Thursday, March 27, 2008

To God by the Glory!!

God has been really teaching me something lately, LIFE is all about HIM. Several comments on my blog in the past few weeks, comments by a friend at Bible Study, comments from my husband, and just life in general have really been swirling around in my head this week. I am not sure how to put all of this into words, so I want to be simple, plain, and try not to ramble. I promise I have a point. . .
The other day in Bible Study my friend at georgia momwas explaining a quote by Oswald Chambers from the book My Utmost for His Highest. (this is an incredible daily devotional book I first read in college, get it if you don't have it) Anyway, I am totally misquoting, but basically it said, "If people go away from you thinking, she is such a great christian, she does such great things, etc. etc, then that's wrong, we should be pointing them to the cross and to Christ and to God, they should leave us thinking about HIM". Oh how that is my desire.

I want to be very honest, real, and transparent here. I AM NOTHING without Christ. Several people have commented to me they are in awe of me and what I do because I have 11 children, etc. etc. Please don't look at what I do and look at me, look at Christ and know I am here because God called us to this ministry. This is the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life. Not only the daily grind of completing tasks for a household of 13, but the emotional baggage this job carries with it. God is working in my life as much as HE is 'SAVING' these kids physically as well as spiritually; he is working on me too. Please don't look at my blog and think I have it all together, please don't look at us at church, school, the community, and think we have it all together. WE DON'T. Trust me, we don't. We are like every other family, we have disagreements ( more of them because there are more of us), we get sick, we forget to do laundry, we have dirty bathrooms with dirty bath mats, we forget lunches and homework in the mornings. . and the list is too long to share. I blog because I want others to learn from our mistakes and be blessed by what CHRIST has done, NOT US!!! I don't want any credit (disclaimer: except from my selfish post awhile back-see I am human, but then later apologized)

I have to tell many of you that don't know us in real life: My kids do an awesome job with their chores. I have 5, yes, 5, teenage girls that are moms in training!!! They help with so much around the house, and I know I don't tell them enough. I could not do this without them. One, begged her caseworker to find her a home with a baby. . ME was two months old when she moved in. She was literally like a surrogate mother for me. She helped ME and myself with lots and lots and lots. I could not have done it without her. I have taught these girls how to cook, clean, and do laundry. They are learning, but have gotten pretty good. They do a lot. My children have a chore every day, yes every day. Yours should too. It has done wonders for teaching responsibility and teamwork. So don't think that I do it all, I don't!!! The things that are getting done, I owe to my precious family. I guess you could say I am just a pretty good delegator (my very highest points on my spiritual gifts test was administration, are you shocked? -see, God given talents)

I am going to be really honest now and share with you what Chip Ingram calls "transparent character" and say that my husband has said for years, his biggest beef with me is that I won't admit when I am wrong. I am a work in progress. I want God to use that, chip away at me, and use me for HIS kingdom. God is working on me too, I struggle with pride just like everyone else. I would love to say, yes, I am great, I am the mother of 11 and I do it flawlessly, BUT I DON'T. I want to once again be real, authentic, and truthful. I am a sinner saved by HIS grace, I am not perfect, and I am learning everyday how to be more of a servant for HIM. To God be the Glory, not mine!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The new music?

My friend at a post from the left coast inspired me to add some music to my blog. I hope it does not bug any of you while you are reading. I love, love, love christian music. I even had a secret wish while in college to sing someday with a christian group. J and I both come from a heritage that has been blessed with lots of musical talent. (J can totally play by ear and taught himself to play the bagpipes and guitar, he also can play the trumpet incredibly well. . by ear) His Dad is quite the singer and even had a "rock star" band in the 60s, whew, that's another post. It seems most of my family, including J has been gifted with the talent to play instruments by ear. I, however have to play by reading music. That really fits my personality too, because I seem to want to do things "by the book" as they say.

I was raised going to church EVERY time the church doors were open, and you better believe if there was a choir rehearsal, I was at that too. However, I tell you that not to compare myself to those that say that jokingly, but I say it with respect. I loved being raised in a christian home and I love all of my "home" churches. (I am also a "pk", preacher's kid) In the 5Th grade, I was even selected to sing on a recording that our children's choir director was working on with David Clydesdale. Many of you may not even know who he is or was, but he was a famous music composer within the christian music world during the 80s and 90s. He may still be out there somewhere. Anyway, the musical was called "Don't Give Up". I was selected to have the only children's solo on the title song. Hysterical, now that I look back. I think my mom actually has the RECORD, YES RECORD somewhere. I could sing it right now if I had to. It is such a memory. But that experience forever engraved in me a Love for worship, praise, and hymns.

My mother is an incredible musician, she wouldn't say that, but everyone that has heard her play the piano or organ would attest to it. In my parents' early years of marriage my dad would perform the wedding ceremony and my mom would play the organ. They were like a little package deal. Performing weddings on the side was a definite bonus to their talents in those early years. (my dad has performed hundreds of weddings and I bet my mom has played at hundreds as well) Anyway, I grew up literally listening to the piano being played in our home as background music almost every evening. I had 3 brothers and including myself at least one of us had to practice the piano every night or played by ear for fun. My oldest brother has his own arrangement he would play frequently ( I could also hum that for you). So. . . needless to say, music has been a part of our life for a long time. My youngest brother even majored in Music Business in college (he has an incredible voice, he sang in my wedding "How Great Thou Art") but it gave him a love for copyright in music, led him to copyright law, and he now works for Microsoft as an attorney, my point is, music opened those doors for him.

It KILLS me every Sunday to sit in the balcony in church and not sing out loud with the choir. I LOVE it when we sing a hymn I know by heart. It literally thrills my soul to sing from my heart. I can't wait for my children to be older, so I can once rejoin my ranks in a choir robe and sing from my heart. Now. . I am not saying, I am the best singer in the world, nor do I aspire to secretly audition for American Idol, BUT I do feel God's pleasure on my when I worship Him in song. Last year, Lisa Harper, a christian women's speaker and author, came and spoke at our church. She had us fill in the blank. . "I feel God's pleasure on me when I _________." For me it is definitely, when I sing. What is it for you? May you strive to seek what talents and gifts the Lord has given you that you may use for His glory.

So. . I hope you don't mind listening to my tunes I selected for my blog spot. If you don't like it you can use the pause button and turn it off!!

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. Psalm 47:6-7

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter 2008!! I apologize in advance for the large amount of pictures, but I wanted to capture our entire weekend. Our first surprise was a gift of two new chicks which the kids named Suzy and Shadow. We also have 4 new baby kittens born the first day of spring. I couldn't help include pictures of flowers that filled our weekend. We have new life all around us!!! What a great analogy for the Easter weekend.

We also enjoyed time at my parents' house out in the country, dyeing Easter Eggs, hunting for eggs AGAIN, enjoying treats from the Easter bunny, attending an incredible worship service to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection, and an incredible Easter lunch with my husband's family. WHEW!! I have spent a relaxing afternoon resting and waiting for all the photos to load onto the computer. Well, enjoy the photos and I am off to make egg salad and ham sandwiches for dinner. YUM!! ( we have lots of eggs to eat!!)

Meet Shadow and Suzy!!
Beautiful flowers at my parent's house out in the country!!
I loved the sunlight on K's face in this one.
A photo opportunity after ANOTHER egg hunt with cousins.

Artists at work!!
Our finished artwork!!
Easter surprises we found this morning.
The Easter bunny hid our eggs we dyed last night!! (It was FREEZING!!)
I love a good, happy face first thing in the morning.

I managed to capture a few goodies in our Easter best this morning and afternoon.

Our Easter feast was delicious and we enjoyed fun family time with grandparents and Aunt Jen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The LONG and SHORT of it

This (beautiful lengths) is where our hair will be going this week. I saw Hillary Swank have her hair cut by Oprah on tv last fall and it inspired me. Our own little K cut her hair and sent it to Locks of Love last fall. Unfortunately ME and I didn't have enough to send, but beautiful lengths will take 8 inches. I am so proud of my little ME, what a trooper, she was determined that her hair was going to help someone.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another Easter Egg Hunt

J in action!!
Little T hits the jackpot!!
The search for the prize egg!!
Lots of fun!!
I can't believe Dad caught a shot head on, we usually get the back side in most egg hunts!!

Preschool Easter Parties

I just love a good egg hunt, don't you? During my own google search, I found many different beliefs about how the Easter Egg actually came about. Although there are many different beliefs, most hold true to the historical fact that eggs represent new life. Even in Passover traditions the egg represents new life. How impacting for Christians that "we no longer live, but Christ in us." His life in us is a powerful piece to the gospel.

Our preschool egg hunts and parties were held this week. We hosted ME's pre-K 4/5 classes from school and had a great, COLD time. Because of rain, J's sweet, little friends all had to hunt in our church's chapel. It was creative and dry, but I thought to myself, "should we be doing this in here?" It was the first time we had hunted eggs among hymnals and pew Bibles. Too cute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Home Again, Home Again!!

Dad hit Krispy Kreme just in time for hats and "hot off the line!"

I added this photo for obvious reasons!

"Um, I'm not so sure about this!"
"Okay, I'm good!"
ME takes flight!!
J always chooses the Carousel!!

Go-Carts are always a crowd favorite!!!
Who would have imagined? A Rainforest Zoo in the middle of Pigeon Forge!!

It is good to be home. We had a fabulous time in the mountains, but as always, it is good to sleep in my own bed and have the kids in theirs. Our cabin was once again a perfect fit for the kids and they had a ball. They would move from game to game, table game to table game, then movie theatre to hot tub. Perfect. They stayed busy and mom and dad relaxed. We slept late, went to bed late, ate lots of Krispy Kreme donuts and saw the kids' favorite, Dixie Stampede. Dad even got picked from the audience to compete on a stick horse. Hilarious!!! Enjoy the pictures!!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Have you ever watched a sunrise? As I was driving the kids to school this morning I noticed an advertisement for our college campus' Easter Sunrise Service on top of the mountain. I thought to myself, wow that would be awesome, but getting 11 kids ready on Easter morning, etc, etc. I didn't think anything else about the sunrise until I was heading back onto campus and I noticed something miraculous in my rearview mirror. The one positive to Daylight Savings Time is that those of us who are not morning people get to experience a sunrise every now and then since the sun rises much later. As I was pulling west toward our house, I noticed a bright orange light in my rearview mirror. Within seconds, literally, this huge ball of orange began appearing in the entire perfect rectangle of the mirror. I knew God provided that little moment for me. Not 20 minutes earlier, had I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to watch a sunrise and there it was, perfectly in my view. Even though I DON'T have time to stop and sit and wait for it, God brought it to me!!!

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

God does care about the little things in our lives: sunrises, schedules, our heartbreaks, laundry, coffee, groceries, boo-boos we don't get kissed, unruly kids, and all the things we see everyday. GOD CARES!!!

I love the words to the song by Chris Tomlin, Indescribable:
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light?
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night.
None can fathom!

God also made the earth for us!! The beauty of this miraculous temporary home is just a mili-fraction (is that a word?) of the beauty and splendor we will experience for eternity.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

God has revealed HIS invisible qualities and power even in the most simple of sunrises. Thank you Lord for reminding me of this today.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happy Birthday B!!

Today is my older brother's birthday. Whatever fun events you all have planned, enjoy. And Happy Birthday!!!

Watch out Gatlinburg, Here comes the GANG!!!

This year for Spring Break, we decided on a low-key, low maintenance trip to Gatlinburg to our favorite resort spot. ( The cabins are fabulous and totally meet our family's needs. (big) This year we are renting a 5 bedroom and are still figuring out where to put everyone. The kids love the hot tub, game room, and in house movie theatre. Mom and Dad love that the kids are occupied and can just sit and relax.

A family favorite (most of us are horse people) is Dixie Stampede. My hubby has secured 13 tickets, but we have to cheer on the North team. S said, "but don't they know we're from the south". Maybe our team will win. I am not a fan of eating dinner with your hands in basically a barn, but it is a fun show and the kids enjoy ALL the animals.

We also love the Ripley's Aquarium. It is packed full of lots of "fishies" as J calls them and "shoks" (sharks). We are packing away tonight and plan on checking the kids out tommorow to head on out of town. So. . . watch out Gatlinburg, here we come!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

Just a glimpse of my morning pharmacy routine!

How many of you out there are with me? We have 5 of us on antibiotics as we speak. Above you see my morning lineup, you should see the kids just lined up like baby birds ready for their morning feeding. I commented in an email to my bible study group that if Sam's sold a huge bottle of Amoxicillan in the 875mg pills, we would be lined up ready to buy them. (we have so many of us on it right now) I guess though if you take the percentage of our family vs. another family, we're doing pretty good for this to be the 1st time this winter we have had so many sick.

We are ready for warm, sunny days, Long afternoons playing outside, AND no more sickness. We have run the gamut of illnessess over here: strep throat, sinus infection, pink eye, ear infection, and colds and coughs galore. So. . . that's why we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Spring Break is next week, beautiful days are in the forecast and we are shaking off this yuckiness as fast as we can. Thanks for enduring my complaints!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our Weekend

We had two cute things happen this weekend so of course I had to blog about them.

Dad was away on an officer's retreat with our church, so this is what the girls did to Johnny!!

We had a LITTLE snow Saturday morning, so the kids enjoyed some fun time outside "trying" to come up with a snowball.

Friday, March 7, 2008

2nd Cup of Coffee

I am a relatively new coffee lover. Growing up my dad was an avid follower of the "Barnie's" flavored coffees and every Christmas we would fondly give him the newest and best smelling flavors. J has always loved the stuff, but I just couldn't bring myself to "fall in love with it". Since little J was born (now 2 1/2), I have loved the stuff. I take two splendas and Fat Free Coffee Mate Hazelnut Creamer. I HAVE to have at least one cup, sometimes two.

I also LOVE Starbucks Mocha Light Frappucino.(a tall is only 2.5 weight watcher points)On the days that I have had 2 cups of coffee and too much Diet Coke, you can get decaf, but only at the freestanding Starbucks (not at the one in Barnes and Noble). It's sad that I know that. This year for Valentine's Day, I gave J a gift card to Starbucks and he gave me one. I guess we now have a common interest.

I love Friday mornings because my preschoolers are home with me. Today, in particular it is a dark, rainy morning and I am on my 2nd cup of coffee. I love it. The laundry is going, J is sleeping late, and ME and I are watching a movie. We will get going after while, usually out to "run errands" as we call it and grab lunch. Oh how I will miss my Fridays with the two of them when ME goes to Kindergarten next year. There are days that they are not the most well-behaved sibling pair, but some days we all have such fun together. So for today, I am loving my 2nd cup and enjoying my kiddos.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Times Get Hard!!! Just pray!!!

It seems today I have been bamboozled by a list of prayer requests and concerns from fellow church members and friends. Loved ones in dire circumstances, sickness, surgeries, cancer, deaths, life is just hard. I felt especially called to pray with a close friend today before heading into a meeting. Although we arrived rather late, the precious time we spent going before the Father totally transformed my heart and attitude ABOUT all the sadness.

That's what prayer does, it not only calls on God to hear us, but it changes our hearts. Having that relationship with Him is a huge message of Christianity. Not that we go to heaven, that's the icing on the cake, but that we KNOW Him as He knows us. Teaching that to our children is rather hard as they can't SEE the benefits of prayer. I often try to talk of those that have been healed from sicknesses we have prayed for, so they may gradually learn of God's healing hand. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Jesus is our High Priest that has gone before us, he was totally human, yet totally God; therefore HE can sympathize with us in life. He KNOWS us and he knows how hard it (life) can be. What did Jesus do in His most desperate moment in the Garden? He prayed. He lived the perfect life as a perfect example. Therefore we must follow His example and take our requests before the Father, just as He did.

Jesus also prayed that the Lord's will would be done, we must be okay with that concept as well. God is in control and He is sovereign. He has a plan for all of us and His Good will be accomplished. Romans 8:28 tells us "all things work together for Good for those He loves and that are called according to His purpose".

To all my dear friends that are hurting, sick, or have dear loved ones that are, please know I am praying for all of you today.