Friday, May 30, 2014

Hannah Happenings

I love this girl!  I mean, really.  She makes me crazy and makes me laugh all at the same time!  I often joke that if she would have been born first, she would have been an only child.  The sad thing is that I am not sure I am joking! ;)  Seriously, our lives would not be complete without her and she fits into our family just perfectly.

Hannah is now 2 years and 7 months old.  She is extremely verbal!!!  Like she can carry on a full-blown conversation with anyone and you can almost understand everything that she is saying!  She is very active and runs away from me all of the time.  We are working on it.  She is into everything.  You give her about 15 minutes of freedom and she is destroying something!!!  Maybe she will be an engineer when she grows up!  LOL!

She knows her ABCs and she can count to 10, maybe higher, not sure.  She displays dominance in her left hand about 90% of the time.  She loves to sing but gets shy when asked to show other people!  She loves going to church and loves playing with her sisters.  She really will be the life of the party when she is older.  Oh, and she LOVES the iPad!!!!!

She still gets up usually at least one time a night.  We rock, she goes back to sleep!  This has gotten so much better than it used to be when she would wake up MULTIPLE times in the night and just stay up.  Thank you lavender essential oils!!!!!

Hannah loves the water and she loves french fries!  She does not like to eat really...she could take it or leave it but when she is hungry, she wants to eat what SHE wants to eat.  She is very strong-willed.  I thought that Rachel was my strong-willed child but she has NOTHING on this one!!!!

She is very kind-hearted.  She does not like for her sisters to cry or get in trouble.  If someone is crying, she will run to them and ask what is wrong and give hugs and kisses.  She wants everyone to be happy like her.

Hannah is happy most of the time.  She smiles so big you can't see her squinty little eyes.  She loves life.  That's just the bottom line!!!  She's full of life and just takes every opportunity to enjoy it! :)  She loves calling everyone ______ Grace.  She will run around calling me Mommy Grace!!!!  I love it!

I honestly cannot imagine our lives without this little girl!  She makes us laugh, has made me cry on occasion, and she keeps us on our toes!!!  I pray that she grows up to love Jesus as much as she loves life.  

Hannah Grace, we love you!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Day I Became a Christian

I love blogging.  Now that I am not working as much you would think that I would have more time to blog more regularly but it just isn't on my "list."  What am I talking about?  I don't make lists!!  Hmm...maybe I should.  That might help.  I digress....where was I? helps me to keep track of our ever so fast life.  It helps me to feel like I am processing different thoughts and feelings.  I am a processor.  And my hope is that my blogging will also benefit others that read it.  Maybe you can relate to where I am in life somehow or you have dealt with some of the same things that I have.  My biggest hope is that it points others to Christ and if any of my readers are not Christ followers that they know what that means and how to do that.  

Today, in this post, I am going to share a part of my testimony....the road that lead me to Christ, how easy it was to trust in Him, and how you, too can do that if you haven't already.

I grew up in a home in the DFW area that was not the best place for a child to be.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I was happy for the most part and it wasn't always bad.  It was a home filled with lots of love from my Granny and Papa and my mom and dad when they weren't doing drugs.  I am sure they loved me all of the time, but when you are under the influence of drugs, it is really hard to show a child the appropriate kind of love.  I grew up with cousins and aunts and uncles.  I don't want you to think that everything about my childhood was horrible but there was a large part of it that was.  Like I said, there were drugs, I witnessed many episodes of domestic violence, I lived with grandparents and aunts/uncles while my parents were trying to "figure things out."  I feared that someday I would come home from school and my mom would not be alive.  I saw things that no one should ever see, especially a little girl my age.  Yet, I didn't know any better.  I remember being scared most of the time but I remember never wanting to leave my parents' side.  God protected me all of this years for a reason.  I knew that I was being kept safe but I was not sure really who God was and that He was the One preparing me for what my life would be like later.  He had big plans for me!

My mom finally stopped doing drugs and she and I rode a Greyhound bus from Dallas to Hope, Arkansas which marked the last time that we left my dad after about 50 times of doing so before.  I was one month shy of 14, I was angry at my mom, I was bitter, and I did not want to leave my friends and my school.  I was miserable for the first several months of living there.  We moved in November 1994 and in February the following year, I was invited by a friend at school to go to her church Valentine's party.  I had the best time.  I met some wonderful people who really seemed like they cared about me even though they had just met me.  It was refreshing and confusing all at the same time.  I went with this friend several times on Wednesday nights to this small church for awhile and quit going during the summer.  Then, the following August, my life changed.

My friend asked me again to go to church with her in August.  I was to spend the day with her and her family.  We went to church that Sunday morning, then a youth rally that afternoon, church again that evening, and then a youth back to school party that night at the home of Christi and Charlie Zumwalt.  I went to church that morning and did not understand all of the statements about being saved.  I wasn't sure what I was in danger of.  :)  That afternoon at the youth rally God really started speaking to me.  There was a sweet girl that sang and gave her testimony about becoming a Christian and she sang the song "Jesus Will Still Be There."  I knew that something was missing in my life.  We went back to church that evening and I began asking questions.  At the youth rally that night, I spoke with a few friends and I asked Jesus to come live, rule and reign in my heart.  I recognized that I was a sinner and that God sent his Son, Jesus to die on the cross for those sins.  I understood that nothing I can do can separate from His love and that He will be with me forever to help me live on this earth.  I was so excited that I would live forever with Him in heaven.  Hell did not sound like a good option and before this day, that is where I was headed. I did not understand everything that night but it began my walk with Christ.  It was August 27, 1995.  

That day marks a very special day in my life.  Has it always been easy?  NO!  Have I messed up?  More than I can say.  There have been times when I wondered if I could even be a Christ follower because of the choices I have made.  God does not ask us to be perfect, He only asks us to rely on Him to show us the way to live.  He is faithful.  He protected me and I know that He lives within me. God's grace is sufficient and He forgives.  It does not matter what you have done or where you have been, Christ can save you and Christ WILL forgive you!!!  He wants to.  If you think it's too bad, believe me, it's not.  Satan is good at telling us lies.  

I walked the aisle at church the next week and was baptized showing others that I knew that Christ loves me and died for my sins on September 10, 1995.  

If you have questions about this, please PLEASE let me know.  I would love to talk with you!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lord, Change My Attitude

A few months back, our women's ministry at church did a Bible study called Lord, Change My Attitude by James MacDonald.  Let me just say, it was incredibly convicting!  Even the weeks and subjects that I didn't think would be a huge issue for me proved to be where God worked the most.  I wanted to blog about it each week but my life is just a little crazy and I didn't get a chance to do that. Then, I started a few weeks ago, going through each week to share what God was showing me through those weeks and realized that it was going to be incredibly long and I would probably lose all two most of you.  So, let me just give you a brief overview and encourage you to do this study.  I cannot say that it was fun but I will do the dramatic and say that it was life changing!

It was a 10-week study with the following subjects.

Weeks 1 & 2 - Replacing a Complaining Attitude With An Attitude of Thankfulness

Weeks 3 & 4 - Replacing a Covetousness Attitude With An Attitude of Contentment

Weeks 5 & 6 - Replacing a Critical Attitude With An Attitude of Love

Weeks 7 & 8 - Replacing a Doubting Attitude With An Attitude of Faith

Weeks 9 & 10 - Replacing a Rebellious Attitude With An Attitude of Submission

See...I told you it wasn't necessarily fun but definitely good.  Just the outline of the chapters is enough to scare most people away.  :)

Some things that stood out to me in those 10 weeks.....

I complain....a lot.  I am truly truly working on this.  I am trying to teach my children that God does not like complaining and I certainly don't like to hear them complain.  One of the things I thought about most of all was when I spend all day long cleaning the house and someone comes home and talks about what I didn't do.  How frustrating is that?  I wonder how God must feel when He has given me so much and I still continue to complain about every little petty thing and the big things too!!!  It isn't becoming and it will ruin a testimony.

Complaining hurts yourself, hurts God, and hurts the people around you.  YOUR GRIPING POISONS THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.  

Complaining turns us away from all of the good things that God has done.

I have noticed when I start to complain and I pray....immediately.  Not every time but I am a work in progress.

Contentment...oh boy.  Honestly, I am not sure if this week or the week on a critical attitude hit me the hardest but this was definitely a hard week for me.  My husband and I talk all the time about why I am not happy.  I mean, I am happy sometimes but for the most part I just feel like something is missing.  The most profound thought from this week:  He is enough.  Things, people, whatever CANNOT make me happy.  Happiness and joy are not the same thing and joy comes from the Lord.  Joy is within and when I realize that God wants what is best for me I will have that joy.  When my desires line up with God's desires for me.  Before I can have that oneness and be in tune with Christ, I must listen to Him and respond to His call and spend more time with him.  I am working on that too.  Again, it is a process.

I recently saw the movie Mom's Night Out.  It was GREAT!!  Super funny but more importantly, it had some very serious life lessons for busy moms with small children who just don't feel quite adequate in the world that feel like it is spinning out of control.  Allyson, the main character is a blogger and blogged at the end of the movie:

My life needs to change in order for me to be happy: FALSE.  I MUST change in order for me to be happy.  

God has given me exactly what I need to be the mother to my children because He has given them to me.  

I am a failure:  FALSE.  I am a mess but I am His mess.  I am a work in progress and

At one point, she said, "When I was a little girl, I wanted this.  I wanted a loving husband and beautiful kids.  Why am I not happy?"  Later in the movie she talked about not being enough and a very wise, yet unsuspecting character asked her, "For who?"  She talked about all of the people that she was not good enough for and he simply told her that the only person that she was measuring up to was herself.  He told her to quit being so hard on herself.  

DING DING!!!!  It just spoke SO much to me.  God is good and gives us JUST what we need why do we search for so much more?  

I do have a critical attitude.  I am sure that most of that stems from being a perfectionist.  I notice things...spelling errors, grammatical errors.  Am I perfect?  ABSOLUTELY not!!!!  Do I like it when people point out my faults.  Well, no.  I have caught myself several times since this study refraining from correcting someone when they made silly mistakes if they didn't matter.  One of the biggest issues with being critical is that it harbors negativity.  I am trying and praying and on my knees begging almost for Christ to transform me from the person that everyone thinks I am into the person that I really am - a loving, giving, caring person that just wants to be kind and gentle.  I see progress but it is slow and I get frustrated with the process.  :)  One step at a time.

One of the common themes in the Bible study from beginning to end was that God is faithful when we are not.  That has been such a profound statement for me in the past few days, months, and years that I can hardly stand it!!!  I mean, I can say it over and over and over and I believe it but do I TRULY believe it?  If I am not living it out with a right attitude, I think it is hard to display a true belief in that statement.  

I think the last week was probably the week that I felt like I could breathe a little.  I am a rule-follower.  I don't find myself to be very rebellious. At least I didn't, until I read this Bible study.  :/  I do have some "trouble areas" here but not nearly as much as the other "wilderness areas" that MacDonald talks about.  Believe me, I don't feel like I have this subject matter mastered by any stretch of the imagination!  Anytime I get an attitude of not wanting to follow a leader or getting a negative attitude about something that someone told me to do, that qualifies.  The biggest thing from this week was when we talked about God placing leaders and authority figures in place and how if we choose not to honor them, we are choosing not to honor God.  Woah!  Think about that on a political level, employment level, and spiritual leader level.  Mmmm hmmmm.....  yikes.

I have such a long way to go before I have my attitude "in check" and if I ever feel like I am "there" that is the time I will be in trouble.  Like I said, this is a process and we may make progress then have set backs.  The most important thing to remember is that God is there with us.  He is faithful and He never leaves us.  Attitude is such a huge part of who we are.  It can be a "deal breaker" in relationships, marriages, friendships, job environments, churches, etc.  It's a big deal and God thinks so too....anytime you wonder just read about the Israelites and what God did with their bad attitudes!!!

Reason to Rejoice
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