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I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Newspaper Nuisance

Until today we had a Sunday-only subscription to the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette strictly for the coupons.  About a month or so ago, we received a notice that the cost was going up from $7.25 to $11.25 per month.  THAT is a significant increase.  I became particularly perturbed by this when our paper was not delivered yesterday, which has happened 3 or 4 times already during the life of our subscription (which is only a once-a-week delivery in the first place).  I bought a paper yesterday for $2.  $2 x 4 weeks= $8, right?  When I called to cancel, they offered us a 6 month extension of $7.95 per month.  I still said no just to avoid the hassle of unreliable delivery.  It pays to call but still frustrating to have to do that...and every other time our paper is not delivered.  I have enough on my plate (as does the majority of the human population) without having to stop and make sure other people are doing their jobs.  I'll just stop by Walgreen's or a gas station from now on.  Good news for the Gazette: newsstand price is still worth the coupons, therefore I will still be buying their paper.  Bad news for the "paper boy".

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Only God Who Makes You Whole

It's been over 3 years but holidays are still hard.  Not as hard as the first year.  But still hard.  Honestly, this year may be harder than last year simply because this is our family year rotation for Christmas, meaning I would normally be seeing Matt on the 25th along with the rest of the family, whereas last year was an "in-law" year so seeing him for the holidays wasn't expected.

So as Christmas draws nearer and nearer, I still find joy in the season while savoring and creating more precious memories with my husband and children as well as our extended family.  Yet, the ache remains.  The longing for him to be a part of this, for my nephews to be a part of this (another very difficult thing to swallow particularly since they are still alive), for what might have been...  There is a hole, a void, something- nay, someones missing.   And there always will be.

But that doesn't mean we remain stuck in our grief.  It doesn't mean we spend the rest of our lives in misery or dread every holiday.  We have good days and we have bad days.  Hopefully, as time passes and God heals our broken hearts we have more good than bad days.  Those of us who have traveled through the valley of grief and loss understand that feeling, particularly Christians.  We have heartache, but we have hope.  We miss those we love but are thankful that we will see them again and look forward to that day when God makes everything new and there is no more death or crying or sorrow or pain.

I started thinking about Matt on the way home this afternoon.  The kids wanted to listen to one of their CD's for the umpteenth time and one of the songs (which I've heard a zillion times before) really struck a cord this time.  Here are the lyrics and a youtube clip of a children's group singing the song.  The entire musical is really cute so if you are interested in the sheet music or CD, go to for more information.  The name of the show is "Life is Good" and the title of the song is "Good Grief".  The lyrics that really "hit home" with me are in bold.  If this is your first Christmas without a loved one, first of all, I'm so sorry for your loss.  Secondly, please take heart and do not fear.  God has overcome the world.  He can heal you.  Going through the fire can and will be painful and for someone as impatient as I am, it can take awhile.  But He will never leave you.  Will you come to Him?  Will you trust Him?  He is waiting.

No one on the planet is happy all the time.
Bad things happen every day.
But if you just remember, that God is there with you,
He will help you when you pray...
"Good grief." (x2 with echo)
It's perfect peace beyond belief.
It's knowing God is in control, good grief.

When something awful happens and you don't understand.
You can't find any hope inside.
The LORD wants you to trust Him, and never be afraid.
His loving arms will hold you tight.
Good grief. (x2 with echo)
It's perfect peace beyond belief.
It's knowing God is in control, good grief.
When trouble robs you like a thief,
It's only God who makes you whole, good grief.

Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs.
Each day has good and bad times, with smiles and frowns.
But God promised to be there through all of our thicks and thins
And after the darkest night a bright new day begins.

Good grief (x2 with echo)
It's perfect peace beyond belief.
It's knowing God is in control.
Good grief (x2 with echo)
When trouble robs you like a thief,
It's only God who makes you whole,
Good grief.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Psalm 34:18

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bedtime at the Lillard House

Jackson read a story to us tonight guessed it!  Animals!  The title is "I Love Animals!"  Once we reached the "In the Jungle" page, we read about pythons and tigers which led to the following conversation...
Jackson: "Pythons can squeeze and take your breath away so you can't breathe."
Me:  "Yes, you're right.  We should probably stay as far away from them as we can then, huh?"
All 3 kids agree wholeheartedly and Jackson reads the next section about the tiger...
"Tiger, with stripes of orange, white, and black, this tiger's looking for a snack"
Jackson:  "Whoa!  We better look out for that tiger too.  He's hungry!"
Sadie: "Yeah, and tigers eat meat and you know what we have that's inside of us?  Meat!  (pauses for emphasis) AND blood!" (eyes conveying the seriousness of this message.  We would do well to heed her warnings. lol)

After reading time, Sadie begged and pleaded for me to tell her a story while she was lying in her bed...
Me:  "Once upon a time.."
Sadie: "No, Mommy.  You have to turn the light off first."
Me:  "Okay, let's do that."  Light is off.  I start again.
"Once there was a lady named Sadie."
Sadie, giggling: "No, Mom.  Not a real story.  It has to be about a princess."
Me:  "Oh, ok.  Once there was a princess named Sadie."
Sadie, laughing: "Noo, Mom.  You have to use a real princess, like Sofia the first."
Me:  "Ok.  Once there was a princess named Sofia the first."
Sadie, giggling uncontrollably and clearly exasperated with me: "Nooo, Mom.  Hahaha  It's just Sofia.  Her name is not 'the first'.  haha  It's just Sofia. You have to haha start over."
Who knew I was such a bad storyteller?  lol  Tough crowd tonight, I guess? ;)  Memories.  Sweet, sweet memories.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Experiment: Ethanol-blended Fuel versus Pure Gasoline

This experiment is only 3 tanks into the making but I'm already a believer.  First, we own a 2000 Nissan Quest that we purchased used in October of 2010.  From then until just recently, we were only using the ethanol-blended fuel that most everyone else in the country has been using.  Being an older vehicle, it has not been without its problems and has been in and out of the shop too frequently for my tolerance.  Periodically, I noticed that there seemed to be a correlation between where I filled up the tank last and the "knocking" and "sputtering" our van experienced.  As a result, I began to avoid Wal-mart, Kroger, and Sam's Club fueling stations.  It seemed to help but never completely eliminated the problem.

So, I did a little research on ethanol-blended fuel versus pure gasoline and was a bit surprised at what I found so I decided to test the theories I found to see if there was any validity to them. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Mind of a Child

I left Justin at home this morning with Sadie while I took the boys to school.  Before walking out the door I gave her specific instructions to get dressed for preschool so she'd be ready to leave when I got back.  The following conversation occurred when I returned.
Me:  "Sadie, are you dressed?"
Sadie:  "Yes, mommy, but I can't find any shoes."  (Don't know about you, but this is a FAR too frequent occurrence at our house.)
Me:  "I see a tennis shoe right there.  Maybe we can find the other one."
Sadie:  "Well, I was looking for my pink boots but I can't find them."  (beginning to pout, whine, and otherwise tear up.)
Me:  "Oh!  I remember seeing those earlier this morning.  (looking around)  Where did I see them?  Have you checked the bathroom?"
Sadie, heading to the bathroom:  "I found them, Mommy!  Here they are!"  (relieved and overjoyed.  All is right with the world again.)
Me:  "Look at that.  I'm so smart.  How did I get to be so smart?"  (jokingly, of course.)
Sadie:  "Because you're big!  And you eat Smarties!"
Thank you, Lord, for the mind and innocence of a child in such an imperfect and fallen world.  Have a blessed day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Fast 2012: Week 3 & 4

I had a seizure at the beginning of week 3 so that's partially why I didn't get around to posting last week.  The enormous headache that follows a grand mal can be debilitating to say the least.  Then there is also the disorientation and confusion to deal with.  I usually tend to get over the vast majority of that rather quickly but my mind can still be left feeling "hazy" or "foggy" even a couple of days later.  With all of that going on, I've been playing catch-up for a while.  Here is a brief rundown of our political involvement over the past 2 weeks as well as an update on how my fast is going.

Sadie and I attended a luncheon at Doc's Grill on Monday (2 weeks ago) where Tim Griffin was supposed to be speaking but due to a death in his family, he was unable to be there.  Instead, someone spoke briefly on his behalf and then Mark Biviano had the opportunity to say a few words.  Honestly, by then my ibuprofen had worn off and my headache was about the only thing I could concentrate on.  We sat with a retired couple who were very sweet and inquisitive.  I wish I remembered more of the conversation but like I said, I was mostly focused on one thing.  Headache.  Justin would have been at the luncheon had he been in town but he had a conference in Springdale so it was left to me and Sadie to show our support. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Know an Old Lady Who...

You know that old children's song, "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly"?  Well, this is not that.  But to me, it is just as disturbing.  Ew, ew, ew, ew, EWW!!  You'll understand shortly...
Sadie: "Look, Mom!  I caught a fly!"
Me (not paying much attention at first): "Uh-huh."
Sadie puts her hand right up to my face.  Yep!  She caught a fly, alright!  And is holding it tightly between her thumb and first finger about 2 inches from my nose!
Me, jumping: "Ach!  What are you doing with that?!  Ew, yuck!  Get it away, please!"
Sadie gingerly puts it down.  I breathe a sigh of relief thinking we're done and the fly is dead.  Nope.  Not by a long shot.
Sadie:  "Do you want to eat it, Mommy?"
Me, dumbfounded: "What?!  NO!  I do not want to eat a fly!  Why would you even ask me that?"
Sadie:  "Daddy likes to eat flies.  He has eaten bugs before."
Me, trying my best not to completely freak out and making a mental note to have a talk with her daddy about this later:  "Well, your daddy is weird like that.  Not me.  I don't eat bugs, thank you very much.  Now, please go wash your hands."
Conversation is at an end.  I sit to share this story with you.  Sadie returns.
Sadie: "Look, Mommy!  He likes me!"
I look and that blasted fly is crawling around on her hand!
Sadie, giggling:  "Hahaha, it tickles!  He really likes me!"

Where did I get such a child????  She's like the "Bug Whisperer"!  Ew, ew, ew, ew, EWW!!!  I have to go throw up now and then immediately take a shower...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Halloween from the Lillards!

We created a jibjab Halloween ecard that I'm hoping all of you can see if you go here.  Do you like it?  Maybe we'll splurge for the download, maybe not.  Either way, it was sure fun to make!  It's free so go make your own and be sure to send us a copy too (please?)!  I just love jibjab, don't you? ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Election Fast 2012: Week 2

This is a little late in coming, but I wanted to share some highlights of last week with you in regards to the fast.  Earlier in the week I wanted sweet tea so badly that I could hardly stand it.  Now, I still want it but I'm not crawling out of my skin to get to it and perspiring under the stress of the inward battle "to drink, or not to drink". ;)  Naturally, the most tempting times came when others around me were drinking tea.

Before this fast, I would make a pitcher of sweet tea nearly every night to serve with dinner.  I haven't done that since the start of the fast.  I guess everyone else in the family just has to suffer with me.  But we still go out to eat on occasion, even if it's just to McDonald's or something like that (and can I just say, I love McD's sweet tea!  Most people I know say that theirs is too sweet, but not to me.  Perfection!).  Those times were trying because what I really wanted to do was...well, #1-get my own cup of tea and barring that, #2-finish my kids' one-sip-less-than-full cups of tea....but I didn't!  Victory is mine! ;)

Whenever I felt the "urge", I would pray inwardly to God thanking Him for all of my many blessings, for His provision, His safety, His love.  Then, I would listen and wait for His voice.  Was there someone near me in need of Him?  Was there someone close by who needed my help in His name?  Did someone come to mind that I should call?  Who would have thought that something as insignificant as a glass of sweet tea could bring one to the throne room of the Almighty?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Election Fast 2012: Week 1

This week went by so quickly that I barely had time to breathe.  Between getting the first newsletter done for my MOPS group, trying to register to vote AND get my license, moving furniture, getting sick, and doing all the other normal things to be done in any given week (dinner, dishes, laundry, etc.), there wasn't much time left to sit and think.  So, if you're waiting for the moment when my "spiritual awakening" happened, so am I.

As far as keeping my fast, I haven't had a drop of sweet tea and believe me, I've wanted it.  As it would happen, our Wii quit on us so staying away from the television is a temptation that solved itself.  Coincidence? ;)  The laptop still works but I've used that for "work" during the daylight hours so I've kept my fast in that respect too.

Even in the midst of my busyness and sickness, though, there were moments that reminded me to pray for the election.  Like when it was SO easy to register to vote, while getting my driver's license transferred still hasn't happened because I have to show my marriage license to prove I am who I say I am.  I've been married for over 9 years!  My former state license is in my married name.  My social security card is in my married name.  Why is that still not enough after 9 years?!  I even brought mailed bills addressed to me in (you guessed it) my married name as proof of residency.  (Funny don't need proof of residency to transfer your driver's license in Arkansas.  What?!)  Yet, I can waltz right into the county clerk's office, fill out an application with only the last four digits of my social security card and leave registered to vote.  (Again...What?!)  Oh!  And note to self: Find marriage license!

In cases like that I'm reminded to pray that any voter fraud be exposed, that it be prevented in the first place, that we can have confidence in a fair election that is unaltered and legitimate in every way.  Upon seeing the debate this week, I pray that the truth will win out, lies will be exposed, news coverage would be fair and accurate (miracles have been known to happen ;)), but most of all I pray that God will grant "We, the People", "We, the Voters", "we, HIS people" wisdom and discernment as we cast our ballots.  I pray that our future president will fear Him, love Him, obey Him and that God will grant him His wisdom as he leads our country.

Looking ahead, week 2 is liable to be just as busy as this past week.  Yet, I'm learning that busy doesn't have to mean "bad" or "less spiritual".  Jesus seemed awfully busy to me.  The difference is that He took the time to rest and get away when it was needed and I pray I'll do the same.  I'm learning conscious awareness of God's presence even in the mundane.  Yes, I'm busy.  But God is still with me no matter what I'm doing.  I can have a conversation or listen to His voice no matter where I am.  This is old news to me but this fast is bringing this knowledge to the forefront of my mind and molding it into my everyday life, changing how I react to things and how I interact with others, changing my perspective of "the bigger picture".  I will take a break before long and perhaps then I'll have that "spiritual awakening" when it's just me and God.  No noise, no chores, no errands, no having to be somewhere 5 minutes ago.  Just me.  Just God.  For now, in the busy between times, I choose to live as just me with God.  Wherever I am.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Memory Verse Time: The Big "D"

Sadie attends a home school co-op preschool once a week.  The curriculum they are using is Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve which we are both really enjoying!  Each week there is a memory verse to go along with the letter as well as something to serve that either begins with that letter, is delivered to someone whose name begins with that letter, or both when possible.  Catch all that?

Anyway, last week they worked on the letter "D".  I began practicing with Sadie early in the week to help her learn her memory verse.  Once she recited the entire verse back to me all by herself without any prompting:
Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the disasters of your heart.  Psalm 37:4
Hmm...yeah.  That one took a little more work.  But she finally got it right! ;)

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Weekend of Election Fast 2012

Well, my father-in-law came to town this past weekend for Family Weekend at Harding.  We had a great time visiting and watching the football game Saturday night.  Go Bisons!  As is our common custom, family visits usually mean more dining out.  And for me, dining out usually means drinking lots of sweet tea.  Bring on the refills!  Not this time.  I surprised myself with how many times I would take a sip of my drink and still be shocked when it wasn't sweet tea.  I'd get involved in a conversation and take a quick swig fully expecting the sweet, smooth, and refreshing taste of tea only to be shocked and doubly disappointed by a sudden carbonation burn (Yes, sodas are my less desirable alternative).  What can I say?  Old habits die hard.

As fate would have it, not only was I not drinking sweet tea, I also had to endure everyone else around me who was drinking my beverage of choice.  My kids apparently inherited my love for sweet tea, too.  Those of you with young children have probably noticed that when you go out to eat as a family, if at all possible the wait staff will bring your children's drinks in disposable cups with lids.  Smart move for obvious reasons.  If your kids are anything like mine, they only manage to finish about half of it, though.  And if you're anything like me, you take the nearly-full disposable cups with you when you go (or at least consolidate a couple) rather than leave it to only be thrown out.  (By the way, this drives my husband crazy when I do this. haha)  So, it wasn't enough that I was tempted at the restaurant.  I had to bring the temptation home with me, too.  Well, ok.  I didn't have to.  But I did. ;D

Saturday, September 29, 2012

40 Days of Prayer and Fasting for Election 2012!

I don't know why I didn't think of this idea on my own.  I guess I'm not as spiritually-minded as I'd like to believe.  A friend shared this idea on facebook yesterday and asked who would like to join her.  She first heard about it while listening to a Christian radio station, so many of you may have known about it for a while now.  (I'm a little slow on the up-tick sometimes.)

I've participated in fasts before but I don't think for this long and certainly never in preparation for an election.  I'm looking forward to it, though, and this may be the start of a new tradition for every election year!

Since I just learned about this fast less than 24 hours ago, I haven't had a lot of time to think about what I would fast from.  That's the beauty of fasting, too.  It doesn't necessarily have to be food.  Denying yourself of anything you want is still a powerful learning experience and a way to deepen your relationship with God.  Every time you want that thing, it's a healthy reminder to reflect on His ways, His desires, His Word and not our own self-interests.  A time to pray and thank Him for our many blessings.

I can't realistically fast from food anyway.  I have epilepsy and not eating for long periods of time would surely send me into a convulsion.  Many of you may have similar health concerns.  So, what can we fast from?  Well, I absolutely love sweet tea and drink it nearly every day.  Even the thought of not enjoying that sweet nectar for 40 days makes me cringe.  That would be so tough for me and am I really prepared for that?  It sounds ridiculous, I know.  It is just sweet tea for cryin' out loud!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Morning Madness

"Mom, I put my clothes on and see...I found underwear in my drawer and put it on me."  I don't see because it's dark and my eyes and my aching body are struggling to find their function but I take his word for it.  Grammar is a work in progress for a child with a speech delay but I'm thankful that we can still understand him...most of the time.

"Ok, honey.  Good job."  I say, only half-intelligibly.

"And look.  I even have socks and shoes on my feet.  See?"  I don't look but feel a thud as he tries to hike his foot onto the bed and plops it in my lap.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lunch Legislation: Nutty or Nutritious?

A little over a week ago, the boys had parent night at school where the nutritionist spoke to us and explained the new federal, state, and local school food regulations and the ban on salt.  The looks on my husband's face during that meeting were just priceless.  We were sitting on the front row, too...facing the crowd (we were seated in the "cafetorium" at lunch tables) so I'm sure others saw him and (I hope) enjoyed a chuckle.  When the nutritionist first mentioned that they would no longer be offering salt, Justin rolled his eyes towards me and half-jokingly whispered, "Am I still in America?  I mean, did you drug me and drag me to another country in my sleep or something?" haha

I found it very telling when the nutritionist mentioned the reaction from the high school students in relation to the new salt ban.  The students are now bringing their own salt shakers to school and selling them to their friends.  This regulation has only resulted in creating a black market for salt!  lol  Further evidence of why banning guns or drugs doesn't solve anything (and I would argue makes things worse) but I digress...

On a less funny note (although the above is both funny and sad), I want the government to get out of my child's lunchbox and to quit micromanaging every aspect of our lives.  I don't understand how, on the one hand, there is so much concern about kids not having food at home for dinner or over the weekends but yet we're going to place maximums on what the kids are served when they CAN eat at school??  How is this helping them???  How does that make any sense at all???

Also, having a child with Asperger's, there are some things that our son simply will NOT eat.  Ever.  We learned this the hard way when he was really young.  He's a little guy to begin with, hardly any fat on him so continuing the "eat this or don't eat at all" plan became dangerous.  Sure, we can pack a lunch for him (which we may have to resort to doing on certain days) but we are currently on reduced lunch so it will cost us more money to do that.  It's really difficult to feed your kid for 40 cents or less (cost of school lunch which includes a drink)!  Helping the poor?  I don't think so.

Not to mention, think of all the food that is being thrown away every day at school.  Food which costs more to start with because, let's face it, healthy food is more expensive.  I visited my kids at lunch today and the rolls are half the size that they were last year.  Seriously.  Half or less.  My question is, is it really better to have starving kids than to have obese kids?  Ridiculous.

Oh!  I almost forgot.  Following the discussion on healthy eating and what sorts of foods our children would and would not be served, we finished the evening with a reminder from the PTO about our current fundraiser and with a strong plea to go out and sell...wait for it...cookie dough!  Maybe next year we should sell salt.  I hear it's in high demand!  ;)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Laughing or Lying?

I took Sadie to participate in a preschool music class demonstration at Harding today.  At first she said she didn't want to go but I assured her that if she gave it a chance, she really would have a good time.  Of course, I was right. ;)

Her behavior during the class really had me inwardly chuckling most of the time.  She was kind of shy and clingy at first, which is not all that unusual but it did seem to take her a little longer to finally warm up to the group.  She smiled the whole time, giving the instructor (who was singing nearly the entire time) looks that seemed to say, "I'm still not sure about you yet.  You're singing everything you're saying.  I'm not used to that and really don't know what to make of it.  It's kind of creeping me out a little." lol  Anytime the teacher came near her or she was the center of attention, her face turned bright red.

Once she finally warmed up to the group, everything was funny.  She giggled at every song and every activity.  I really savor seeing my children enjoying themselves so much.  A child's laughter is so much more precious than an adult's.  They have little inhibition at that age and their happiness just seems to burst from their pores, from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes.  I love that.  I want to be more like that.  Free from any worry or stress.  Free to just squeal, jump up and down, and basically act like a fool without giving any thought to what other people may think of my behavior.  Wouldn't that be a sight to see?  How exhilarating.  How liberating that must be!

Of course, not everything about childhood is commendable.  For instance, Sadie told her entire class that we have a rabbit at home in a cage.  She even went so far as to tell them how we have to feed it food and water every day.  Yeah.  We don't have a rabbit.  In fact, we don't have any pets at all.  A vivid imagination is a wonderful thing.  Lying, on the other hand...not so much.  Unfortunately, many of us grown-ups find it easier to lie than to laugh like a child.  Personally, I'm gonna make a change.  Wanna join me? ;)

And since it was a music class...(and I know you already have this song in your head now, right?  Well, if you are anything like me, that is.)  Plus, it's just a fun song and lying isn't the only change we need to make... :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Response To "Democrats Trump Republicans In Representing America"

I ran across this blog post in a forum on today and it really bothered me.  Again, many of you may not share my political views but I hope you can at least appreciate and understand the logic behind my argument and refrain from criticizing the Republican party without just cause.  By all means, criticize them when there is cause!  I will and I do!  But in this case...well, first read the post to the forum.  Then, here is my response to it:

First of all, I'm a conservative Republican. Secondly, I'm a registered Native American with a certified degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) and I carry a CDIB card with all the rights and privileges held therein.  Third, in response to "we should be examining both parties based on issues, not just the branding of the party."  You just branded the Republican party as "for the white and wealthy" instead of discussing the Republican platform (aka. issues). 

Fourth, the Democrats claimed during their convention that they have "led the way" on civil rights issues for 200 years.  That is categorically and completely untrue.  Google names like George Wallace, Bull Connor, and Albert Gore, Sr. and see what you find.  Conversely, look at former president Dwight Eisenhower's record and the backbone he showed, particularly in Little Rock, to enforce segregation laws and equality for all Americans.  I'm not saying Republicans are saints, but to paint them as uncaring, racist, prejudice, etc is at best misinformed, and at worst a bold-faced lie.  Here is a link for further information on this issue: 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th

Very few of us who were living will ever forget where we were or what we were doing when we first heard about the attacks on 9/11/01.  I sure won't.

For unimportant reasons, I had just broken up with my husband (boyfriend at the time) the night before.  My roommate and I didn't have cable or even get local channels at our apartment, but we did have memberships to Gold's Gym in Nashville.  So the following morning we decided to go workout, clear our head of boys and work up a sweat...only that didn't happen.  As we approached the double doors of the gym, we could see several people staring up at the television screens and knew that something really interesting must be going on to keep all these fitness fanatics from their exercise.  Little did we know...

Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day- September 10th

Hey, everyone!  I just wanted to take a moment to remind all of you that today is World Suicide Prevention Day!  We would be so honored if you would take a moment tonight to light a candle for those we've lost to suicide and place it in your window where it's visible to those outside.  Another GREAT way to spread the word is to write "Love" on your arm.  Some people will ask why and it's the perfect opportunity to spread the word.  "To Write Love on Her Arms" is also asking everyone to change their profile picture and wear orange today to get the word out.  This whole week has been designated as National Suicide Prevention Week so let's keep this up all week long!  Please share this news with your friends so we can finally erase the stigma!  Thanks so much for your support. 

photo credit: Trine Pedersen from World Suicide Prevention Day FB page

If you know of someone who died by suicide, please feel free to share as much or as little as you'd like about them in the comment section.  I will be moderating periodically.  Thanks, again!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Savoring with Sara

With tear-filled eyes, my words fail me but yet I feel compelled to write.  I just finished watching Sara's funeral service by webcast.  What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman.  If you haven't seen her youtube clip yet, it is well worth 14 minutes of your time.  She has impacted countless lives by her love for God and her determination to serve Him.  I'm definitely one of them.

For those who haven't heard, Sara passed away in the early morning hours of August 28th.  So many of us prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to keep her here among us.  Not only for our sakes, but for the sake of her family, her husband, and especially...her children.  Two very handsome and adorable little boys.  They will probably miss her most of all.

I've mentioned before how I knew Sara.  We shared some of the same friends and so our paths would cross on occasions when we were both invited to a party, or game night, or fill-in-the-blank.  I remember her as mostly quiet, perhaps a little shy, but always, always kind.  I, on the other hand, had a tendency to talk too much and to speak without weighing my words first.  I think I had a pretty good head on my shoulders in college, but there was definitely a big dose of crazy mixed in, and I'm not talking about the "wacky, zany, so fun-to-be-around" kind of crazy (although I had a sizable dose of that too, at times).  What I'm referring to now was more like the "whoa, what is wrong with that chick?" kind of crazy.  That side of me tended to come out when I least expected it...well, honestly I never expected it.  (Who does?)  Looking back at Sara though, she always seemed emotionally stable and grounded...comfortable in her own skin.

She didn't fear death, only leaving her family behind.  And even then she knew that they would be taken care of in her absence by family and friends.  Still, mothers are unique individuals and not simply replaced.  Please continue to pray for her boys and her husband as they adjust to this new way of life.

I've learned so much from Sara.  She taught me the importance of savoring each day and each moment.  She showed me, through her battle with cancer and her untimely death, the brevity of life and how none of us are promised tomorrow.  In fact, even as I wrote this my daughter came to me wanting tickles, hugs, and kisses.  I stop now to savor those precious opportunities.  I'm still learning this new habit but I catch myself more and more often weighing everything in light of eternity.  I try to seek God's guidance on when to speak and when to keep silent, not always living up to that challenge but always being challenged by the living.

I feel a special connection to Sara even though we weren't very close.  We were in the same season of life together, the same age raising young kids, both the oldest of 3 children, both having one brother and one sister.  Also, she lost Anna and then received her cancer diagnosis a little more than a year after my brother passed away during a time when I was still fighting my way out of that valley...and her trek was just beginning.  She shares a birthday month with Matt, my brother.  She learned of her cancer on her birthday.  I learned of her cancer only a few days before my brother's would-be 30th birthday.  Sara left this earth on August 28th.  My brother left this earth in August, too.  His birthday falls on the 28th.  These dates may not be significant to anyone else but me.  I've always had a thing with numbers so the irony does not escape me.  The lessons I take away from this "coincidence" are:
  1. Bad things happen to good people.  None of us are immune. 
  2. We are not alone in our struggles.  We need each other.
  3. God speaks to us in a variety of ways to comfort and encourage us (if only we will pay attention).
  4. None of us know how many days we have on this earth and 
  5. God is always present and He cares, regardless of what our circumstances may otherwise suggest.
I'm thankful for Sara and the life that she lived.  I'm thankful that she chose to share her story instead of keeping it hidden.  I'm thankful for her inspiration and will carry that with me for days, weeks, and even years to come.  Thank you, Sara, for teaching us to savor and pointing us to the Savior.  See you in heaven.  Oh!  And tell Matt I love him and look forward to seeing him again! :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prayers for Hannah

I can't imagine what it would be like to live without hands and feet.  We so often take our health for granted until it is threatened.  Even something as small as stubbing your pinky toe makes one so aware of that tiny, little toe.  Just think of all the things you do every day that require the use of your hands and feet...typing, baking, cooking, writing, holding, tying, opening, closing, brushing, squeezing, even giving a simple "high-five"...and we haven't even gotten to feet yet.  Imagine what it would be like to NOT be able to do these things.  Now imagine that you're a mom going through this.  Imagine you're a nurse.  Imagine how life-changing this loss would be.  Imagine what it means for your husband and kids as well.

This is what Hannah and her family are facing now.  I first learned of Hannah's illness through my friend, Emily, when she requested that I, along with other blogging friends, take a moment to spread the word and ask for prayers.  So, I'm calling all prayer warriors out there!  Hannah is still in the hospital but currently in stable condition.  Praise God!  Won't you please take a moment to say a prayer and then visit Hannah's facebook page and leave the family a note of encouragement?  As a mom, it's hard to imagine how I would handle all the necessary changes to be made in order for our family to function.  Please pray for Hannah's continued healing both physically, emotionally, and financially.  This will definitely be an ongoing journey for the Rinehart family and if they are anything like me, every morsel of encouragement and support would bring a tiny ray of sunshine to their soul.  Won't you please pray with us on Hannah's behalf?  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mind Over Major

I haven't made a "major" grocery run since July 31st, nearly a month ago.  ("Major" meaning- large and planned with price comps and coupons at the ready.)  For some of you that's not so strange.  Perhaps you typically shop once a month and buy everything you'll need in that one trip, minus an outing or two for extra milk and bread.  Maybe you just don't use coupons.  (Who are you crazy people?! ;))

Anyway, for us this is very unusual.  So far this month, we have only spent $115.83 on groceries.  That's enough to impress me, but consider that that amount also includes a trip to McDonald's and another to Taco Bell and I'd say we're doing pretty good.  Naturally, my frugal-minded husband is pleased with this news.  "See?  I told you we could go longer without another grocery run."  Yes, hon.  Truly, you are the superior gender.  I'm not worthy! (Sometimes a goodhearted "ribbing" doesn't translate well to type, so let me be clear.  This is all playful fun and not to be taken too seriously. :))

Of course, my fellow "couponing" friends know that this could spell disaster later.  After all, I will eventually have to buy groceries and giving up 3 to 4 weeks of items at their lowest price could mean forking over more later and experiencing sticker shock at the register.  Not exactly the goal.  I really don't like the phrase, "You have to spend money to make money," either but in instances like this (as long as you're smart about it and don't go "off-the-charts") it is true.  Spending a little on items now that you'll use later puts more money in your pocket rather than waiting to purchase later when it's not on sale.  (Assuming that it is something you typically use.)  Sometimes you get lucky and even find actual "money-makers" in the store, maybe in the form of rebates, or maybe simply the result of a sale price combined with double or high value coupons.  Everyone loves easy money, right?

Thankfully, I shop at a grocery store that price-matches and many of the grocers in our area carry different sale items at different times, which means my 3 to 4 week respite may not spell disaster for us after all, if I play my cards right.  I have learned a very valuable lesson in all of this, though:
  1. I can get creative in the kitchen and still produce an enjoyable meal.
  2. There is more food in our pantry than I originally thought and most importantly,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prayers for Sara

Sara has incredible faith.  She has been through so much and my heart just breaks for her and her family.  They need a miracle.  They truly need a miracle.  I ask that you join me and countless others as we pray without ceasing for Sara's miracle.  (Links to her caringbridge site and personal website can also be found there for more details of her tough battle with cancer and how she's handled each step of her journey.)  Sara gave birth to her precious baby daughter, Anna, shortly before receiving her diagnosis.  Unfortunately, Anna arrived stillborn.  That alone is devastating enough; but to find out only 4 weeks later (by accident) that she had stage 4 colon cancer that had already metastasized to her liver?  How does anyone bear it?  I think Sara would probably say, "Only by the grace of God."  Her faith is truly amazing and such an inspiration.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, my brother was still alive.  Three years ago today, my brother died.  It doesn't seem like that long ago.  Three years ago today, my family's world turned completely upside down in more ways than one.  I've been thinking about writing a book about our (primarily my) journey.  In honor of Matt's angel-versary, I thought I'd share a small portion with you today.  Warning: it's a dark post and this is only the beginning of the story.  There is hope to come and much of the story has yet to happen, much less be written.  Perhaps some of you have lost a loved one to suicide and can relate.  I hope this helps you, not hurts you.  It's a complicated pain like no other I've ever experienced.  I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy...and that's the honest truth.

"He's not ok"

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  As I sat in the library blogging about nothing of importance, the librarian approached me, asked my name and told me to call my husband and that it was an emergency.  I walked to the pay phone, worried about what constituted an emergency, yet kept my cool considering I had our only vehicle and perhaps he was just stranded and needed to get somewhere fast.  I was about to dial collect when Justin walked through the door.  I started to say, “Hey, I just got your message.  What’s going on?” but before I’d uttered two words, he was talking over me and walking right past me into the library.
“Where are your things?”
He made it to my work station before I did and quickly shut my laptop and stuffed it into the bag, not even bothering to turn it off first.  I mistook his distress for anger.  “What did I do?  Why is he so angry?” I thought. 
“What’s wrong?  What’s going on?” is all I could say. 
“I’ll tell you outside.  Not in here.”
We walked out the door and that’s when I spotted my uncle Kenny standing in the parking lot waiting for us.  A wave of panic hit me and I immediately thought of our kids.  “Did something happen to them?  Are they ok?  Oh, God, what has happened?  Please, please let them be ok.”  I stopped abruptly and demanded that Justin tell me what was going on. 
“Justin, what is it?  Why is Kenny here?  You’re scaring me!”  I rarely, if ever, use his first name to address him.
His expression softened, and I could see such sadness in his eyes, like he knew what he was about to say would crush me and he couldn’t bear to see it happen.  He was right. 
Squaring my shoulders with his and looking directly into my eyes he said, “Your mom called.  Your brother tried to kill himself.” 
I don’t even know how to describe the feeling that came over me...but I'll try.  Relief that the kids were ok, immediate guilt for thinking that, shock at what I’d just heard, and the inability to comprehend any of it.  Then something in me broke.  Devastation took over.  I lost control and it literally felt like someone (or something) else took over my body.  I watched myself wailing from somewhere up above and was powerless to silence it.  My legs gave out from under me and I fell to my knees. 
I know everyone inside the library must have heard me and I was thankful that my loving husband had the forethought not to tell me inside.  We sat there on the sidewalk, Justin holding me, as I continued to wail, cry, and panic.  Fear gripped my very heart.  A lady walked past us with a look of concern on her face.  She could tell something was terribly wrong, but that stopping to ask might be considered insensitive or intrusive so she continued on her way, careful not to stare.  Such a small thing, but her compassion is remembered.  I think Justin noticed her too and decided it was time to try to get me to the car. 
So sweetly he asked, “Do you think you can stand up?  Do you think you can walk?” 
He helped me up and, in addition to the heavy laptop case, carried most of my weight as I tried to put one foot in front of the other.  It wasn’t until we were standing next to the car that I processed exactly what Justin had said. 
“Wait!  He tried to kill himself, or he did kill himself?”  Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Maybe Matt would be ok. 
With a look expressing a wish to tell me what I wanted to hear, he replied, “All I know is what your mom told me.  That’s all she said.” 
Kenny said nothing.  I suppose I knew then; I just didn’t want to believe it.  If Matt were alive, he would know and he would have told me that he was in the hospital somewhere or something to give me even the slightest bit of hope or comfort.
Justin took the keys from me, helped me into the car, and drove to my grandparents’ house.  Kenny followed.  Shaking, trembling, rocking back and forth in the seat and completely unable to keep still, I pleaded with God the entire way, “Oh, God.  Please let him be ok.  Let him be alive.  Please!  Maybe he’s in a coma, maybe he’s badly hurt but please, please, please!  Say he’s still alive!”  As we neared Nana and Papaw’s house, Justin cautioned me to wait for him before I got out of the car, apparently concerned that I may pass out if I got up too fast.  I didn’t listen, though.  As soon as the car stopped I darted out and ran towards the door.  I ran through the breakfast room, into the kitchen and peered at my grandfather who was standing in the den. 
“Is he ok?!” I asked with a desperation that surprised even me. 
With deep sadness Papaw replied, “No, honey.  He’s not ok.”
And there ended the denial; he was gone.  There was no “Well, he’s in critical condition right now” or “I don’t know, honey, we just have to get to the hospital as quickly as possible and find out” or “Your mom will call as soon as she knows something.”  The translation of my grandfather’s “He’s not ok” was “He is dead.”  How did this happen?  Even three years later it still makes no sense to me.  He can’t be gone.  That’s just not possible…But somehow…It is.  At some point amid a flood of tears, a silence fell and quickly broke with my simple, but impossible wish. “I want my brother back.”

 "God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
   his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
   How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
   He's all I've got left."
Lamentations 3:22-24
The Message

God has remained faithful and ever-present with us on this journey and I hope to have the opportunity to share some of those instances with you in time.  He is, and has been, our help in times of trouble.  His faithfulness endures forever.  He is, and has been, our calm among the storm.  His faithfulness endures forever.  We will take heart, for He has overcome the world and nothing is impossible with Him!  His faithfulness endures forever.  Trouble will come, but joy comes in the morning!  His faithfulness endures forever. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  May you be encouraged and blessed today.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chicken, Christian, or Both?

This whole gay marriage debate has me nauseous.  In response to all the media coverage of Chick-fil-a's position on the matter, facebook is all abuzz and it seems everyone wants to voice their opinions and feelings on the matter...including me.  It's exhausting.

What bothers me the most is seeing my Christian friends in support of it, but to make the matter worse, to question my heart because of my differing view.  To be called unloving and intolerant by the world is one thing, but to be told by those claiming to be Christians that "people like you are the reason Christians have a bad name" is just heartbreaking.

I hear Christian friends saying things like, "It's not our job to legalize morality or push our beliefs on other people."  Or they might say, "We are called to love.  Where is your compassion and empathy?"  As if Jesus would somehow approve of gay marriage and I am the cold-hearted snake for thinking otherwise.  Really??  Is this what our nation and CHURCH has come to?  I try to have a respectful debate about the issue, raising what I believe to be valid concerns and rather than get any answers, my Christian character is attacked, I'm compared to those who were against slavery and women's rights, accused of suppressing the rights of others (or out-and-out hating them) and labeled "insecure".

Is there anyone out there willing to critically think through the implications of this issue and have a respectful dialogue without resorting to name calling and attacking the individual (or company, in Chick-fil-a's case)?

I plan to blog another post explaining why I believe legalizing gay marriage is bad for America.  At least this way, whenever the subject comes up online I can just post a link to my thoughts without regurgitating them over and over and over again.  We, as Christians, really cannot remain silent on this issue.  Brothers and sisters, it is time to get involved.  Take a lesson from Chick-fil-a and don't be a Christian chicken.  ;)  Speak out.  More on that later.  Right now, I need to recharge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sister Syndrome

We were cleaning Sadie's room when she started this conversation:
Sadie:  "When I have a baby sister, I will get her a flower bed and share my room and you can call her Molly."
Josiah: "I want a baby sister, too, and we'll call her Adasher."
Jackson: "Yeah.  And I will name my sister Pinky Pie!"
Later, I gave Josiah a consequence for disobeying.  He starts to cry and says,
"But Mommy, then you won't have a baby!"
Me: "Huh?"
Josiah (through tears):  "You said we were going to have a baby sister tomorrow and now you won't because of my consequence!"
Oh, dear.  Remind me to enunciate from now on.  BabySITTER.  I said babySITTER.  I also said "maybe".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Really Random Week

**I've literally spent hours on this post.  I even posted it late last night only to remove it hours later because it just didn't sit well with me.  I'm not sure it's worth all this effort but despite my issues with my "father", I'm still called by God to honor him.  I often talk too much (or type) and I don't wish to gossip or slander anyone.  We all make mistakes.  My father is a part of my testimony so I want to share that, but I also wish to honor God in doing so.  It's been a tough balancing act for me in figuring out how to accomplish that goal.  With that said, here is the post.  I hope I've succeeded in speaking truth when necessary and holding my tongue (or fingers) when unnecessary.

I don't even know where to begin in describing this past week.  It was a real doozy, that's for sure.  Imagine finding out that your biological father was arrested and charged with shooting with intent to kill.  You haven't seen him in over 30 years and the last time you spoke to him on the phone was at least 5 years ago.  He never paid a dime in child support and was basically MIA for your entire childhood.  He wrote you a letter (more like a novel) nearly 20 years ago, just before you graduated from high school, while incarcerated for armed bank robbery and check kiting and for which he still claims his innocence.  He never initiated contact with your younger brother, who is now deceased, and you aren't even sure whether or not he knows that his son is dead...or if he even cares.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RIP, Andy Griffith

I just learned that Andy Griffith passed away today at the age of 86.  This has brought on a plethora of childhood memories surrounding reruns of his popular self-titled show.  I grew up in the days of color-everything from television, nail polish and eye shadow to neon pants.  In an age of "latchkey kids", increasing immorality, and fast-paced living, "The Andy Griffith Show" was a warm welcome into the relaxing life of down home country living despite its black and white screen.  In fact, the early years of its lack of color seemed to add to its appeal and authenticity.  Watching Opie kneel to pray (among many other moral lessons from the show) was a refreshing change from other secular shows like "Married with Children", "The Simpsons", or even "My Two Dads".  Granted, these shows sometimes had moral lessons of their own and are far better alternatives to most of what is available in today's day and age but still, at the expense of demonstrating respect for authority and/or acknowledging God as the center of morality...and that's a pretty big difference.  They just don't measure up to "The Andy Griffith Show" standards and ideals.  Of course, at the time I didn't recognize that I was learning these lessons as much as I was just enjoying the antics and mishaps of its characters and the delightful humor they offered.  It was also a time for me and my brother to sit and laugh together while waiting for mom to get home from work or supper to be prepared.  (As I got older, I was able to help more with the latter. ;))

On beginning this post, my persistent 4 year old daughter started chanting, "Tel-e-vis-ion...Tel-e-vis-ion..." so I decided to just check and see if Netflix carried my beloved show and thankfully, it did not disappoint.  So, guess what we're watching right now.  :)  Thanks to syndication and modern technology, my kids have the opportunity to meet Opie, Gomer, Barney, Andy and Aunt Bee.  Hopefully, they will grow to love them as much as I did.  We all long for a simpler life, don't we?  I think that's part of what made Andy's show so popular.  Granted, I wasn't around when it started in the sixties, but the longing for a simpler life seems to be a timeless desire among most people, isn't it?  Besides that, how can you not love Opie and Aunt Bee, Gomer or Barney? ;)

Yes, Andy Griffith will certainly be missed.  I'm thankful for the television legacy he's left behind and all the memories from my childhood that came as a result.  How many actors can say that their show has been on-air for fifty-plus years?  Rest in peace, Andy Griffith.  Thanks for all the laughs and lessons!

Monday, May 14, 2012

"This is Your Life": A Kidney Stone Komedy

I've been trying real hard to keep a positive attitude about all that has happened this weekend, but I gotta tell's getting tougher with each passing moment.  I look back on the events of the past couple of days and can't help but think that it would make a great movie.  What a comedy of errors.  I would go see it.  Just not sure I'm enjoying living it right now. ;-)  I try to keep perspective and I realize that this is nothing in light of eternity and that things could be far, far worse.  Holding on to that attitude keeps me grateful and hopeful.  Truly, we are very blessed.  So, as I share with you our story and our struggles over the past few days, I want to be sure that you understand beforehand that this is not meant to be a pity party.  I don't want you to leave this post thinking I'm just a perpetual complainer or pessimist or that I don't appreciate just how good I've got it.  I see myself as quite the opposite.  There's always a ray of sunshine somewhere, a silver lining to every cloud, and a blessing among any storm.  Honestly, despite everything that's ever happened to me over the course of my entire life, I've been given the most precious gift of all and one that I could never earn or repay...the love of God and the hope of eternity with Him.  This post is really meant more for comedy's sake and to help me regain my sense of humor.  It's truly uncanny to me just how much has been thrown at us since Friday.  Yet even among the chaos, there have been precious moments of joy and laughter which I will also soon share.  Having said that, here's the story...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gearing Up for the 5k!

I tell you for sure, gearing up for this 5k has really sent me through some emotional days.  I mean, I'm not just running a 5k.  I'm trying to support a cause that I passionately believe in now due to personal experience.  So naturally, my daily motivation causes me to reflect on what led me to this point...Matt.  Gracious, the devil really knows where to go to try to steal our joy, doesn't he?  Only, he can't take it without our permission.

I don't know how many of you have ever trained for a 5k before but let me tell's exhausting.  I mean, physically, psychologically, and emotionally draining...yet, invigorating too.  It's a great irony, really.  You run and run and run until your body is physically hurting and then your mind starts screaming at you to stop.  Now you're in a psychological battle to keep going.  You have to silence the voice in your head that is telling you you can't, that it's too hard, that you have to quit.  And because you are doing this for very personal reasons, when the battle is over (or sometimes during) your emotions are really raw because exhaustion is one of the few things that makes you let your guard down.  You don't really have much of a choice at that point because you no longer have the energy to "keep it together"...not that you ever could on your own anyway.  Am I making any sense at all??

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weight-loss Milestone!

Ok, I know ladies don't usually share their weight (particularly on social media among potential strangers) but I hit a major milestone today and just have to share.  Hopefully, it will encourage others to not give up!

So many times over the last 6 years or so I've gone through bouts of dieting and exercising.  I would lose several pounds and "hit a wall", then end up gaining back the weight I'd lost.  VERY discouraging. :/  Of course, I put on more weight after Matt died.  I was still hanging on to some baby weight before then, too, so... well, you know.  At my heaviest (on the home scale), I was 214 lbs.  (We all know the doctor's scales add about 15 lbs, right?)  Ugh!  For someone who's ideal weight is somewhere around 135 to 140 lbs, this was totally unacceptable.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Anonymous...

"Was a great blog till you started attacking homosexuals. Hopefully you teach your children to be more open minded than yourself and leave the judgeing up to God... you know. The judge. Sin is sin and all those times you have lied in your life are just the same as 2 men/women laying together. Teach them to Love. That is Christianity." -Anonymous in response to The Theological Threes.

Dear Anonymous,

It seems that your idea of Christianity and my idea of Christianity are very different.  First of all, there was nothing in my post that "attacked" homosexuals.  I merely mentioned my concern for how I would respond to my children when they had questions about friends at school with same-sex parents or classmates engaging in homosexual activity.  Having homosexual tendencies is not a sin.  Acting on them is.  There's a huge difference.  I never said anything about not loving them.  We are all afflicted with different temptations.  For some, it may be stealing...others, addictions...another, homosexuality.   We are all still humans who are made in the image of God.  Yet they (the examples I gave in my post) have chosen a lifestyle that is against His will.  Loving someone does not mean you sit idly by and condone their sin.  Would you do that with an addict?  "Here, have another shot!  I love you, man!"  What if my 3 year old steals a pill that she finds in my medicine cabinet?  "Ok, sweetie.  Mommy loves you so you go ahead and keep it."  No!  In fact, loving them means confronting them with their sin and calling them to repentance because you care about them, their salvation, and their life!  But my post wasn't even about confronting them.  It was about what to tell my kids.

Second, you are right that God is the ultimate judge.  But He also gave us brains with the expectation that we'd use them and He clearly expects us to know right from wrong, which in and of itself requires making a judgment.  You said yourself that "sin is sin" which implies that you believe sin to be wrong.  That's a judgment, right?  Accusing me of attacking homosexuals is another judgment, right?  You obviously think I've done something wrong.  Why is it okay for you to judge me but it's not okay for me to voice my belief on the practice of homosexuality?  I've heard the line "Do not judge, lest you be judged." (Matthew 7:1) spouted off too often in defense of saying or doing anything that's disagreeable to another person.  That's not what that verse means and that's not what God intends for us to do.  Matthew continues in that same passage to talk about removing the speck in your brother's (another believer) eye when there's a log in your own eye.  We like to stop there and use it as another example of not judging others because "I'm not without sin so I should just keep my mouth shut lest I be judged."  But if you look at verse 5, Matthew (and therefore, God) never said to leave the speck in your brother's eye!  He said first remove the log in your own eye so that you may see clearly to remove the speck in your brother's eye.

Frankly, I don't buy the argument that all "sin is sin" anymore.  I don't believe that's Biblical.  Certainly, all sin separates us from God.  But I do not believe the Bible teaches that all sin is equal.  If that were so, wouldn't both the believers in Matthew's story either have specks or logs, not one of each?  There seems to be an implication that one is worse than the other.  You've probably also heard of "the unforgivable sin", blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10).  Apparently, even Jesus thought that some sins were greater than others.  So, no.  I do not believe that all the times I've lied in my life are just the same as me having sexual relations with a woman.  I do my best to steer clear of both.

I have an open mind and I encourage my children to also think outside of the box.  However, there's a difference between having an open mind and having a meaningless theology.  Yes, love covers over a multitude of sins and I am ever so grateful for that truth!  God is love.  Pure and perfect love.  If in being love, He can still lay ground rules of what is right and what is wrong, then I can say with confidence that sometimes love must be tough.  Sometimes, love will not be the answer you want to hear.  That is Christianity.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Preparation for my first 5k! Stride to Prevent Suicide 2012

Ok, I know it's been a long while since my last exercise update.  Soooo sorry about that.  I'm trying to be more consistent and jump back on the bandwagon...again!  I could rattle off a ton of lame excuses, all true but still lame...spring break, company in town, planning a birthday party, family fights the flu.  Ok, so maybe at least one of those is not so lame. ;)

Anyway, I just wanted to let all of you know that I am now training for my first 5k!  Searcy is hosting a Stride to Prevent Suicide 5k and 1 mile Fun Run/Walk.  Justin and I are going to run in honor of my brother, Matthew Austin Seabolt, who most of you know died by suicide on August 13, 2009.  If you live in this area and would like to join our team, let me know!  If you live out of town and would like to participate as a "Spirit Runner", that would be great too (It comes with a t-shirt)!  A team registration saves each individual adult $10 off the registration fee so if you're interested, get your money and registration form to me as soon as possible so I can send them all in together.  They are also having a memorial butterfly release which I'm really looking forward to watching.  Butterflies and dragonflies carry deeper personal and spiritual meaning for me now.  They comfort me when I see them because I feel a closer connection to God and Matt when one catches my eye.  My family has released butterflies in Georgia on Matt's angelversary, too, so this is another way to feel closer and more connected with them over so many miles.

Friday, March 16, 2012

May I Have A Birthday "Do-Over" Please?

Yesterday was definitely a birthday that will be remembered!  That doesn't mean it was great, though.  In fact, I'm looking forward to my birthday "do-over".  Haha

You see, the family caught the flu.  Jackson stayed home Tuesday even though I wasn't sure whether he was sick or just sleep-deprived.  (I found him on the computer at 6 a.m. and had no idea how long he'd been there.  It's not unusual for him to wake up in the middle of the night and climb into bed with us.) 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brotherly Love

I'm so thankful that our boys get along so well.  They still have the usual "sibling rivalry" issues at times but there's been many occasions when it's evident that they really care about each other and look out for one another (Josiah more so on the latter).  Their classes at school are right across the hall from each other and Mrs. Davis (Jackson's teacher) told me that Josiah loves to come over to "get" Jackson and walk him to the car rider area as they leave every afternoon.  In fact, she said that he gets upset if they don't wait by the door for him.  "I'm here to pick up Jackson," he'll say.

Jackson has been at home sick for the past two days.  When I woke up yesterday morning at 6 a.m., I found him playing on the computer and I had absolutely no clue how long he had been there.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Attempt at Becoming the Next "Betty Crocker"

I just created my own recipe (probably for the first time).  I dumped a bunch of stuff in the slow cooker and I'm hoping that it will #1) be fully cooked by dinner time and #2) that it will taste halfway decent.  I don't really know what possessed me to try this today.  I guess I'm wanting to use what fresh produce we currently have before it goes bad and thought, "What the hay?  Let's see what happens." ;-)

Here's what I used in case you'd like to try it too.  I'll let you know how it turns out...

  • 1 whole chicken fryer
  • 10-12 baby carrots
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • basil
  • oregano
  • honey
I placed my frozen fryer (see why I'm hoping it's done by dinner time?) in the cooker and dumped the diced tomatoes on top.  Then I added the apple juice and vinegar (along the sides, not over the chicken).  Next came the chili and onion powders over the chicken as well as a sprinkling of basil and oregano to taste.  I placed the carrots and onions around the chicken, onions on top and drizzled with honey to taste.

I probably would have added some potatoes too, if we'd had any.  Guess we'll see what happens.  If this is any good, I'll need a name for it.  Thoughts? :)  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ebates Leap Day Deals!!

 **Update!!**  All You magazine is NOT included in the double cash back offer.  I'm really disappointed.  Sorry about that.  Ebates is still worth it, though.  All You is worth the $20 too.  Ugh!  I hate it when that happens. :/

Many of you have heard me singing the praises of Ebates and All You magazine.  (Today they make the perfect duo!)  If you haven't, let me tell you a little bit about each of them.  Ebates is a website where you can earn cash back for online purchases at nearly any store or website.  From Walmart to Nordstrom and everywhere in between, you can earn cash back on whatever you buy online.  Not only that, but you will also receive a bonus gift card after a qualifying purchase of $25 and you can earn additional bonuses through your referrals.  I received a Home Depot gift card after my qualifying purchase (which doesn't have to be made all at once) and have earned over $50 cash back just for shopping at sites I would be using anyway and sharing this great opportunity with my friends, like you. :)  It's free to sign up so you really have nothing to lose and only money to gain. :)

As for All You magazine, it's a coupon lover's dream.  Each issue typically has anywhere from $50-$100 worth of coupons in addition to fantastic articles and tips on how to save more money and live more frugally.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Tea Party Needs Allies? Romney the Obvious Choice? I think not.

I just read this article posted by The American Spectator and am quite disappointed in their analysis.  This is my response:

First of all, I refuse to believe that the Tea Party is the minority of a minority.  More and more of the general population is for limiting the size of government and fed up with the bailouts and wreckless spending, even if they don't claim to be "Tea Partiers".  Believe me, the Tea Party has allies.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Investing in the Journey" Couponing Class: Updated

****Another update is typed in bold within the original post regarding the shepherd's guidelines.  I wish to be in full compliance.  Thank you.****

***Update***: We are also now selling Harp's coupon books for $5 each.  They contain over $50 worth of coupons, including one for $5 off your next grocery purchase of $50 or more so they basically pay for themselves!  Anyone who purchases a coupon binder for $20 will receive a coupon book for free!  I will also be giving away some at the class as door prizes so please make plans to attend.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested in a coupon book and/or binder so I have an idea of how many to order as well as if you are planning to attend the class so I have enough handouts for everyone.  Thanks!

Our church is doing something that I've never seen done before and I can't wait to see the result!  They are calling it "Investing in the Journey" and the goal is to raise money to purchase much-needed buses while at the same time teaching biblical principles.  The principle here is based on the Parable of the Talents.  The kick-off for this Christian "fundraiser" is this coming Sunday where instead of putting money in the collection plate, money will be distributed to members of the congregation.  We are then to take that money, increase it, and then bring back the fruits of our efforts a few weeks later on what is being called "Celebration Sunday".  When I first heard about this, I started trying to figure out what talents I have that could be lucrative.  I mean, I certainly don't want to be "the lazy and wicked servant", ya know what I mean? ;)  I prayed about it and a few things finally came to mind.  I can sing, so I guess I could have chosen to do something like singing telegrams but that seemed a little too junior high for a soon-to-be 35 year old.  haha  What else?  Well, I'm good at bargain shopping and saving know, finding good deals.  I'm a pretty good teacher, too...I think.  Anyway, that's when I decided to try having my own coupon class...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Exercise Log: Week 2, Day One & Two

Day One:  rested after pulling a muscle in my hip the day before.

Day Two:  On the advice of my husband, I took it slow and just spent an hour walking on the treadmill.  40 minutes, 10 minute break, 20 minute finish.

Challenges:  Obviously, my hip.  I wasn't in pain while walking, more like uncomfortable.  It just felt like it could cramp up at any moment, ya know?

Improvements:  Doing any exercise on Day Two was an improvement from Day One.

How I feel:  Discouraged that I'm not doing my normal circuit and that I didn't lose any weight this week.  Thankfully, I didn't gain but I really hoped for more improvement.  I guess I overdid it on the Valentine's sweets and when coupled with the leg problem... :(  But I'm not giving up!  I knew when I started that this would be a long process with potential setbacks.  This is just one week amongst many and this coming week there will be much more improvement!  Until my hip is better, I will have to start paying very close attention to what I consume.

Friday, February 17, 2012

If You Fix Your Kid a Breakfast...

Ever have one of those days where you are jumping around from one thing to the next?  You know, like all those "If You Give A (fill in the blank)" books portray?  Yeah, I'm having one today.  I fix the kids' breakfast and while they are eating, I think this is the perfect time to email my scouts since the computer is now available.  After sending the emails, I realize I haven't eaten yet so I go to the kitchen and see the dirty dishes piled in the sink and think to myself, "I should go ahead and load the dishwasher first.  It will only take a minute."  While standing at the sink, I notice the dirt on the wall which reminds me that I need to pick up some dry erasers on my next trip to the store.  This sends me on a search for a memo pad so I can write that down before I forget.  While searching, I see the papers on the table that need to be filed away.  I grab a couple of the papers to put in the boys' binders that are in the living room.  While in the living room, I see the laundry on the couch which reminds me that I need to fold those and put them away but first I should swap out what is currently in the washer and dryer just to keep things moving along.  I have to go through the kitchen to get to the laundry room.  While in the kitchen, I notice that I'm still holding the papers and I still haven't eaten anything yet.  Well, at least the dishwasher is running.  Now, what was it I needed at the store? ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exercise Log: Day Six and Seven

2/14/2012, Day Six:  Rest Day

Warm-up: 5 min cycle
Leg Extension: (50 lbs) 3 x 10
Hip Adduction: (50 lbs) 3 x 10
Hip Abduction: (50 lbs) 3 x 10
Leg Curl: (50 lbs) 3 x 10
Abs: (60 lbs) 100 reps
Lunges: (8 lb dumbbells) 1 x 6
Cycle: 25 min, speed approx. 11.0, distance=4.4

Challenges:  The hardest part was getting to the fitness room.  Isn't it crazy how just one rest day can make it so hard to go back the next?  I'm glad I did, though.  The next hardest thing was when I got a cramp during lunges.  I tried to keep going but it just hurt too badly and I started to get concerned that I might damage something.  I went ahead and cycled afterwards, pushing through the pain a little but didn't concern myself with improving my time or distance.  I just wanted to be able to walk out knowing that I did the drill.  I didn't "give up".  I still have the cramp even now.  It hindered my workout some tonight but didn't "kill" it.

Improvements:  I increased the weights on the leg curl.  I could probably go up again, but I won't yet.

How I feel:  Other than the cramp in my leg, I feel ok.  Not great.  Just ok.  I think much of that has to do with not working out yesterday and eating a bunch of Valentine's Day sweets.  I tried not to overdo it on desserts but between a free small milkshake at Chick-fil-a (which was shared with my darling daughter and wonderful husband) and not one, but two Valentine's Day parties, I still overdid it.  Looking forward to tomorrow's workout as it is a treadmill day.  I like treadmill day. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Exercise Log: Day Five

Warm-up: 5 min on Elliptical
Shoulders (standard): 20 lbs, 3 x 10
Shoulders (neutral): 20 lbs, 3 x 10
Lats: 30 lbs, 3 x 10 (will increase weight next time)
Row: 30 lbs, 3 x 10 (will increase weight next time)
Fly: 30 lbs, 3 x 10
Rear delt: 20 lbs, 3 x 10
Chest: 30 lbs, 3 x 10
Tricep: 20 lbs, 3 x 10
Bicep: 30 lbs, 3 x 10
Abs: 60 lbs, 100 reps
Elliptical: 25 min, speed @10.6 up to 11.8, distance= 4.4

Challenges:  That elliptical really kicks my tail but I did it!  The last set of shoulders (neutral) still gives me some trouble.  I'm using my back too much on the last few.  I think I've just about found the right weight for each exercise.

Improvements: Lifting more weight on lat, row, fly, and chest.  Finished elliptical at a distance of 4.4 with 3 seconds left on the clock!  Only a .1 increase from my last record but I'll take it!!  That junk is hard!

How I feel:  Woke up this morning not feeling quite as sore as I have been.  I caught myself actually climbing stairs without wincing or groaning today. :)  I think my body is starting to get used to a workout and limbering up some more.  After tonight's workout, I suspect I may very well be wincing again tomorrow but for today, I feel stronger!  (and like I could use a!) ;)

How'd you do?

Valentine's Day Preparation

Well, I found these super cute Valentines at Goodwill a couple of months ago for the boys to give their classmates.  One was an unopened package of foil Harry Potter cards (for Josiah) and the other was an opened package of clear animal cards (perfect for Jackson!).  Even though Jackson's box was opened, all the cards were still there.  I was so excited when I found these not only because they were only 50 cents a box but also because I knew they were actually Valentines cards that reflected the boys' interests and that they'd enjoy giving to their friends.

Josiah's teacher sent a class list home so that each student could add their classmate's name to each Valentine.  Josiah enjoyed looking at the list and marking each name off as he went along.  He even drew little boxes by each name and put a check mark in it once he finished each one.

Jackson's teacher sent a note home telling us how many students were in the class and asking that we not worry about addressing each one so that it would be easier for them to distribute by just going down the rows instead of digging through the cards or scrambling around the room to deliver each specific one.  That seems reasonable to me.  In a class of 25+ students, it does seem like a more efficient way to go.  However, Jackson was determined to write his friends' names on each Valentine.  He even started to cry when I told him not to do that.  It didn't matter how I tried to explain it.  He could not leave that "to:" line blank.  So, what could I do?  I asked myself which was more important...taking a hard line on not addressing the Valentines like his teacher requested and deal with the meltdown, or let him address them his way and it actually be an enjoyable experience?  It's probably no surprise but I went with the latter.  It just didn't seem like something worth fighting over.  Especially since he was trying to be thoughtful and considerate of his friends, selecting the perfect Valentine for each.  Now I'm just hoping that no one is forgotten and that his method doesn't interfere too much with his teacher's plan for the party.  I wrote down each name as he went along so that hopefully we wouldn't have any duplicates and to keep track of how many more were needed (in case someone was forgotten).  In the grand scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal but I certainly don't want any 1st graders getting their feelings hurt.

I'm looking forward to helping the boys with their Valentines for their teachers.  I don't want them to accidentally find out about them before hand, so you'll have to wait until later to see what they made.  It's something I found on pinterest that I thought was really cute.  Justin thinks it's super cheesy but come on, what teacher doesn't like "cheesy" from a kid? ;)

I'm thinking about making a cake later.  We'll see how things go...