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Showing posts from 2011

Good and Perfect Gifts...

As I take a moment to stop and reflect on this day.....this day of thankfulness.....I begin to wonder what I have been thankful for in years past. It seems that each year brings with it a new set of joys, adventures, and even challenges. This particular season of life has left me more in a place of seeking, asking, questioning rather than thanking. A dear friend called me about a month ago and prefaced the conversation with, "I know this may feel a little uncomfortable, but I was just wondering if you would allow me to come to your home and pray for you tonight." What a sweet, sweet blessing this was to me. As we sat together that night I began talking....as I so easily do....about life, pondering the thought of my own direction. Had I made my own choices in this life, had I gotten myself to the point I am now, or has God really directed each step and intricately chosen each road for me to travel down? As tears fell from my eyes, she looked at me and reminded me of th…

The Journey of 196 Miles....

....begins with a prayer. Last year my husband took part in a 12 man relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville. He enjoyed it so much that in January of this year he "somehow" compelled me to be a part of this madness. At that time my thought was centered around the fact that I had ten months to train. Over time, the months began slipping by with no progress in sight. Sure, I could fill you with plenty of excuses, but I won't do that (4 months of strep throat, 2 children's tonsillectomies, went to New York, Destin, and Haiti, had three months of severe back problems...to name a few)! Needless to say....I wasn't ready.
Overconfident and Undertrained!
This was the name of a fellow team and I immediately loved it! I should have written it on my shirt as it was probably more fitting for me than it was them. I didn't have a lot going for me in the running department, but what I was completely aware of is that I would not get anything done by my own strength …

Dancing in the Rain

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There is only one word to describe a day like today....monsoon. Fortunately, I had five precious hours to myself. Unfortunately, I had a lot to do with no escape from the rain. Even though I live in the same (small) town of the school I attended, it is a rare opportunity for me to get to revisit those old stomping grounds. My errands led me that direction today, allowing two things to constantly play on my thoughts: college and God.
Oh how I miss college. I miss the friendships, football games, late nights, alone time, freedom, adventures. But most of all....I miss God and the newness of our relationship. I had always grown up believing, but college...that's where He became real to me. I remember the hours I would spend reading my bible; the deep conversations I'd have with friends inviting new perspectives; the days I'd pick up lunch and drive to the duck pond to have "lunch with God." I felt Him. He spoke and I heard. Whether it was a friend's ki…

Movie Love

Last night I saw a movie where the actress reminded me a lot of myself. She fell hopelessly into her romantic movies, quoted her favorite lines, believed in the existence of love as it was in the movies, even wished her story was like a movie. It made me smile because that, guiltily, is me. I melt at a good movie. I cry my way through a heartfelt book. I quote the sappy lines! I know it's silly, but I've always believed that if someone could write a book or movie with such depth....then somewhere, sometime, somebody had to at one point feel that emotion. Right? Well, honestly...who knows if I'm right.

Pondering later on the movie reminded me of an email that took place a few weeks ago with my husband. As much as I wish I could say he talked to me like this all the time (moment to laugh out loud), there was a specific reason this conversation arose. Nevertheless, it still brought tears to my eyes. Here is a piece of what he wrote to me: You are a beautiful woman. Y…

Remembering Haiti...

I just found this post in my "drafts." I'm not sure why I never posted it after coming home from Haiti. Maybe I wanted to expand on the inner workings of my heart. Either way, here it stayed, tucked away in a folder, maybe for a day such as today. I knew coming back to the real world would be hard. If I'm being honest, being in Haiti was the most free I have felt in a long time. I was free to be that girl I used to know....the Laura who could talk to anyone and spend hours doing so. The girl who was tied to no other responsibilities but loving on other people, laughing, playing games, working hard but finding joy in every part of it. The girl that could be silly, engaging, intentional. That was the Laura that was in Haiti.....and yet coming home, back to reality, to bills, to responsibilities, to being a mom, to tough relationships, to lists of things to do, and back to having as many failures as successes with all those things I just listed.......slowly made God bec…

A Case of the TERRIBLE TWO'S

I often wonder if it is just me who can find a lesson in almost everything....or if it is God who is actually trying to teach me a lesson in almost everything. If I were a bettin' (wo)man, I would go would the latter.
You know when you just wake up to one of those days: bad mood, mad at the world, lacking joy??!! Well this is how my two year old woke up the other day.
Fresh out of bed, changing his diaper, he sternly says, "I don't like anything!!!" "Why," I ask? "Because.....I don't like anything!!!"
And there you have it.....truth and honesty from the mouth of a two year old. For his sweet, little heart, it was just going to be one of those days. Isn't it a little sad how early in life we develop the "grumps?" I mean, how hard is life at 2?
Nap time rolls around....and that cute, curly headed mess still just wasn't happy.....but oh so sleepy! No matter what I did, he screamed hysterical. He wasn't sick, he wasn…

I Left My Heart In Haiti

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When I say I left my heart in Haiti, I really did. It's funny how one small thing can change your life forever. That was what it was like for me on our last day in Haiti. We were supposed to go to one more orphanage on our way to the airport. Traveling through Port-au-Prince, however, we hit lots of standstill traffic. I can admit that I was tired and my energy level was pretty low. I remember thinking....if we don't have time to go to the last orphanage than that is okay with me.
I sit here now thinking about the wonderful opportunity I would have missed out on simply by being tired. From the moment I stepped off the bus, this little girl grabbed my hand and stood hugging me. I discovered quickly that regardless the language barrier, you could determine pretty quickly the personality of the children. Most of them were excited, full of energy, funny, TROUBLE =), kind. This little girl had such a sweet heart. She was so loving, calm, and patient when other kids were…

Mighty to Save

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Of all the things I can say about Haiti, nothing comes close to the heart of the children. Their eyes gleamed of INNOCENCE, HOPE, and PURE JOY. I would say that most of our time was spent with children, whether it was at the work site or the orphanage. The labor work of the trip was spent building a school/church. You can see that right now they are studying each day under a tent....a loud (open classrooms side by side), distracting (from the workers), dirty, hot tent. I think back to my years of teaching and wonder what my professors would say about the ability to retain information in this type of setting. When the children would have a break during school, we would get the opportunity to play with them. I have mentioned that language is, obviously, a barrier, but it is amazing how quickly those walls are taken down in things as simple as a smile, a high five, a fist bump, a hug. They loved our presence among them and pulled us immediately into hand slap games, jump rope, socc…

Too Close for Comfort

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Don't let these smiling, happy faces fool you! While we were both smiling and happy, it was one of relief rather than excitement! We planned for Cholera. We planned for Malaria. We planned for Typhoid. We planned for Hepatitis A and B. We planned for stomach issues, what clothes to pack, making sure we had plenty of germX. But there are just some things you cannot plan for!
It just wouldn't be fitting to talk about Haiti and all the wonderful things we've witnessed without giving a shout out to our near death experience....or maybe I should say "surviving" our near death experience.We traveled by school bus everywhere. On Sunday, we went up a very muddy, rocky road to get to the church on the mountain. I was actually taking a picture, blurry as it may be, of all of the trash that was just piled and piled over this cliff. I had no idea that within minutes it could have been the site our potential death! Ok, that may be a little exaggerated, but it was to…

Worship: Together Is Better!

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Our first full day in Haiti was Sunday. The compound where we were staying was a part of a big church with many members. We were not able to attend the entire church service, as they are usually 2-3 hours long in Haiti, however we did get to experience a small piece of it. I have witnessed poverty before, but never in such extremities. It's everywhere, all encompassing....but in the midst of it is a sense of pride that I have never seen. The Haitians have an appreciation, not only for church, but for coming and worshiping God that is rare.I watched as hundreds of men, women, and children came to church dressed in their Sunday best. All of the men were in suits, and no matter the heat, they did not remove their coats. The women were all in fancy dresses as well as the children. From the outside looking in, you would not know they were in such meager conditions. What impacted me the most, however, was gazing out of our bedroom window (remember....the open air rooms=) ) and w…

Holy Humidity

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Humbled is a word that is going to be making its appearance in EVERY one of my blog posts, but I'm not going to pretend that fell short of appearances! I....yes me....was the one who actually brought a hair dryer on this trip! Well ladies...it was a cruel joke. The humidity was so bad that drying actually made it worse! And makeup, well, other than a little around the eyes, the rest of it just made my face "gleam" with sweat even more! So....natural was my best look down in Haiti. Yes....I can shamefully admit that it took me a day or two to come to terms with this fact.....but again, I was humbled! God didn't stop short of breaking me of all of my dependencies in Haiti....and I couldn't be more thankful for that! Oh...and hats! I was thankful for hats!!!!

Haiti: First Impressions

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Wow. As I mentioned this on our Watson Warriors blog, it is almost amusing reading my "pre-trip" posts. I honesty just had no idea. God did provide an opportunity...a huge one.....but I think it changed me more than I ever could have imagined. So much encompassed this trip that it is simply too difficult to summarize all that I experienced in one sitting. So, I will probably be blogging a lot this week trying to share the different aspects of our trip. Stay Tuned!!!
Haiti....First Impressions

I remember the thoughts going through my head when we began flying into Haiti. Even from the plane you could see the poverished state of this country: dirty water flowing into the oceans, small cement huts, tents, trash. It in itself began to stir the emotion of fear before ever getting off the plane. The airport did not settle that feeling. When we got off the plane we were taken by bus to what can only be described as a warehouse (aka Customs). It was definitely unlike anythin…

An Opportunity

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Over the past few months, I have prayed many prayers.....for "time" with God, for solitude, for perspective on what really matters in life, for finding who God made me to really be, for daily strength, for help, for ways to reach out to others, for friendships, for my faith to grow. In so many ways I keep turning my eyes to God and waiting for Him to "zap" me with all of these things. Wouldn't it be nice if it was just that simple? But what I am realizing is that God has and is still answering my prayers....by giving me an opportunity. With MUCH hesitation and MUCH resistance, God has provided the fuel, the funds, and the fellowship to take me to Haiti. I leave in a few short days for an adventure I have never dared to take. My heart is as excited as it is nervous. Excited for the risk.....having to rely on complete faith that everything will go smoothy. Excited about spending a week totally and completely free of the trivial things of this world. Excit…

Good Songs....

Two songs that have been stuck in my head......good lines!
"You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me.....so I’m letting go.
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me....so I’m letting go."
~"Lift Me Up" The Afters
"I am the thorn in your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas' kiss
But You love me anyway
See now I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with a smile on my face
With this sin in my heart, tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still call out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life."
~"Love Me Anyway" Sidewalk Prophets

Wounded Soldier

He lays on the ground, paralyzed by pain. He tries to rise, but is instantly grounded. The battle continues around him, yet he hears nothing. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to move. It hurts to feel anything other than the piercing stabs of his wounds.
A few weeks back I was reminded of a saying I once heard: "There are no sidelines on a battlefield." That image has always stuck in my head because I felt is was a perfect depiction of the spiritual war that goes on around us every day. I often forget how very REAL that is. Oh, it's clear what team I'm on. I will sport the Jesus jersey on my side of the field, paint some faces, even make up my own chants, but I would definitely say I've never been an aggressive warrior on that battlefield. In all honesty I'm probably more of the All-Star Cheerleader.....a part of the team, cheering them on, trying to make a sideline while I let to tough ones do the real fighting, only getting in the game when the ball is thrown m…

Laura Story

The other day I was driving in the car with the kids....excuse being to get lunch, reason being a needed sanity break. Sometimes it takes me getting out of the mess, the closed in walls, the constant destruction the new house takes daily, to catch my breath. So I drove, rolled the windows down, turned the music up, and let my soul breathe. As this particular song (which musically is not quite my taste) came on the radio, I began to reach down and change the station. Something, however, caught my attention.....I did that "thing" I do....and really started listening to the lyrics. That was all it took.

After getting home, eating lunch, and putting my two boys down, I decided to go to the computer to look up the song and really read the lyrics. Before I knew it, I was the only one awake, sitting infront of a computer screen, with tears rolling down my cheeks. Blessings by Laura Story. Laura Story. This song could not have been more "Laura's" story if I had written …

Grumbling

For several months I have been following the blog of a 33 year old mother of three (the third which is now in Heaven) who has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Her story is unbelievable....truly heartbreaking, yet her faith is amazing....intoxicating. I encourage you to read her story and follow her blog.
Her post today, however, is one that has left me in much reflection. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sarawalker Sara brings up the subject of grumbling and wonders if God ever gets angry with all of our "grumbling?" She talks about how she grumbles a lot about how terrible she feels after chemo rather than simply being thankful that God has provided medicine to treat the disease. I think we would all agree that a little grumbling there should be considered ok, right? If you keep reading, however, Sara then reveals the true depths of her heart. As she reads about the Israelites hard journey to the promise land, she compares her grumbling to that of the people …

My Everest

There is a Thanksgiving episode of Friends where Joey convinces Monica to make a turkey even though no one else is eating it that year. Joey swears that if she will cook it, he will eat the whole thing. You see a shot of Joey, looking stuffed, sitting behind a turkey that looks completely eaten...until he turns it around and reveals the other side had not been touched. His famous quote (at least in our household)....."You are my Everest."
While I have been able to jokingly use that line in many different circumstances, it proves itself most true when it comes to running. I am NOT a runner by nature. I can remember walking all of my miles in gym class with the teacher yelling for me to hurry up. I am admittedly not an athlete (I mean, come on, who has time for that? I was too busy being social!). And honestly, I just can't do it! I have never had the lungs, never had the strength, and piled behind all of those excuses, I have never had the desire.
In the past two …

Goodbyes

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For as long as I can remember, I have never been "good" with goodbyes, and anyone that knows me well can completely agree to that statement. Maybe it is change that I'm really not good at, because after all, a goodbye guarantees change. Maybe it is that my natural tendency is too reflect on the loss rather than gratitude for the time given. But the truth of it is that I just have a very tender heart. I'm probably not the easiest person to get to know, maybe even love (yikes, I'm going to hope that isn't true). While I am very outgoing and can pretty much talk to anyone, it takes a lot for me to open up the door of who I am in complete transparency.......knowing everything about me. And honestly, there are very few people that have come into my life who have reflected that depth of relationship with me. So when they are gone, for whatever reason, my heart grieves probably more than it should. My best friend Jessie moved back to Maryland almost 7 years …

"Alone Alone"

Being a stay at home mom is so tough in so many ways. More often than not you come out defeated rather than conquering. The walls seem to close in smaller as the hours of the day pass by. It's almost as if someone has thrown your life into this never ending things-to-do list and you just know that taking care of and playing with the kids has to be on there somewhere.....but where? While all those things are what I categorize as "tough," nothing can beat a mom down more than loneliness. And I'm not talking the all I ever do is talk to a two and three year old all day lonely. I'm talking "alone alone!" Where you wonder why nobody else's children act like yours, think no one can possibly understand what your life is like, and, dare I say, feel trapped....and alone. If you are a mom, then I can guarantee you have felt "alone alone." The crazy thing about that sickness is that it attacks everyone differently.
My "alone alone" …

Oh, Where My Mind Goes

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It's funny where your mind can take you when you are half awake/half asleep. Okay, maybe I should say that it is funny where MY mind takes me. This morning in particular makes me realize that I am s...u...c...h a girl, through and through: instinctive, anxious, and a hopeless romantic! (I mean, really, how many guys can feel all three of those things at one time!!!)
Instinctive I come from a family of worriers. That's actually putting it mildly. One thing I try to "not" worry about is the weather. If you think you are a dramatic person, watch the news channels on a day where bad weather is supposed to strike and you will immediately feel better about yourself. People go nuts about the weather around here, and in more cases than not, nothing ever seems to happen!
(Insert the part where I should have knocked on wood!)
I ended my evening phone call with my mother 1/2 joking 1/2 serious saying, "Call me and wake me up if bad weather is coming my way." I KNEW she wo…

The Miracle We "Needed"

A little over two years ago some friends of ours gave birth to a still born little girl, Gracie. We were very saddened to not be able to attend the funeral. A few weeks ago at church, we were able to listen to a message we were not able to hear that day. Gracie's father spoke these words:We prayed and prayed for a miracle. You prayed and prayed for a miracle. Even though we did not get the miracle we wanted, I still believe we got a miracle.Maybe the miracle is that Gracie doesn't have to suffer and go through the pain we are going through right now. She went directly to perfection.
Maybe the miracle is that we are able to praise God in the midst of her loss. Maybe the miracle is that we were able to persevere for 4 long months.
Maybe the miracle is that we had 8 precious months with Gracie instead of 2.Maybe the miracle is instead of pushing each other away, we clung to each other and God to survive.Maybe the miracle is that instead of acting like everything was okay, we openne…

Love Me for Me

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First off, I just love JJ Heller. She definitely has some powerful songs/lyrics. But I love this song. It brings tears to my eyes every time I just sit and really listen to it. "I will love you for you." How often, in the midst of who we are....all our mess, all our junk, all of our just plain ugly, are we loved for the mere, simple fact of just being ourselves? I TRULY can't wrap my head around that. In fact, one day during bible study we were discussing the chapter of our book about God being just plain crazy in love with us. I walked down stairs for a moment to get coffee and sort of prayed out loud to myself with a genuinely confused, humble heart....."Why, Lord? Why do you love me so much? Why do you care so much?" And out of no where I swear that He answered me....
Because I made you!
In that moment my eyes filled with tears because in that moment I finally understood. I love my kids, with all that is in me, I love them. While they CAN do plent…

Oh to be the Coffee!!!

Carrots, Eggs & Coffee

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee....You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word...
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' …

Perspective

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As each new day brings its own set of joys, trials, wrinkles, and (dare I say) pounds, this new found 30 year old is trying to focus on the parts of her that don't hurt when I reach to high to grab a toy, ache from picking up the kids all day, or grow weary from the daily grind.....the eyes.
Sure, I've always been one through the years to "play up" the eyes with fun makeup, because after all, the eyes can be the most stunning thing on a person. But it has never been the first place I go when seeking wisdom.
It wasn't until I came upon a field near our home, that I began to "see" what value the eyes hold in our lives. As I came to a stop at the stop sign, I just sat in amazement at the very sight of it. Breathtaking rows upon rows of endless purple wildflowers, known to the "trained" eye as weeds. But that is not what I saw. I saw beauty, in something as simple as a "weed."
Perspective......has a pretty huge impact on our lives. …

You Can Have Me

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I write about God a lot. Not because I live my life perfectly, not because I fail miserably, but because my heart and my mind are constantly in battle, fighting to find, seek, relate, and discover my purpose in Him. Tears filled my eyes the first time I heard this song, and the more times I hear it, the more I fall in love with the lyrics. Most of the time it is words that move or inspire me, but this song....challenges me.
"When did love become unmoving? When did love become unconsuming?" When I heard that chorus for the first time, a part of me felt like it was what my heart has been screaming at the Lord for such a long time. Duties, responsibilities, life-lessons, loss of innocence, pain, strength, perseverance.....all things the past years have given to me in my journey into adulthood. All things that left me relying less on faith and more on myself, to accomplish, succeed, and pretty much ..... just get it done. No wonder I am unmoved. No wonder I am unconsumed…

Ahhhh.....Bebo

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Bebo Norman takes me back, at least, 12 years. He was one of the very first christian artists that I really enjoyed listening to. I love his unique, mello style. I love that he writes most of his music. I love the message and the authenticity his songs hold.
This song has been on my playlist for the past few months, mostly because it is where I feel like I am right now, but also to remind me that that is OK. The middle is a tough place to be, and I am someone who has always struggled in finding their place "in the middle." I didn't even realize how many different situations I could apply this song to until yesterday. We have been battling a tough season in our home. Since January 1, my 3 year old son and I have had 4, yes 4 cases of strep throat now. My one year old has had it once. Both of my boys have had 3 ear infections each. Both boys have had to have sleep studies and will soon have to have their tonsils and adenoids removed due to sleep apnea. I had a…