Monday, December 31, 2007

Regarding My Last Post...

OK, here are my thoughts. First of all I have no need for a TV preacher sitting in my living room. I belong to a local church and have people there that pray with me and for me and from which I receive guidance. I am familiar with the "name it and claim it" doctrine since it came to my area in the late '80's. There was such a backlash against it in my church that there wasn't much of a chance that I would believe it. Actually I never heard any of that doctrine preached I only heard it called "blab it and grab it"- my Dad coined that one.

I hate, hate, hate bad theology. Bad theology can ruin lives. Bad theology is what causes men to walk for miles on their knees to earn their salvation, to whip themselves, starve themselves, take vows that humans weren't meant to endure (Rolando del Campo took a vow to crucify himself every good Friday for 15 years because God delivered his wife and child safely through a difficult labor), to endlessly confess Hail Mary's or any other endless repetition in order to be saved or to be closer to God or to repay Him for some act of kindness. Or it can fool people into thinking there is no need to confess Christ as their savior. That being "good" is enough.

I lost a friend to bad theology. "C" and I met during my sophomore year in college. He hadn't been saved a long time but he was very focused and was a pre- seminary major, I think. And according to he and other people that I was friends with the Lord taught him how to play the piano. He wasn't a concert pianist but he could lead worship from the keyboard (how very 90's). Anyway, he and I sang one night during a worship service and ended up having a connection through worship. It had only been about a year since my divorce and it was actually that night that really confirmed to me the direction my life would take. So "C" and I would talk and he'd ask me every time how my "devotions" were going. And I'd always say something like "oh yeah, I should do that" or "Um, I prayed in the shower this morning". And finally he said "Amy, if you don't seek the Lord you will always stay the same". His words really struck me and it was the beginning of my really seeking the Lord and of a tremendous time of spiritual growth for me.

So how does this tie in to the article you ask? Well, just wait there's more. Southeastern started a worship ministry with an alumnus as the leader and "C" was his right hand man. Part of the ministry was called Worship Choir and the other part was worship class. It wasn't for class credit or student ministry credit I just took it because I was passionate about Christ and worship was the area to which I felt called. And the crux of what the worship classes was based on grace. The grace of God that covers a multitude of sins. The grace that doesn't look at what we do for acceptance into God's kingdom but at the blood of Christ covering us as our acceptance as righteous. Sounds good, eh? Well, it should because it's true. However, when you separate one nugget of truth- albeit and incredibly important nugget- from the rest of the truth you can find yourself out on a limb. And "C" was no dummy. He recognized that. I clearly remember him drawing a tree with the trunk representing Christ and saying that if you climb out on a doctrinal limb- such as grace- you're separated from Christ. But that's exactly what happened. He and several people (close friends) moved a few hours away to a "prophetic" church. I went there and I saw things that happened and it was messed up. The doctrinal issues were small- almost undetectable- but the fruit of it was obvious. The pastor and her husband divorced and the worship leader left her husband and married "C"s best friend- 30 years her junior. C's best friend was my friend too and it made me ill to see him married to the sea hag. C and I had a falling out, I don't remember the exact context but it was big and our friendship was over. I actually don't think I have ever had a fight like that with someone where there was no possibility for reconciliation. It was a really tough time for me personally and thankfully my voice teacher was there to be the voice of reason in my life- to talk me down from a ledge, so to speak. Because there was some seriously weird spiritual 'mumbo b'jumbo' going on.

So my point in that is that bad theology typically has a nugget of truth, which is why people don't reject it outright. And back to the article, the Bible does talk about giving and God blessing you. But any responsible preacher, pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc. has a responsibility to put that in proper context. In the new testament the church members were selling everything they had and giving it to the church to be distributed among those that needed it. But in reference to the woman in the article that has given everything she had, what she could borrow, and what she got from payday advance places, there is no scriptural precedent for giving what you don't have or have to borrow at 99% interest. I understand her desperation for a miracle but she's believing a lie and apparently doesn't know the scriptures. I know, I know I'm blaming the victim but it is true. It is most definitely looking to God as being your genie in a bottle. I understand the desperation and "black hole" that financial strain brings so I understand why she did it. I'm not without compassion for her. On the contrary I'm disgusted that there are preachers on TV that preach this crap- there I said it.

1st Timothy 6:3-6 (-ish because this is the Message and the verses aren't marked)

"These are the things that I want you to teach and preach. If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there's an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God."

The NASV says, "But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment." Contentment? I would say that contentment in whatever circumstances you are in is one of the great "secrets" to life. I can post more about that later.

So what should we do about those wolves in sheep's clothing? I'm not sure. If you google any of the names that are mentioned in that article you'll find thousands of articles of people already calling their bluff. I'm not one of them because I don't follow any of them and don't watch them so I couldn't really tell you anything about them other than what I've heard. I do get nervous about the government intervening and regulating or dictating theology. That is a slippery slope. However, when the government gives a tax-exempt status for ministries they have every right to investigate that and determine whether that is being abused. I don't want the government to be that answer. But when you have "mega-stars" that aren't accountable to anyone there is no way for a church body to govern that.

I'm not sure that I've said everything that I have to say. One could debate endlessly on everything that's wrong with such things. But I think I've said enough.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Well, This is Something to Chew on With Your Christmas Leftovers

I'll post about Christmas later, mainly because I think everyone is on a blogging hiatus and I wouldn't want you to miss a moment of the Button family Christmas 2007. But while we're still basking in the warm glow of the holiday season I thought I'd pass along this little article. I figure this could be a landmine but hey, I still love you even if we don't agree. Of course, I'm not telling you what I think yet ;)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Elf Yourself

Travis just sent this to me and it is super funny. Just so you know the elf with the black face is Sophie.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Halle!

It's Halle's third birthday. I'm excited and thankful that her first three years have been wonderful. She, however, is clueless. Every time I tell her happy birthday she'll say "happy booday to YOU Mommy!" or "IZ NOT MY BOODAY!". So I decided to quit telling her. And I don't feel even the least itty-itty bit guilty about not having a big party for her.

We took her out for dinner last night to Chili's. We could have (and maybe should have) gone to Chick-Fil-A but my parents gave us a gift card for Christmas to Chili's and since it's been six months since the Buttons have been to a for real restaurant we thought it was a good idea. It wasn't. Halle isn't used to having to sit for so long (Chili's was packed and it took a long time for our food to get there) and so there was lots of wiggling and bouncing and trying to get away. And since she was in "big girl panties" for the very first time there were several trips to the bathroom. It was a bit stressful. Then we went to look at Christmas lights and after just a few minutes of that we heard a little voice in the backseat say "I hafta go to da bafwoom". So we headed back home and she "held it" until we got there. So my little one is out of diapers before her third birthday- whew! I wasn't sure we were going to make that one. I can't say that she's completely potty trained because we still have some issues with some things but she's not really having any accidents either. Yay!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Party People Everywhere

You have to check out this site. I don't need to say anything else.

My Thoughts On Christmas

Posting ones thoughts on Christmas is shaky territory because *everybody* has their own opinion of how things should be celebrated. I had friends in college that would gripe about the commercialization, etc. but it didn't really bother me. I bought presents, ate cookies, and received presents. When Amanda was born I decided that I wouldn't do Santa Claus with her because I never believed in Santa (despite elaborate efforts by my parents) and it just wasn't my thing. I actually really ticked off a nail tech (that was working on my nails) when Travis and I first got married. I told her my daughter didn't believe in Santa Claus *or* the Easter Bunny (I didn't know you were supposed to *believe* in the Easter bunny). So this really isn't a diatribe on how anybody except the Buttons will celebrate Christmas.

In the last several years since Travis and I have been married I can only remember two Christmases that haven't been incredibly difficult mostly financially but three years ago it was difficult because we were living with my parents. I remember sitting in the bedroom Travis and I were staying in and all of our earthly posessions were in my parents basement and I was 9 months pregnant. (If you don't know, we moved to AL to help my parents start a church. )And all I could think of was how crummy of a Christmas it would be. And the Lord really convicted me of thinking that our circumstances should dictate "how good" of a Christmas it would be. So over the years and as things have gotten more difficult for us I've just kind of let go of the celebration aspect. What's it all about anyway? I've heard it said that "Christmas is for children", "Christmas is for families", Christmas is for giving, Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men, etc. And I'm ashamed to say that I hadn't ever examined it closely enough to know if any of that is true. I did the same stuff my parents did. I'm not sure why they did it, that's just how we celebrated Christmas- and it was all about the presents. I'm sure my parents felt a trememdous amout of guilt if they couldn't get us everything we were expecting. So is Chrismas about presents, bonuses, fourth quarter earnings, black Friday, grumpy shoppers, exhausted Mommies, endless traffic, endless lines?

I decided to take a cranial approach to the whole thing and find out why we celebrate the way we celebrate. And what I found out was that Christmas was started by the church to be competition for a pagan holiday celebrated on the same day. Individuals birthdays weren't typically celebrated so I guess they felt that they had to bring out "the big guns" to drag folks away from pagan revelries. But regardless why they started it the day is still the celebration of the birth of our savior- so my point is not that it is a pagan holiday as I've heard some Christians say. Then I looked at symbolism and where this thing comes from and why do we do that, and what I found out is that Christmas traditions are celebrated according to local customs. Everybody does it differently. But it was gnawing at me-

So finally I just prayed, "Lord how do you want us to celebrate Christmas?". I think I might have been expecting to hear him say that it is pointless and there is no need to celebrate it at all- to validate my cynicism. But what I heard him say was "how would you celebrate the birth of a king?". How should I celebrate God becoming human flesh to walk among us and change the course of mankind's destiny? Well, when you put it like that I think that I can only celebrate and worship. Not having the money to "celebrate" like we're used to doesn't negate the fact that Christ came to earth and lived among us so that we could have a relationship with our creator. So we will celebrate, and worship and do our very best to give our children an understanding of why we celebrate Christmas. Which is difficult when nearly every program on TV is about Santa Claus coming to town.

I'm not familiar with Advent. My Christian heritage is pentecostal and when the pentecostal movement happened I think they shunned any type of formal or liturgical worship in favor of being "led by the spirit". I know why they did. My Dad was raised Lutheran and didn't even know he needed to be "saved" until he was in his 20's and then it was because a couple with pentecostal or charismatic roots reached out to him. And while I'm not picking on Lutherans or any other Liturgical church- I know that for some people it represented "dead worship". I, on the other hand, have read some liturgy and it is completely beautiful. It couldn't have been written by someone versed in "dead worship" because that type of worship comes from a soul that knows Christ- they could not have written it otherwise. So it seems (though I don't have a good grip on it yet) that Advent could very well be incorporated into what we do. I just know that now I understand what all the decorating and feasting and celebrating is about. It's about Christ and that is something that I can wholeheartedly celebrate.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mommy, Have Nanni and Poppi arrived yet?

Wow, Chloe is growing up so very quickly. Have my parents arrived yet? Um, no but they should any second. We're not traveling for Christmas this year and while I miss seeing our families in FL I am really excited to establish some traditions with just our little family. I've actually been struggling through my feelings on Christmas and traditions and what the point of it all is. I doubt that I have time to write it all down now because my parents should be here any minute now. And I haven't completely come to grips with what I'm feeling so there's no need to drag you all along on my journey, right?

So I really wanted to post about a humorous little thing- well humorous to me anyway. Well, as some of you may know I have had a Southern Living subscription for a long time. And if I haven't had a subscription then I got my Mom's hand me downs that have accompanied me to workout rooms and pick up lines for pretty much forever. My oldest magazine is from 1997- and I still have it. So, I was reading December's issue (2007) and got to an article about decorating with magnolias for Christmas. I immediately thought "Ah, it's a re-run!" and was appalled because I knew I'd seen that buffet draped in magnolia leaves. But then I remembered that I'd seen them decorate with magnolias before but this was a different setup. Then I recognized the grasscloth wallpaper on the walls that had been painted red and the magnolia tree decorated with Christmas lights in the living room and I realized that I had seen it before but it was because it was my Aunt Cindy's house and that was her decorations from last Christmas! I remember thinking last year that their decorations looked like something SL would do. But then I went to the magazine online to try to link it for you and the article they had was from a few years ago and was the original article I was thinking of. Funny. And my parents are here now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Of Stockings and Such

Sophie's stocking is finally finished. Actually I finished it a couple of days ago and started Halle's stocking. I made Halle's bigger because I felt that Sophie's was pretty elaborate and my daughter must have something bigger and better than my cat. My dilemma is this- since looking at the picture I think that the cat's tail needs something. Possibly the dots or small stars. The original thinking was that doing the tail too would make it too *busy*. But now I just think it looks unfinished. Which is sad because I've since sewn the whole thing up- by hand. Yes, my cat has a completely hand sewn, hand embroidered stocking- funny.

So on to Halle's stocking. My original thought was to do something simple, elegant, and icy feeling. I love the combination of blues and plus my Christmas tree is in shades of blue. But now that I'm partially done it just feels sort of bland- especially when compared to Sophie's stocking. And my Christmas tree might not stay blue and silver forever. Every year since I moved out of my
parents house (9 years) my tree has been various shades of blue and I still like it but I'm starting to get tired of it. So do I really want Halle's stocking to just be blue and maybe silver? I'm not sure. I could just embroider smaller colorful snowflakes around the large one, which I was planning on doing anyway only in shades of blue and silver. But I'm not sure that it will have the same impact as starting with pink floss to begin with. It definitely won't be as bright and cheerful. I guess I'll figure it out and keep you posted.

And I don't think I ever posted pictures of my completed kitchen island project. I just took the panes of glass out of the drawer fronts, cut some fabric to fit, sprayed it with spray starch and put them back in. There were pieces of wood designed to keep beans and things in the drawer fronts (remember when that was in style?) but I left the wood out and it gives me and extra inch or so of drawer space. I'm sure that doesn't sound like a lot but the drawers don't open very far and they're really impractical for storing things so the extra space really does help.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just More Randomness Since I'm Sick and Can't Do Anything Else...

Well, except maybe watch Rudolph with the girls. I probably should since Eon (the big vulture) is scaring Halle. Anyway, I found this while checking out the Handmade pledge from Tisra's site. I love pretty much everything in this store but I'm especially drooling over this, and this, and this. Fun stuff.


I got one of many, many Southern Living offers in the mail again a few days ago enticing me to "celebrate 40 years of the South's Best Cooking!" by purchasing a cookbook. I already have several SL cookbooks and rarely make anything from it because of the extensive ingredient list. But they gave me a "freebie" on the advertisement which sounded super simple so I thought I'd give it a try. I actually had everything except the pasta on hand which was awesome. It took a little more time to prepare than what I originally thought since you're basically making a parmesan cheese sauce to accompany the meat sauce but it was totally worth it. I doubled the recipe thinking that there was no way that one pound of hamburger would feed the Buttons but I didn't take into account that it calls for a 13 X 9 baking dish. So I seriously had baked ziti (I used Rotini because the only ziti I found was made with white flour) in 3 casserole dishes. Which turned out to be a good thing since my sickness got worse instead of better and everybody was able to eat a decent meal for several days (3 or 4, I can't remember exactly when I made it). Everbody (including the budget- it's pretty cheap for the amount of food you end up with) loved it and demanded that it be a regular on the menu. So since we're all super-busy this Christmas season I thought I'd share a delicious, hearty, and easy to make recipe. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sophie's Stocking

I've been intending to blog about Thanksgiving since, um, last Monday but a wonderful bug of some sort has descended on the Button house and has decided to stay for a while. But while I'm laid up (probably a sinus infection) I decided to work on a new stocking for Sophie (our cat in case you didn't know) and Halle. It's made from a fleece type material that I had lying around and I embroidered (well I used embroidery floss, I'm not sure that this counts as embroidery) the design. Being the genius that I am I sewed the whole thing up first and then figured out that it would be impossible to sew the design so I had to take it apart. I figure that I'll be able to finish it tomorrow and then start on Halle's. Actually, I'm past the "this is fun" part and am now to the "gaaa, I wish I was done with this" part but I'm pretty happy with the way it looks so far.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Not Trying to Turn This Into a Craft Blog...

But this is the cutest thing ever! Amanda wants one and I want to run right out and get some felt but realistically that won't happen until after we get back from our Thanksgiving trip to my parents house.

And I found this a couple of days ago and I think it's the sweetest party idea ever. It looks so simple and I was so excited about it knowing that Chloe loves butterflies. Can you believe she wrinkled up her nose and said, "I'd like it if it was surfer girl". My daughter and her one track mind. I'd do it for Halle but since she's turning 3 and is still a bit clueless on the party thing, I think I'm going to skip a party for her this year. I'm not planning on doing that once she understands things more because I don't want her to feel slighted especially since her birthday is only 5 days before Christmas.

I'd also like to put a link for the yummiest sugar scrub and body butter ever. Kiki's Suds is made by a friend of Trav's and I asked for it for my birthday. He got the Vanilla Pumpkin sugar scrub and body butter and I'm totally hooked. She also sent a sample for Bahama Mama dreamy whipped lotion and I'm definitely getting some of that too. I think I'm addicted.

And since I'm blogging I thought I'd post some useful little tidbits. Such as, did you know that to get melted wax out of a candle holding device you can just pop them into the freezer for about 20 minutes and the wax will just pop out? I think my Mom told me that after I cracked a candle holder by trying to boil the wax off. It was part of a candle tree set. It was beautiful when it was lit but I had to throw the whole thing away because I couldn't find a replacement. And did you know that you can run the floor mats from your car through the washing machine? I tried it out of desperation and they came out perfectly clean and smelled like fabric softener. I told Tisra and she tried it too and was very happy with how it turned out. I'm probably going to do it again before we go out of town.

OK, I guess I'm out of tidbits at two but both of those have saved me a tremendous amount of time and frustration. I hope they help.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Orange is My New Favorite Color

OK, not really but I do like it a LOT because of this blog. Now I want something orange. I originally decided to paint the kitchen yellow because I could use an amazing amount of color with it so I'm thinking of some sort of orange accessory for the spring/summer season. I didn't put her blog up here just because of the orange thing though. She also has tons of great ideas for projects- I would say crafts but she kind of went on a tirade about how she hates that word craft. So whatever you call it she has tons of great ideas- I think she's graphic designer by trade. And also at the end of this article there is a well laid out plan for marketing your products. Now, I don't see myself ever doing that because it's not my thing. But several friends have talked about 'maybe one day I'll...' so here you go.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chloe and Stuff

Chloe's teacher sent home a note on Wednesday that said the school was having an award ceremony and that Chloe was receiving an award and that we were invited to attend. So Travis went (I couldn't make it) and Chloe was awarded a certificate for perseverance. She was so excited! Now, it's tempting for the cynical Amy to think, "Hmmm, what better way to appease a ticked off Mommy than to give her kid an award." But Chloe has had a rough year and she has persevered and I think she totally deserves this.

On a different note- last weekend we went out to the Natchez Trace with the Fadely's and took pictures. Is it any wonder I love fall so much? Or that I love living in Franklin? The parkway is only about 8 miles from our house- love, love, love it!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Excitement is in the Air!!!

Ah, Thanksgiving! I'm so excited! I just looked at Chloe's school schedule and found out that she has the entire week off next week. So I'm thinking of all sorts of fun stuff to do. I'd like to take just Chloe to downtown Franklin and look at the shops- because she loves shopping- but I'd also like to walk through the neighborhood and enjoy all of the fall foliage and take pictures. There is a store on the corner of 2nd ave and church (I think) that I've wanted to go to for months but never seem to make it that far off of main st.

I've also enjoyed a crafty type blog lately with the cutest ideas for handmade little things. A fabric house, felt cupcake, festive bunting & a chocolate felt doughnut? My mind is all-a-whirl with the fun we could have. Then my practical side asks, "what in the world would you do with all of that stuff? Not to mention you have nowhere else to put it." *Grrr* I don't like my practical side. But at least none of these things would contain dangerous levels of lead. I didn't think I would be in a panick when the first lead issues started coming out, probably because *I* don't buy very many toys for my kids anyway. But with the recall of Aqua Dots andCurious George I have to say that I did get a bit freaked out and started scouring Etsy for toy ideas. As and aside, Amanda saw me looking at Etsy the other night and was totally hooked. She now has her own account and has dozens of items in her wish list.

So back to the handmade goodies. I think I could have some useful purpose for some of those things. I'm at a loss on the fabric house (that looks so totally simple that I want to make it) but the cupcake and doughnut could be very cute party favors. Of course I would be stealing that idea from Christy's blog (which I would put a link for but I haven't asked her). She made super-cute knitted cupcakes for a cupcake themed party. I like knitting but it's not my most favorite thing in the universe so I think the felt ones would be easier. But Chloe's birthday isn't until June. I could do the bunting in surfer fabrics that could hang in Chloe's bedroom and she could help me make them. Or maybe I should just finish the 82 projects I've started around the house- *sigh*.

Oh and my birthday was Monday. I don't think that birthdays should ever fall on Monday because, really, life is just flying by way too fast for anybody to slow down long enough to appreciate a Monday birthday. The previous weekend though was great. The Fadely's were kind enough to watch the two little girls so Travis and I had dinner, went to the mall (ooh big fun), and went home. It doesn't sound like a huge big deal but I was sick and didn't feel like doing a lot. But we had time together, which we hadn't had in at least 3 weeks so just being able to walk around holding hands and talking was a huge treat.

Ooh, and speaking of treats I think Chloe and I should make some of those next week too. I haven't made the pumpkin pops that I mentioned a month or so ago and this would be a great time. Well, and the window for that is almost closed. If I wait until after Thanksgiving they'll have to be reindeer pops and I don't think I'm talented enough for that. But maybe if I used cocoa crispies....hmmm. OK, I think I'm done rambling now but if anyone has any ideas I'd be happy to hear them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Where To Start? The Finale

I'm done sharing now. When I first started this I thought I'd be sharing mostly about our life in the last 7 years and would just kind of skim my part of it. But as I look back I realize what a miracle my life is. I remember telling my Dad on more than one occasion that "I shouldn't be who I am without having had lots of therapy". And it's true. But what is miraculous is that the creator of the universe loved me enough to heal me. He got into the broken places in a way that no one ever could. I don't think I'm completely "there" yet but I firmly believe that I will be. I'm certainly not the broken mess who's life was over before she ever reached 20- I'm speaking from and outsider-looking-in opinion. In my opinion my life didn't start until I was 20, even though I'd made a lifetime of grown-up mistakes already. And now I consider myself to be one of the most blessed people on the planet. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing daughters. I wish I could regale you all with the tales of the things they say and do and just who they are that makes them so amazing but you have your own special people and know what I mean. I wanted to change the world and instead God put me in the position of being a wife and stay at home mom. He gave me what I needed. And I'm satisfied with that. I'm not going to make any predictions about the future and what we'll do. Our lives are in God's hands and I believe that He will fulfill every purpose that he has for us. And for that I'm thankful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where To Start? Part 5

After I left my first position as a M-O-M (funny) I have to say that I was pretty much devastated. I think I just mostly stayed in bed for about a month. And it was at this point that I learned forgiveness. To say that I had to forgive is implying that I was wronged but without being wronged there is no need for forgiveness, I don't think I'm teetering to say that much.

I remember clearly one afternoon I decided to take Amanda to the mall in a neighboring city (the two closest malls to us were each about 45 minutes away so I always went to the nicest one) and I heard a radio preacher talking about forgiveness. I don't remember exactly who he was but I remember that he said there were no "buts" you just have to forgive. At this point I was very hurt and bitter and was full of anger about the situation. My mind was constantly in a whirl about specific things that happened. So I just made a decision to forgive. I didn't want to forgive. I didn't think anybody deserved my forgiveness but I couldn't bear the thought of *people* coming between my relationship with the Lord. So anytime a thought came into my mind about things that happened I just said "I forgive them". I didn't know what else to do. I hadn't ever seen an outline of "this is how you forgive people" so I just figured it out myself. So I went from thinking about things every second of every day to thinking about it every five minutes. I continued to just say in my mind "I forgive them". Then I'd think about it every ten minutes and the next week I'd think about it every 15 minutes and then every hour and then twice a day and then once a day, once a week, once a month to rarely ever thinking about it again. I don't remember exactly what happened there now. I mean, if I really sat here and thought about it I could drag those memories back but I quit doing that because I knew if I did and got angry again then I'd have to forgive them again and I just wanted to be done with it.

I think that there is a misconception about forgiveness which is that forgiveness is about the injuring party. But it isn't really. Forgiveness is about the person injured and their emotional, physical and spiritual well being. Forgiveness is so that the injured person will be whole. Unforgiveness, when allowed free reign of a person, causes you to interpret every action by every person in the light of being hurt. You can never be whole, never be free of the pain that was caused until you forgive. In my case I decided that as long as I didn't forgive I was letting the offenders in my life control me. And I'm speaking of people with which you've determined that there is no hope of having a relationship with. Forgiveness isn't about setting yourself up for the firing squad again. The thought that you have to forgive and then set yourself back up in an emotionally or physically dangerous situation is not correct. You can forgive someone and move on without ever having a relationship with them again. Forgiveness doesn't mean you put blinders on and not see someone for who they are. Forgiveness is freedom.

Where To Start? Part 4

I graduated. I got the job. I moved Amanda and me 7 hours north into our very first teensy, cinder block, rental house. I was excited about everything that God was going to do and gave that job all I had. I set guidelines to fix every problem that the pastor said they had, I taught new songs, I set practice times- tons of practice time. And I pissed everybody right off. I didn't know what I was doing, exactly. I'd learned how to conduct rehearsals, read music and everything else a minister music should know how to do technically but I didn't learn how to deal with people and change.

Now here's where I feel like I'm teetering on a fine line between being godly and professional. Between explaining what happened and just sounding vindictive. So I'm going to have to go with my gut here. And say that my life there was a living hell. But I'm not going to place blame. I'll accept the responsibility that I didn't do everything right and leave it there. On the recommendation of some godly people that were in my life I didn't defend myself then and I'm not going to now.

About six months into my stay there I was praying during our morning prayer time in the sanctuary and the Lord spoke to me and said, "you're going to meet your husband this weekend". Seriously, just like that? I'd been praying for years about this and God was gracious enough to let me know before it happened. Well, it just so happens that it was a few days before my birthday and I was going to be able to go home for the first time in six months. I had seen a couple of college friends that visited me since I'd been in my new location but other than that I'd only seen my family that visited. I was very excited about a lot of things. First of all, I was going to get to drive on the Interstate! My new city was a-whole-hour from a major interstate so I felt like I'd been dropped off in the middle of nowhere. The area was beautiful but I felt secluded or trapped, however you want to look at it. There were a thousand things I wanted to do when I got home but one of the first things I was going to do was to go to a chapel service at Southeastern. I needed the warm embrace of my Alma Mater. I felt at home again and safe. After chapel I decided I'd pop in and say hi to my voice teacher but on my way to her office I noticed that my piano teacher's car was there and his office came up first so I stopped in there on my way. He was really happy to see me and we jabbered on for a while. Then we heard a knock at the door and he said in a hushed tone "Travis is my next lesson". I answered the door and he was shocked! We hugged and I don't think I've ever been so happy to see someone in my entire life! We all talked and laughed like old times. And Paul (piano teacher) suggested- several times- that Travis and I should go out to lunch. I already had lunch plans with another (guy) friend and said that Travis should come too but he declined- and asked me out for lunch the next day.

So the following day we had lunch at Crisper's and had a great time. I apologized for the way I treated him when we were dating and he said it wasn't necessary. So we parted ways and said we'd catch-up sometime.

Then after just a few short days my trip was over and I was headed back to the new city. Amanda was 8 and had just learned that if you sleep on a trip it makes it go by faster. So while she was sleeping the Holy Spirit was dealing with me. I figured that I was wrong about he whole "meeting my husband thing". But as I was praying I heard the HS say "Travis". I was freaked out a bit figuring I was going crazy so I "rebuked the devil" or something and kept praying. My prayer went something like this.

Amy- praying
HS- Travis
Amy- ahhh!

Etc. until I finally said "OK, I'll pray about it!" Now, I was certain that God was speaking to me but I wanted to be very certain that God was telling me to marry him and not that I should donate a kidney or something. So I did pray, and pray, and pray, and pray- for ten days. I wasn't going to take this lightly and I knew that his plan was to move to Nashville to write music and I wasn't going to screw that up for him. So to make a long story short we did get back together, got engaged and did the long-distance thing for about 5 months.

It really helped the situation I was in to have someone on my side. To have someone to vent to and to have someone to pour life into me that was being sucked out by my circumstances. The Amy Island mentality was quickly deteriorating and I was trying to get used to the idea of happily ever after.

Where To Start? Part 3

OK, I'm feeling a sense of urgency to finish this so I think I'll type my little heart out today and you can read it at your leisure.

So, I'm a senior- finally. It was my 6th year in college and I finally had it all together and was going to graduate. Well, after I completed about 25 hours or so and a senior recital. So as I'm on my merry little way determined to graduate, and to do it single, I had a class with someone all of you know- Travis. I had only dated one guy seriously the whole time I was in college and that was the year before. The four years prior to that I was single. I had crushes and was asked out, etc. But I was so terrified of relationships that if I actually made it to the date without canceling then I'd usually freak myself out enough to not do it again. I was also spending a lot of time with the Lord and finding out who I was. There were several times that I set a specific period of time in which I commited to not date. There were eye-rolls and objections of "again!?!" from those close to me but they had no idea where I was coming from. People (friends, professors) told me to "just get married" but seriously, why would I want to step into that hell again? I hadn't ever seen a godly marriage model so I didn't even know why people bothered to get married. I think I wanted to get married someday but I begged God on a regular basis to not let me marry the wrong guy. It was a very, very lonely time in my life.

But back to Travis. I put off one specific class for my entire college career because I didn't really want to take it but it was required. And they only offered it once- in the fall- at 7:30 am- ugh. I hated 7:30 classes and only took them if I had to. Composition and Arranging- seriously, who wants to do that at 7:30 am? But surprise, surprise, who should be in my class but Travis. We'd had classes together before and we usually sat next to each other (except for one semester when I had a boyfriend and he had a crush on someone else) but I knew that this class wasn't required for his major. He chalked his taking the class to his love for writing, which is true, but that wasn't his only motive. I didn't realize that I'd told him the previous spring that I'd be taking C & A in the fall. Which is just one small thing in the long list of things that I'd forget that I'd told him. So he and I started spending time together because neither of us had a class the next period but I had to go to chapel so we'd usually have breakfast together in the cafe and talk about life, relationships and well, do college students talk about anything else? During one conversation I told him he needed to strap on a parachute and just jump out of the plane, of course I didn't really know *I* was the object of his affection. Funny.

He and I kept running into each other more and more often, especially in the MIDI lab. I'm not sure why we called it that but it's where we wrote music for our class assignments. I ran into him there so often that I started thinking we were being set up by God not realizing that I would tell him during the day when I was going. I don't think I found that out until after we were married. Anyway, he *finally* asked me out after about two months of *accidentally* running into each other. We started dating but really, we were just in different spots in our lives. He wanted to not date anyone unless he was sure that he could marry her (me). I wanted to date casually and wasn't ready to settle down. I was laid back, he was uptight. And he was constantly picking stuff off of my clothes- gaaa! So we were off to a rocky start.

For years I had been praying about what to do after I graduated and I was rapidly approaching decision time. My plan was- barring hearing something specific from God- that I would take Amanda on a trip across the country and then I'd start applying to graduate schools. But one day I was praying while I was laying on my bed and I was looking out the window. It was an amazing winter day, the sky was clear and the temperature was mild- and God spoke. Finally, after all the years of college and not knowing exactly why I was doing what I was doing or how I was going to get from where I was to the dreams God was giving me He spoke. And He told me to be a minister of music & to do it by myself. And I said OK. I didn't want to be a minister of music before but it didn't matter because God said do it so I set about trying to get a job. I talked to the professor in the placement office and started working on my resume. And I broke up with Travis. I was focused, determined and goal oriented. I wasn't going to let anything stop me from doing what God called me to do. People were expendable. I didn't go to college to get married I went to college to change my life.

I was still working on getting everything together to send to churches and while I was in the shower one day my Mom knocked on the door and said, "Amy, there's a pastor on the phone for you". Instead of asking to call him back I just jumped out of the shower, threw on a towel and had my first interview to be a music pastor. I was upfront with him about being divorced and having a child and he said, "I'm not concerned about that I just want the person that God wants here". If only he meant that as much as he thought he did.

Friday, November 09, 2007

So I Shouldn't Post When I'm Ticked Off or Grouchy?

No, I shouldn't post when I'm ticked off. Because I just talked with Chloe's teacher and she said that the whole thing was a mistake and that a letter should have never been sent home. She was merely asking for guidance from her peers for tips to help Chloe hold her pencil correctly and the guidance counselor misunderstood and thought that she was saying that Chloe might need *occupational therapy*. I don't think I mentioned that last night. I explained (calmly again) to her teacher that I felt blind-sided and she understood and said that she would have too. It was especially difficult to deal with last night because that day I was very happy about how well Chloe was doing in school- finally. She wasn't crying anymore and saying that she wanted to stay home. Her teacher confirmed that she is doing very well and the pencil thing isn't even a *huge* deal but is something that she works on with her for time to time. OK, I can move on now.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Installment of Drama...

For more drama, can you believe it? I have to vent, really, because my head is about to blow up.

I got a letter from Chloe's school that said in a nutshell that she's having trouble in school and that I need to sign a form saying that they can evaluate her and have a General Intervention Team meet with her teacher. I just had a parent/teacher conference and her teacher said that there were some issues but didn't seem to be overly concerned about anything so this hit me completely out of the blue. All I can picture is a bunch of people in hazmat suits carrying my daughter off to "study" her. I know I'm being dramatic but still. Her teacher could have called or even e-mailed me first to let me know. So I immediately called the school counselor and got the schools voice mail. I left a message in my very best I'm-a-really-pissed-off-Mom-and-it's-in-your-best-interest-to-call-me-back-quickly voice. And she did. I explained (calmly) that this letter was completely out of the blue- especially considering that p/t conferences were less than a month ago. So I found out that the issue is that Chloe doesn't hold her pencil correctly. Seriously. No, really.

The guidance counselor was very apologetic. And said that the teachers were supposed to let the parents know *before* they talk to the guidance counselor. So I asked her to evaluate Chloe and she said that she would tomorrow. In the meantime I talked to Chloe. I asked her about her pencil and she said that she doesn't like to hold her pencil correctly because it hurts her hands. Which is probably what she told her teacher and is why her teacher wants to send her to the hazmat suit people. But I asked Chloe *where* it hurt her fingers and she showed me. And it's the exact same place that a pencil hurts my fingers if I write that way for too long- I actually developed a callous there in college. So it seems to me that if her teacher had asked a few questions she would have found out that it's a matter of preference and not a matter of underdeveloped motor skills- OR SHE COULD HAVE CALLED ME! Why the drama in first grade? I wrote "incorrectly" for my entire K-12 school experience and nobody ever "studied" me. Funny, I don't feel that much better for having vented.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Where To Start? Part 2

It's difficult to put your life story in print for a few reasons. First of all you make yourself incredibly vulnerable which isn't my strong suite. Which is probably why I feel "compelled" to do this. Secondly it's entirely possible to hurt someone's feelings without meaning to. So when I say I had "no friends" I did have one. My friend Tracy and I have been friends since we were 6 and in Mrs. Greer's first grade class. We still keep in touch and we were in at least two of each other's weddings. We were in completely different spots in our lives though at this point though. I was divorced already by the time she was getting married (to her ghetto prince charming) and she was expecting their first child. Domestic bliss wasn't even a blip on my radar though and so our lives were taking different paths but we still kept in touch.

About a month after I decided "OK God let's do this" I was at church and during a prayer time I knew that God was calling me to ministry. I'd never felt "called" to ministry in my life- ever- and this was the first time that I was going to have to trust God for something huge. How so?, you may ask. Well, I was born and raised in a pentecostal denomination that not only frowned on divorce but it really was the unpardonable sin. That any pastor would hire me as a single, divorced Mom would be a miracle but I would be instantly disqualified for ministry if I ever remarried. Unless I made a trek to "mecca" (the "affectionate" term for General Headquarters) and rehashed my life story and "proved" that my ex had been unfaithful to a group of church leaders that I didn't know. I didn't plan on doing that then and I don't plan on it now. I'd already experienced a less than embracing welcome from Southeastern in form of a letter I got in my mailbox soon after school started which said (in a nutshell) "we're glad you're here but your divorced so don't date anybody". Of course I fully intended to ignore their stipulation and I did. Thankfully they didn't have campus security following me around.

I planned on studying Psychology. I really enjoyed it and I couldn't think of anything else that Southeastern offered that I'd be interested in doing for the rest of my life. Then I got more involved in the worship team at church and by the summer I knew that music was what I should study. Which is crazy because it's the *one* major in which you really should know what you're doing *before* you start studying it. Then I found out there was Music Theory, Sight Singing, voice lessons that not only included but focused on singing in foreign languages. Needless to say I was completely overwhelmed and considered quitting. My first voice teacher wouldn't play the melody of a song for you to know what it sounded like. The assumption was that you could read music and would just "get it". But I could barely read music and really struggled through that semester. But she was a great mentor and seemed to love me and totally understood my situation with Amanda because her Mom had been a single Mom.

But I started to find my place. God put some peers in my life that were amazing, Godly people that were my age and would act as friends/mentors/sounding boards/encouragers and just great people that not only accepted me but loved me. So we journeyed on together. I was still closed off emotionally and I didn't know how to accept their love but it did make a huge difference in my life. I started having fun. I had quite a few friends that I talked to and did things with on a regular basis. I took trips out of state and just started experiencing a life that I had never known before. All the while I was studying, working, and being Amanda's Mom. I got really tired at times but my mantra was "do what's hard". I had no room in my life for failure and I certainly wasn't going to be scared of anything. I made myself do things by myself like eat at a restaurant or go to the mall. That might not be a big deal for some people but for me just a couple of years prior to that I was terrified to go to the mall even when I was with people. Any time I heard girls laughing I thought they were laughing at me and I "knew" that everyone there knew that I didn't belong there. I don't' know that I felt comfortable or more accepted but I did it anyway- you know the whole "not letting fear stop me"thing.

And then there was chapel. A lot of people at Southeastern hated it and didn't think that we should have to go but for me it was my oasis. The worship was unlike anything I'd experienced (the "new" worship songs that I was learning at my church were 15 years old at that point, who knew?) before. They may not have been on the "cutting edge" but they were close. I was mostly student led and it's hard to rival the passion of a college student that's sold out to Christ. The Holy Spirit did more digging but I also had dreams. Dreams of what I wanted to do for Christ and what I wanted my ministry to be about. I knew I couldn't be on staff at a church but that was fine with me because I didn't want to sit in a stuffy old office preparing Christmas Cantatas anyway. We'd hear speakers challenge us to "dream a dream that only God can do" and I didn't have any trouble with that. My dreams were huge but *any* dream I had only God could pull off because for everyone that encouraged me in ministry I'd hear someone else say "no pastor would ever hire you". The one that stands out in my mind the most was one of my professors. We had become friends and I know that she was just trying to be the voice of reason in my life. After all I had a daughter to provide for. What she told me was that I should get a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies because I didn't have the "chops" for music (the voice for it) and no pastor would ever hire me. I don't hold that against her because she was being real and was trying to give me guidance. You can't expect people to see your dreams. It doesn't matter if you tell them because you can never effectively convey what it is that God has put in your heart. And if you're dreaming a God sized dream they won't believe it. They can't because God (most likely) hasn't put it in their heart to do so. And I don't have the "chops" to sing opera. But God hasn't called me to sing opera...

1 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness". Meaning that before I was even born God had placed inside me all the talent, smarts, heart, etc. that I would need to accomplish his purpose for me. And he gave me everything that I need to live a godly life through Christ's death and resurrection. I know that my talent has limitations but they're not limitations to God.

More later....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where To Start? Part 1

I have so much going on in my head these days. So much so that I find myself being incredibly distracted and I forget things. For instance I noticed a couple of days ago that I had apparently only shaved one leg during my shower a couple of days before that. Funny.

I don't think it's any secret that this has been an incredibly trying year for our family. Actually the last 7 + years have been difficult in one way or another. At the beginning of this year our Pastor spoke about this being a year of completion for a lot of people in our church and we knew that God was speaking to us through that. We were hoping that it wouldn't take an entire year but since it's November it looks like it will be.This is a story of a beautiful journey through times of testing. It's about dreams dying, strain on our relationships and a crisis of theology that has resulted in us knowing Christ more. We're not the same people we were 7 years ago. But I should probably start somewhere near the beginning....

I "got saved" when I was 4. No really. I knew what it meant and I felt the Holy Spirit draw me to Christ. I remember clearly as a youngster of 4 sitting in a worship service, raising my hands and crying because I felt the Holy Spirit so close to me. Nobody had to tell me God was real because I knew He was. Actually one of the older kids at church saw me crying and raising my hands and laughed at me. I still remember that feeling of being crushed and an internal struggle of whether or not I was still going to worship because he laughed at me. I did worship anyway but I felt really self conscious. But my passion at that young age was singing. I begged my Dad to ask the Pastor if I could "sing a special". And God bless my Dad he did. And God bless the Pastor for saying yes. I was so excited. I had to stay in my class until my Dad came to get me and I was climbing on the tables and my teacher scolded me. I kept asking her if it was time yet and I'm pretty sure she was exasperated with me. I don't remember who she was but I definitely remember that she was not as excited as I was. Finally my Dad came and got me and he held me and held the microphone for me while I sang Jesus Loves Me. I don't ever remember wanting to do anything but sing.

Years passed and my family was a wreck. I love my parents and because of that I'm not going to go into any details. The past is the past and I would never, ever want to hurt them. We've forgiven each other and moved on but things happened and by the time I was 16 I was dead inside. I didn't really care what happened to me and because of that I started dating someone that acted like he cared about me. He treated me like I was special and so I didn't care that he was a drug dealer that had already gotten another girl at our school pregnant (she had an abortion). I wanted somebody to love me. Then I got pregnant with Amanda. I don't want to re-hash all of that because honestly that period of my life makes me sick at my stomach. I will say that things were sour pretty much the whole time with prince-charming-from-the-hood-liar-guy. We married which was ridiculous and he was never-ever faithful. I'll spare you those details too. And even though it may seem on the outside that "well, it wasn't a real marriage" I have to say that the feeling of betrayal cuts through your heart no matter the length of time your married. I still took the vows, I expected things to get better, we had a daughter and being betrayed was a blow that crushed me. I decided then that I would never, ever let anybody hurt me like that again and that I was going to go to college and make something of myself. I planned on going to the local community college but my Dad convinced me to "just try Southeastern for a semester". He probably figured that I'd get used to it and would decide to stay- and he was right.

That first semester in school I was a nervous wreck. I remember that I'd walk across campus terrified. I was so incredibly insecure and I wanted friends but at the same time I didn't want anybody to see me. I wasn't really living out a relationship with Christ at that point. I was just working and trying to not feel like I wanted to die. I really fought against that with everything that I had because I wasn't going to let anybody beat me- I wouldn't let *anybody* have that kind of control over my life again. I was my own person and I was going to be successful and I would never have to depend on a man again. I actually remember on several occasions picturing in my mind a brick wall being built around my heart. I knew I probably shouldn't do that but I didn't care, I had to protect myself. The people that I was myself with was Amanda and my Dad. Amanda was my refuge in the storm and my Dad was the one person that I could talk to and he would listen. Endlessly listen. Amanda and I were constant companions. With her I could climb the monkey bars and she wouldn't think I was dumb. We saw movies, we went on trips, we went to Disney World and the beach and to restaurants and to any other place you can think of in central FL. I didn't have any friends though. On the day of my divorce hearing I went to the courthouse, got divorced, and made it to my 11:10 psychology class. Then I went to work. It seemed strange that I was acting like it was a normal day and it felt like I should tell somebody but I knew that no one would care so I just stayed quiet, finished my shift at Wal-Mart and went home.

The next semester in school was more of the same. Except that I started going to a new church. I was done with the dead religion that I'd been raised in and the only reason that I tried this new church was because my former youth pastor (who wasn't at all OK with dead religion) was at the church and it wasn't too far from my house. It wasn't too long before I started attending fairly regularly and on a Wednesday night in January 1993 I decided I was done. I had nothing left so I said, "God, I don't have anything to give you but my life- take it and do whatever you want to with it." And I meant it.

My life changed after that. I started meeting people and had some friends. The girl (who would become my best friend) who led worship asked me to be on the worship team. God bless her. I hadn't taken any voice lessons and my voice just wasn't that great. I had the raw talent but I didn't always sing on key and well, just needed some refining. We were both sopranos with my voice being stronger and more reedy up against her much more clear tone (if I just lost you think of a clarinet up against a flute). I didn't sing harmony and I'm pretty sure our voices clashed a bit. *But* God was renewing a passion inside me that had been forgotten. Our new church did things differently than our old church. Our old church was steeped in tradition and only sang hymns. Now I know that the hymns vs modern music feud rages on in some parts but I'm not going to write about that now. If anyone would my opinion on that I've studied both and would be happy to debate that with you later. But I just knew that there was life at this church and that the times of worship were restoring my soul. I wasn't worshipping because I wanted God to heal me. I was worshipping because I loved Him and during those times of worship the Holy Spirit was digging into the parts of my heart that no one could reach and was digging out the pain and was making me whole. It was then that a passion for worship was born in me.

I think that I'm going to stop for now because I think I'm at a stopping point and this is getting to be Tolstoy-long (Alias reference) but I feel compelled to share this. I'll get back to it soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Amanda's New Haircut

Amanda gets offended if I post pics of the little girls and not of her AND I actually meant to post a photo of her new haircut. Which she got for free from Dion's South because she agreed to let her hair be cut for a class by apprentices. I think it looks cool.

It's Amazing the Difference a Few Pansies Make

Pansies. I love the color for fall and for winter- especially with the dreariness of it in these parts. I considered planting mums in the urns at the front of the house but since I know that pansies last the whole winter and they have a greater variety of color than the mums I planted them instead. Actually I'm a bit disappointed in myself because I didn't do enough research before I hit the garden center at Home Depot. I put some of the cheap pansies in the cart but was concerned that they wouldn't be tall enough to actually be able to see them from the road so I searched the aisles hoping to find something to give the planter some height. I thought about ornamental grasses but I didn't see any that could handle winter here. Then Chloe came up to me with her hands full of a package of Karma Blue Butterfly pansies and they were perfect, or so I thought. I'm usually pretty good about researching flowers and seeds *before* I make a purchase but I thought that a pansy is a pansy, right? Well apparently not. The Karma Blue Butterfly is a perrennial instead of an annual that blooms in the fall and spring. Which is very cool because they're beautiful (they're the tall violet/blue/yellow flowers in the middle of the pot) but they're also the height in my planter. I know that regular pansies survive the whole winter even with snow on top of them so the shorter ones will survive (assuming I'm able to avoid killing them) but that sort of defeats the whole purpose of buying the KBB. They are really pretty though and if they bloom for the whole fall then that will buy some time for me to figure it out. I don't imagine that I'll be too terribly stressed out about it though.

I also somewhat straightened out the big planter that's attached to the house. I thought I needed a new liner-thingy but it turns out it was just mashed down and I was able to unfold it and mostly fix it. It doesn't come all the way up the sides though and I didn't have quite enough potting soil to fill it out. So there are a few pitiful looking little pansies that can't quite peek their heads over the top of the planter. At least it doesn't still have those awful silk flowers in it.

Potty training here is at a standstill. I've never met such a stubborn child in my life. Sometimes she puts herself on the potty and says, "I need to go potty". She'll even sit on the potty every two minutes- and then she pees in the floor. I'm ready to just put her back in diapers. I can't imagine having a three year old that isn't potty trained since I've never been in that boat, I just really don't know what to do. Oh and she didn't actually "go" in the hat, I just thought it was cute.

On the other end of the spectrum I've got my little Chloe who decided she wanted to help me sand the walls. I think I'll get a bunch of pictures of all of us remodeling the house a make a little scrapbook out of it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pictures That Chloe Took

Well, she took the first three anyway. The other two are of the fall wreath that I re-worked for the season (it was really fun; I haven't done that in a while), my black-eyed susans that I was so worried that I'd only get a couple of flowers from, and a bird feeder that was made by my Grandpa.

So in the interest of finally blogging about the visit with my M-I-L, I'd just like to say that we had a great time- especially Chloe. We visited lots of places and stayed at home and she played with the girls. Chloe slept with her every-single-night in a twin size bed and loved it! Joyce was so patient and didn't seem to mind at all. Travis had to work quite a bit while she was here but he did have two whole days off to spend with her and that was nice for all of us. Then we went to B'ham for a visit with my parents (we hadn't all visited there since April!) and had a really nice time as well.

And now we're heading off to Home Depot-in the rain- to get some things to repair fun stuff under the house. The termite guy came today and said that a pipe is leaking, the dryer hose is broken and is pouring out lint (which mice and other vermin like to nest in)and warm wet air into the crawl space, we have a fungus because of the warm wet air and leaky pipe, we need a new vapor screen, and we need some kind of extender thingy to attach to the gutter spout to move the water away from the house. I guess I'm glad that he checked the crawl space in the rain. Fun, fun, fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's a Picture-Palooza!

I don't think it's possible to sum up the last two-ish weeks without driving myself crazy trying to remember it all so think I'll hit a few highlights over the next few days. So for starters...
I'm sure you remember that I decided to tear the bathroom up just a few days before she got here and as per usual it took much more time and was way more involved than just putting some paint on the walls. Originally I wasn't going to patch the weird lines-up-with-nothing hole in the wall*but* Travis was dog tired one night but was still willing to put up the new storage cabinet we bought. Due to his tiredness however I have two brand new holes in the wall that have to be patched and no cabinet on the wall. So, since I still must patch holes and re-paint I might as well go ahead and fix the other hole- especially since I can borrow all of the tools from Eric and Tisra. And I decided to paint the oak vanity which turned out OK (it needs another coat) but *somehow* all of the cabinet hardware has been lost. I put it all in a Ziploc bag and set it on the island and now it is mysteriously gone and nobody has seen it. I really do want a new cabinet but I promise I didn't do that on purpose. So I'm going to go to Gallatin to check out a warehouse that supposedly sells cabinets for cheap so I'll see what they've got and maybe I'll have a new vanity to go with my new cabinet. The current one is less than 24" wide so it is really too small to house the bathroom stuff for 5 people so I am hoping for a new one. If I can't get a new one and I can't find the hardware I was thinking that I can just put up a little curtain temporarily- you know a little "shabby chic" look. Oh, and I need a new mirror but I won't know what size to get until the cabinet is on the wall- it's big and I don't know how much room I'll have left. I also think that the room needs another color to ground the whole thing. It almost seems stark to me. I thought about some little black accents but then I thought it would be too stark with the pale green and now I'm thinking about a shade of brown. We'll have to see. So what started out as a can of $5 oops! paint is now turning into the money pit. But at least I'm not completely grossed out every time I walk into the bathroom.

This is what the bathroom looked like before my M-I-L came.

And this is what it looks like now-

You'll notice that I still have a turquoise bathtub- but the green actually looks nice with it. Not that you can really tell what color I painted it in these pictures. I still need to paint the trim though and the door. Which I don't want to paint because we'll have to replace the door eventually and I just hate to have to do work that is just going to get thrown out anyway. The jury's still out on that one.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It is beautiful this morning- and quiet. I need to go shower and get dressed because I have tons of things to do today but Halle is still sleeping (because Life Group went late last night) and I haven't had a quiet morning to myself in such a long time I thought I'd just enjoy it for a while and let you know about something great.

For the last six years I have suffered from a weird illness. I first noticed it after I had Chloe. I was working out to get back in shape and after just a few days of working out I'd feel like I had the flu. It took several times of that happening for me to put it together and it didn't seem to make sense that working out was making me sick. Working out is supposed to make you stronger, healthier, & less stressed. I-was-baffled. So I tried supplements like crazy looking for "the wonder pill" and still I got sick. I was tired but not the drowsy-can't-stay-awake tired but an aching tired that went through my entire body. It wasn't normal and I didn't know what it was. Sometimes I would tell Travis, "I have that weird sleeping sickness again" but it was more than that. If I wasn't dealing with the weakness, achyness, ungodly tiredness, and low grade fever then I had trouble sleeping- especially in the last year and then there were the headaches every-single-day. I thought that stress had just shut down my immune system and that as soon as things get better for us I'd be fine. Less stress = no more sickness. I've worked out in the way we think of working out for 16 years and for the first ten of those I never, ever had the symptoms I'm describing. I went through a divorce, being a single Mom and working my way through college without ever having more than the sniffles and then there was this craziness that was rapidly taking over my life and was starting to become debilitating. I've never missed so much church in my life. Sometimes I would be sick for three days but I could be sick as long as three weeks and if I tried to push through it my body pushed back and I ended up in bed for even longer.

I was praying a couple of months ago and asked the Lord to change things for us so that I could be well and He spoke to me and said "You're circumstances don't have to change in order for you to be healed." I didn't know what to do after that but at least God knew there was something wrong with me and it wasn't just me being crazy. So a couple of weeks ago Travis and I were praying about something (I don't remember what) and usually when we pray one of us prays first and then the other one prays. It was my turn to pray last and as I did I felt strongly that I should pray about my healing. I don't think that I prayed a spectacular Billy Graham style prayer but I just asked God to heal me and then I thanked Him because I *knew* He was going to do it. But I didn't realize right away that I was healed. There were no thunder bolts, no electric shock feelings running through my body- I just felt at peace knowing that my creator was taking care of me and that He would heal me. So sometime in the next couple of days I mowed the lawn. Travis told me not to (sorry honey!) but Amanda was whining incessantly about how hard it is, etc. Now, I have to give it to her that mowing Mt. St. Button is difficult with our little push mower- especially mowing the ditch. Move over squats because it kills your thighs- I'm just sayin'. So I mowed it and I'd done it before a couple of months ago and I was sick the next day but this time I did-not-get-sick! I think I realized at that point that God had healed me so I wanted to really test it out so I did cardio on my exercise bike that I've hardly been able to use in the last year and then I did a complete weights routine- upper body-lower body- crunches. I'd done that about a month ago and I was sick the very next day but again- I DID NOT GET SICK! So the next day I worked out AND tore the bathroom apart. Over the next few days I stripped wallpaper, spackled, sanded, spackled, sanded again, and painted the room with 3 coats of paint! My legs and back were sore the next day from all of the getting up and down on the stool I was using (I always take one huge step up so that I can get the strength benefit- I'm really not obsessed!) but I did not get sick! Then my M-I-L was here and we were busy from sun up to sun down it seems and I worked out and I did not get sick!!! So I went from barely being able to run errands without being sick on the couch for days to conquering pretty much everything I want to! I know that I am healed and I'm so incredibly greatful.

So after I realized I was healed I was describing all of my symptoms to my M-I-L and she said, "Amy, that sounds like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Funny, I'd been to the Dr. and he did a blood test to check my thyroid and to see if I was anemic and he said everything looked fine, I just had a virus and had most likey trashed my immune system from stress. I guess I could have been checked out more and been poked and prodded and MRI'd but the end result would have been the same and I would have spent a ton of money for them to tell me there was nothing they could do. But my 6 year mystery illness has been healed by the one who knew me before I was ever born. I don't care what you call it I just know I was sick and now I'm healed. Praise to our amazing God!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Super Quick

I'm leaving in a little while to take my M-I-L to the airport after a 6 day visit. Chloe is having a really tough time so I called the office at her school and asked if I could check her in late so that she could go to the airport with us. The lady that I talked to said "absolutely" she could. I love her school and the ladies that work in the office. This is an excellent school district and I'm so thankful that they aren't just "by the book". They excell academically but they're also concerned for the kids well being- even if that means being late for school.

The week has been full- very, very full. And we're thankful. Today is probably going to be very emotional but hopefully we'll get back in the swing of things in the next couple of days. I have much to post about- including pics but I'll have to get to that later.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Update Post

I haven't been on the computer much lately and that's probably a good thing but in the interest of not completely falling off the face of the earth I thought I'd drop in for a bit and let you know what's going on.

* My Mom-In-Law is coming in Wednesday morning and is staying until the following Tuesday. The girls are too excited!

* Since my M-I-L is coming in town I finally quit waiting on Travis to install the bathroom light and did it myself. It was very simple to do and I'm thankful because when I read directions I get confused and irritated.

* Since I installed the light I decided to *paint* the bathroom. But as with all things house related it has turned into a big ordeal. When I stripped the wallpaper that was behind the bathroom mirror I found a large rectangular hole in the wall that I'm assuming was previously for a medicine cabinet. But it is completely off center for the light fixture and for the vanity so putting another one in is not an option. So now I have to find a mirror that is big enough to be centered for the fixture and vanity and cover the hole. We actually need a larger vanity and I hate, hate, hate that it's oak. Yes, I'm an oak hater- no offense to those of you that have and like your oak cabinets- but I prefer maple or well, most things that aren't made of oak. I found a guy in Gallatin that sells new cabinets inexpensively but he's only open on the weekends and I didn't get there this past weekend.

* And since I took down the mirror and am working on getting off the rest of the wallpaper I had to take down the space saver that we put over the toilet. And I broke it. So I'm headed to Lowes today or tomorrow to get a new wall mounted one. Actually I want to check out the Habitat for Humanity store first but they're closed today.

* And while I'm at it I think I'm going to call Bathtub Fitters, Re Bath, and Home Depot for estimates on fixing the tub- just in case the dings and cracks go all the way through and we're leaking water into whatever it is that goes under a bathtub.

* So the bottom line is I'm going to do a lot of work and the bathroom will still be a work in progress- like the living room- but I'm sure it will at least look better with a coat of paint.

Monday, September 24, 2007

God's Masterpiece

I was reading my Bible yesterday while Halle was napping and I was having the worst time focusing. I would read a couple of verses and my mind would wander- focus, wander, focus, wander- it was very frustrating. Finally I decided to read aloud and the words seemed to come alive.

God saved you by His special favor when you believed.

And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,

so none of us can boast about it.

For we are God's masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,

so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (New Living Translation)

God's masterpiece. It's awe-inspiring and humbling all at the same time. I'm sure I've read that before but it's never struck me the way it did yesterday. Actually, the NIV version says that we are God's workmanship but the word masterpiece brings a whole new dimension to it. It makes me think of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. But we are more than that. We are created in the very image of our creator. It makes me look at myself differently. To know that my creator looks at me as His masterpiece is truly an awesome thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Funny Stuff That Chloe and Halle Say

Chloe and Halle were taking a bath last night and I heard this coming from the bathroom, "Mommy, it's too hot in here we're turning red!" (sound of running water) "OK, it's working, we're turning back to peach!"

I polished Halle's toenails a few nights ago and she started referring to her toes as "pinks". As in, "Hey, wook at my pinks!", "where my pinks go?", "See my pinks?" It makes me want to keep her toenails polished forever.

Chloe, "Mommy the next time we rent a movie, I'll rent Jimmy Neutron for you."

Super cute!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's Your Design Style?

Find your design style here. My design style is below or rather what I wish my design style was if I had money for decorating.

Ethnic Eclectic

Your style is a mix of bohemian chic and contemporary ethnic flair. Whether you travel extensively or shop locally, chances are good that your home is filled with a collection of interesting accessories. By contrast, a neutral color scheme and furniture with simple lines is the best backdrop to accentuate your most colorful pieces. To achieve this mix-and-match design style, look to nature. "The concern with the environment is playing a big role in interior design trends – from colors you find in nature, to high-end natural fibers in wall coverings, to exotic woods and stone being used throughout the home," says Denise Turner, an interior designer in Alta Loma, California. It's all about simple lines and natural materials as a backdrop for your collectables and artwork.

Design Tips for Ethnic Eclectic

Contemporary and chic accessories go with any style. Dress up family-friendly comfort in the dining room with a sophisticated Murano glass light fixture that's out of the reach of little hands. Or, make the master bedroom your grown-up retreat with soothing colors from the garden and a wooden platform bed with a trendy upholstered headboard.Ethnic Eclectic
Your style is a mix of bohemian chic and contemporary ethnic flair. Whether you travel extensively or shop locally, chances are good that your home is filled with a collection of interesting accessories. By contrast, a neutral color scheme and furniture with simple lines is the best backdrop to accentuate your most colorful pieces. To achieve this mix-and-match design style, look to nature. "The concern with the environment is playing a big role in interior design trends – from colors you find in nature, to high-end natural fibers in wall coverings, to exotic woods and stone being used throughout the home," says Denise Turner, an interior designer in Alta Loma, California. It's all about simple lines and natural materials as a backdrop for your collectables and artwork.

And the Design Star finale is tonight! I'm very excited!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Probably Shouldn't Post When I'm Grouchy

But today I'm not grouchy so hopefully this post will be more cheerful than the last. I woke up this morning with the girls, letting Travis sleep because he was up a couple of times last night for work related things. I was so tired though, my legs felt like lead and I was freezing. Apparently I've come down with something. I refuse to stress out about it though. I'm doing what I can to stay healthy but I've had 3 sick kids in the house this week so I'm not blaming myself this time.

As I said in my last post, Chloe hates school. I suppose I should have said that she intermittently hates school. She has begged me to take her temperature and she jumped up and down and shouted when we found out that she did, in fact, have a temperature. But after she missed Thursday she woke up without a fever on Friday and I was going to take her but I called the school office and they said I should probably keep her out one more day. She was happy and we spent a little time at the park with friends and had a great day. I've been praying about the school situation since before Chloe started saying she wanted to stay home with me and I have definitely felt that God has something different for her. But without any open doors there really isn't anything I can do. I think I would like for her to do the academy at church. It seems like the perfect blend of school time and at home time but I think that God would have to do some changing in me to make me the home school mom I should be- not to mention the finances. It really breaks my heart to see her struggling so much with something she thrived at last year. Our house is an emotional one these days.

Amanda is struggling with her first big breakup and is moping around the house quite a bit. They're still friends but it is not the same- apparently. It's kind of tough for me too because you get attached to "the boyfriend" too and then they're not around, ugh. It's not like I wanted them to stay exclusive forever because Amanda has some big decisions to make in the near future that need to not include a boyfriend but I hate to see them hurting so much. I didn't' like dating when I did it and I really don't like it for her.

So, with this wonderful weather we're having I have been dying to get out of town. At the very least we're going to go to B'ham to visit my parents but I'd love to take an actual vacation. Travis wants to go to the beach since he hasn't been in years, 3 1/2 to be precise but I'm doubtful that we'll be able to. But it did make me think of a place I used to go with my parents. Every year from the time I was born until I was in college we used to visit each set of grandparents in the summer. One week in B'ham, one week in Booneville, AR. No really, it was much more fun than it sounds ;) But one year a guy from my Dad's work told him about a little cabin he'd bought in Franklin, NC, that he planned to retire there but he'd rent it to my Dad for $35 a night- or something like that, it was cheap anyway. The cabin wasn't spectacular but it was clean and had a two story porch that overlooked a great stream. You could sit on the porch in the morning in July and it would be in the 50's. It was surrounded by a national park and felt very secluded. There were waterfalls and hiking trails, kayaking and white water rafting. The little road leading to the cabin seemed treacherous with a gorge 200 feet below the road. But the town was relaxing and not too tourist-y. Of course, there are gem mining outposts promising the "big one" but there aren't tacky T-Shirt shops everywhere. A bit farther up the mountain road is the beautiful resort town of Highlands. It is a charming mountain town that is quite a bit pricier accommodations-wise than Franklin but is an easy drive and is something you wouldn't want to miss. So if you'd like a vacation in the mountains that is centered on outdoors-y type stuff I highly recommend the area and here are some more links: recreation- I've been down the Nantahala and it was tons of fun BUT the kids have to be at least 60 pounds to go so you'd need to vacation with family or close friends and swap the kids off. Vacationing here is actually what made me determined to live in the mountains after I graduated from college- you didn't know that did you? Accommodations Highlands- I've seen Harrah's Cherokee advertised a few times and in my opinion you'd be better off skipping it altogether. It's not that close to the area and unless you love tacky tourist traps and gross exploitation of Native Americans I wouldn't waste the time. Accommodations Franklin- unfortunately I don't have any written info on the place we used to stay. I could find it again but that would require driving there and the guy that owns it has since retired there so it's not an option. I'm pretty sure I'd be disappointed if we didn't stay in the same area. This one looks similar though and is surrounded by the national park which makes me think it is in the same area. And so ends my informative post on something most of you weren't even thinking about but I got some of my own research done and blogged at the same time so I feel productive.