Wednesday, June 29, 2011

She and I had a misunderstanding

She and I had a misunderstanding,
She was angry, and I was hurt.
We both longed to make things right. 
The relationship was important enough to both of us, to make things right.

In order for us to come together, we both had to come half way.

In order to understand each other, we had to listen,
and then, we had to see things from the others point of view.

We had to keep try to keep our emotions in check, her anger, and my tears.

We had to be honest, and share uncomfortable truth.

We had to believe, and forgive,

and I am so glad we did!

Who do you need to go halfway to?
If you venture out, maybe she will surprise you, and you can meet in the middle.

Friday, June 24, 2011

He was only four

The following testimony was written, and is now being shared in Ukraine by my son Kartwright. It is quite long, but I thought you might be blessed by it.

 When one of the others on this trip asked if I would be willing to share my testimony,  I replied, "sure, Why not?" I really wasn’t sure why anyone would want to hear my story, much less enjoy it. I’ve never really had anything that big happen to me. Then, when I began to look back on everything that has happened in my life, I reconsidered. Either way, I was asked to do it, so here goes nothing.
   I was raised in a large Christian family. I have two brothers and two sisters, and a very loving mother and Father.  I accepted Christ at a very early age, and that’s that. It’s not much of a testimony, but hey, that’s what happens in a sheltered home, just a nice and normal life up until now right?! Ummmmmn no….. not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, Christianity is the right decision for everyone, but don’t let anyone ever sell you into the lie that it’s easy. I’m not saying that my life has been awful or anything, it’s been great, but there have been hard times too. James 1:2-4 kinda says it for me,

 “Count it all joy , my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

 I can say confidently that each time in my life where things have gotten hard, I have grown closer to Christ. And, after each one, I have come out stronger. It’s definitely a choice, you can fall away from God, but that goes to show how much faith you had really put into this whole Jesus thing in the first place.
   I think the first trial I ever experienced, was one that was with me for 12 years, and it’s almost laughable to call it a trial now. 15 years ago my little brother was born. We named him Crockett. He had a number of diseases that made him a highly handicapped person.  So  profoundly handicapped that he couldn’t walk, talk, or sit up by himself.  We had to bottle feed him every 4 hours, and change his diaper also. He would have an average of one to two seizures a day.  They would normally be full body seizures, and they were often so intense he would flex up into the fetal position, and stay there as the seizing lasted for sometimes several minutes. Afterward, he would be so exhausted that he might cry himself to sleep, or throw up, I’m not sure which was worse. I don’t want it to sound like he was always a downer, and made everything sad or depressing. He brought us a lot of joy and laughter too.

 God really does work all things together for good, even things that seem like nothing good could come of it. For example, God taught me through Crockett to learn to laugh at things that might not be funny to most, but we had to laugh at these things or we’d cry. For instance, going to Church was always pretty hard on our family. In a family of seven it normally is, but put Crockett in that scenario, and it made things really interesting. Crockett had this thing where literally every Sunday he would do great. Bathe him, change him, feed him, get him all prettied up for Church, and he would be set, and ready to go. But the moment you placed him in his car seat, he would feel the urge to throw up. We would have one of us carry him to the car and have someone else right behind him with a towel. Right when we would sit him down, we would immediately put the towel like a bib and try to catch all the throw up, and protect him and the car. It almost became like a game, and we could laugh at this strange phenomena. Some would call that sadistic, we called it living.

 On a more practical point, I also learned how to change a diaper quicker than any human should, I can feed someone a bottle pretty well, and changing someone clothes is easy for me.  I loved making Crockett laugh. Sometimes I could find a noise that would crack him up, and he would just laugh this totally innocent laugh that would make me feel so good. However, sometimes his laughing would turn into a seizure, which would lead to tears, which would lead to throw up.  I’m painting this true, but gruesome picture for you, to make a point. Throughout the entire ordeal of,  throw up,  seizures, the diapers, and feedings, me and my family loved him. My brother who taught me more than anyone I know without ever saying a word, from the world’s eyes, couldn’t do anything, literally, anything right, and He was loved.  He was completely helpless without someone to meet his every need, and to the best of our ability we tried to provide for them all. This should be reminding us of someone, someone very familiar to us. Hopefully you and I are looking into an imaginary mirror right now. To God we are totally and completely filthy, swimming in our own wretchedness. We are so sinful, that outside of God we can do absolutely nothing right. Without God we are completely helpless.

    I have this issue, where I really care about what people think about me, especially in the church. Sometimes, I tend to do things that are not necessarily for the right reasons, but in some people eyes are great things. Anyway, a while back I read a passage out of Ecclesiastes that really kind of opened my eyes to my false ways.

 Ecclesiastes 2:11, “Then when I had considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind and there was nothing to be gained in the sun.”

 Years ago, in another trial of our lives, my family and I were in a flood. Everything we owned was destroyed. Our house, our cars, our furniture, our clothes, my toys…. Everything GONE! And when we were there on the sight, where our home used to be, we could look at our property and see how everything had been destroyed. We saw how meaningless everything is. Most people, in the back of their minds, would be wondering  what is the point? This is like striving after the wind. My Parents however, knew what to do; they followed what the ending of Ecclesiastes tells us to do.  Chapter 12 verse 13 says

“Now here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.”

We have to understand the only real thing we can put our hopes, faith, trust, and love in, and know that it won’t amount to complete meaninglessness, is God. Fear God. Know God. Trust God. That’s all that matters.

   When I played football last year, the coach asked me to give the guys a speech before the last game. It was a game that if we won, we could play one more game, and if we lost some of us would never play football again. So the coach wanted me to give the guys something that would get them ready for that night. I thought about it for a little bit, and decided on a story from the Bible out of one of the gospels. It's the one where the disciples are watching as the offering is being taken, and they see people come up and put great amounts in the offering bag, or whatever it was they put the money in back then. I can imagine the disciples watching Jesus and his reactions as these people put these large amounts of money in. And I don’t know, but maybe he shook his head or maybe he put on a straight face, but my guess is the disciples who had gotten to know Jesus pretty well by then, could tell he was not pleased. When a poor widow came up they had to be wondering what Jesus was gonna do. When this poorly dressed woman came up to the place to give, and dropped in just two small copper coins, they had to be watching Jesus, waiting for his wrath! But, when he (most likely) smiled, and nodded at the woman, and drew the disciples together, and then said these words, they had to be astonished:

“I tell you the truth, this poor woman has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty gave everything.-all she had to live on.” 

See, God judges the heart, He doesn't want anyone to go halfway for Him. Revelation 3:16 says,

“so, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

 I remember telling the guys when I read these verses to them, that I didn’t care about the outcome of the game as long as they gave their all. We ended up losing 66 to 0. I saw one of my friends after the game crying, and as tears filled my eyes, I gave him a hug, and I told him "Thank you". He kind of looked at me with question in his eyes, “for what?” he asked and I replied “just for giving your all”. That friend of mine couldn’t have made a huge difference in the game, but I did know that what he did give, it was his all. God cares about where your heart is at, and if you’re willing to give him your all. That’s all that matters. In everything you do you're supposed to do it for God, and do it to the best of your ability. So please don’t have regrets because you never really went out on a limb and trusted God. Think about how great it will be when we get to heaven and God points at us and says” this child of mine gave his all, and I am well pleased.”
   When I was four years old I accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal savior. I can remember it vividly. Sitting in the rear seat of my Dad’s car, I was looking at the back of my Father’s head trying to figure out how to ask him a question. My older brother was in the front. I think we were coming home from his baseball practice. I usually tagged along, so nothing was really unusual, except that I had something big on my mind. That previous Sunday our Church had communion, and as usual, my Mom passed the grape juice over me, not allowing me to get some. This of course, in my little four year old brain seemed very unfair, and I began to tell my Mom just that. I was answered with a loud “SHHHH”, and a promise to talk to me about it later. Well, it was later, and I was ready to talk about it, so I simply said, “Dad I want some of the juice at Church!” My Dad was pretty confused, but after some explaining, he got the drift of what I was saying. Dad told me how the juice was only for those who were always going to follow Jesus. Also, how Christ died for me, bore all my sins on the cross, and how if I accepted him to save me from the fiery scary place known as Hell, I could go to where God reigns, Heaven. It was a long time ago, but I think I remember being quiet for a minute, thinking over what my Daddy had just said. The juice was no longer the issue, now Jesus was on my mind, and I wanted him in my life. I told my Dad that. He nodded and said “Lets Pray.” Since then, I have tried to follow Jesus. I pray all the time that he will help me follow him, and that I won’t take the pilot seat from him, but let him lead me down the straight and narrow path. I pray that I might not be swayed by what the world offers in all of its riches and glory, and is only good for a time, and that I might see my years on earth as a dress rehearsal for what’s after this life, and to honor Jesus in all that I do. I know that now instead of looking like Crockett did in this world I am perfect in Gods Eyes, just like Crockett is in heaven today. I can’t wait to see him and hopefully one day I will see all of you there too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

He's leaving on a jet plane

The kids and I drove back to Georgia yesterday, to send this guy halfway around the world tomorrow. Yep, he's leaving on a jet plane that will take him to the uttermost, and drop him off.

This momma has done this before, and it ain't ever easy, but I know he is in the Lord's hands, and he is ready.


Even as I write this, I can hear him praising his Lord with song.
"with thanksgiving, I'll be a living, sanctuary, for you" he sings.
Nothing sweeter to this Momma's ears, then to hear her children praise God, folks this is what it's all about!
Please pray for my boy Kartwright while he is in the Ukraine ministering to a country hungry for truth.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

savory cheese wafers

We served these at Kartwright's graduation reception. They were a great compliment to all the sweet cookies and cake. They are super easy, they have a great crunch, and they also kinda melt in your mouth. I think you should try them out for your next get-together. Do it, it will make my day!

Savory cheese wafers

preheat oven to 350 degrees

mix together:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of flour
2 cups of rice krispies
1/2 tsp. Emeril's original essence seasoning
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Roll in to small balls, and flatten with the bottom of a glass. I made mine just a bit bigger then a quarter, and about a half inch thick. Bake for 20 minutes.

makes about 90 wafers

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Monday, June 20, 2011

He hunts, and he gathers

This beautiful "green pasture beside still waters" has afforded Michael a brand new hobby that seems to, in a small way, restore his soul.

He and the kids have been "hunting" golf balls.
The latest count is 163.
His cup runneth over.
He likes to sort them according to brand.
Michael says it's like looking for sharks teeth on the beach,
only this new hobby suits his new vision capabilities!
Michael wants to train Diana (our welsh Corgi) to find them.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow him, all the days of his life.
He says she is already beginning to catch on.
One of the balls has a tournament date of 2002. That's a nine year old ball!
I wonder how long before I will have no kitchen counter left?
He will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
He is truly a hunter and gatherer.
Does your man hunt and gather anything unusual?

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

chickens for turtles

We gave up chickens in our back yard,

for turtles on the golf course next door,

and more turtles in the pond out back.

Picnics on the square with friends,
 have been replaced by
 splashes in the pool down the cart path at the club,

but the snake followed us here!
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I bet you thought I was busy moving

Yeah, when you thought I was hard at the work of unpacking boxes, and setting up a new living space, I was really just enjoying the lush surroundings of a beautiful tropical paradise.

No, I am not on vacation.

Because our house back in Georgia has not yet sold (that was a shameless plug for a few prayers on the house selling front), we have moved into a nice furnished villa. Therefore, "moving in" consisted of hanging our summer clothes in the closets, and carrying in a few boxes of each of our "necessities", admittedly the easiest move we've ever made.

So, while I would have LOVED to have been setting up my very own space, and not my temporary one, I was not complaining while we enjoyed this.

Or this,

or, while gazing at these, while basking in the sun at the pool.

I know, you feel so sorry for me don't you??
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The hardest part

We have lived in a lot of beautiful places. We have spent almost all of the first twenty three years of our marriage in various towns on the coast of the Carolina's. When we moved inland to Georgia almost two years ago, we traded the colorful sunset horizons of the Ocean, for the untainted loveliness of West Point Lake. The marsh covered flat lands of the low country were replaced by rolling pastures of cattle covered farm land. Straight tall Palmetto trees, and bending moss covered Live Oak trees, were now sky high magnolias and sweet smelling cedars.
In spite of the differences in our surroundings, it was the people that we really found to be the real surprise in our new lives here, and it will be the people that we miss most now that we are gone.

Sweet friends have been what has made this place home, and sweet friends are what makes leaving so hard. Meaningful relationships have made our short stay here have purpose. This kind friend Tammy, has been a kindred spirit, and has been an encouragement to me in so many ways. Our busyness, and the 45 minute distance, has kept us from spending as much time together as I would have liked, but I have a feeling we will be staying in touch for many years to come.

Her daughters have been just as encouraging to my girls, and their boys to my Eliza and Kartwright, and their Daddy to my better half. I love this family, and they will be missed.

Then there have been these two lovelies, that from the very beginning have stolen the hearts of our whole family. We first met them at a church fellowship, and later they followed us around the church grounds every Sunday. We cheered for the cougars together, watched them perform in school functions, and celebrated birthdays together. they too have been a wonderful encouragement and example to my girls, and likewise to me.

I have been so blessed by the teen girls in this community who have given time and attention to my girls. They are such great examples of young ladies, and I will so miss them all.

For Kartwright there have been both Kevins, Drew and Boyd, Nathan and Trip and Matt and Devon, and several others.

There have been so many that made our short stay here a sweet memory. The Tuesday morning ladies, the graduates mommas, Lucy and Amy, Anne and Kindra and Yashika, and so many more. Some were just a kind face once a week, like Mrs. Barbara, others were ministry partners, like Deborah. Each one has had a part in teaching us community, helping us grieve, and encouraging our walk.

This couple has taught Michael and I much as well. Greg and Sherri are both so very different then us in personality, and even in interests, and yet so very much like us in their love for the Lord, and God's people. I expect also that they will remain life long friends.

And these people, they are the hardest to say good-bye to. It has been such a blessing to be close enough to get together often with our oldest son and his beautiful family. I have so enjoyed our times together, and wish now that there had been even more. Though we just saw one another this past Sunday, being miles apart makes me miss them more. I will continue to pray that they will soon live close to us again.

So, from our family to yours my sweet Georgia people, we love you, and miss you already. Thank you for making Georgia such a nice memory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I've been keeping something from you

I have a confession of sorts, I've been keeping something from you. I didn't want to, but in the name of safety for my children, and myself, I had to......cuz I don't  really know you!

Well, I don't know all of you, and most of those I do know, unless you are out of  town, already know the secret, cuz I know you are not axe murderers, or armed robbers. Not that you who I don't know are axe murderers or armed robbers, but how would I know that, cuz like I said, I don't really know you.

We are moving, like now, today, like, as you are reading this. That is a weird thought, as I am sitting here writing this ahead of time knowing that I really should be doing.....well, any number of things to get ready for said move, but instead, I am blogging......cuz it's more fun to confess, than to pack.

Michael accepted a new position, in a new company, in a new state, back in January. That was 5 months ago, and we have been living the long distance family life since then....yuck!  He has been coming home about every three weeks, thus leaving us alone for long stretches of time. That has not been fun for us, or for him, but could have been fun for axe murderers and armed robbers, so I didn't tell you, just in case. Don't be mad, I don't really know you!
So while I've been hanging, out on a limb, without my better half, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about trust. Not only do I not trust you, because I don't really know you, I don't always trust Him fully either.  Could it be that I don't know Him well enough? He is always faithful to provide however, and it is that very faithfulness that has supplied my needs during this hard time, past hard times, and will supply them in the hard times to come. Because, believe me, there will always be hard times!

That doesn't mean that He supplies my needs exactly the way I desire, or in the timing that I expect, or even in the way I deem appropriate, but supply them He does!

During a conversation months ago with a young woman that was experiencing some upheaval and unknowns in her life, she said to me, "I'll just be glad when things can just be settled". That comment has been rolling around in my brain for several months now. At the time, I tried to encourage her that things would be better soon. Then I got to thinking about my own story.
When have things ever really been settled??
Even at those times in my life when I might have thought things were settled, there was always a surprise right around the bend.
Does my Heavenly Father really want me to be settled, or comfortable,  or relaxed?
Hasn't it always been those times of upheaval, or tension, or vulnerability, that I have depended on Him the most?

So as I swing out on this limb yet again, and face new challenges in a new place, some exciting, some scary, some invigorating, and some potentially painful, I confess, that I am trying to trust Him more deeply, depend on Him more fully, and He is continually supplying my needs. I know Him well enough to know that.

And if you are an axe murderer, or an armed robber, well, to bad for you. If you are out on a limb, like me, welcome to reality, get comfortable, enjoy the ride, and trust Him to catch you.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Camp Viola

Last week Kartwright was a camp councilor,
and Haven was a part of the camp clean up crew.

 All of the children that attended this free camp had very little.
 Most did not have in-tact families. 
Many had not experienced a loving and nurturing home life.
Some had never heard the gospel.

All of them have heard it now.
Most of them went home with hope.
Many now know what it feels like to be loved.
Some accepted God's offer of redemption and will never be the same.

It was a wonderful experience to watch my children be involved in such a hands on outreach. The thing I love most about our church here, is it's commitment to community. I have never been a part of a fellowship that cares so very much about getting involved with the nitty gritty of peoples lives like this one. Lives were changed last week, because people cared enough to take the time to get involved.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Haven

Michael had the privilege of baptising his little girl on her twelfth birthday Sunday.

It was a sweet sight.
 There is something so very wonderful about watching the love of your life baptise out of obedience to your Lord, one of the biggest blessings that very same Lord has given you, with many of the other blessings He has given watching on also.

I think it was wonderful for them as well.

Happy Birthday sweet Haven Dorothy!
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Okay, okay

OOPS, Correction, you do not sow the the fruits of your labor......duh, you REAP the fruits of your labor. You sow the seeds that you will later reap, because of the sowing. The seeds that you sow produce the fruits that you later reap. It is the sowing that makes the very fruit possible to reap, otherwise there would be no reaping. No sowing, equals no reaping. I get it now :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Harvest

We are just beginning to sow the fruits of our labor, so fun. I love the vivid colors of new veggies, and all the surprises they bring. What a gift from our generous Heavenly Father, that just a small dead seed can bring so much joy, and excitement, and nourishment. Did you plant this year? Oh do tell, what is growing in your garden?

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

ice cubes?

Son number one, and his beautiful wife, gifted me this beautiful orchid for Mothers Day. Son number one texted me two weeks later and asked, "Is your orchid dead yet?". He knows me well! I absolutely LOVE flowers, and flowering plants are even better, but my thumbs are very definitely pinkelish peachelish, and not at all green, if ya catch my drift. Said orchid is still looking gorgeous, but I fear her days are numbered, and as I told son number one, I try not to let her catch me looking at her.

Look at this beaut, milky white petals, set off with magenta centers, she truly deserves a better care taker.

Well, while picking up balloons for the aforementioned graduation of son number two, I noticed some pretty plants similar to her, awaiting purchase. On their tags were directions for care. The tag suggested three ice cubes per week! Yes, I said ice cubes. Crazy huh? It doesn't seem like her delicate self would like that coldness, but I'm gonna give it a try! I can see my right thumb turning a very slight shade of mint as I write, perhaps pretty orchid has a chance after all!
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

top ten crazy home school questions my teenager has answered

1) Who teaches you?
2) Do you get to wear your pajamas all day long?
3) Do you ever have home work?
4) Can you get a snack whenever you want?
5) What curriculum do you use?

6) Is that legal?
7) Does your Mom have a degree in teaching?
8) What about socialization?
9) Where do you do school?
10) Do you get to sleep in every day?

his answers
1)uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhm, my parents????
2)Yeah, I guess, but I take a shower every day.
3)Dude, it's allllllll homework
4)uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhm, I guess.
5)Seriousely??? what's a curriculum??? We don't really use books, my Mom just wings it (smile)!
7)are you kidding me???
8)I'm standing here talking to you aren't I?
9)aaaaaaaattttttttttttt hhhhhhhooommme, that's why they call it hhhhhhoooommmme schooooool!
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