Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending June 27, 2009

Okay, in fairness, this week is going to be the Especially Fab Eleven!!

In honor of my brothers and me who are gathered together without the funeral impetus it normally requires and in age order ...

1. Tim, the older of my two little brothers, who is so dang funny.
2. Heath, the youngest of us three, who is way smarter than me but I love him anyway.

(Okay, in fairness, they are both dang funny & way smarter than me ...)

3. Beth, my sistah, who I could not love more if we were blood kin. For years I wished for a sister and now I have an amazing one!
4. Gwynn, the oldest of the girl cousins, who is so quick-witted!
5. Malcolm, who has the sweetest spirit.
6. Jeffie Jean, Casiday's twin cousin, who is beautiful and helpful and a joy to be around.
7. Daniel, who is so very creative.
8. Little Heath, whose smile is precious - especially with those two missing teeth!
9. Terry, who is adorable and has learned that the water is not all bad since we've arrived.
10. Paulee, who is the cutest thing I have ever seen!
11. Anderson, who is so happy and easy and just watches the action.

What a precious gift to get to spend time with my brothers and their family!! I love you all so very much!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fab Five ... week ending June 20, 2009

Short but sweet this week ...

1. Living close to the beach! We had a great day Friday at the beach with Casiday & two of her friends.

2. New opportunities! God has been opening doors for me and I am so thankful for the exciting new things I am getting to do (like lead an online Bible study on Pleasing to You!).

3. Encouraging friends! I have some amazing women who inspire and encourage me ... and are the kind of friends who push me to step out of my comfort zone and take risks.

4. The Cheesecake Factory! I love this place ... one of my favorite places to eat. Had the best margherita pizza there this week . And of course, the requisite cheesecake! Yum!

5. My Aunt Mollianne! I have the best family ... and I am blessed with many incredible women who have invested in me and loved me since I was little. This week, though, my Aunt Mollianne has been especially instrumental in encouraging me and my sister-in-law Beth in our new endeavors. I love you, Mollianne!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Exciting New Things

I am so excited right now! Beginning Monday, June 22nd, I will be doing an online Bible study at Pleasing to You.

Check out Pleasing to You for more details! I do hope you will join me.

Oh and just to give the heads up, I will be merging these two blogs into one at Pleasing to You at some point this summer. Thanks for reading and I would love to "see" you at the Bible study!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Fun Little Tagging Game

The two most important people in my life! Taken on Memorial Day this year on Jekyll Island, GA. I love this photo.

Okay, this one is fun! I love seeing everyone's pictures. So, since Michelle @ Lollypops & Lizards tagged me I am passing along this fun game to ....

Here's the rules!

The Rules:

1) Go to your photo files…Select the 6th photo folder

2) Select the 6th photo in that folder

3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.

4) Then challenge 5 blog friends to do the same!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending June 13, 2009

Summer has finally begun! Oh I know Casiday has been out of school for two weeks already. And in that two weeks we have made a trip to Alabama for Scott's 20th reunion, Casiday has been to children's camp and Scott & I went on our anniversary trip to Orlando.

But, even with that ... summer had not yet begun until now! See, we still had dance. Casiday loves dance and usually I do too. However, when her spring recital was not until June 13 ... that pushed my love to its limit!! :-)

Okay, that has nothing to do with my Fab Five post but I just needed to get it out there!!

Here goes ...

1. Watching my baby dance! She's not really a baby anymore but she's still my baby and watching her dance brings me such joy.

2. My sweet friend Natalie ... without her at the eternal dress rehearsal Friday night I think I would have a Frightful Five this week instead of Fab. Thanks, Natalie, for making me laugh!

3. Precious older girls who have encouraged and blessed my girl. Alyssa & Madelynne - thank you for encouraging Casiday in dance and life! Judy & Adrianne - thank you for ALL you have done to mold my 9-year-old into who she is! There are so many more who have been a blessing to me as they have connected with my child ... I am so thankful!

4. Dear friends who have encouraged me to write and keep writing. Pattie, Christina, Cyndie, Stacy, Lindsey, Karen ... thank you. Keep pushing me!!

5. New friends from blogworld. Wow! There are some amazing women who are writing relevant and interesting and hilarious blogs that make me laugh, think and even cry sometimes! Check out a few of these ... Like a Warm Cup of Coffee, Pajama Mama, PW - The Real Me, We are THAT Family, Joy in the Journey and so many more! Ladies, you are amazing and I am encouraged, cahllenged, and inspired every time I read ... EVERY time!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Miss me?

I'm not MIA, really! Just been doing a lot more devotional style writing this week on Pleasing to You. I have posted several things this week over there.

Check out these posts ~

"It's in the JunkDrawer" ... some thoughts about the "junk" that gets piled up in my heart. Here's an exerpt ... "And just like I find myself sorting through the papers and whatnot in the catch-all drawer in my house, rarely throwing anything away without first thinking about why I kept it in the first place, there are times when, instead of tossing the trash, I ponder every little item I have collected in my heart’s junk drawer."

"Moldy Shower Curtain Liners" ... ponderings about the hidden things in my life that can become serious issues. "Far too often, I treat my spiritual life the same way I do my bathroom. I do a quick sweep but never really clean. I just pull the pretty shower curtain closed and hide the moldy liner … and I walk away from the mirror unchanged."

"Cleaning Break" ... thoughts about time spent daily in God's Word. This is my "Works for Me Wednesday" post for the week. "One of my earnest desires is to become a woman of wisdom who "builds her house" (Proverbs 14:1) and spending time every day soaking in the "Book of Wisdom" is laying a solid foundation for me in that area."

"Word Filled Wednesday" ... pondering an especially meaningful verse to me this week.

"Who Used the Last Roll of TP?" ... thoughts about our need for patience with others. Just posted this morning!! "That means, not only am I expected to be long-suffering with other people but I am also to choose to let things go. Even the absence of toilet paper."

Won't you take a moment to check out what's happening at "Pleasing to You"? Leave a comment, subscribe, send me an email with ideas for topics or questions you have about spiritual growth or daily Christian living! Would love to "see" you over there ...

I'll still be posting "Fab Five" and "Menu Plan Monday" here as well as other things along the way. But would love to have you visit my little corner of encouragement at "Pleasing to You." (Did I mention you can subscribe to "Pleasing to You"? Because you can!!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday ~ 6/8/09

Busy week ahead ... Dance recital on Saturday so lots of extra rehearsals all week. Plus we just got back from vacation and are trying to not spend a lot of money. So, I'm doing my best to eat out of the freezer.

Monday - Cola Pork Chops, french style green beans, fresh fruit

Tuesday - Stir fry chicken & rice

Wednesday - Bean burritos, corn

Thursday - London broil, parmesan noodles, carrots

Friday - (dress rehearsal for recital) soup & sandwiches

Saturday - (recital) baked chicken with leftover veggies ... or dinner out if we can talk Daddy into that to celebrate the end of dance! ... maybe if we follow the menu exactly he'll be willing!!! *fingers crossed*

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Making lemonade!

So, I am waaaayyyyy behind on this one but ... sweet Nicol on Classy and Sophisticated gave me the Lemonade Award last month. I was so excited about it but was completely distracted by the end-of-the-year madness at Casiday's school and unable to keep the bloggy love going. So, finally, tonight, I am continuing the Lemon-Love fest!

Here are the rules for this award:

1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show an attitude of gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post
4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award
5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award
6. Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude

So, I now pass along the Lemonade Award to the following bloggers (in no particular order, I promise!):

How have I come to have an attitude of gratitude? Well, over the past few years I have noticed that my comments and thoughts have leaned toward the negative - lots of complaining, sarcasm, etc. This year I determined that I am going to have a different mindset. So, I began my "Fab Five" posts for each week. By listing five of the best parts of each week I refocus on the many great people, places, experiences, and more in my life. Things like good coffee, a great book, sweet phone calls, trips with loved ones, and time to reflect receive my attention. I find myself through the week paying attention so I can take note of those "Fab Five" moments! For me, gratitude must be purposeful and intentional ... because the world around me, around all of us, does not encourage looking for the good things, the blessings.

So, thank you, Nicol, for the kind acknowledgement and encouragement. Let's all celebrate the many wonderful things, times, people, and places in our lives - big & small!

Philippians 4:4 ~
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say, Rejoice!

Fab Five ... week ending June 6, 2009

Not sure how to narrow down the good things in my life from the past week. At this moment I am feeling so overwhelmed with blessings! But I'll try ...

1. My husband!! Monday we celebrated our 13th anniversary. In case you missed reading my epic tale of how much I love him, you can find that 2000-word beast here!

2. Dreamland ribs. My most favorite place to get ribs. We stopped there Monday on our way home from taking the girl to camp. "Ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere!"

3. Blue Man Group. We saw the Blue Man Group for the first time while we were in Orlando for anniversary trip. They were amazing! Everyone should see them at least once.

4. Universal CityWalk. Scott & I went one night while we were in Orlando. Scott sang "Sweet Home Alabama" at the live band karaoke club, Rising Star.

5. HOME! As much fun as we had and as nice as it was to get away, there is just no place like home.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Life, More Abundantly


Okay, hopefully, I have your attention. Now, are you ready to have your life changed and made bigger and more wonderful than you ever dreamed? Here we go ...

In Mark 5, we find the account of a man living among the tombs. This man was possessed with demons. Think about this for a moment. This man literally LIVED in the graveyard. He walked every day among the dead. He was tormented by so many demons that they called themselves "Legion." This man was living in death.

Sidebar: What a clear picture of life without Christ! For isn't that what life is before an encounter with Christ, merely existing with no hope for anything beyond the here and now?

Okay, back to the demoniac. He was truly a tormented man. He was alone. He was afraid. And then, he saw Jesus. How did this man, this possessed man who was in the control of Satan's demons, recognize Jesus? I've wondered about this often as I've read and studied these verses. My conclusion is two-fold.

First, the man saw what was missing in his life. He recognized His Creator. He saw the Savior. And he KNEW he needed Jesus. Second, the demons knew exactly who Jesus was. James 2:19 tells that that even the demons recognize Christ. So, what we find is simple - the revelation of Jesus Christ and His offer of life in the midst of sin's trap of death is always clear to both us as humans and to the forces of Satan. For us, that revelation brings hope; for them, fear.

So the man knew who Jesus was and so did the demons. When Jesus spoke to the demoniac, his tormentors revealed themselves. And the amazing, beautiful, miraculous next event can be described in just one word- COMPASSION. Jesus saw the man with compassion. (Aren't you thankful that is how He sees you?) He saw the individual, not the legion of demons inside. Jesus saw the man. He saw one in need of forgiveness and grace. And that is exactly what He gave.

The rest of this story is that Jesus allowed the demons to possess the swine nearby. The swine upon their possession immediately jumped off a cliff into the waters below and died. But that's not the part I want to consider. What about this man? This new man with new life? Do you think for one minute this man stayed in that graveyard? Of course not!

Once we have life, what appeal does death have? And yet, I find, in my life and so many others, that we are satisfied with just the beginning of life. We never move to that next level, that part Jesus promised in John 10:10 - LIFE, MORE ABUNDANTLY; LIFE, TO THE FULL. That isn't just the promise of our life in heaven, that is what our precious Savior desires to give us here and now.

And what is life more abundantly? Living life to its fullest, every day, in Christ. It is seeing - people, places, miracles, beauty, suffering, pain. It is hearing - hurts, joys, birds, babies, and that still small voice of God. It is experiencing - mountains, valleys, plateaus, rivers of mercy, streams of peace. How often do we spend an entire day without any new revelation of God? When that happens, we must understand it is our failure to recognize Him, not His failure to reveal Himself. We fail to see His beauty in the sunrise. His cleansing in the rain. His wrath in the storms. His grace in the rainbow.

My prayer for me, for you, for all Christians is this - that we strive for life abundantly. That we yearn for the fullness and richness of living completely in Christ. And, that in doing so, we find abundance that we never imagined.

Oh Holy God, Giver of life
Give us a seal for living
Take us from our complacency
And move us into Your abundance
Let us live in Your fullness
And may You dwell fully in us.
~ Amen

Friday, June 5, 2009

Twenty Years? Impossible but true ..

My 20th high school reunion is coming up. Quickly ... like 3 weeks from today. To be honest, I do not feel old enough to have been out of high school for 20 years. And I am certain I don't look old enough. (Feel free to give comments supporting that last thought in my comments section!)

I have such mixed emotions about this event. While I am excited to see friends from that period of my life, many of whom I have not seen since we graduated, I am also a bit nervous. Looking back on those years, I remember a girl who was very insecure and often downright mean. She was selfish and could be very manipulative and calculating. She had friends and was in lots of different activities ... but for some reason, she always felt on the outside but desperate to be "in."

So, now I sit here wondering if those events which are indelibly etched in my memory - words I wish I had never said, actions I cringe to recall - are still as real to those who were hurt or impacted by my words and deeds.

A month or so ago I was reconnecting with a former roommate from college on Facebook and made the comment that I felt I owe a blanket apology to all who knew me between the ages of 16 and 23. My kind friend said that most everyone, if they were honest, had a period of life like that and the people who matter most are the ones who will allow you grow through those times and love you just the same.

I suppose preparing for this reunion has been good ... I know I've been more focused on my health (well, my weight anyway! LOL). And the introspection has also been cleansing for me. Realizing who I was is not who I am required to be today is such a relief! I've thought about the lessons I learned in my life and the person I would like for others to see. I realize the past is what shapes us and our response to weak areas in our lives is what leads to change. So, I've given myself a healthy dose of "If only I had..." and decided that, while there are some things I would change if I could, there is nothing I would do differently if it meant I would not have the life I have now.

Life is not about the end ... it's the journey that counts. The people we meet, the places we go, the lives we touch. And my journey has had some rough spots - some because life is just hard and some because I'm a stubborn girl who wants to do it my way - but the vistas I have seen on my journey make the valleys seem small.

So, I'm still going to try to lose that last five pounds and I'm praying that I will have the opportunity to make amends with a few people. But most of all, I am committed to enjoying the journey!

What lessons have you learned along life's journey?
Anything you wish you could "do over"? Why?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 1, 2009

13 Years into "Happily Ever After"

My Husband ~

For thirteen years I have had the honor of traveling life’s road with Scott Underwood. In that time, we have experienced many things ~ unspeakable joy and unimaginable sorrow as well as opportunities to grow in our faith and to pursue our dreams. We have moved away from our families only to find that family is not only defined by birth and marriage but also by shared experiences and time investments. We have faced death and celebrated life. God’s great mercy and love have covered us and His protection and provision have amazed us.

As we begin our fourteenth year of marriage, I honor this man I deeply love. Scott, you are my husband, my lover, my confidante, my soul mate - the very beat of my heart and the sparkle in my eye. You are the man who takes my breath away and breathes life into every day we share together. You bring me joy and laughter and you hold me close in times of fear and grief. Thank you for making me smile and wiping away my tears. I am the luckiest (and most blessed!) girl I know. Becoming your wife was the most significant thing, outside of my salvation, that has ever happened to me. Being your wife the most precious thing, outside of my relationship with Christ, in my life. You are my hero, my knight in shining armor, the fulfiller of my dreams, the fixer of my problems, and the joy of my ife. I love you. Always.

These verse are the best way I know to celebrate who you are.

Micah 6:8 (your life verse) ~ No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what He requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Scott, daily I see you live out this verse. You always seek justice, doing what is right, even if the benefit to doing so is not for you. Your very nature is mercy - extending grace and forgiveness when most would simply walk away. And how very much I admire your walk with God, marked by a humble awareness of your place before Him and a humble appreciation of His willingness to use you.

Psalm 27:4 ~ The one thing I ask of the LORD - the thing I seek most - is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.
This verse is your very heartbeat - to dwell in the Lord’s presence at all times. Thank you for showing me and so many others what a life of worship really looks like.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.
Your steadfast faith and willingness to be obedient to the call of God on your life gives me such security! I never doubt that you are seeking the face of the Lord and willing to go wherever He leads.

Isaiah 6:8 ~ Then I heard the LORD asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
Scott, when we moved to Brunswick, I never dreamed we would still be here almost nine years later. I guess neither of us really did. But even if we had known every thing that was going to happen - from losing your dad to your ITP - I know that you would still have chosen to “go for us” … to be faithful to the call of Christ in your life.

Matthew 6:33 ~ Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.
Your focus on the eternal rather than the temporal is one of those things that amazes me! While some become “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good” you remain focused on Christ while ministering to others daily in His name.

Matthew 25:40 ~ And the King will tell them, “I assure you. When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
I cannot begin to count the times your generosity and compassion have left me speechless and filled with wonder. From making a U-turn to go back and give a man some water to giving a server a 100% tip, you are always open to any and every opportunity to give - generously and sacrificially. Thank you for that example for our daughter and for those around us.

Mark 10:43 - 44 ~ But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all.
I think it must be very easy when you are a pastor to begin to think others should always be serving you (it seems so many do); but, that mindset has never been yours. It fills me with such wonder to watch how you will sacrifice your time and energy to meet the needs of others. The respect and honor you give to those who volunteer their time to play instruments and assist in your ministry is a rare expression these days. The loyalty you inspire among others is a testimony to the servant-leader you are. I believe it must make Christ Jesus very proud to watch you … for your life is the embodiment of this command!

1 Corinthians 13:4 -7 ~ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Oh, my sweet Scott, if ever a passage of Scripture defined someone’s whole life - this one does for you! And how blessed I am to live in a home where these things are the rule not the exception - the example lived out not just the expectation given but not shown.

Genesis 2:24b ~ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
There is never a moment that passes when I question or doubt that our life, our marriage, is the priority relationship for you. What a blessing in a world where marriages are last on most people’s lists of relationships to nurture.

Song of Songs 6:3a ~ “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine!"
Is there a greater description of our life? I cannot find one. As much as one person can ever belong to another, know another, care for another, submit to another, cherish another, and love another, that is the life we live every single day. Thank you.

Ephesians 5:25 ~ And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up His life for her.
I have often said it is very easy for me to submit to your leadership not just because I respect you and believe in you but more so because the love you have for me is what is described in this verse. I have always known that in any choice you always consider what is best for me and place that in highest priority, after obedience to God. Being your wife is the easiest thing I have ever done - and I am better in every way because you love me!

Ephesians 6:4 ~ And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.
You are the best dad ever!!! When I watch you with Casiday I am immeasurably grateful for the love you have - the love the two of you share. I thank God for your dad who loved you and showed you what being a man of integrity and father worthy of respect looked like. How I wish he could see you and Casiday … but I know he would be so proud of you!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ No matter what happens always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Since May 2004, I have watched you face hospitalization, procedures, chemo, surgeries, and so much more due to your ITP. I have seen you scared - not of dying but of missing out on the life we have dreamed of together. I have seen you share the love of God with more people than I could ever count. I have watched you bring peace into stressful times when you could have focused on your own stress. I have seen you share the spiritual and emotional healing of Christ with others when you were longing for your own physical healing. I have seen you share your testimony of faith and of God’s protection when others needed to know that God is bigger than illness and suffering. I have seen all of these things and so much more. And while I am sure you have questions why you have ITP and why the treatments have not worked - I have never seen you question God’s wisdom in allowing this or provision in guiding you through it. What a gift you have given me - a daily lesson in gratitude!

Scott, when I read God’s Word and see the descriptions of what His followers should look like, I see a picture of you. I know you are not perfect and that there are always areas of your life where God is at work. But, those things just make you more authentic, more approachable and more amazing to me.

Thank you for listening to me when I told you we were supposed to get married! Thank you for making every day since June 1, 1996, better than the one before. Thank you for promising me the rest of your life - and for being the happily in my ever after. I love you, always.

~ Your Wife