Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Choice

My brother-in-law finally got married yesterday! We love his new wife and family and it was an incredible day I will write more about later. It's today that was tough. It was today I had to make a choice.

We were all exhausted from the weekend's activities. Sunday is the morning that I usually wake up and gladly make my family a wonderful breakfast all in an effort to start the day off right. (Saturday is Daddy's day to get up) The idea was that I wanted to avoid what I experienced as a teenager. You know what I'm talking about...by the time everyone gets in the car to go to church you've had several arguments, you all hate each other, and worship is the last thing on your mind. Well, I know when the girls are teenagers, it will be a bigger challenge but I'm still hoping to set some precedents now. The girls get up EARLY and every Sunday my husband and I would both lay there praying the other would get up and deal with them. Needless to say, that system didn't work very well so that's when we came up with the Daddy does Saturday, Mama does Sunday plan. No excuses, Sunday is my day and I will set the tone, and we WILL go to church happy.

Well, I haven't been feeling well this week and though I toughed it out some yesterday, I wasn't perky this morning. I got up, made cereal (some special breakfast huh?) and went back to the bed. To make a long story short, by the time we got in the car, both girls were crying and I wanted to leave them both on the side of the road somewhere. Then the Lord reminded me. He taught me a long time ago that I don't have control over much in this world but He has given me control over one thing...my choices. I make them. I can choose the flesh, or I can choose the Spirit...but I choose. So this morning on the way to church I made a choice. I chose to use a different tone of voice with the girls. I chose encouragement over sarcasm. I chose to ignore my flesh and ask the Holy Spirit to be my guide. I sure couldn't get going in a different direction without that power. Worship was amazing. I could write another post about that alone and maybe later I will but anyway...We got home and I still didn't feel too good, so I put everyone, including myself down for a nap as soon as we walked in the door, but as I laid down, I felt victorious...at least for the moment.

Whenever I think about choice, I think about something I read by Max Lucado years ago. I thought I'd share it with you. I hope it will remind you, you can't control all the circumstances of life and you can't control all the people in your life but God has given you control over one thing and it's HUGE. He's given you control over your choices. What will you choose?

Author, MAX LUCADO

It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is asleep. The day is coming. In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I am free to choose.

I choose Love.... No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose Joy.... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose Peace.... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose Patience.... I will overlook the inconvenience of the world. Instead of cursing the one that takes my place, I will invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for the moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose Kindness.... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose Goodness.... I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose Faithfulness.... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

I choose Gentleness.... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it only be on myself.

I choose Self-Control.... I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my Faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Miami

Wow, I am so far behind on my blogging. It's been a fun-filled summer so far. With my husband home a lot more, I feel guilty getting on the computer all the time. But...I did want to show some pictures from my trip to Miami. My stepdad has worked in Miami for the last few years but whenever we've visited, it's always been back at home in St. Augustine, FL. Well, for the first time, my two sisters and I met in Miami for a girls and dad weekend. What a great time!
We got there early on Friday and checked into our hotel. He lives in a one bedroom bachelor pad so the girls spread out at a comfy hotel. We hung out at the pool and caught up with each other until my stepdad got off work. Finally, he picked us up, took us to his condo and then off to Coconut Grove. It was so beautiful and there were so many restaurants to choose from. We settled on something outdoors and had an amazing dinner. (By the way, I stuck to the Atkins diet the entire weekend!) Afterwards we were walking around and spotted a guy with some beautiful birds. The next thing I knew...After some dancing to an outdoor band and a little shopping, we finally crashed back at the hotel. We had a big day planned. My stepdad works for a yacht company and he arranged for us to spend the next day on a 67 ft. yacht. Wow, we were spoiled.
I felt like I was on an episode of Miami Vice. The boat had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and air conditioning on the OUTSIDE. It was beautiful. As we rode around, we saw dolphins swimming with our boat several times. Miami is a beautiful city from the water. We cruised around in an area called Gables Estates (at least I think that's right) and saw homes like this. What do these people do?!? That night we ate a great dinner at Smith & Wollensky and then headed to South Beach to walk around and see the sights. We saw some beautiful hotels, amazing cars, and then a weird guy with snakes. The next thing I knew... We finally went back to the hotel and crashed. The next morning we went to see the grandparents, had lunch and then headed back to the airport to go home. It was such a fun-filled special weekend. I can't wait to do it again! Thanks Don! I love you!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Knock Knock

This is little sister telling Knock Knock jokes. She and Big Sister love making up their own jokes which they think are hilarious. Little Sister uses the same punch line every time. Hopefully this won't ruin it for you but I think you may need some interpretation. Her punch line is always "Apple Juice".
video

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Valley of Achor

I've been doing a new Bible study on women in the Bible. I learned something that first week that I haven't been able to get off my mind. We were studying Hosea and I came across a verse I hadn't read before. At least, I didn't remember it. But first, for those who aren't familiar with the story of Hosea, here's a little background.

Hosea was a prophet who married an adulterous woman. And it wasn't any accident, God told him to marry an adulterous woman. He married a woman named Gomer. As with many prophets in the Bible, Hosea's life reflected the message God spoke through him. Even the three sons Gomer bore represented part of the message. With names like Jezreel (God scatters), Lo-Ruhamah (not loved), and Lo-Ammi (not my people) it would seem the message is one of despair. Gomer represents Israel who, over and over again, turned to the worship of false gods and in essence committed spiritual adultery against the One True God. Israel was driven into a period of exile as Gomer was driven from her home. But it was for the purpose of purifying. Like only God can do, the message is not, "You've screwed up, so get out." God longs for His people to turn from their sin and He always takes them back. Hosea is ordered to continue loving Gomer. Not to tolerate her, not to put on a happy face for the outside world, not to lie about her, to continue loving her. And to go get her and bring her back. This is the message of what God does for Israel and for us.

God even changes the names of the sons to represent what He does. In Hosea 1:11, 2:1-2, He changes "God scatters" to "God sows", He changes "not my people" to "my people" and "not loved" to "my loved one". Incidentally, the name Gomer means "to complete". It comes from the root word, gamar, which means "to perfect or to finish". Cool, huh? It's easy to be hard on Gomer though. It's easy to think we're better. But Gomer represents us. We may not actually commit adultery in the sexual sense, but how often do our hearts turn to something else instead of God? He brings us back and we always find him the faithful one. Like always, it is not a story of what we do for God, we are the adulterous Gomer, it is a story of what God does for us. And one of the things He does for us is that thing I learned that I can't stop thinking about...

I can't get over Hosea 2:15.
There I will give back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

Let me explain. While Gomer/Israel is in exile, God says "I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope." The word "Achor" means "trouble". I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope. I will make your Valley of Trouble a door of hope. I can't get that image out of my mind. And I can't help but think of where that door leads. How cool that Jesus says in Revelation 3:19-20
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Our hope is in Christ. And he's not just waiting behind that door, he's knocking! He's calling out, "Here I am!". Oh how I pray that when I am in the Valley of Achor, I will quickly go to the door of hope.

Now the Valley of Achor in our lives may not always be a place of discipline. Maybe sometimes it is illness, or job loss, or unexplainable tragedy, or a million other difficult and confusing times we find ourselves in. I heard a story recently of a pediatric nurse who lost some fingers on her left hand in a lawnmower accident. She is still able to work because her right hand was not affected and she often deals with children who have suffered similar injuries in lawnmower accidents. Although she has suffered with her loss, she has said she will be a nurse like never before. God says He will turn the Valley of Achor into a door of hope.

I challenge you to write a post about a time when God turned your Valley of Achor into a door of hope.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Something New Under the Summer Sun

Remember the days of old when there was nothing new under the sun? I'm talking about summer television. It used to be that the minute school let out and you actually had time to veg in front of the boob tube...nothing but reruns. Remember when the only thing to look forward to was Sunday night when they showed a Walt Disney World special, or as my husband remembers, The Wild World of Sports? Not anymore my friend. The networks finally wised up and started introducing new shows during the summer. Now, it's definitely questionable at times. Some summer shows seem like experiments before delving into the fall, but some are just great hits in my opinion. Now, if you're not a TV watcher, just go ahead and roll your eyes and skip this post. It's all about summer previews...what I'm already watching, what I can't wait to watch, and what is so ridiculous or foul I can't even believe they are trying it. First off...

STUFF I'VE BEEN WATCHING

The Mole - LOVE The Mole! Have you ever seen it? It's where twelve people come together to complete several missions to add money to a cash pot. Only there's a catch...one of them is THE MOLE. The mole tries to sabotage their efforts. Each episode, the cast takes a quiz on who they think the mole is and the person who answers the most questions wrong is eliminated. It's really interesting because many of the contestants are sabotaging in an effort to make the other players think they are the mole when they're really not the mole. I have my opinions on who the mole is but no one, including the television audience knows until the final episode. The editors do a great job of really keeping it hard to tell but there are clues along the way. Love a mystery? This is the show for you. And if you missed the first episode, you're not too far behind. It comes on ABC Mondays at 9 p.m. central.

Million Dollar Password - Remember this show? I love password. I have to say it is definitely one of those games that seems super easy from the couch but I'm sure it's extremely difficult in real life. If auditions ever come to Nashville, I am definitely IN! Sundays on CBS at 7 p.m. central.

So You Think You Can Dance - Worst name of a television show ever, but...very entertaining. Right now they are in the audition stages, American Idol style. There are lots of the terrible, embarassing, questionable auditions but there are lots of incredible auditions. Seriously, sometimes it brings tears to my eyes. I watched last year too and there were some performances that I saved on my Tivo for weeks because I watched them over and over again. You can see it on Fox Wednesdays at 7 p.m. central.

The Next Food Network Star - I've been dying for this show to come on. This is where contestants take part in culinary challenges and try to win their own show on the Food Network. They've had enough regular people on this show that I've considered auditioning in the past. I know that sounds nutty and I'm no culinary genius but I love the Food Network. How cool to travel to New York and film some shows! There's only been one episode so far and the challenges aren't super complicated. The Food Network aims to teach us regular folks some cooking skills so it can't get too difficult for their stars. It actually counts against the contestants if they're too fru-fru for the average Food Network viewer. Watch it on the Food Network Sunday nights at 9 p.m. central.

Top Chef - Like I said, I love a good cooking competition show. This one is a competition of great chefs from varied backgrounds competing for $100,000 prize and the title of Top Chef. This is not Hell's Kitchen...it's got way more class. These chefs are over the top good so I have no intention of picking up some good recipes but they are amazing to watch. The personalities and types of food are very diverse. And who wouldn't want to watch Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi? It's almost over but you can catch the two part finale on Bravo Wednesdays at 9 p.m. central. If you've never seen it but think it sounds good, there are usually marathons that air periodically, especially before the finale.

The Bachelorette - I know, I know...it's like porn for women. I can't help it. I love seeing the romantic dates, trying to figure out who she's really into and who she's going to send home next. I watched The Bachelor when DeAnna got rejected and I want her to find LOVE. I'm addicted. The record for finding lasting romance is not very good on this show, but I'm a romantic at heart and I have hope. I'm not sure you can really be dating one guy one night and getting engaged to another the next but I try not to analyze to much. Calling it reality TV is a stretch, sure, but I don't always want reality when I'm vegging out, sometimes I want Cinderella. If you're not already watching, you're probably not going to start but it's on ABC Mondays at 7 p.m. central.

STUFF I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO

Design Star - Same thing as the Food Network Star, only with designing. I know tons of people that should audition for this show. Again, when I watch it, I'm tempted. The winner gets their own design show on HGTV. LOVE IT! It airs on HGTV starting June 8th at 8 p.m. central.

Nashville Star - Nashvegas has hit the bigtime baby! I have to admit that for unknown reasons, I couldn't get into American Idol this year. The contestants all seemed a little...plastic. They were very talented, just not all that engaging. Maybe I'm just over it. But as a true blue southern girl, I have high hopes for Nashville Star. It's been picked up by NBC and will start Monday, June 9th at 8 p.m.

Wipeout and I Survived a Japanese Game Show - Have you seen the previews for these? I'm sorry, I know it's cruel, but there's something about people flailing around, falling down, and looking like fools that makes me laugh hysterically. It's my natural reaction to laugh first and find out if you're okay second. I don't know what it is. I don't even know how to describe this show and if you've never seen those Japanese Game Shows, you are missing out. They both air on ABC starting June 24th at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. central.

Celebrity Circus - That's right people! Remember Circus of the Stars? Is anyone out there old enough to remember that? (Please say yes) This is where celebrities live the dream of every small boy and girl and train for the circus. It's some kind of competition but I haven't quite figured out how that works. The downside? I only recognized two of the celebrities, Christopher Knight, and Rachel Hunter. I'll still be tuning in. In the spirit of Wipeout (see above) maybe we can see some celebs make fools of themselves. Here's hoping. It's on NBC June 11th at 8:30 p.m. central.

Shear Genius
- I know, you're like...what? It's on Bravo and it's along the lines of all the other reality TV competitions only this time...hairdressers! That's right people, cutting, coloring, and styling in a competition. If you're interested in the latest and greatest in hair, you've got to tune in. And yes, there will be hair disasters and crying clients as well. Now, I don't want to be judgemental but let's just say the personalities of the contestants are what you imagine them to be. And even better, it's hosted by Jaclyn Smith (she's from the original Charlie's Angels for you young ones) and her hair has always been fabulous...not Farrah mind you...but fabulous. It airs on Bravo June 25th at 9 p.m. central.

WHAT I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY'RE PUTTING ON TELEVISION

Swingtown - Seriously? A show about swingers in the 70's on regular prime time television. Now I'm no prude as you can see but the commercials make me uncomfortable for crying out loud.

Fear Itself - Can you say scary? I'm a big wimp when it comes to horror flicks and this looks like Friday the 13th. When you pull it up on NBC, a little box pops up letting you know it's rated TV-14. Enough said.

Well, enough for now. I did delete my other blog that was completely devoted to TV because although I'm a fanatic, I don't have time to blog about it all so this is my compromise. Let me know what you'll be watching and why. And while I plan to spend plenty of time travelling, being outside with my family, camping, and hanging out at the pool...here's to hoping there really is something new under the sun!