Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions

Here we go....NYE is approaching which usually means lots of resolutions and desires to "change" something. A few years ago, I decided not to practice any resolution; because I was irritated with myself for never carrying it out. However this year, I think I'm going to try to adopt a resolution and do my best to stick with it. Okay okay...I have to admit that I will be cheating a little, because my resolution will HOPEFULLY be accomplished in the next few weekends. It won't be a year long, or a month long endeavor. Are you ready to hear what it is....hold your breath....it's quite exciting....here we go....I am going to clean my house! :) I know, I know, I know....it's so exciting....I can hear your applause and imagine the excitement on your faces! ;) Don't get me wrong, I clean my house on a regular basis....actually the whole Payne Train cleans our house; BUT....since I've started a job some things have piled up. I am going to "unpile" them....with the help of the family of course. We've already completed much of this and I have a few more closets to clean out, a refrigerator to clean out, and then the big one.....THE GARAGE! This is the most exciting, because I have a little shop next to our garage where I keep my crafty stuff and use to make all the things I would sell. With NPayne's help....lots of his help....we are going to turn that shop into a working studio for my photography business! Again....I see the excitement on your faces and hear the applause! He even bought me some studio lights to use when I need to take photos indoors, which lately has become much more often, with all the newborn sessions I've had! I'll keep the progress posted. You will be amazed!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

WOW! It's Christmas Eve!

We returned home tonight from the Christmas Eve church service followed by dinner and gifts with my mom. When we were walking up to the house, with our hands all full, I saw something on our porch....and I said "Ought oh"....not in a negative kinda way....but in the....well what do we have here kinda way. My response immediately stopped everyone in their tracks waiting to see what I was saying "Ought Oh" about. When I said...."I see a gift on the porch" nodding my head towards it, Drew said...."Mama, that's not an ought oh, that's an oh YEA!" There sitting on our porch was a beautifully wrapped gift made up of 3 individually wrapped gifts. We went inside and emptied our hands, and I started searching the gift for a tag. I found the tag and read it aloud. It said, "The Payne Family - A family who exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas and family!" There was no name signed on the tag. Then I handed out the gifts and let the kids begin to open them. The first gift opened was a train puzzle. I immediately thought these gifts were from someone who knows us pretty well....since they knew Cal loves trains. The next gift opened was a Lego game, and while I was checking that gift out; two of the girls pulled out VISA gift cards. When I saw them, my mouth fell open; and I was completely speechless. NPayne and I locked eyes wide in disbelief....there were FIVE $100 VISA gift cards....$500 in VISA gift cards. At first I thought, we can't accept this kind of gift; but then I thought about how carefully someone had planned this out....trains and five gift cards-one for each child. My brain was a flurry thinking....who would have given us this gift and also thinking about the words on that gift tag. I was overcome with emotion....not just because of the gifts which were so very generous....but mostly because of the kind words expressed on that gift tag. I try so very hard, each holiday season, to keep the focus on the baby....that sweet baby that was given to us so long ago. And tonight when I read the words "a family who exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas", I felt like the effort I make was noted. I thought that maybe someone felt so thankful for the greatest gift of all that they decided to pay it forward in the best way they knew how. I still keep wondering about who left us that gift, and I may never know; but I do know that we will pay it forward too! Thank you Our Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of all....the LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

Luke 2:10-11
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Greatest Gift

This morning, I was startled awake....expecting NPayne to lean over and give me a goodbye kiss as he headed off to work. Instead, I opened my eyes to a distressed look on his face and these words...."Are you going anywhere today?" With one eye open and trying to figure out what he was asking, I think I said...."I don't know!" He asked if he could drive my truck to work, because his car was smoking! "It needs that belt replaced, it won't make it!" is what I heard next. I said, "Okay!" and sent him off to his 30 minute drive to work. As I lay there, I thought about the things I was going to do today, which really was nothing of significance, except just getting the kids out for a bit. I have a few gift cards, and I thought we might go out for lunch; but we can do that next week. I lay in my bed, with the house completely quiet and thought about all I had to be thankful for.....only one more child to buy for....we should be able to cover that....I'm glad my car is working; so he had a way to work....at least we are on vacation, so we aren't stuck with one car while trying to figure out how to get us all where we need to be and how to pay for it. I kept seeing NPayne's distressed face, and I know what is going through his head....he's frustrated and discouraged. It seems like we get two steps up and one BIG step back, but what I know he is most discouraged about is the fact that he hasn't bought me a gift yet and the fact that my birthday is the day after Christmas. He always waits until the last minute....that's how he rolls. I know he's wondering how he is going to buy me something for Christmas and my birthday, how he's going to buy his mom something, how he's going to buy his sister and her beau something. I know it's discouraging when you have plans and they don't turn out the way you wanted....that's happened to me too many times to count this year! What I also know is that I've already received my gift..... the gift of love from my family, the gift of love from my friends and of course the gift of love from my Savior. So NPayne if you're reading this, just know.....I've already opened my gift!

Do Everything In Love
1 Corinthians 16:14

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Spirit

As I drove my little girls to the movies yesterday, I listened in awe as they talked about Christmas, Santa, Jesus. The excitement that filled the car was overwhelming, and the Christmas spirit shone brightly on their sweet little faces. A few years ago, we simplified Christmas a lot....we have never bought our kids lots of stuff for Christmas....they each get one gift from us. Of course Santa does bring them ONE gift also, and then they get a gift from both of their grandmothers. They get a gift from their cousins and aunts, but NPayne and I do not get them a lot of stuff. We don't need a lot of stuff, and to be quite honest with five kids....five gifts is a lot of stuff already! Anyway...a few years ago, we simplified in our commitments and decorations. We only put up our tree and stockings, we said "No" to many events that would have been fun but also would have been "one more thing on our plate". Since then, we have kept it simple. NPayne, however, always always always puts lights on our house. It's nothing big and fancy, but it looks nice and puts big smiles on the children's faces. This year the weather has been so bad, and we realized that none of our outside lights were working....so....there were no lights. Cal kept asking "Dad, when are you going to put the lights on the house!" I offered to go get some, and then NPayne told me he didn't want to buy any right now; because we had forked out a small fortune on repairing not one but both of our cars in the last two weeks....his Christmas bonus was spent on car repairs and not where it was intended on gifts for the kids. I didn't argue with that, but secretly I was a little sad each time I drove up to our house and saw our lovely Christmas tree all lit up in the window but no lights outside surrounding it. I was mostly sad for the kids....especially Cal. I was disappointed that we had to use the Christmas bonus on car repairs, because that would mean once again a Christmas without funds for me to buy NPayne a nice gift. I always get him something, but it's usually just socks and underwear....I know....I know......you're jealous...contain yourselves! This year, I had big plans; but those are on hold. I had already bought him one gift....not socks and underwear....something nice but not too exciting. My main gift will have to wait...his birthday is in January, so I'm hoping to get it then. Through my discouragement and disappointment, I started thinking about us a few years ago and what we would have done....if we had had to spend this large amount of money on car repairs a few years ago....we would have had nothing left to purchase gifts for anyone or even groceries for our family. I told NPayne and really truly felt thankful that we had the Christmas bonus to use, and that I have taken a "full time" job this year; so that we were able to repair our cars (NPayne's still needs some work, but it runs), purchase our kids gifts, and still have groceries until next payday. I won't lie....our financial situation has been bleak for many years....and we have had a rough time getting by for the last several years...when we gave up the credit cards, we still have to manage our money and budget very carefully, and we don't have a lot in savings but there is a little in savings; I am thankful. I am thankful, thankful that we have a house to live in, that we have cars to drive, food to eat, clothes to wear, coats to wear, water to drink, children to support, money to donate....I am thankful. It may not be a lot, but it's a lot to us; and it's a lot in comparison to so many in the world who don't have a house to live in, cars to drive, food to eat, clothes and coats to wear, water to drink, children to support, money to donate. It's a lot....a whole lot. We were driving home from the store on Saturday....the five littles and me....when we drove up to where we could see our house....guess what we saw..... lights sparkling on our house. There weren't as many as NPayne usually puts on, but there they were. He found some in the garage....leftover from a Christmas float he helped with a few years ago, and they were perfect...simple but perfect!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!
This was the back of our Christmas card this year.
I'll post the rest in another post coming soon!
For now, I wish you a blessed time during this very special season!
Enjoy your family!
Enjoy your friends!
Enjoy your life!
And celebrate the greatest gift of all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Longing For Heaven

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I have written about longing for heaven.....not in an "I can't take it anymore and wish I was dead" kinda way....but an "I can't wait to be in the most wondrous place there ever will be with MY SAVIOR surrounded by utmost joy, peace and love" kinda way. I read "Jesus Calling" today, and the devotion was about this very subject. Sarah Young wrote the following:
"Your longing for heaven is good, because it is an extension of your yearning for Me. The hope of heaven is meant to strengthen and encourage you, filling you with wondroud Joy. Many christians have misunderstood this word Hope, believing that it denotes wishful thinking. Nothing could be farther from the truth! As soon as I became your Savior, heaven became your ultimate destination. The phrase hope of heaven highlights the benefits you can enjoy even while remaining on earth. This hope keeps you spiritually alive during dark times of adversity; it brightens your path and heightens your awareness of My Presence. My desire is that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!"
That about sums it up, don't ya think? After I read this today, I thought about it all day. I was driving to do some shopping tonight and I had a huge realization....and I don't mean this to sound boastful or proud or be misconstrued in anyway....but this is what I realized: My life on earth is not perfect, and there are struggles; but my life on earth is wonderful and fulfilling and good. And sometimes when I experience heaven on earth moments, it overwhelms me. So I realized that if my every day life....even amidst the struggles....is this good, then HEAVEN....WOW....I can't even imagine the joy and love I will be surrounded with there. I was overwhelmed by this realization so much so, that I had to pull my car over to compose myself; because I was sobbing with such a joyful heart. WOW....I can only imagine!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Necessity

The lists are out, the piles are growing, the To Do's are increasing; but I am hitting the ground running! This is the time of year when I have notes on my computer calendar, notes on sticky notes on my desk, notes on my phone, notes in my planner, notes in my purse....tons of notes....so I won't forget anything. The Christmas gifts are nearly all bought, or so I think...but sure enough there will be a some arise that I didn't remember. The Christmas letter is written and waiting to be stuffed in the card in the envelope which are almost all addressed. The baked goods....well....not yet, but that is on the calendar for Thursday! WOOHOO! The donation cash for teacher's gifts and class parties....it's still sitting in my bank account waiting for me to withdraw it. Thank goodness payday is right around the corner. Then I stop and see this....and I remember all these tasks, all these things to do, all these cards and gifts and donations....they are not the necessity!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Cards

The Christmas card has arrived....I have begun addressing envelopes and have already written the annual letter! My hand hurts, but it's okay; because I love Christmas cards. I find that ironic, since I don't love Christmas....I like Christmas; but I don't get giddy over it like many do. I do love me some Christmas cards though....send me one with a photo, and I'll save it forever! Now for what else I've been working on.....Pay Close Attention....there is a clue below about the theme of our Christmas card this year!!! ;)


I do love LOVE.....


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Memorial and A 6 Year Old Little Boy

I went to a memorial today, and it was sad. I saw my pastor cry, and it was sad. I saw the family cry, and it was sad. I saw the teachers, I was sitting next to, cry; and it was sad. I saw the 6 year old little boy....who lost his mommy....flipping through a hymnal and drawing throughout the service; and it was sad. Although he didn't seem sad, I was sad for him. I love the perspective of children, and I kept wondering what he was thinking....as the pastor talked about his mother and the life she had led. I wondered if he had the same perspective that my Bryna did when my Lifelong friend lost her newborn baby.....I'll never forget what she said so matter of factly that morning as I cried....she said, "Mommy, why are you crying? He went to be with Jesus!" She never stumbled or wavered...she said as if that's that. It's so true....so true....so why do we cry when someone dies, and we know they are with Jesus? My pastor Ken said it best.....the sadder you are, the more you loved! It's natural to be sad, because you loved someone or they meant something to you or they meant something to someone you love.....I didn't know the woman who died very well, but I know her 6 year old little boy; and that's why I was sad! All the while, I hope he will continue to color and play and think...."Why are you crying? She went to be with Jesus!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE TRE and CAL and THE OTHER MAN!

My son, Cal, has been asking if we could ride the train for about 3 months now. NPayne took him on a train ride back in May with his two best friends to celebrate his birthday. However, it turned out not to be a celebration. Although Cal LOVES the train....for some reason on this particular day in May.....he did not. It wasn't until they were on the TRE, and it was in motion; that he began to have a full blown panic attack complete with screaming hysterically for the first 30 minutes of the ride. If you have ever ridden the TRE, this is how it works usually.....you ride one way (30 minutes), either get off or hang out on the train (30 minutes), ride the other way back (30 minutes)....so yes....that's an hour and a half. NPayne decided the TRE wasn't going to happen again for quite a while. With a child with autism, unpredictability is part of the deal. Sometimes, things that he normally loves and has loved, make him completely nuts. Other times, things he normally can't stand, he deals with just fine. He has made so much progress with communicating this to us, but every now and then; we are fooled...for lack of a better word....into thinking all will be okay when in fact it won't. After much discussion over the last week, NPayne told Cal we would ride the train this past Saturday. With Cal, you also have to be very specific, because if he has something in his head; and it's different than what you had planned....it is almost guaranteed disaster. So Saturday we prepped him all day by telling him that we would ride the TRE not the diesel (that is at the station down the street). He was fine with it and asked what time we would ride and what time we would be finished.....like he always does. Although he had been asking to ride the train with his sisters for the last few months, he kept saying that he didn't want them to ride on Saturday. NPayne told him if he wanted to ride, the girls were riding too. Cal agreed to all we had prepped him for and off we went. We got there, and he started to get a little upset; we quickly gave him an out and told him we could go home. He declined and got really excited when he saw the train coming. We all climbed on and found our seats....the girls with me....and NPayne and Cal right behind us. The train was not crowded at all, there was a guy with a bicycle, a woman, and another man in our car. The train started, and a few seconds in, so did Cal's anxiety. He began to scream and cry as loud as he could that he wanted to get off and didn't like the train. NPayne tried to console him, and I tried to console him with absolutely no luck. The conductor and the 3 passengers obviously noticed his horror and looked a little concerned, but then they seemed to dismiss it.....all except one man. He started asking questions and even came and sat by NPayne and Cal to see what was up. When NPayne told him they were fine, he moved back to his seat across from them and began to cover his ears as Cal continued to scream. I heard the man mumbling a few things, and then I looked at him. When I looked at him, I knew immediately.....he too was autistic. After about 15 minutes of Cal screaming with no end in sight, the man approached me and asked me if I thought Cal might like to ride the train downtown to the Neiman Marcus parade. I explained that Cal didn't like parades, and then he asked me if he liked trains. I told him that yes he did like trains but apparently today he wasn't in the mood for a train ride. The man told me that he rode the train every day to his house, and that if Cal didn't quit screaming they would call the police on him. I smiled at him and assured him that the police wouldn't be called. I found myself consoling this grown man and assuring him that Cal would be okay once we were off the train. It was sort of like an out of body experience....explaining to a full grown man, who seemed to have the mind set of a young child....that my boy...who was clearly driving him a little insane with his screaming would be okay. I couldn't help but wonder if the man had once felt the same as Cal and was able to finally adapt to riding the train every day. The girls and I ended up moving to a different car, to see if that would help Cal calm down, since he appeared to be upset that we were all riding the train. After a bit, he did calm down. I'm not sure if it was because we moved or because he got distracted, while we were sitting on the train at the depot, and he was watching the diesel trains pass by. Nonetheless the last hour of the train ride was quiet....even when the train filled up completely at one stop....Cal remained quiet. What set him off...we still don't know...and never will. It's part of life with a child with autism....never knowing....expecting the unexpected....being pushed into uncomfortable territory as he screams and yells in a place that you can't leave...and then calming down (that has just started happening in recent years, and for this coping skill....we are very thankful).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

EMBRACE

This is me....I just took this photo. Most women I know...maybe not all....but most have many things about themselves they wish they could change.
After some thought about this, I've decided to embrace some of these things about myself like....
-my naturally uncontrollable curly hair
-the wrinkles that are becoming more frequent and dominating my face
-the chin that use to be single and is now starting to date another chin....hence leaving me with 2 chins, hopefully they won't marry and reproduce.... I don't want anymore chins.
-the eyebrows and lips that are too thin
-the hips and waist that are not thin enough
-the teeth that are not very white
-the painful joints and back that goes with having arthritis
-the varicose and spider veins....WAIT A MINUTE....I will not embrace those. As soon as I can afford to, I will have those repaired.
I think it's okay to try to improve the things about myself that I don't like, but I just want to remember that God created me perfectly; and He loves me no matter how many wrinkles, chins, veins, etc. I have. It looks like I will start an exercise program and be visiting my rheumatologist soon! UGH!



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Card

Yesterday we took family photos for our Christmas card. See the post below for one of my favorites. That one won't be used on the Christmas card, because well....then it wouldn't be a surprise. If you know me, you know that I love making Christmas cards....I don't get overly excited about much else at Christmas....but I love making the cards. A few years ago, I started with the "theme" tradition. I choose a scriptural theme and run with it....using it in my card and on my letter.....you know to remind folks that Christmas is about Jesus. I usually think of a theme a long time before it's even cool outside and sort of let it evolve in my head, then I tell my family...."Hey, we are doing this for the Christmas card this year; so let's go take some photos!" And they know I'm neurotic about it and happily oblige me. Yesterday they did a great job with my props and plans, and we were done shooting 206 photos in approximately 30 minutes. They are well trained! ;) Today when I sat down to start creating it, I had the "theme" and photos all planned out. I left Addi in charge of finishing up the card for me today while I went to shoot photos of another lovely family. When I came home, I saw the card; and she did an amazing job. I so love creating Christmas cards....and I think Addi does too. Below is our card from last year....can you guess the theme!





FAMILY PHOTOS

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mission Trip

As I sat in church this morning and looked around, I noticed attendance was lower than usual. It could be because of the holiday, it could be because of the stomach bug that has been going around, it could be because of the tournaments and playoff games going on; but I think much of it was because there were a slew of youth and adults serving at the Mini Mission Trip. This is the second annual Mini Mission Trip that our youth director, NPayne and many other adults organize to serve others during this week of thankfulness. It's referred to as the "MINI" Mission Trip, because our usual mission trips are a week long. This one is from Saturday and lasts through Monday night. The youth and adults find people, in our area, that need some help; and they help them. They begin their day with worship and breakfast, then they head out to work throughout the day....eating their sack lunch on site. They return to church that evening for dinner and a fun time for fellowship. Then they sleep on the gym floor or in The Hub (the youth hang out) until the next morning when they start all over. Since NPayne is instrumental in planning this, I happen to know a few of the projects they will be working on over these next few days: building two wheel chair ramps at our sister church...Heritage, replacing some windows and doors for some folks who need some help with upkeep of their home, many minor repairs for a single mom of four, and painting a house for an elderly couple, and that's just a few of their projects. It's a lot of work for this group to accomplish in a few days, but it's work with a reward....the reward of knowing that they are doing as they are called and being the hands and feet of our sweet Jesus! What a blessing they will be to those they serve and how blessed they will be when they see how a little work has made the difference in the life of someone. Thank God for Mini Mission!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LOVE....AND DON'T LOVE!

I LOVE:
babies
children
adults
my family
Jesus
my church
serving
my friends
my pets
my co-workers
living in the USA
LOVE
I love LOVE! Hmmmm.....that gives me a great idea for a Christmas card!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm A Teacher

I found out that a boy, that I had in my Transitional Kindergarten class many years ago, has a brain tumor. Today during my Sunday School prayer time, one of my dear friends asked for prayers for him. When she said his name, I said out loud to myself...."I had him in TK!" I couldn't believe this sweet little boy who is now a teenager was having a brain tumor surgically removed tomorrow. I have thought about him all day and tonight I found myself wondering what happened to all of the kids I have taught over the years. Some of them are my friends on Facebook....a little weird to see them all grown up, in college, or married with families of their own; and some of them still send me Christmas cards. But most of them I wonder about. I have never found myself wondering in a negative light until tonight.....after the news of the brain tumor. When I thought about a particular student, it was usually to tell a story about something that happened or to laugh with NPayne about something that he would remember.....but not wondering if they were alive and well....I just assumed that. Now I can't help but wonder if they are all alive and well....I just wonder. I also found myself wondering if the school year they spent with me had any impact on them. I would like to hope that, at least one of my previous students, might say something like...."Mrs. Payne is the reason I love school!" or "Mrs. Payne taught me how to read!" or "Mrs. Payne was the best square dancer around!"..... that's another blog post waiting to happen. I wonder what teachers my children will remember. I know which of their teachers I will remember, and I hope they realize how much time and effort and determination and creativity goes into being a teacher. I hope they realize that those teachers that made the positive impact....those teachers truly loved them. I know I have loved so many, and I will go to bed with thoughts of them tonight. Please pray for Mitchell's brain surgery tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...already?

It's the most wonderful time of the year....or so they say! I am not a huge lover of Christmas....the materialistic, over indulgent, over planning, kind of way; and it really use to bother me when people jumped the gun and went straight from Halloween to Christmas. But that's because Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday....besides our birthdays! I've decided to let that whole "already decorating and listening to Christmas music" thing go, and just embrace the holidays as best I can. Living right in the middle of "The Christmas Capital of Texas" is also not nearly as enjoyable as it may sound, but once again....I'm going to do my best not to let it wear me out this year. So let me start by listing some things I'm thankful for:
My family
My kids
NPayne
Love
Jesus Christ
My church
My job/s
a house to clean
groceries to buy
cars to maintenance
teachers
schools
FRIENDS
pets
health
all of the wonderful care the medical profession can provide
technology
music
Pastors
spending my day listening to giggling children
Kenda...my Bible Study leader
My parents
Money (in the necessary sort of way)
Armed Forces
Baseball
"Jesus Calling"
My Bible
My Sunday School class
Elli's sitter and my friend
My time here on earth
Down time
My camera
Journaling
And that's just to name a few!
If you are reading my blog, then I'm thankful for you too!
I know I may be jumping the gun...but Happy Thanksgiving! Be thankful everyday!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

CHURCH

As I sat in church today and listened to John preach, I kept thinking of Pastor Ken. Ken was the person who God used to really make me embrace my longing to serve others. I'm learning that God is going to use John to help me to continue in that direction. John has been doing a really good sermon series on "If The Church Were Christian...."! Today he talked about if the church were christian, we would be the church not just do church. He said there are roughly 80,000 people a day who are converting to christianity. Many of these people are from other countries and worship in a very different way aka place than I do. His sermon was mainly about how, we the congregation, are the church....it's not the building or where we meet....but the people who attend that make the church. As the church, we need to be doing....not just attending. Everytime we reach out to serve someone else, we are being the hands and feet of Christ. It shouldn't matter where we gather to worship and serve. Do you think Jesus would have told people they couldn't worship under a tree? Do you think He would have told them they couldn't worship in a school gymnasium? Do you think He would have told them they couldn't worship in a tent? Do you think He would have told them they had to have a big building with pews, stained glass, and a steeple to make worship meaningful? Of course He wouldn't! The church serves as a place for Christians to gather, but it does not define what it means to be Christian. Going to church is a good thing....going each week is something I look forward to. I enjoy gathering together with my church family to worship, and yes we do use our church building for more than worship. But I have to admit that if it stopped there, I would not be nearly as blessed. I often hear Jesus through the sermon or my Sunday School lesson. I often see His face in the face of a baby being baptized on Sunday morning. I often hear His voice in the voice of my children singing in the choir, but still those things are not enough for me. I long be His hands and feet. I long to build relationships with others through where God is leading me. Sometimes those things do happen in our church....like when we serve the monthly meal to the people in our community, or when we pack thousands of shoe boxes full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child, or when NPayne and Addi sleep on the gym floor while doing a mission work over Thanksgiving break. The Bible says we are to do good works, but it doesn't say good works are what get us to heaven. God's grace is what gets us to heaven, but I believe that doing good works brings us closer to Jesus. Having a realtionship with Christ is what makes me want to serve others. I want to please Him, and I want to do what He has told me to do.....LOVE! When I googled LOVE, this is what popped up on wikipedia....

Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.[1] In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels.[2] Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.[3]

That pretty much sums it up for me....the sermon, the service, what we are called to do, and the greatest commandment of all.....LOVE! I am blessed by His love and by sharing His love!



Friday, November 4, 2011

STIFF NECK

My sweet son, Cal, got a crick in his neck or pulled a muscle or something painful. His teacher called me yesterday and said he couldn't turn his head or move it. He had been in the nurse's office with a heating pad on his neck. I went and picked him up and brought him home to some Ibuprofen, Acetaminophin, and BenGay. He kept telling me "Cal is getting sick. His neck hurts!" At bedtime, it didn't seem much better; so I was prepared to break his heart today and make him skip school. He LOVES school, but what he really loves is bowling. He bowls for Special Olympics, and he absolutely loves it. Last year, he made it all the way to regionals. This morning he got up and had more range in his movement, but his neck was still a little sore. He could turn his head and begged to go bowling, so I did what any good mother would do and....let him bowl! His teacher and I decided if he seemed to be in pain or if it seemed to stiffen up, that she would call me; and I would drive the 40 minute drive to pick him up from the tournament. I checked on him throughout the tournament, and she said it was a little challenging....more because there was so much chaos than because his neck hurt. I picked him up after school, and Ms. Day his class Para brought him to the car. She said he his neck was a little sore, but he did great. So great in fact that he brought home the GOLD MEDAL! He was thrilled....can't you tell by his photo? ;) He was really happy, but he was also really tired; so a smile just wasn't going to happen. At least I got a picture! Great Job Cal!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween minus one! I'm posting these for my mom, so she can see her grandkids on Halloween. Addi was at drumline rehearsal, so she is not in these photos.....SAD! These costumes were last minute, dig around in our closet and dress up trunk costumes....not too bad, huh! I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but my kids sure do love it; and I really enjoy the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups they save for me! Notice my boy.....he's dressed up....in somewhat of a costume! He did great....he went to every car at Trunk Or Treat and said "Trick or Treat"! He didn't even flinch, yell, grunt, or anything else when strangers would pat him on the back and say "Go Rangers"! I even think he ended up with the most candy....too bad he won't eat any of it....of course we shared some of it with Addi! I will blogging again regularly now and posting lots of photos! I am booked solid for photos over the next few weekends! Woohoo!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Woohoo!

Long time, no blog. WHEWEE....I've been busy! Photo shoots galore...whoop! I just returned from a trip to Sky Ranch with my Drew and her entire 5th grade class....double woohoo! If you have not ever been to Sky Ranch, you must get there as fast as you can. I cannot tell you how much fun I had minus the sleeping in a bunk bed and being away from the rest of my family part. I rode the zipline....not once, not twice, but three times! I learned all about Limnology, The Scientific Method, Fossil Fuels, and Rockets! I went to a rodeo and ate barbecue in the bleachers. I watched my girl ride a mechanical bull. I went on a cattle drive....yessiree bob....a real cattle drive.....on a real horse (named Huckleberry)....driving real cattle in to their real pen with real wranglers aka cowboys and cowgirls and a real cattle dog too. I got to spend a lot of time with some really sweet kids and some that were a little high maintenance as well. I got to hang out with my Drew too. I got to enjoy God's beautiful creation in all of it's natural beauty....complete with a sky full of stars every night. All in all....it was grand. If I could, I would live at Sky Ranch. As a matter of fact, when I grow up I want to be one of those wranglers aka cowgirls! Woohoo! Glad to be home, but I can't wait to go again!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BE OUR GUEST

I have the privilege of serving at a ministry in our church called Be Our Guest. Every third Tuesday, many church members gather to serve dinner to folks in our community. Some cook....made from scratch cooking, some set the tables....with real table cloths and fine dishes, some serve....bring the food and drinks to the table, some host.....sit, eat, and fellowship with the guests, some stay and wash dishes and put tables and chairs away. Live entertainment is also provided, and all of this is FREE! It's open to anyone in the entire community, and we usually serve about 150-200. I am always a host....great job....get to sit, eat, and fellowship; and I'm pretty successful at all of those. I always bring Addi....my 14 year old....who is my table server, and Drew....my 10 year old....who is my table's drink and dessert server. Tonight was the first time, I brought Bryna....my 8 year old. I told her she could start coming when she turned 8. I've been apprehensive about bringing her, because she is a little bit of a "bull in a china shop" type of child. But when I asked the volunteer coordinator, she assured me Bryna would be fine; and this was an opportunity for families to volunteer together; so I brought her. She has been excited about it for a month, since her 8th birthday. Tonight I sat with 4 regular guests and 1 new guest. I sat down at my table to wait for Pastor Cindy to invite the guests in, and I realized I had forgotten my name tag. I then got up to get it; and when I was walking back to the table a sweet looking older woman was there. At first I thought she was a host who didn't realize I had agreed to host that table, but I quickly realized she was a guest. When I went back to sit down, she greeted me with a big smile. I sat and attempted a conversation but was quickly met with these words: "Poquito Ingles"! I smiled at her and replied: "Poquito Espanol"! She giggled and so did I. I handed her a name tag, and she wrote her name....Elisa....on the name tag. Then she told me she was a student at our church, or at least that's what I think she told me. We managed to chat enough for me to figure out that she lives in the government housing next door. As other guests approached our table and sat down, some introduced themselves; and I would tell them that Elisa spoke "poquito Ingles". She would smile. One guest said what I had....that he spoke "poquito Espanol"! She giggled again. As we ate, she didn't say much, but she would clap after one of Josh's songs...he was providing entertainment. She especially liked the Elvis song Josh sang....maybe because he is sort of universal in all languages. When dessert came, she was still eating her dinner. So most of our guests had eaten and were getting ready to leave when Elisa was just about to start her dessert. She ate about half of her dessert, and she looked at me and said...."Beautiful!".....as she pointed to her pie. I told her she could take an orange that was part of the centerpiece on our table (I was very proud that I remembered the spanish word for orange was naranja), and she was thrilled to take one with her. She motioned for another dessert which she was served, and she sat and enjoyed every single bite. When she got up to leave, she thanked me in Spanish; and we hugged. Then she looked me square in the eye, took my hand in hers, and again said with so much emotion...."Beautiful!" I realized that what she was saying was that the whole experience was "beautiful" for her. I don't know if she knows many other English words, but I couldn't help but think if there was only one descriptive English word to know...."Beautiful" was certainly a good word to know. I felt the Holy Spirit so full in that place tonight, and I am so honored to be able to serve others. It's "BEAUTIFUL". As I said....tonight was my daughter, Bryna's, first time to serve; and as I said she is sort of the "bull in the china shop" type of child. But everytime I saw her skipping, prancing, or running by, with a pitcher full of water or a tray full of desserts, and that big bright proud smile on her face.....I never once thought....I hope she doesn't drop something or break something, or I hope she doesn't spill something. Instead what I thought was...."BEAUTIFUL!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little Pieces of Advice

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I have a few things that I repeat over and over when I run into certain circumstances. When I begin to worry about things that are going to happen in the future, I repeat "Fear Not, For I Am With You!" When I find myself feeling less than satisfied with a certain situation, I repeat "Rejoice always, pray continueally, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Don't quench the spirit." When I find myself feeling tired or discontent, I repeat "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Actually I sing that one....you know like the song?? My very dear friend, Kenda, taught me about 5 years ago that it's good to know scripture by heart....so that when you are in a tough situation....or in my case a mood or a funk....you can repeat scripture that brings you back to what's important. I can never thank her enough for telling me that, because it truly helps me. She also told me about reading a Proverb every day....there are 31 Proverbs, so you always have enough to cover you for the entire month. If there aren't 31 days in the month, then just double up on the last one! I love it when simple pieces of advice, like these, turn out to oftentimes be life changing things. Pass it on....read a Proverb and have a good day rejoicing in the Lord!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hiliary and Daniel

So I love shooting weddings....they are a lot of work, but so much fun to do. There is nothing better than sweet, honest, pure love. But....I have to be honest, I love doing bridals a little more; because you get to capture the bride when she is ready to be captured but in a non invasive way....does that make sense? Since this gorgeous bride decided against bridals....I captured some on my own at the wedding. Call me obsessive, but a gorgeous bride in a corset gown with cowgirl boots.....I couldn't resist. For more wedding/bridal photos, click here! Have I mentioned that I am a little obsessed with silhouettes lately? Well I am!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

TWINS!

Oh Me, Oh My....Identical twin baby boys! Numbers 4 and 5 in this family who already have 3 boys....can you imagine having 5 boys? Why yes, I can....thank you for asking! You know I have twin envy! For more photos, click here!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

LOVE....AND DON'T LOVE!

Things I love/Things I Don't Love:
BABIES/CANCER
MY FAMILY/BULLIES
MY CHURCH/POVERTY
LIVING IN AN OLD HOUSE /THE CITY
THE OCEAN/BUSYNESS
ORGANIZATION /CLUTTER
PERFECT WEATHER /EXTREME ANYTHING
BABY'S FEET /ANYONE ELSE'S FEET
LIVING CLOSE TO EVERYTHING I DO /TRAFFIC AND CONSTRUCTION
MY CHURCH FAMILY /MY PASTOR HAS BREAST CANCER
LIFE/ MY PASTOR DIED
MY BLESSINGS/CHALLENGING RELATIONSHIPS
TEACHING/HOMEWORK
FLEA MARKETS/MALLS
PHOTOGRAPHY/DELAY ON A CAMERA
A BIG YARD/AN UNKEPT BIG YARD
THE CABIN AT THE LAKE /WE DON'T GO OFTEN ENOUGH
SWEET FAMILIES AT OUR PRESCHOOL /THAT WE CAN'T KEEP THEM THERE FOREVER
THANKSGIVING /MATERIALISM
PARENTS/MISSING MY DAD
TO DO LISTS/TO DO LISTS THAT DON'T GET DONE
NO CAR PAYMENTS/CAR REPAIRS
SECOND HAND/BRAND NEW
CREATING /STIFLING
HUGS /ABUSE
MY FRIENDS/ I RARELY SEE THEM AS OF LATE
A NEW DAY /TIME PASSING SO QUICKLY
CARMELITAS/COLD COFFEE
HEAVEN /HELL
LOVE /HATE
TEACHERS /NON-COMMUNICATORS
BEING HOME/ HAVING SOMEWHERE TO BE CONSTANTLY
JESUS/THAT NOT EVERYONE KNOWS HIM



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Control Freak

I'm a control freak....who else is a control freak? You can tell me. I won't tell anyone. I've noticed that my blog has been all about me these last few posts, so does that mean I am becoming a self absorbed control freak? I'm a self admitted control freak but a self absorbed control freak? Naaaaa ;) . Honestly I find being a control freak a little odd, because really I'm very laid back. But I have noticed that when things seem a little out of control for me, I really NEED to control the out of controlness (I know that's not a word....I'm just using it for effect). Things have been out of control for me since August, and instead of becoming more and more frustrated....I'm becoming more and more exhausted! I feel like I would like to cry, and I don't know why....of course you have to take in account that I am also a self admitted cry baby. I think what it boils down to is this.....
I'm easily overwhelmed by busyness, and I am definitely busy.
I feel like my days are flying by...which can be good....but for me, it's sad.
My oldest started high school, and I NEVER see her.
My baby is having a hard time adjusting to the new schedule....she is also easily overwhelmed by busyness.
Some sad things have happened in the last several months.
My oldest started high school, and I NEVER see NPayne on the weekends anymore....he's either helping with band stuff or watching football.
My boy is having some challenges at school, although he did learn to tie his shoes....I'm cheering loudly right now!
My Pastor died.
My other Pastor has breast cancer.
I rarely see any of my friends....unless it's at work....and then we are working.
AND....it's that time of the year....that time when I feel melancholy....that time when 6 years ago, my Mamaw died....and just a day later my Daddy died. I think what it boils down to is this:
I'm not taking enough time to rest in the Lord....I'm not taking enough time to read His Word. I need to take some time! I don't feel His Presence as present when I don't take the time to rest in Him. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him! Psalm 37:7....that's what I need to do!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'M WEIRD

Sometimes I think I'm weird....okay a lot of times I think I'm weird. I've decided that being "weird" is okay with me. "Weird" is my general term for ecclectic, unique, unusual, neurotic, obsessive, and many other words that I could use to describe myself. It's easier to just say, "I'm weird!" and be done with it. Here's why I think I can be weird....
I can't stand to go barefoot....never at all....never....except when I'm forced to like while showering, but I don't care to wear socks either.
Not a fan of crowds, waiting in line, loud noises....pretty much nothing worth waiting in line for or being in a crowd to me.
I like the sound of silence....complete silence.
I love the taste of pickle juice, but I'm not a huge fan of pickles.
I would be 100% okay if we didn't have a TV in our house....anywhere in our house...but I have to have a radio.
I could survive on cereal, yogurt, coffee, and laughing cow cheese.
I like the towels to be folded a certain way and put on the shelf with the fold facing out.
I like tea sweet or unsweet....not particular about this one.
I only drink black coffee when I'm eating breakfast foods. Any other time, I need it to be flavored up.
Must have my toe nails painted but rarely have my finger nails painted.
I am easily annoyed AND easily humored.
I'm extremely sentimental but barely sympathetic.
I would be okay if I didn't leave my house for a week at a time.
Not a fan of dusting, sweeping, grocery shopping; but I enjoy doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and mopping.
Only wear make up, because I need to wear make up; and I'm not very good at putting it on.
Can't stand to be cold, can't stand to be hot....need to be "just right"!
Absolutely loved my body when I was pregnant....any other time....not so much!
Prefer my dishes to be put away in a certain way on a certain shelf.
DOES NOT like eating on paper plates when I have perfectly good dishes to eat on.
Not a fan of party favors for kids at birthday parties.
I love living in an old house that looks old and feels old.
Prefers hand me downs and second hand to just about anything brand new.
I love fancy shoes, but I usually only wear flip flops.
Doesn't mind my style being referred to as "granny" or "old lady", because I loved my granny and all her stuff!
Really wants to be in better shape but really HATES to exercise.
Loves my family and friends....actually I think this one is pretty "normal".






Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28....The Best Day of 2003!


Happy Birthday to My Sweet Bryna Mae. She arrived early but took a long time to get here. After eight very long days in NICU, we brought our sweet baby girl home to a house full of love. B, B-Nut, Bryna Mae.....she is my child that stumps me the most. NPayne and I use to half joke about where she came from.....because she has her own unique look. Bryna is not much like me, and she's not much like her daddy. She is her own very strong and ecclectic personality. She is my child that will drive me mad and two minutes later drive me happy. My child who sings her way through everything and doesn't even realize she's singing. My child who is referred to as "the happiest little girl I know". Bryna....my girl who is musically gifted, can talk her way into and out of a lot of trouble, my girl who lives in her own little world. Bryna....my girl who still loves to hold my hand, shrieks my name happily when I come home, loves to snuggle with me in my bed, and still wants me to sing her a bedtime song. Bryna....my girl who still loves her "Lovey", kicks her shoes off the minute she walks into the house (even if it's not our house), never met a stranger, has a heart full of joy. Bryna....my only child who wrote on the walls, cut her hair to the scalp (just last week), sneaks into the candy bowl, and spends every dime she has. Bryna.....my girl without a care in the world....sometimes I wish I were as carefree as she is! Happy Birthday Bryna Mae Payne....you stole my heart 8 years ago, and I absolutely adore you!
(More Bryna photos coming soon as soon as I figure out why blogger won't let me upload anymore).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Everything Will Be Okay

My favorite female pastor, Cindy, has breast cancer. Cindy has been my shepherd for the past 14 1/2 years, and I adore her. Everyone adores her. I don't even think she knows how much I adore her, and if she did; she might think I was a stalker ;) .....even though I don't actually follow her around or anything demented like that. Simply said.....I love Cindy. She was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer at the end of August and had a lumpectomy last week. She had a lymph node removed as well and so far everything looks clear, and it looks like nothing has spread. She will be starting radiation fairly soon and possibly another type of treatment. Why, you may ask, am I telling you all of this? Honestly I don't know. I just felt the need to write it down....to say it out loud....to put it in a permanent form....to let you know that.....I believe 100% that she is going to be fine. Honestly I didn't really even feel anxious when I first found out....I have a peace about this whole situation, and I feel that she is going to be fine. Pastor John's sermon yesterday was about God's blueprint or plan for your life. I couldn't help but think of so many things from this past year and how I viewed God's hand in those events. It's sort of a weird thing for me, because as much as I am a planner.....I am not really detailed oriented. As much as I am a worrier.....I don't really sweat over God's plan for my life or His calling for me. I had a meeting with Pastor Ken, my beloved pastor who died in February, about 5 years ago. I remember one Sunday in church, he openly invited anyone who would like to meet with him about anything to come in and meet with him; so I did. My dad had died a year or so before, and I was trying to figure out how to handle many different things that were going on in my mind.....one being Why do I have things so easy when there are so many people in the world who don't? I've written about this before and how I struggled with the guilt I felt over that. It was in that meeting that Ken gave me the following advice....transfer the guilt you feel into giving back to those who are not as fortunate as you! It was also in that meeting where Ken told me many personal things about himself, and when I knew that he was a very special person with a wonderful connection to Our Lord. I use to worry a little about not worrying about God's plan for my life. I use to think I was not very smart, because I didn't pay attention to so many details. And then I realized....after my meeting with Ken....that that's just who I am. It's not bad that I don't fret over things, and it's not bad that I don't pay attention to many details. The main plan God has for me is to be in relationship with HIM in every circumstance....those are Ken's words not mine.....and if I hang on to that and whisper the name of JESUS when I feel wrestless, confused, lost, or anxious....everything will be okay. That's how I felt about Cindy's diagnosis....I whispered the name of Jesus....and I felt like everything would be okay.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

THAT Child

We all have THAT child, don't we? Please tell me WE do. The child, that is not really like me nor really like NPayne, but who is his/her (in our case it's a her) own person through and through. The child that causes many discussions between NPayne and myself that go something like this:
NPayne: "She did what?"
Me: "What do I do about that?"
NPayne: "I'm have no idea. None of our others have ever done that. Are you sure she's mine?....with a little chuckle"
Me: "Are you sure she's mine?....with a little chuckle"
We all have that child that leaves us baffled....that is completely unpredictable....that is nothing like her siblings....that oftentimes leaves me completely speechless, confused, wondering what in the world would make her think/act/behave a certain way. The child, that challenges me more than I thought I would be challenged for as long as I have been challenged. The child, that I feel like I should introduce as...."She is very different from her sisters!" The child that breaks The Payne rules....the child that lives in her own little world...the child who doesn't have a care in the world....the child who is still thinks the world is just for her. We all have one, don't we? Don't we? Well if you don't think you do, let me tell you....you are really missing out. You see this child who doesn't have a care in the world has nothing but joy in her heart. This child who leaves me baffled and speechless also makes me smile just by looking at her sweet face and listening to her sing her way through the day. This child who cuts her own hair to the scalp....No She Didn't....Oh Yes She Did...sees nothing but the good in every situation and thinks her "new" haircut looks nice. The child who I introduce as...."She is very different from her sisters"....is the child who has changed her card, at school, for singing too much and doesn't even realize she's singing. This is the child who hangs her head out the window just to feel the breeze on her face....the child who makes me laugh just by watching her entertain herself.....the child who is still so little even though she is getting so big.....the child who still says "I" and "me" but says it in the same sentence with "Jesus" and "God" and "love"! This is my child.....THAT child....the child who is not like me nor like NPayne..... but is her own person through and through....this is the child whom I ADORE!
This is Bryna Mae!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Struggles

Many people I know are struggling with something. I've heard from several friends about their recent and not so recent struggles. Struggles with family members, struggles with health, struggles with money, struggles with balance, struggles with loss, struggles with disconnect. On Sunday, Pastor John's sermon was about "God Doesn't Give You More Than You Can Handle". I always thought that saying was very cliche and not at all true, and I still do. However I realized on Sunday that I have always thought that for one reason, and now I think that for two. I always thought God doesn't give you more than you can handle was a complete untruth, because God doesn't want you to "handle" anything on your own but with Him by your side. After listening to John, I now realize that not only do I believe that statement to be untrue because of the above mentioned reason; but also because I believe God doesn't give you bad things. So if you are dealing with struggles of one kind or another, one magnitude or another, one extrememe or another, or a multitude of different things.....then it's my belief that those are brought on by something other than God. God doesn't give you things to handle. I believe that He can choose to change circumstances and sometimes He doesn't, and of course that's a struggle; but I don't believe He gives you those struggles. I believe He allows struggles to occur for one reason or another....maybe we can ask Him when we get to heaven or maybe it really won't be that important once we get there. One of my friends, who I have recently chatted with, told me that after John's sermon; she thought that maybe God knows she can't handle big struggles; so that's why she hasn't had one. I have wondered about this a lot as well, and truly and oddly that's a struggle for me too. I think I've discussed this before, maybe even recently....I have a lot on my mind...so honestly I can't remember post to post; but I do struggle with why things are not that big of a struggle for me as they are for others? I don't want big struggles, but I do feel guilty about this often. I remember Pastor Ken telling me once that I should replace the guilt with the love of Christ. In other words, instead of wondering why my struggles are minimal compared to so many; I should take the good I have in my life and share it with those whose struggles are bigger than mine. I have tried and tried to do that, and I hope I still am; but again I struggle! Is it enough? What I'm doing? Is it enough?
I read today's Jesus Calling Devotional, and this is what it said:
Try to see things more and more from My perspective. Let the Light of My Presence so fully fill your mind that you view the world through Me. When little things don't go as you had hoped, look to Me lightheartedly and say, "Oh well." This simple discipline can protect you from being burdened with an accumulation of petty cares and frustrations. If you practice this diligently, you will make a life changing discovery: You realize that most of the things that worry you are not important. If you shrug them off immediately and return your focus to Me, you will walk through your days with lighter steps and a joyful heart. When serious problems come your way, you will have more reserves for dealing with them. You will not have squandered your energy on petty problems. You may even reach the point where you can agree with the apostle Paul that all your troubles are light and momentary, compared with the eternal glory being achieved by them.
GOD IS SO GOOD!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm Perfect

Do you ever wish you were someone else? I've thought about this a lot as I grow older, and I don't ever recall "wishing I was someone else", but I do recall wishing some things about me were different.....okay a lot of things were different. Does that make sense? Let me explain....
I wish I was thinner...
I wish I had smoother skin....
I wish I didn't have varicose veins....
I wish my baby bump (that's not due to a baby in there but due to the 5 that were once in there) was gone...
I wish that my hair was a little more controllable....
I wish my teeth were whiter....
I wish my body was toner....
I wish I was taller....
I wish my eyelashes were longer....
I wish my vision was better....
I wish my arthritis was gone....

And then I remind myself.....
Genesis 1:27

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

I guess that means I'm perfect! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Struggles

I love how God reminds me.....all the time....to be joyful! It seems as if every time I think I have something big to face....I am reminded that someone else has something bigger. I'm not down playing my own issues or anyone else's, but as NPayne always says...."Someone always has it harder than I do!" Sometimes I don't know what to do with that piece of information. What I mean is that although I have struggles and sometimes they are big struggles, when I really stop and look at it; they are not as big as someone else's struggles. That gives me very mixed emotions. I am not saying that I want my struggles to be bigger than anyone else's. What I am saying is that sometimes....okay a lot of the time....I face some serious guilt about not having big struggles. Sometimes....okay a lot of the time....I face some fear about the possibility of facing a bigger struggle than I ever have. As I have mentioned before, I am a little bit of a worrier. I don't worry about today really or tomorrow or really even next week, but I find myself letting my mind wander into a few years from now or what if when my children start to drive or what if when my children move away or what if when my children start high school....that sort of worrier that I have described as a "future worrier". I am thankful for the struggles I have, because they do help me keep things in perspective; but I am also thankful when I am reminded that my struggles really aren't that big. I am the most thankful when I am reminded that my God is with me.....He will be right beside me always....even if I do end up facing one of those struggles that I find myself "worrying about". I'll admit that seeking His face when times are good is something I struggle with as well. I feel like I take advantage of His love when things are going smoothly, and I cling to Him when they are not. I pray that I can seek His face every moment of every day!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LOVE IT UP!

I am a huge fan of devotionals. I read several devotions each day. I really love it when 2 or more of the devotionals have the same message for that particular day....I know God is tapping me on the arm and saying "Pay Attention Here!" One of the devotions that I read is "The Upper Room". It's short and sweet but very thought provoking. Each day is written from a different perspective by a different person....not necessarily a person that is part of clergy....just a person. I read one last February, and it spoke deeply to me. The focus of this particular devotion was temptation, which of course I face, but that is not why it spoke to me. It spoke to me, because of the perspective of the child that is portrayed. Here it is....

If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

-1 John 2:1 (NIV)



MY friend Brandy teaches second grade. One day in class a pupil showed her something she had just drawn. It wasn't a very good drawing, and Brandy asked the girl if she thought she had done her best. The girl replied, "Let's just love it." When Brandy asked her to explain, the girl said that since there was nothing she could do about the picture, the only thing left was to "love it up" and try to make the next drawing better.

I wish my responses to my own flawed efforts were more like that child's. Instead, when I make a mistake I tend to beat myself up. Why would I do something like that? I ask myself. I'm supposed to be a Christian, but I'm such a phony! At such times I have to be reminded that even though we are new creations in Christ, we are still human. All of us can succumb to temptation.

Fortunately, God is merciful. The Bible says that Jesus Christ, God's son, speaks in our defense. Through the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. When we ask for forgiveness, God will "love us up" and give us a second chance.

Travis Mamone (Maryland, USA)

Prayer
Ever-loving God, thank you for your grace and mercy. Please forgive us for our sins and help us to become better disciples. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Thought for the Day

God's love covers all our sins.

I love how she just wants to embrace her mistake and "love it up" until she has another opportunity to re-do it or make it better. I love that approach. I make mistakes a lot, and this devotion....not only reminded me that God "loves me up"....but it reminded me of my own children. They are always so quick to forgive me and to "love me up"....not matter what I have done! Oftentimes they act much more like Jesus than I do! When you are frustrated with yourself or someone else for the sin or mistake or whatever, remember to "love them up"!

Monday, September 5, 2011

TIME FLIES!

My Baby Girl turned FIVE! We were eating dinner for her birthday, and she said; "Mommy, Bryna is sad that I'm turning 5." I then had to explain that we weren't sad that she was turning five. We want her to grow strong and healthy and celebrate lots of birthdays, but we just wish time didn't fly by so fast. It seems like just yesterday she was born and now she's a great big five year old. I came across this saying today when I was reading one of the many devotionals that I read each day, and I thought it said it perfectly!



"When we are young, time passes so very slowly -- especially if we are waiting for something special! But as we get older, the years fly by more and more quickly. Yet despite all our learning, despite all our experience, we come to two great awakenings: our knowledge compared to what there is to know is so very small and our place in the passage of time is so very short. Both of these awakenings prepare us to turn our lives and future over to our God who longs to bring us to himself." Phil Ware

This sweet video was made by my oldest daughter for my youngest daughter. I cannot tell you how so very blessed.... in the midst of a messy house, long work hours, a To Do List that never seems to get To Done, some bickering from time to time, taxi driving here and there and everywhere, and all that goes along with having children....I am overwhelmed by my blessings! Remember to scroll down and mute the music, so you can hear the video.
video