decided to move into an apartment in Birmingham.  I made work friends but they were all male.  Then my best friend from college decided to move to Birmingham and we became roommates. 

I was extremely lonely during that time of singleness and transition into adulthood on my own, and it was the darkest time of my life spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and even physically.  Shortly after I moved, I started going to Valleydale (my home church now) and was involved with the singles ministry.  Connecting was hard, though, because I was depressed and lost. 

While I was in Birmingham, everything fell apart in my life - my parents were thinking of divorcing, the crush I had did not feel for me what I had hoped he felt, my job was crappy, my best friend at the time had to pull away to protect herself, she eventually moved 6 hours away, and nothing was the same.  I was crushed - I never expected to feel pain from the people I had loved and trusted so much.  Many choices were made that showed me just where my place was in their lives, and it was not were I thought it would be.  I didn’t have anyone to lean on, and even God seemed to have abandoned me.  People would say, “Have faith,” but Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”  The verse goes on to say that “anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists.”  I never stopped believing in His existence, but I would get stuck in my thinking that I was faithless and could never please Him.

In my darkest time of despair, I cried out to God telling him that I needed to know that He cared.  I was not suicidal, but I wanted to die and I was extremely angry with God for seemingly deserting me.  Afterall, didn’t His word say He would never leave me nor forsake me?  I would read His word, but I still felt empty and could no longer find Him on His pages.  It felt as though His Holy Spirit had departed from me.  I was in a pit and all of the fail-safes - my friends and family -  that were supposed to support me in my time of need were no longer there.  The day after I cried out, a co-worker sent me an email with Eph 3:16-19, which says, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” 

Before the season of darkness, I knew God intimately.  I felt Him moving and often hard His voice.  But after the darkness, I knew that I knew that I knew with no lingering doubts that He is exactly who He said He is.  He is good, and He is good all the time even when I could not hear His voice.  He taught me what 2 Timothy 2:13 means, “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful for He cannot disown Himself” and He was living inside of me.  My prayer during that time was from Psalm 51, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, You, God, will not despise.”  And even though I didn’t ask for friendships during that time, he brought me 2 co-worker friends - one of whom had shared the verses with me.

Over time, I begin to get out of the pit.  But my friends jobs changed, and I no longer got to see them regularly.  God took me on a different path than I expected as far as the mission field was concerned, and I got married.  My husband and I were in a small group at church, but I did not develop friendships with my small group like I wanted and desired.  I felt in a sense that I had to be fake, because when I mentioned the darkest parts of me, I didn’t feel that I received support.  I kept trudging on and believing and trusting God anyhow.  I grew enough to realize that I should pray for deep friendships.  And then God sent me a friend at work and a new friend I met at bible college.  We got pregnant and had babies around the same time.  But by the end of my pregnancy, I no longer worked at Southern Company or went to bible college. 

I became a stay at home mom, and it was very lonely because I wasn't around any other stay at home moms.  After we had our babies and they began to grow and change, my communication with my two friends again trickled off.  God continued to refine me during that time.  He spoke to me again and showed me that when He had promised me back in college that if I would follow Him, I would receive Him - it was the promise of Himself always to meHe was jealous for me and would not stand for all the other people I had in the past set up as little gods, who I had expected to save me in times of hardship and despair.  He was good enough to cut them off for a time and allow Himself to be the only God that was in my life.  I did not always appreciate this though and wanted God to allow me to be in community.

So again I prayed for friendships.  Again, Daniel and I joined another small group here.  Toward the end of the life span of our small group I started developing close friendships with two ladies.  But just as I was starting to get close to them, God moved one family away and He called the other family to leave our home church. 

What I have often wanted from relationships, besides God-centeredness, is accessibilityI find comfort in knowing the details of people’s lives and want to know that people care about the same details of my life.  I am still friends with my best friend from college.  My parents did not divorce, though my dad did pass away shortly after that time of darkness, but my relationship with those people changed.  Relationships have been to some degree restored.  However, they were no longer readily accessible or able to share all of life’s details, and I no longer expect them to be little gods for me, and I cannot return to my old ways of relating to them.  God, however, is always accessible and He knows all the details, even keeping track with how many hairs I have on my head.  I still hunger for deep close friendships built on biblical foundations with people I see regularly, but for now,  I see that God has brought me many friendships that look a lot differently than I expected or wanted.

I don’t have friends that I call or talk to on a regular basis.  When I am in crises, I don’t have one go to person to call for wise counsel, but I have God Himself, and time and time again, He says, “Am I enough?”  The Message version of 2 Cor 5:20 says, “Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”  Though I long for depth and intimacy in my friendships and a friend like Jonathon was to David, God has provided many friends with whom I go deeper with, but they are no longer small in number nor am I extremely intimate with any one person on a regular basis.  I fully believe He doesn’t give me exactly what I crave because I cannot yet be trusted not to make little gods out of the people He provides.  What I do know is that I now see each one of these precious friends as the body of Christ, each one serving its own purpose at the appropriate time.  It is beautiful and I am in awe of God’s love for me, for who am I that He would love me so?  What I can also say is that since I shared my testimony in January, God has begun showing His faithfulness specifically to me in the area of friendship in incredible ways.

Who or what do you think your little gods are?  What are the things you make bigger and better than God and don’t realize it?  What do I think God would want you to take away from my story?  I think He wants you to know that you are valued.  You are treasured.  You are loved.  And that His love for you is deeper and wider and bigger than you’ve ever begun to imagine.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Project Simplify: My Wardrobe

I have been decluttering for at least two years now, if not longer, but I started really hitting my home hard in preparation for DoodleBug's arrival and presence in our home.  She's been here almost 11 months now.  And most of you know that I lost about 40 pounds after her arrival.  I would really still like to lose a few more pounds, but most of my clothing no longer fit as it was too big or it fit improperly.  When I saw Simple Mom was going to do Project Simplify, I wanted to jump on board.  I bought her book Organized Simplicity back in January.  I stopped reading it for a while as I thought about our family's purpose.  I was reminded of this book when a new friend said she was reading it and that I should simplify, so I was excited to find Simple Mom leading Project Simplify this very week.  Living simply, according to Simple Mom, is "living holistically with your life's purpose."  Really you cannot live simply if you do not know your life's purpose.  Here is our rough draft of our family's purpose:

As a family, we want to:
Glorify God in all we say, do, and are.

We will…
  • Be good stewards of the gifts God’s given us, including the gift of our bodies and souls.
  • Be kind and compassionate toward one another, speaking with gentleness and respect.
  • Have fun together as we continually learn new things.
  • Seek to share God’s love within the family as well as with people around us.
    • This means we will place God first.
    • We will seek to allow Him to prioritize everything else.
  • Live simply such that our things do not weigh us down.
  • Dare to express the Father’s creativity as He’s gifted us with as individuals 

This week the hot spot was our wardrobes.  Even though it will not appear as though I regularly clean out my closet, I do, but I had held onto some old clothing through all the babies and whatnot.  This time I decided it was time to let go of those things I had held onto that no longer fit.

Our closet - BEFORE
Our closet - AFTER.  My hubby hasn't done his half yet.
After - new space

T shirt drawer - over stuffed BEFORE (I don't even wear many T-shirts)
T-shirt drawer After
Loungewear / PJ's BEFORE

Loungewear / PJ's / Swimwear AFTER!
This is the summer drawer - overstuffed.  Hard to open and close.  BEFORE

Summer drawer - AFTER
The donation pile - 2 bags overflowing

Friday, March 4, 2011

Laying down the insecurity


My biggest struggle.

At least once a year I worry about whether anyone is reading my little blog.

This year I worry about who IS reading my little blog.  I wonder if my blog keeps me at an arm's length, and it scares me a bit. 

And the Rob Bell controversy has not helped.  I think it is overblown.  I haven't read anything he's ever written, but I know from watching the video for his new book and others that I tend to have a similar teaching style as him, albeit certainly not as dynamic, but similar in my thought process.  Whether or not he turns out to be a universalist or not, I feel I must heed caution.

Recently, God's been working on me and I feel called out.  There is more to share on that, but not on this blog yet.  Along with God's calling, the enemy is prepared to snatch it up and weaken me.

As a messy human being, I do not always feel secure in my relationships with other people, real life people.  I imagine that they think of me all of the things I do not want to be, some of which may be true. 

This week is WorldReach at our church - a conference for missions to encourage us to be missionaries in our daily lives.  I am broken.  Broken for the lost, for the hurting, for the hopeless.  I've been stewing - what do I matter?  Would I somehow be able to reach a lost person through this blog?  Would they get anything out of it?  Am I wasting my time?  Do my friends at church secretly cringe for fear that I will be using them as a blog illustration?  When I smile, why does it seem no one smiles back?  Am I just too stinking different from the world?  Then - there is this question of people who've been hurt by the church.  People who were not handled with truth and love.  Can God use me in that type of situation?  Does God really want to use me?   Can someone who is just a person really be used? 

The point is I'm not sure my life matters unless God wants to take some piece of it and use it to help someone else - someone lost or hurt or hungry.  And honestly I am just the spoon, but I trust that He will use me for the things He calls me to.  He's a good God like that, and He makes sure I know it.

I said I was going to share my story, but it's still coming soon...


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