Monday, December 31, 2007

Blog Guilt

When I first discovered the world of blogging, thanks to my friend Mer, I was overwhelmingly inspired and encouraged. There were so many neat women out there doing so many neat things - a whole community of people who seemed like-minded!

HOWEVER, as this year draws to an end and the new one looms before me, I am feeling a sense of guilt - that all these women are doing so much more with themselves than I am. Sadly, I can't seem to escape the comparison game. So, after I realized that comparing myself to people I don't even know is a slippery slope, I hope that I am coming back to reality with a readjusted perspective.

I am going to try to choose to stay away from guilt and instead be motivated to look at the gifts that God has given me - not the ones He's given all my blog people. After I took a brief inventory of some of my gifts, I realized that I am not really trying to use some of those for His glory at all. It would be so sad to sit in the middle of my gifts, spinning my wheels while I look longingly at the gifts of others and say, "Oh, if I could only be more crafty, if only my mom had taught me to sew, if only I were a better homemaker, if only I ..." and the list could go on forever.

Of course, the never ending tension in my life for now is how to not put those things ahead of my high calling of showing three precious ones what love looks like - Oh, so hard for me! I was doing really great at being calm this morning. (I had read a little of my Charlotte Mason Companion the night before.) I was so ready to positively resolve fights and have a peaceful home. Yeah, well that lasted until everything I tried to occupy Aubrie with lasted about 5 seconds, and she was right back into something that she wasn't supposed to be in. Simple tasks that should take a few minutes span an hour as I try to juggle the girls and all their energy.

But, I'm not giving up! I will try again as soon as they wake up, and I will hold Dr. Dobson to his promise that if we set healthy boundaries in the early years and are consistent in our discipline that the teenage years will be easier! (aka - not as bad as they could be)

So, I digress...maybe this is why I don't get much done...hmmmm. Anyway, I do want to look at some of the things that I am good at and how I can better use those things for my family and for my God.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A New Thing for Us

Normally I am so slow to take down Christmas decorations. I am very embarrassed to say that one year I still had the tree up in February. I know, so bad. I think it's because I love how our home feels when the Christmas stuff is out. I hate for it to end. My normal tradition is to wait until after New Year's Day and take it down sometime the week following.

For some reason the tree we got this year made us all really sick. I don't if the problem was more sap or what, but there was definitely a problem. So, late Christmas night Todd looked at me with a look that said, "Can this thing please come down?" Being the sometimes-obliging person that I am, the next day I had stripped the tree of all its ornaments and put them all on our dining table, arranged by category. This new system actually worked pretty well. In no time at all everything was boxed up including all of the other decorations throughout the house. I was on a roll!

I have to say that I feel fairly liberated - I don't have this weight hanging over me - the impending dread that comes with the end of Christmas. I have left up the two Christmas trees that are our dining table decoration and the nativity scene. I have to have something to put away after the 1st!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Missions Update

While I've got a few more minutes with the girls napping, I thought I'd post a little bit about where we are with the International Mission Board. For right now, we're just waiting. We submitted in November 400-question health forms for each family member, an over 500-question personality test for Todd and me, dental forms for hubby and me, and educational assessments for Emma and Jessie. Wow, makes me tired all over again just thinking about it!

Anyway, all this stuff has to be processed before we can move on to the next phase of the application. This will include writing our autobiographies and a statement of beliefs. The way I understand it, sometime after these are done, we'll have an in-depth interview where we can select the position we're interested in.

On that note, both of the positions in Mozambique that we were looking at have been reserved by someone else. A little sigh... But, God knows where He wants us!! The same type of position (logistics coordinator) is open in Tanzania and Kenya - both places we are very interested in!

Thanks to everyone who is praying for us as we're on this journey - every now and then it feels a little "out of body" that we're considering this. I'm sure it does to our family and friends, too!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Unseen Battle

Ever have a day where you're certain that there is a spiritual battle going on? I really believe that there are battles everyday, but today the battle was a little more tangible. I had my first ER visit with Emma tonight (well, first one since she was 3 mos. old, and don't worry, she's fine), Jessie had a nose bleed (her first) as a friend was bringing her home, and Todd's dad got pulled over on the way home from deer camp.

While we were waiting in the ER, I was talking to Todd making plans for how we were going to get the other girls home and discussing whether he needed to keep them or come to Jackson to be with us. In the middle of all this he tells me that the Lord really spoke to him today while he was hunting. (Actually, God does a lot of speaking to Todd on the deer stand - I try to never complain about his going.) I still don't know what God said because while I was putting Emma to bed, he fell asleep on the couch...

Anyway, I can't help but think that the wierd trials of the day are somehow connected with God moving in Todd's life. Does that sound too hoaky? There are days where I can almost feel the battle going on, and this was one of them. The wonderful thing is when we're able to put 2 + 2 together and realize that God is in control, and we really shouldn't freak out. I think this happens only by the grace of God.

Now, I can't wait to see what God has in store for us, where He wants to lead us next.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


"And Mary said,
I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one look at me, and look what
happened --
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from
all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies,
piled them high.
It's exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham right up to now."

Luke 1:46-55

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Scary Room

One of the things I love about our house is that we have this little nook of a room that we call an office just off the dining room. I have to say that I used to consider myself an organized person. When I look at this room, I just don't think that I can pass for that anymore. The main thing I like about the room is that soon after we moved into the house over three years ago, we bought a bamboo-ish roll down shade to hang between it and the dining room. I've discovered that this is at the same time good and bad. Good because we can roll it down when company is coming, and we don't want them to be scared. Bad because, knowing that I can hide it, it has become the put-it-in-one-of-the-stacks room.

It is full of all the "to-dos" that I just don't seem to get around to. Here are some examples: on the floor are pillows that someone gave me that I can't bear to part with because I could cover them with something cute for the girls' room, a box a fabric that I'm sure I'll use someday (maybe to cover the pillows?), and shoes that Todd bought that hurt his feet - I'm supposed to sell them on ebay. On the sewing cabinet, a stack of Emma's homeschool stuff, the sewing box (which needs to be reorganized), a stack of books I've either read or might read, some Christmas presents that I can't put under the tree because Aubrie will destroy them, a pile of broken things that Mommy is supposed to fix - hair bows that need new clips, a few Christmas ornaments that have already fallen off the tree, Jessie's decapitated angel, and last year's pages from my organizer that I need to go through (I write down things for the girls' baby books on them and haven't culled everything from 2006, and 2007 is breathing down my neck!).

Moving further around the room is my picture/craft table that isn't visible with piles on top and underneath. Am I the only one like this? I think this room has gotten so out of control that I'm afraid of it - hence, the scary room. When I have an hour or two to spare, I can hardly bear to think about working in there because it is so overwhelming! I've just spent a few hours in the room, and I feel like I have very little to show for it. I've labeled a few packets of pictures and have put pictures from 2004 and 2005 into albums; not even a full stack off of my picture table. And, yes, I'm just now putting 2004 and 2005 into albums. So sad, I know. Please tell me there's someone else out there as bad as me!

I truly don't know what people do without a scary room, are they really so organized that they don't need one? I used to think that I could be one of those personal organizers that could help people get control of their lives, organize closets, declutter, etc. Lately, I think I need to hire one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All Was Calm,...

I've taken no time to blog lately or even to read some of my favorites - seems like there has been no extra time! I really want to post some pics of our tree; maybe I'll get to that before Christmas! Even sitting down now, I can't really gather my thoughts for a coherent post, and we're really not overly busy. I promise! I really want this Christmas to be enjoyable without killing myself. I've decided to not put up every decoration I own and to not worry with some of the fresh greenery stuff I usually do. I've even said "no" to a few Christmas activities. It has been surprisingly pleasant to not feel like we have a million events crammed into such a tiny space of time.

Each year we tell our kids that Christmas is about Jesus, but so much of what we do isn't about Him. So, we're slowing down a bit. We're actually using the advent wreath that I bought last year (that was never lit). The girls love telling us why we light each candle, and it's a great way to start dinner each night. I hope to keep this calm pace going even as things get a little bit more busy over the next two weeks. I hope to keep what is important truly important.

I've gotta run - I have a date with a cute husband and a movie!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheese Straws

As promised a LONG time ago, here's the recipe for cheese straws from Paige. I'm going to try and make some today to add to my cold winter night gift bags.

Cheese straws (from Paula Deen)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Combine butter and cheese in food processor. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt & cayenne and add to the food processor bowl. Pulse until the dough forms a ball. Turn onto wax paper & roll into small logs. Wrap each log in the wax paper & twist the ends to keep airtight. Refrigerate until firm enough to slice.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats or use nonstick sheets.

3. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices & place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely before placing into airtight tins. Dough may be placed into resealable plastic freezer bags & frozen. Baked cheese straws may be frozen in tins. To reheat, place frozen cheese straws in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catching Up

Wow, it's really interesting coming back from a long trip and landing right in the throws of Christmas stuff! I must say that due to my husband's wonderful help that we were unpacked from our journey in record time for the Williams family. Normally, I end up wondering where clothes are only to find a bag that didn't get unpacked lying under a pile of dirty laundry. I'm still kinda reeling from the fact that we got it done so quickly - we got back Sunday night, and all was squared away by Tuesday afternoon.

Anyway, I've gotten some Christmas lists made but still not a thing purchased - I am moving in that direction, though. I think I need to make a master to-do list sometime this weekend just to keep it from all floating around in my head!

On the mission front, we're in a holding pattern for right now (which comes at a GREAT time since I can't imaging working on that and having an enjoyable holiday season at the same time). All of our medical/personality/education stuff has been submitted, and we wait while that is all processed. If all of this looks okay, then we'll move to the next step which involves writing an autobiography and our statement of beliefs.

Back to Thanksgiving - bear with me while I jump from one thing to the next - I've got some great pictures that I've been wanting to share. We had a wonderful time and actually got to be tourists and visit the Stockyards - something I had never done! We all had a great time - couldn't have asked for a prettier day.

This is us eating a wonderful meal at Risky's BBQ...yummy!

We wanted to ride the train in Trinity Park, but it's only open on weekends. We opted for the Water Gardens instead.

Later that night we ate at Poncho's. The jalepenos made my dad's head sweat! :-)
These are from our playdate with the Isbells. So much fun!

Later that night we ate at Chic-fil-A (I can't seem to escape it.) with the Elledges and Verigans - we formed a kid table so the grown ups could talk! Sorry, the picture is minus Aubrie and Rowdy who were strapped down in high chairs, of course!

This is in Tioga, TX on the way to Lake Texhoma - this is apparently the hometown of Gene Autrey.

There's a petting farm at the marina where we stayed. Yes, the girls used hand gel immediately following the petting experience.

This is the whole gang after we were stuffed with our Thanksgiving feast. We were nice and toasty on such a cold day!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Safely to the land where bigger is better...

I really do love Texas, but it's so true that here if it's bigger, it is, by all means, better. This has nothing to do with anything in particular except that is the one stereotype of Texas that I find to be true.

I always swore that I was never going to have a vehicle with a DVD player in it. (Mer, I think we talked about that once.) By golly, if I could play license plate games, so could my kids! Well, let me tell you that eating crow (Is that the correct use of that expression?) never tasted sooo good! The girls did great on the trip from MS to TX. They watched Peter Pan before nap and Little Mermaid after. That just about got us to Grand Prairie without a major meltdown. Notice I said, "almost." About an hour out from my dad's house, Aubrie decided that she'd had enough of the van. My mommy resources were slim. I had stayed up way too late the night before, and my Starbucks double shot was wearing off. I was threatening all kinds of torture if she didn't quiet down when Nanny called. Oh, did God ever know that I needed Nanny to call at that moment. Just hearing me say that Nanny was on the phone brought the first cessation of crying that we'd had in about 20 minutes. They talked about the kitties and how much Nanny loved her for a good while. Peace, silence, even some laughter! Thank the Lord for Nannies!! Aubrie hung up on Nanny a couple of times, but I was not daunted! I called her back and handed Aubrie the phone. "Wanna talk to Nanny?" Of course she did!! Several conversations later we were exiting off the highway. Aubrie began to cry again, but the end was in site. Besides, I was marveling at all the places that were just blocks from my dad's house...Khol's, Target, Starbucks, Taco Cabana. Oh, to be in the land of my birth!

So, I just rambled on and on without any paragraph breaks, but I'm far too tired to go back and decide where they should be. Gonna leave it like it is. Hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving with the people they love. I'm so looking forward to seeing some friends and visiting with family that haven't even met my younger two children...absolutely dreadful, I know.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Girls' Night

This weekend is the opening weekend of deer season so the girls and I planned a date night for last night. I love that they are so easy to please. We decided to make hot chocolate, s'mores and rent Aristocats. They were absolutely delighted with the plan and were hopped up on serious amounts of caffeine.

I was so glad it was chilly yesterday - it made it even more fun running our errands in the afternoon to get ready for our date. I tried to talk them into going outside for our treats, but they said it was too cold. My southern gals...

Instead, we lit a candle on the dining table to roast our marsh mellows, and Aubrie had a great time sharing with me. Her first s'mores - how fun!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Queen for a Day

Each week at Jessie's dance class one little girl gets to be the queen. Well, yesterday was finally her day. Of course, I think she was a graceful and elegant queen ruling over her subjects with justice and mercy!

A very wise women told me right before Todd and I were married that if I didn't feel like he was treating me like a queen, that I should ask myself if I was treating him like my king. Ouch! I really don't like that - I'd much rather whine about how I feel I should be treated. Of course, the prinicple is so true. Our love shouldn't be based on how we're being treated (which is actually much better than I deserve). After all, "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners."

So, my question for you today is, "Are you treating your man like a king?"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Camping We Will Go

The first camping trip at the deer camp was a hit! Todd and Jerry wanted to try out their new tent before gun season opens and decided to take Emma along. I was a little sad to miss the occasion, but after Jessie and Aubrie being sick/teething for the last two weeks, I was glad for some Mommy time. (Jessie had a girls' night with Nan, and Aubrie and I went to Blockbuster and Bops, land of my weakness, the Moch Chocha Ya Ya.) Anyway, it was much-needed time for everyone involved!

As you can see, Emma is in her element in the great outdoors, and by all reports, had a wonderful time. Wildlife encountered: one owl, some crows, and two deer - one alive and one dead in a ditch.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Homemade Help

Okay, for the three or maybe four of you who read this, I need some help. I really love receiving homemade gifts, and this year I would like to give some. Now, granted, I don't have a lot of time - I think the holiday season has completely ambushed me this year. Two years ago I was finished Christmas shopping in Sept. Last year I was done by the end of October. I'm in trouble, folks.

So here's my plea - I need ideas of things I can do that are thoughtful and simple. Maybe something that you've given or received in the past. If I don't get any help, a lot of people are going to end up with banana bread!

I'm ready for your wonderful ideas!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Painting Pumpkins and Bridesmaids Already?

My girls wanted to pain pumpkins the other day so I let them. If you know me, you know I am NOT crafty so this was a great thrill for them, and we all had fun. Notice I laid newspaper down on the table, but Emma managed to get paint under the paper. She is my girl! I even let Aubrie paint - she did eat a little but not enough to do any harm!

Hope you take time to enjoy whatever makes your fall fun!

P.S. I almost forgot. Emma started naming her bridesmaids the other day. This from the girl who says she's never going to marry so she can live with us forever!

This is only a test...

'Tis the season for colds, and our house has already experienced it's share. We really needed to bite the bullet and see the doctor so this morning I called and made an appointment. I knew it was going to be tight - we had 45 min. to get ready. Not much for me and three wee ones who were still finishing up breakfast! We rushed around, and I determined that there was not time for "fixing" my hair and doing the whole make-up thing. Au not my favorite way to leave the house.

We get buckled in only 5 minutes late which is really good for me. Plus, it takes all of 2 seconds to get to our doctor's office around the corner. I put the key in the ignition, turn the key, nothing, nada; the thing doesn't even pretend to turn over. Back inside we all go. Cancelled appointment, tow truck called.

In my brain, I hear the words, "This is only a test." I have to admit I did let a few tears fall in the van - such a girl moment for me. But then, I remembered lines from one of my favorite books of all time, The Hiding Place, when Corrie's sister Betsie is praising God for the lice in their barracks. Corrie is less-than-enthusiastic in this exercise but goes along for the ride. Later, they find out that they are able to hold their Bible study in the barracks because the guards won't come in for fear of catching the lice.

Okay, I'm not in a German concentration camp - my test is so small in comparison, but I think the principle is still the same! God has a purpose in the van not starting. Maybe it's just to see if I'll loose it or not - something I'm constantly having to pray about. Whatever the reason, God is sovereign, and there is much peace in that!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Price of Things Lost

I actually wrote this a few days ago when I decided that I would eventually start a blog and knew I would want to share this. By the way, I found the ring a few hours later when I wasn't even looking for it!

Today I lost a ring that belonged to my grandmother. Inside, I was crushed. I’m pretty sure that my grandfather made the ring as jewelry-making was a hobby of his. Anyway, I decided, contrary to my nature, not to freak out and make a big scene about my loss. I simply told the girls that if they saw it anywhere, to let me know. No time spent searching or bemoaning my loss.

I thought about my possessions for a minute. Yes, the ring was precious to me, but how much more would the Lord require from me as we prepare to go overseas. I’m a pack rat – I love old things, and as we’ve had the most storage space over the years, most of my family’s “old” things have been kept at our house. What am I going to do with them? The thought of selling them makes me sick to my stomach. I’m hoping my sisters and my dad will take some of them (hint-hint), but I know their space is limited, too.

Next, my thoughts went to wedding presents that had been given to us ten years ago and what would become of them. “Wow, this is going to hurt.” We love our house and our modest furnishings inside. We have a small house that we like to call a cottage – seems less dumpy that way. I’m by no means an interior decorator, but the things inside our house are full of memories. I think we’ve bought one “new” piece of furniture in ten years, and it looks old. The rest are hand-me-downs, all the things no one else had room for that I couldn’t bear to part with.

Chalk this up to one of many areas the Lord is going to have to carve away in me. I’ll probably always love old things and continue to cherish the past. My prayer is that I won’t get that “torn” feeling inside when I think about parting with them. After all, what cost is it really? What more did Jesus give up to come and rescue me? I pray that whether we stay or go, that my heart will forever be changed about my “things” - that I will never cling too tightly to things on which the moths and dust are going to have a hay day!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My First Post

Since we've applied to go overseas with the International Mission Board, keeping everyone up-to-date on our progress is getting more and more difficult. Not because there's much going on in the process right now - I just can't remember what I've told to whom! I'm hoping that this blog will be a way for me to work through the many thoughts I have everyday about what life will look like in maybe less-than-a-year from now.

On that note, my first post has nothing to do with mission work - instead, I have pics of the girls from last night. I'll try to be more thoughtful next time around! Oh, and I worked on this, but I couldn't figure out how to get my pictures to post under my text. Just imagine that they're there.