Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Newsletter

Here at the end of the year, here's a little "catching you up" on our 2009. We are grateful for each of you and continue to be so incredibly grateful for the investment you make in our lives and our ministry. Continue to pray for us, that God would guide our steps to go right in the center of His will!

Jeff - This has been an incredible year for Jeff as Lead Pastor at LifeSong Church. God has used him to be a part of seeing lives changed, our community impacted and a look into the future of where LifeSong needs to focus. He has been a part of a coaching network of six other pastors that meet once a month under the mentoring of two other pastors. This has been an incredibly encouraging time for him, as well as a challenge to always become a better leader.
Of course, with football season ending soon with college bowl games and Super Bowls, I always worry he might go into a depression, but he has thoroughly enjoyed his favorite hobby these last few months.
He and I have just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on the 17th of this month.
I am so thankful for the man of God that Jeff is and continues to become. He leads our family well and loves me completely. There's no greater gift than to be Jeff's wife!

Amy - I feel more and more like I live in the car everyday. With a span of ages of almost 12 down to almost 3 years old, I feel like my brain is living in two different worlds most of the time. I'm carting kids to and from school, watching a whole LOT of Dora and Diego, and trying to stay consistent in my responsibilities everyday. I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I'm convinced it's the #1 way that God challenges me, humbles me, and grows me as a person by continuing to have me be home with my girls!
Aside from full time Mommy, I began a hobby/job as a Southern Living at Home consultant. I have really enjoyed the party aspect of things...meeting people from all walks of life. I probably enjoy the "booking parties" part the least, but it has been something that I've been able to make my own and still have it provide a little extra income for our family.
I continue to believe firmly that God has given me a specific ministry to the lives of women. It feels slow going at times, but I'm so very thankful for how God uses this ministry in my life to not only impact the lives of women, but to grow me as well. We begin our new Community Ladies' Bible study in January, and I'm always anxious be a part of having a front row seat to women growing in their love relationship with their Father!

McKenna - We have an almost 12 year old come April! Crazy!! We have continually seen McKenna on her own path with that she hears Him speak to her about and that she obeys to follow. She is passionate about her role as AWANA secretary in our LifeSong Kidz area of ministry. She prepares during the week, adds special touches and wakes up early every Sunday morning to go to church with her Dad so that she can serve her ministry well! To say we are proud of her is an understatement.
She is doing so well in school. 6th grade has proved to be HER year. She has a ton of friends and next month we will go attend her induction into the National Beta Club! Her Mama "might" have cried over the invitation! (wink, wink).
She plans to play soccer in the spring/summer and will start sewing lessons next month, but whatever Kenna does, we know she will put her whole heart into it!

Bailey -Bailey will turn 10 on the 27th. 4th grade has been a very busy year for Bailey! She has an incredible amount of homework everyday, but she has done so well in all of her subjects, and her first 9 weeks saw her name on the Honor Roll. She is on the Pride Patrol team for the month of December, so she gets to school early to help kids to their classrooms and the running and talking in the hallways to a minimum! ;) She has been taking private art classes this year and we are AMAZED at her talent. She is doing so well. We've also seen her put her love for music and theater to practice. She is in chorus at school and was chosen for Honors Chorus for our school district, had a part in LifeSongs Mortality Room at Halloween, and can constantly be heard singing and seen being a DRAMA QUEEN a lot ! ;)

Avery - Avery is doing incredibly well in school this year, too. She is 8yrs old and in 2nd grade. She has made straight As the first nine weeks and we've seen her develop a real love for reading this year. She might not LOVE homework and comes up with every excuse in the book not to do it, but nonetheless, she is finding she loves Math more than anything, and is in love with Magic Tree House books! She loves playing with her friend, Andrew, everyday after school. They've been working diligently on building a fort everyday in our backyard.
Avery just lives life to the fullest and on "full steam ahead!!"

Quinn - Quinn has probably changed the most. She talks 90 miles a minute and doesn't hesitate to tell you what she REALLY thinks! She is obsessed with Dora and Diego right now, loves to read books and anytime she can be outside she loves swing HIGHER!! She will turn 3 in February, and she has zero interest in the potty, yet she can tell you everyone's schedule and probably even cook a meal if she set her mind to it. She's our baby, though, so we may have let a lot slide with her. She is a joy to us and a constant source of laughter! She calls us "Mom" and "Dad," loves her sisters with her WHOLE heart, has a boyfriend named Aiden (of whom she is VERY possessive), and loves anything to do with music.

We pray God's very best for you this year! May 2010 be a year of great promise, love and laughter! We love you!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa is a Nice Man

Quinn had her first Santa picture this year. My other girls never would because apparently Santa is the equivalent of Jason from horror movies, so we don't have a picture of them that would not have shown looks of sheer terror!

This little cutie, however, says "Santa is a Nice Man," and we can see why (look in her hands)...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Then and Now

...and the Love story goes on and on!
Happy Anniversary to my best friend and love of my life, Jeffery!
You are one in a million, a gift to everyone that really knows you, but to me you are the man that I fall in love with over and over each and everyday!
Thank you for being the real deal! I'm a better person because you believe in me and love me.
Looking forward to continuing our journey.
I love you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Scenes from Christmas...So far

View from my Christmas Window

Trip to Roper Mountain Holiday Lights

A Sleigh full of NICE (as opposed to naughty) girls!

A Little Christmas Crafting

4th Grade Chorus - Elf Impersonator

Bill Drake Christmas Program - District 5 Honors Chorus
(Bailey is on the very back row)

A Christmas Fair w/ my sis.
(I represented So. Living at Home and she sold things from her home business, "Priss Pots"

A little Christmas "goofing off"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I ♥ Ministry

One of the most common things I've heard over our time in ministry - which for the record, for me, has been my WHOLE life - is how much we must love ministry. Most times this comes out of the notion of another that when God calls one to ministry, there must be angels singing and a lot of running through the wide open meadows singing and dancing as we go! It's a lot of "everyone must love you, want to spend time with you and living in a 'happy place' all the time." I don't mean to make a mockery of it...really, I don't. It's just that I sometimes like to use my blog for others in ministry, building a network of encouragement for others living the life of a pastor's wife, or any aspect of ministry. And goodness knows, we people in ministry sure like to "ponder these things" this time of year.
Pondering is my love language...well, OK, sometimes is my hate language, when it decides to take me to an unhappy place of false assumptions, "I'm a failure," no one likes, me, everybody hates me, think I'll eat some worms kinda place. That's another blog (and probably a therapy session, too!).

As I ponder a lot of things at the end of this year, one of which is what I have learned, and continue to learn, from a calling to ministry:

1) We are ALL called! Wow! That took a lot of pressure off me, didn't it? None of that blog post about just me being in ministry. We get to run through the meadows together! Seriously, it's my favorite thing to ponder this year. At LifeSong, we hear ALL the time how we are to be "missionaries where we live, work and play." I LOVE that. This year, this has become more and more real to me. One day, I'll write about just how it has. It's really just been over the last three months. I love the freedom of knowing that finally the day came that something I really knew in my heart most of my life, is now REAL for me. My friend, Misty, said it best to us when we started LifeSong. She said, "Everyday, I put my church clothes on because we are ALL the church everywhere we go." She and her family really live what they say, too.

2) Ministry is not about me. This is something I struggle with a lot. It's the kind of pondering that takes me to the false assumption place. God did not call my family to be served, but to serve. He didn't call us to be taken care of, but to take care of (the orphans and widows). Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of feeling alone, unwanted, not taken care of, but the truth is, that's just where Satan would want us to be. He wants to keep us discouraged so that we stay offended when no one speaks to us, think we are not loved/included, feel burnt out from trying to please everyone, or he will lie to us that no one is really following our leadership, or have us believe that we are fractured as a leadership. The list really can go on and on. Where he finds a place to attack, he will. Just when I think I've endured all the attack I will ever have to endure, well, in walks in a thorn. I love the fact that we GET to serve others. When I am serving by having new people in our church into our home, my heart is full. When I am asked to pray for another, my heart is full. When I see a woman grow in her relationship with God because she attends a Bible study, a weekend retreat, reads a blog, shares her faith with another, my heart is full. When I witness the Holy Spirit falling down on one of our corporate worship times, my heart is so full.

3) Ministry is hard. I read this today. It's specifically about church planting being hard. It really summarizes anything I have to say about ministry being hard. There is always the possibility of failing...failing when WE get in the way. We make it hard, more times than not. Point #2 really talks about this, too, but the aspect of church planting is not for the weary of heart.

4) Ministry is about relationship. I love the friendships I've made over our 14 years in ministry. From the relationships we made in seminary, to each place God has called us to serve, the relationships he gives us are priceless. Some are given to us for a short while, some to invest in, some invest in US, and some give us accountability. I love knowing that there is always someone in my life that God has given to me to spur me on to a better me. I'm thankful for those that love me for me, and do not breathe false assumptions about who they think I am over me, but they have taken the time to understand me and love me, challenge me and pray for me.
We say sometimes that we are lonely in ministry, and yes, that is true, but not from lack of relationships in our life.
Another filling of my heart is knowing that others walk hand in hand with me.

5) Ministry is about investing. Jeff and I are always grateful for those special ones that God gives us more opportunity to invest in their lives. We wish we could invest in everyone in a one on one basis, but I'd clearly need another brain to manage that. Rather, we've had the honor to disciple some in their faith, be a part of God calling them to a specific life of ministry, traveling on mission trips outside of our community, and to daily be a part of leading a church to invest in lives around them. Really, what more could we ask for. I am personally grateful for the lives of women in which I get to invest. Seeing them changed is amazing to me!

These are just a few things that God has specifically spoken to me about over the past year. I am constantly on a path to understanding the calling God has on my life, and being called to be a Pastor's wife is something that I will learn more about for the rest of my life. For me, being married to Jeff, the man, not the pastor, is the greatest gift of my life. The fact that God has chosen him to shepherd people is a bonus. Jeff teaches me everyday that ministry is always about others, and to never waiver from the mission that no one ever die without the life-changing message of Christ. We are called to live that our with a fervor and a passion. We are called, all of us, to make sure that we love THAT ministry above all others!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chance #2 to win!!!

Here's a second chance I came across to win the HP, so I'm blogging about it AGAIN! Hey, friends, whatever it takes! You know, I've done some thinking since that last post a few minutes ago...I would even consider giving my computer here at home to someone that needs it if I won. I think being a missionary kid makes me not be able to win things and feel good about it. I have to pay it forward, and pay it forward I would! So, check out the contest at Kelly's Korner, too, and I really hope that someone I know wins. I love a good celebration!

What does HP stand for?

Why, it stands for the best computer ever, and you can win one here. I have to share this, cause that's just the kind of person I am! Not really! I'm posting it here, on MY blog, so that I can get another entry to win it for myself! I suppose, with it being the Christmas season and all, that I hope you win and I will be happy for you. I will. Really, I will! So, check out the details and get busy entering! 'Tis the season to be Jolly, aka., trying to win every giveaway on the block! :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

We Love our Ministry Family

This past Tuesday Jeff and I hosted our annual Ministry Family Dinner Party. Truly...and you may deem me corny for this...but it's my biggest JOY at Christmas time. I plan months ahead for this day. I generally know my menu for the evening in October, and my table setting is something I dream about all year long. I love the little touches that make them feel special. I pray that the food goes off without a hitch. (I way underestimated one year at a previous church and it was a total embarrassment that haunts me to this day!). So, this year, despite the fact that we are way overly busy people, we finally managed to coordinate our schedules. I never sent out a formal invite because of the back and forth planning, and that will haunt me, I'm sure (cause I'm anal like that!), but the night couldn't have been more special! And lest you think we were civilized about it because it's called a "Dinner Party," take a look at our pictures and you'll discover that we only get together to laugh and be ourselves, and some of us found ourselves to be a little silly this particular night! We are very grateful for our Ministry Family. We are definitely all unique and bring our own gifts to the table, and that table might look a little whacky, a little shy, have leaders, have followers...but, we all love each other and realize when we spend time together like we did, that it's way to0 infrequent, but way FUN when we have it!

Our Tree

Brian and Barbie George
He's our Pastor of Administration

Allan and Debbie Smith
He's our Pastor of Families

Tim and Lynn Lyda
He's our Pastor of Discipleship

Jeff and Amy (It's US! ;) )
Jeff is Lead Pastor

Larry Lawson -this is where it got less civilized :)
He's our Worship Pastor (I'm sure you figured that out, though)

Larry had our friends, Matt and Heather come bearing gifts as
Santa and Mrs. Claus! So much fun, y'all!


The Pastor's Wives
My picture of all of the Pastors did not take, so just imagine them looking very "Teamly" together!

Merry Christmas, everyone! We are so very blessed to serve at LifeSong with a great team of Pastors
and their wives!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Thankful Tree

Last year our family made a big cut out tree and put it on our refrigerator and each day we wrote a new thing for which we were thankful and added it to our tree. This year, we didn't put the tree up, but each day I've found myself thinking of that tree - which was just made of scrapbook paper and tape - and mentally placing my Thankful leaves on that tree. These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for right now. Be forewarned! If your looking for something deep to read, stop now! It doesn't take much for me to get excited over, aka., "thankful" over. Also, these are not in any particular order, except for the first three!

1. My relationship with God. It's in a sweeter place than it's been in months. Don't be fooled to think that I'm living on a mountaintop all the time, but my heart is fuller, and I see Him more as my best friend everyday.

2. Jeff. My best friend on earth. My most trustworthy friend. Lover. My laughter. My heart. (We'll be celebrating our 15th anniversary soon).

3. McKenna, Bailey, Avery and Quinn. 4 girls that light up my world!

4. LifeSong - not just a name of a church, but a representation of GOD's church. Today I'm especially grateful for a church that is meeting a need to feed the hungry in our community by giving away free Thanksgiving meals to ANYONE in need in our area.

5. Cold weather and sweaters. This is my favorite time of year.

6. Christmas lights. Christmas trees. Egg nog. Peppermint Mochas.

7. My house.

8. My extended family

9. Friendships from all over the world.

10. My past. No story here. I'm really thankful to have grown up overseas and how it has made me who I am. I wasn't always thankful for this.

11. Sleep. The older I get, the more thankful I am for a full night's rest! Can I get an AMEN?!!

12. Thankful to be able to add to this list as I look around me and see that there is more to be thankful for when I take time to notice and to listen.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Fortune Cookie

Last night, I veered away from my menu plan for dinner. I just wasn't in the mood to cook, mostly because my fingers were frozen from how cold I was yesterday! Wednesdays are typically very busy days for us because our afternoons are jammed pack full of going back and forth in the car taking our girls to things they have on their schedules. Usually I cook, but last night felt like Chinese food to me. All I could dream about was Egg Drop Soup. I proclaimed the night "Take Out Night" (because, really, everything is more justifiable with a cute name attached to it!) and I dialed my local Chinese take out place and ordered our meal. I dropped Bailey off at her art class and went to claim my food and headed back home.

The meal was as yummy as I hoped it would be and the soup warmed me right up. I had a quick bowl of it and then had to head back out to get Bailey from her art class before I could finish the rest of my meal. I picked her up, came back and fixed my plate and Bailey's plate, and settled in for a night of TV watching. Bailey finished her meal up pretty quickly so she could retrieve her fortune cookie before anyone else snatched it up. Little did I know, I'd be snatching her fortune from the cookie to write a blog about it the next day. I mean, really, who writes blogs about their fortune cookies? People who are desperate for an idea or people that find a deeper meaning in a, usually insignificant, piece of paper. Well, I fall into the latter category. I read a "fortune" that caused me to have one of those "A-Ha" moments and tied a lot of what God has been showing me lately all together! Here's what it said...

"Take no risks with your reputation"

"Well, hummmm...what does that mean?" I really had just never thought about it that way and how I might be doing that in my life, but it kind of tied things together for me in being an extension of the Bible study I've been doing by Jennifer Rothschild, "Me, Myself and Lies." I sometimes have felt that my life has pretty much represented someone with a split personality! I spent the first half of my life being very quiet, brutally shy and very much willing to do anything for anyone - otherwise known as a "yes" person! The second half of my life, so far, has had small resemblance of that person, but has (is) become a person that no longer can/will say "yes" just because it's popular. You see, I've lived the lie of caring way too much about what people think of me. A lot of that has stemmed from the calling on my life to be the wife of a pastor. I began that journey as a "be yourself" person, but over the last few years, have become a "be what they say you're supposed to be" person. You see, part of that occurred, in large part, to just believing the lies that Satan throws at me, but some of it has come from people themselves saying, "why must you be so brutally honest?" There have been attacks for doing what God has wanted me to do because most of my life He's asked me to do the unpopular thing, by human standards. That's the one part of my life that has somewhat stayed consistent, even in all of the changes I've encountered in my personality "change." Even in my darkest hour, I have always wanted to go where God sends me, do what He says, and be what He wants me to be...until I started caring way too much about what people thought of me. God has had to bring me to a place that I had better start caring way too much about what He thinks and sees in me.
He's called me to be me. He's called you to be you. We spend a lot of time becoming like someone else because we think what they do is way cooler than what we do, or we don't like ourselves and would rather focus on being like someone else, or we believe the lies that people say about us (or we've convinced ourselves they MUST be saying about us). When we do this, I've come to see that we cheapen God's power in our lives. I mean, He created us. He has a work to do in us, but we must let Him.

There are always going to be challenges to becoming what God wants us to be. Our worst enemy is often ourselves. We don't gain victory because we let ourselves become bogged down with believing lies. Here's a great measure, and one you've heard before. Measure it all by God's word. A lot of people talk and run their mouth off about what their "opinions" are. They think they know it all about everyone and everything. We believe a whole lot of what we hear and perceive. What does God's word say about it? I know the times it's gotten back to me what people have said, or concluded about who they think I am, it's hurt me, but the worst part is that I believed it must be true because someone said it, so it must be true. Friend, what does God say over your life? Who does he say you are? Are you risking your reputation by believing that you are who PEOPLE say you are, or are you risking it on who God says you are. Either road is not without trial. You'll be miserable all your life for pleasing others, or you will probably be unpopular for standing up for God's truth. Which risk would you rather take? I want to be an encourager to all people. Can I just say that I fail miserably at that. Being in the spotlight a lot, people haven't hesitated to let me know I fail, but I'm a human being that fails. I say things I shouldn't say, or do things I shouldn't do. I can live in that failure, or I can risk it to let Jesus live through me by showing others I can be vulnerable and say I screw up, or I can risk my reputation by saying, "I know what you're saying about me, or who you assume I am, so I'm going to fall down in a hole now and die because I'll never amount to anything because you said it, so it must be true!" How's that for a long, drawn out soap opera mentality! Hey, let's risk our reputations on what God says is true. If you are squelching out someone's life by the ugly words you say about them, or you are passing along things to others that someone said about another, stop and think about what you are doing. Don't cause someone to lose victory because they care too much about what you think of them. Start today to be victory-givers in the lives of everyone you touch. Faulty assumptions in life suck the breath right out of us. They kill. Walk in truth today and risk your reputation on who Christ is calling YOU to be...and only YOU to be.

OK, I've got to go eat a fortune cookie for tomorrow's blog! ;)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Menus...better late than never

Monday - Popovers
Caesar Salad
White Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Tuesday - Chicken Marsala
Fettuccine Alfredo
Key Lime Cake

Wednesday - Roast w/ Potatoes
Broccoli Casserole

Thursday - You're on Your Own Night!

Friday - Marinated Grilled Chicken
Green Beans
Baked Potatoes

Saturday - Taco Night

Sunday - Shrimp Chowder

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Love to Cook!

Truth is, I am one of those women that LOVES to cook. Unfortunately, I have let LIFE get in the way of what I love to do here lately, so I'm returning to my love...MENU PLANNING!! Back in the day when the girls were all home, I cooked a full spread meal every night, and up until recently, that was still true, even I could get only three days of meals in, but NOW, I have failed miserably. I need to menu plan! I LOVE to menu plan, and for the two friends that recently requested I menu plan again, here's to you, Bonnie F. and Celeste! I'm starting with Sunday because, well...I made a meal that just cannot be left out yesterday!

Sunday - Bacon Cheeseburger Soup (recipe is in the new holiday edition of Paula Deen Magazine)

Monday - Barbecue Boston Butt
Sweet Potato Fries
Green Beans

Tuesday - Tortilla Soup with Chips

Weds. - Crock Pot Spaghetti

Thursday - Potato Soup

Friday - Cheeseburgers and Fries

Saturday - Marinated Grilled Chicken
Baked Potatoes and Salad

Sunday - Out for lunch

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Traditionally, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I've never really taken the time to publicly thank the Pastor in my life for being my Pastor, because, well, most of the time, I think of my Pastor as my husband...because HE IS!!

Just yesterday, I sat and talked with my husband, also Pastor, about what God speaks to him and how God walks with Jeff through each day. You see, I have this perception of Jeff that he always has his act together - that he never really needs encouraging or uplifting. It's not that I don't do these things, even, but I probably don't go FULL OUT when it comes to doing those things because he is always so confident. The truth is, though, that he needs to be encouraged, thanked, and prayed for as much as the next person.

Let me tell you what I have a front seat row to everyday being married to my Pastor. He begins his day a little earlier everyday just so he and I can spend time praying together for one another, for our girls, and for you, LifeSong Church. He starts his day off as a husband by telling me each day that he thinks I'm beautiful (and for someone who does not see themselves this way, you have no idea how special those last words are to me everyday) and then he carries on to his next priority by taking our girls to school, and guess what the last thing is he says to our girls...Yep, he tells them they are beautiful! I know this because my daughters have told me how much that means to them. He then moves on to his office at LifeSong, but you can pretty much count on him not being content on staying in the office all day because he likes to hang out with people. I know this because #1, I know that he first spends time in that office of his praying his heart out for the people God has put in our life, and #2, I watched him cry last night as he spoke of nothing tearing his heart out more than seeing people come to know Christ. He lives each day with an urgency to see that NO ONE die without Christ. I am sure that even I don't understand the intensity that he feels about this, but know this to be true...HE CARES FOR YOU!

God gave Jeff a vision for LifeSong Church probably even in the first place he ever pastored. He would spend most days walking around praying in the cemetery beside the church, and it was there that it became apparent and URGENT that he do all he can to see that everyone hears the message that "Jesus Loves YOU", and "love your neighbor as yourself." He faced a lot of growing up at that church, and even the one that followed, but never have I seen him allow trial and hardship to deter him from that passion to see men and women saved. It's never been a time that neither he, nor I, look back on with regret because God has to use things in our lives to make us stronger and more ready to face the challenge and joy of planting a new work in LifeSong Church.

I know that for our family that God has allowed us to meet so many people in our ministry that often Jeff and I find ourselves so lacking in the time that we fully get to spend with everyone, but let me assure you that you will never find a more loving, compassionate, more SOLD OUT cheerleader than your Pastor, and I get to be along for a great ride of enjoying all of the same! We love you dearly. We love you for allowing us to grow up and learn with you, make mistakes right in front of you, and see God carry out a vision by allowing a man named Jeff Hickman to be used for Him in some small way.

Finally, I am very thankful for the four other men of God that compile a team of Pastors that, from my perspective, make my husband an even better man, so, for Larry, I am thankful to see in you a friend that holds Jeff accountable and loves him deeply...for Brian, I'm thankful that you are detailed enough to be the "nuts and bolts" guy that Jeff so fondly calls you (and depends on to keep him straight!) and for being a heart that is willing to do whatever it takes...for Allan, I'm thankful that you love Jeff with the love of a brother and the dedication of a friend...for Tim, I'm thankful for you being the Pastor's Pastor! You are like the Daddy that encourages his son to give it his all, and you make Jeff want to be a better man and father. For each of you men, I celebrate you today.

So, Pastor Jeff, I am MORE than appreciative for you in this, the month of celebrating Pastors! I am completely in AWE of you and your heart for me, our girls and for others, but my Love, it is the heart you have for JESUS that slays me the most. Today you are loved and today you are prayed for...that you may, each day, become more and more a "man after God's own heart."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cheeks Hurt

You ever been so happy, and smile so much, that your cheeks hurt? I love that feeling when you just have happiness all around you that you can't help but smile all of the time. Sometimes you may not even physically smile on the outside, but you are overflowing with joy on the inside. I tell ya...I have so felt that way lately. The crazy thing is, I wouldn't necessarily say I've felt happy 24/7. There's been bad moods to deal with (mine, not anyone else's!), sickness in the house, lots to do, and a whole lot of spiritual warfare all around. I've been reading a great book (which I'll write more about later on) that has just already transformed some thinking patterns I've held on to, that well, I'm just sick of holding on to. If you've read my blog lately (which I know millions of you are! Ha!) you know that I have spent a long while just stewing over everything. I've been BITTER! I had absolutely NO reason to stay bitter, but I decided I liked it there, so there I stayed. So dumb, really! No one else was miserable but me. It was time to make a change. It was time to say, "Hey, God, this whole control I've been trying to steal from YOU...YOU take it back! I don't want it!" I don't always succeed at that, but God is showing me that when I decide that He's in control, there's a whole lot less worry, and a whole lot more happiness and joy. As a result, there's a sweeter time in my home, in my friendships and most of all in my relationship with Christ. He's showing me things and putting people in my life that have completely encouraged and transformed me. The last few weeks, I have laughed more and learned more in a long time, and how amazing to be able to do that even in the midst of stuff that isn't always where I find the most joy. I'm so glad that God is in the details of life. He knows just what we need and when we need it. Even in the bad or the good, He's never left, but we've sooooo left Him to take control of our own life. I'm thankful today that He's showing me that today matters. What we do with today could be the difference in the legacy we leave behind. I don't know about you, but I'm stopping today to realize I'm blessed beyond words. There's no room in my life for feeling sorry for self, making my own agenda, complaining, griping, accusing, being lazy. There's only time to laugh so hard that my cheeks hurt!

Right after I posted this, I read this quote... "Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self..." CS Lewis

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Couch Time

In an attempt to spend time with my husband tonight, we're having "couch time." You may have heard of it. You take time to sit and focus on spending time together talking to each other, about each other's interests or enjoying just being! Tonight, couch time will last about three hours, while we watch THIS........

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Challenge

To all of my girlfriends... Here's a great challenge for you to take part in, and no, it's not to make you lose weight, but I guess it could relate back to that somehow...not sure how, but somehow! ;)
I'm excited to do this, but I think this is somewhat easy for me to want to do because my husband makes it VERY easy to love him and encourage him. I fail so much at being consistent to demonstrate that to him though, and I always want to be teachable, so I'm excited to participate in this 30 Day challenge. Make sure you read how to sign up and then hop to it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

During the next month or so, we are fasting at LifeSong every Wednesday. We are doing this because we are wanting to remove ourselves out of the way as we look to make some big decisions in the life of our church. We are fasting to hear from just plain and simple hear from Him. We are not asking for the details about our decisions, but we are joining our hearts in one accord as He speaks to us individually, so that we may contribute corporately. It may mean fasting from food, or fasting from things that take your attention and distract you. I won't share in which way I've participated, but I want to share just what God showed me this past Wednesday.

I woke up in a cold sweat on Wednesday morning. I had such an unsettling dream - the kind that just sticks with you all day. It proved one thing to me. I had better start praying right then! I have been in such a season of discontentment and loneliness lately. To me, I felt it was just the discontentment and loneliness of the human sort, but deep down I knew that wasn't true. It was completely a spiritual thing for me. I was discontent in my relationship with God, and you can imagine where that led me...right to the arms of loneliness! I found myself not even longing for God. I could go days without even thinking about Him. I just didn't care. I never kept myself away from surrounding myself with the things of God. I went to services every Sunday. I planned things for Women's ministry. I even went on a mission trip. It all left me unfulfilled. I guess the mission trip probably was really the straw that broke the camel's back. We were in Las Vegas. I've been numerous times before. I noticed the same things there as before, but this time, it drove straight to my heart. All I could see was what my life must look like on the inside.
Everything looked like one big big mess. That's exactly how I felt on the inside. I was miserable.

In many ways, I would rather live in Vegas. It is more like what I'm used to. I grew up in places that were melting pots of people. They didn't live there all their lives. Everybody didn't know everybody, thus everybody didn't know everything about everybody. Sometimes living in a small town, for me, has proved to be the biggest challenge of my life. It was pretty much what was going on in my life at the time. All I associated with small town living was low expectations, no one takes initiative to have relationships and to show someone you really loved them was like speaking a foreign language. This was just so different for me. Growing up overseas, when God changed people, He gave them a joy that was amazing. They couldn't stop smiling. All I was seeing here was hurt. People act like they have it bad, but had no clue how good they really had it. They succumbed to the demon of busyness, and think that's how it's supposed to be. I was becoming just like my surroundings. I don't blame my surroundings, but I was definitely taking on that character because I thought that was how you are supposed to be. All it has been doing to me is making me sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This all leads to what God showed me on Wednesday. I have sooooooo been controlled by fear. It's been that way most of my life. Even in the comfort of being reminded of how I grew up as we traveled to Vegas, I was confronted with it. I am so scared to fail. I'm so scared to let people down. I'm scared to be set a part from the crowd because I'm different. Fear has just been controlling me. I kept myself in situations that never challenged me to overcome it...from my relationships, to my weight, to me wanting to try a new career and not doing it. I had created a cocoon of fear for my life. I was so miserable. God spoke to me on Wednesday to make a change. It's crazy how I sooooo have to go rock bottom and be hurt, be lonely, be the one to hurt and be the one to cause lonliess, before I realize how desperately I need God. I have sensed God speaking to me for the past three weeks now. You have to understand...up to that point, I had not heard a word from Him in a very long time. I had the right mask on. You may not have even known. I wasn't hearing Him utter a word at all to me, though! Suddenly I began to hear Him challenge me to really pray for our upcoming Ladies' Night (This Night) at LifeSong. I almost knew before getting there that He was going to do something good. He did. You can read about it here. Little did I know that Wednesday He would bring me to my knees and be desperate.

Am I over my fear? No! Am I allowing myself to be controlled by it? No way! I realized that I was trying to create situations within my friendships, in church, and my home that would be what I thought I had to have to be happy. It's not what God has called me to do. I have realized that He is totally not calling me to be what you, or anyone else, thinks I should be. He calls me to be what HE wants me to be. Sometimes the road to that isn't so bad, but most of the time it's hard. If it's hard for me, you most likely have witnessed it as I go through it. I won't be silent when things aren't going well. If I can't use my inconsistencies, trials, hard traveled roads to show how God is my Deliverer, then I might has well shut it down. God has not called us to share the easy. He's called us to be real. I don't want to live today and not be the most real that I can be. It risks being talked about. It risks being hurt. It risks being a failure, but it is so worth the risk to me. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." I love that He challenges us to not be in the box. He challenges us to live each day, realizing we have got more blessings than we can count, and when we realize this, we need to LIVE it and stop waiting on someone else to do it for us. We have to live each day and do what He has called us to do...not what He's called our neighbor to do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Little Sweet for Your Sweet Tooth

This is a picture of my table last night for This Night, a ladies' night we have at our church. I was inspired by this and this catalog. Our theme of the night was "This Night...A Night of Restoration." I think this has restoration about it, don't you?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Week of School

So far, the first week of school has been a hit. I would love to show you pictures of my 6th, 4th and 2nd grader...if only my camera wasn't BROKEN! Ugh! I am so heartbroken. I just got that camera about four months ago, and KAPUT! It is just as blank of a screen as a screen can be. I cannot function without my camera, so hopefully I'll find a solution soon! ;)

Anyway, back to school starting. We are in love with all of the girls' teachers. God just seemed to fit them each with someone that they are great with, and we look forward to seeing where this year takes us. So far, not a lot of homework, but I am pretty sure the tone on that will change next week.

Quinn and I have been hanging out together and making up for a lot of cuddle time lost during the summer, because "little one" had to go off and follow BIG sissies everywhere they went. Now, we are using this week to watch a LOT of Dora together, having breakfast with my girlfriends, getting a sitter for Quinn so MOMMY can have breakfast with girlfriends, and of course, SHOPPING! ;) I am loving catching up on my time with her. It makes me a much nicer Mommy with the BIG girls come home everyday. I'm just sayin'! Now, if only we can get this week to stretch out all the way to MAY!

I'm hoping to resume my Monday Menu Planning on Monday. I miss my routine. I have really missed blogging. I don't have a large following, but I'm thankful for this blog world that indulges me to write out my feelings, document my days and just have a journal of our lives to look back on.

Hope your school year has started off to a bang. How have you indulged yourself this week? What are you doing to get back on track?

Right now, I'm off to cuddle with a sweet two and a half year old that is calling for "MaaaaaaaMaaaaaa!" Oooooh, I LOVE THAT!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shoes, or Barefoot?

I have a love for shoes! Now, I'm not one of those people that has a gazillion shoes, but I do have a passion to find a shoe that is different, but must be at a great price! I have recently bought two pairs of shoes for $7 a piece. One pair I've had my eye on all summer, and the other was just one of those "I did not go to buy a pair of shoes today, but how can I pass these up" kind of moments. I could NOT pass up the fact that they had been $70, and I got them for $7...well, really $6.99, but you get the idea. I LOVE these shoes, but the thing is, I cannot walk in them for very long. They hurt my feet, and they are a heel, so being a person that doesn't really wear heels very often (I'm 5'10", so heels are just making the fact I'm already taller than everyone a bigger fact!), they are a lot to get used to. I love them, though, so I'm willing to endure the pain...for a little while. The same is really true for my other pair of new shoes, too. They hurt my feet at first. They are a different shoe, though...a flat. They are beautiful, though! They are shiny red and a statement maker! I love them.

It's funny to me, though, how both pairs of shoes pretty much sum up my life the last few months though. They both are characterized by pain! One pair is much more painful than the other, and the second pair is only slightly painful. Both cause me pain pretty much because I choose to let them. I don't mind it at first, but then I get sick of it and I'm ready to find something that hurts a lot less, which for me, will always mean going barefoot! As much as I adore a cute shoe, you will never find me roaming around my house wearing a shoe at all! I simply can't stand to wear them! I invariably get tired of anything that binds me, causes me pain, or makes me feel that I'm suffocating.

Same, once again, for my life right now. What a season it's been for me. One that has been characterized by pain of MY choosing. Sounds so sadistic, huh? I mean, who would really choose pain? Sometimes we do because it's a safety net for us. As much as we want out of the pain, we stay right there because we almost become accustomed to it. To do what it takes to get rid of it sometimes scares us more than just living with it. We walk around thinking that all the things that have caused us pain in our lives are just how it's supposed to be, and even when something better and more freeing comes along (you know, a cute pair of shoes), we still think that things are going to go sour. Ugh! Get's kind of YUCK to live like that. We become someone we know we are not, all for the sake of keeping up appearances, our masks on, or just because we're scared.

Fact is, God has called us to walk in freedom. WALK! He's equipped us to be just who it is He wants us to be by fitting us with the proper shoes...ones that don't necessarily hurt all the time, but just might in order for us to become more like Him. And then there's that time when He says, "Kick off your shoes and run barefoot!" And yet, sometimes that even hurts, but it is still freedom!

This is just where I've found myself this summer. I've allowed circumstances, people and my own fears to dictate to me what each of those things "think" I'm supposed to be. I've lived most everyday in a shadow of gloom and doom, anticipating something bad coming around the corner, all the while missing out on the very freedom God has for me. It's a cycle for that takes me a different route every time, but one that always leads me right back to the same answer! I need to put on the proper shoes everyday and just WALK with Him. I don't always make the right choices, much like when I choose a real shoe. Sometimes I pick pain and sometimes I pick that shoe that I could wear all day long, and maybe even run in! All I know is that you can never stop choosing to do it! You can't give up.

I may find myself needing to blog about this again one day. I may not know just what to do today, but I know that He gave me this day and to sit around and do nothing won't get me anywhere. Today, I am choosing to walk in the way of my Father. It's taken me a lot of months and a lot of people making me feel like I'm nothing...and most of all, I've made myself feel like a nobody. I'm thankful that today I can step out in whatever shoe I choose and know that I'm stepping out with Him!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's Random. That's What It Is!

I just pretty much don't have a lot to write about these days. It's not like we're bored around here or anything, but we just seem to pretty much sum up our days by playing, cleaning, eating ice cream, playing some more, and cleaning some more...lots of time in the sun....lots of time with people we love. It has pretty much been what summer should be.

I (Amy) did take on a new venture. I began as a consultant for Southern Living at Home. I really have always loved their products and business, and after some time, decided it was TIME for me to have a little outlet of my own. I told the girls it was a job, but really, it doesn't feel like one. It's a whole lotta fun, with a cherry on top! I love interacting with people, so I think the party aspect of SLAH is going to be my favorite. So, if you are ever interested in having a party, I will come...I will travel to you (well, you know...within reason ! :0) ). It will be fun for all!

We are gearing up at LifeSong for a huge...and I DO MEAN HUGE...fireworks show for our community to celebrate the 4th. We actually have it on the 3rd just so it is more available to people that may have other plans on the 4th. We checked today and there is no other fireworks show like this until you get to Charlotte, so if you are in the area, come by. We will start gathering on the lawn (bring your lawn chair) around 8pm. There will be concessions, music, fellowship (my favorite part!) and fireworks are promised! A company comes from Charleston and last year was AWESOME! It's FREE!

The girls are doing great! They are little tanned things, soaking up every ray of sun they can! Hopefully, I can nab some new pictures of them soon...if they would stay inside long enough for me to get some.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Take a Little Break , Why Don't Ya?

I'm literally taking a break on our vacation break and checking in on the blog world. Seems I'm having a little issue with sunburn, so I'm staying indoors for a bit. I am sure all ten of my readers already know where I am, but I thought I'd drop in and say "Hey, Y'all" anyway.
I'm enjoying our time on vacation immensely. I always find it's a good medicine for me as I go back to reality and try and remember what it's like
to chill out at home, too. Here's a peek into our time away...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Let's all let out a collective happy sigh.....Vacation is on the horizon. It's time! I could not have waited a second longer, really. Once you know you're going, it can't get here fast enough. No matter what time of year, vacations should be mandatory. It is a great source of refueling for us and we come back feeling refreshed and ready to go tackle whatever. I always grew up taking the best vacations. No matter how busy our lives were, my parents could travel! They always made the time to take us to some neat places. I've been to Disney, the beach(es), almost every State in the Western US, and many, many more places. Now, Jeff and I want to take the girls to places that they will remember always and spend time with them, making memories. Cheesy, huh? It's true, though. We have always had the most fun on our trips, and even though we come back a little worn out, there's still that feeling of completely feeling relaxed and ready to go when we come home. So, I can't wait to come back and share lots of pics of our time away. We're doing the beach thing this year. It's where we love the most! So, here's to tans, walks on the beach, eating out and much, much more!

Here's some pics of June so far....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lazy Days of May Heading into June

It can no longer be said...well, not much longer anyway...that these are lazy days because school is letting out soon and I'm "skeered." I normally have a very well-planned out time for my girls. Mind you, my planning is not for their cultural well-being. There are no trips to museums, latin lessons, or gourmet cooking classes to attend. There is however, usually, every opportunity for a "kid to be a kid." Along the way, they are cultured, and being bilingual myself, I might speak to them in Spanish, just so they feel like I'm smart, and that they have been enlightened. We, instead, take trips to whomever will loan us a pool, eat Mexican food (hello, opportunity to speak Spanish) and we grill out (no gourmet, but my girls do love to help their Mama in the kitchen...errr, outdoor kitchen). So, I'm taking the approach of bring it on SUMMER! Show us whatcha got! We're ready to be thrilled, surprised and just plain carefree!

OK, OK, this may last a full week for me. I am, after all, a gal who loves a plan!

So, here we go, taking the leap to summer. We do have plans to go on vacation here, grill every meal outdoors that we possibly can, visit the grandparents (hello, grandparents, get our rooms ready!), go to church here, and whatever else may surprise us. Until then, here's a little glimpse of what May has been like for us.Duh, of course you know this!
McKenna finished Soccer up
I had a makeover party with some girlfriends. :-)I'm the only one you get to see be a guinea pig...well, at least in public anyway! ;)the end result of the hair color changeA little plantingThis is a permanent site at our home during the summerQuinn is fascinated by the caterpillarLymanfestThis is just cute!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Me With You Winner!

I completely did not want the responsibility of choosing a winner to fall on me, so I pleaded with my author cousin, Kristy, to read all of your comments and choose a winner. Apparently, indecisiveness runs in our family, because she couldn't choose a winner either, so in good 'ole school random fashion, she opted for the draw a name out method. I will post what she had to say about each of your comments and you'll see at the end how she made her selection. Very creative, if I do say so! Here's what Kristy had to say....

I absolutely couldn't pick a winner. Each time I thought, "Oh, yes, this one" and then I'd read the next one and be hooked again.

I wanted to pick Vanessa because of the many, many memories I have of homemade strawberry ice cream with my Papa.

I wanted to pick Autumn because I think it's adorable that she called her grandpa Grandkad, and it reminds me of our cousin Allen calling our grandma Nannoo and then that is what all the cousins ended up calling her too.

I wanted to pick Lynna because of the loving sacrifice she made in caring for a grandmother whose mind has gone and because when she reads ME WITH YOU she may see herself more as the adult in the story.

I wanted to pick Tricia because
I too remember running my fingers over the veins in my Nannoo's and Grandma's hands. Why did we find those veins so interesting? :)

And I wanted to pick Donna because she honed in on what I think is so true about grandparents: "She knew how to make everything in life special." I know the time I spent with my grandparents was like that, and I think it's one of the key themes in ME WITH YOU.

I wanted to pick "The Pettigrew's" because their story reminded me, once again, of my own Nannoo. She was loved by so many and a stranger to no one. Her name lived on because of the love so many had for her.

So, all that to say, I couldn't pick and I just wrote all the names down on a piece of paper, folded them all up, threw them all up in the air, and when they landed on the floor, the dog picked up one of them and brought it to me,


So, congratulations, TRICIA! Another reason I (Amy) just could choose a winner is that all of you are such sweet friends to me that I want you ALL to win, which leads me to say, "Tricia, you so deserve this! I can see you now reading to Ashley, Nathan and Daniel." I wish I could send a copy of this book to all of you, but I do hope you will make this book your favorite gift to give, favorite story to read to your children and lasting memory to hold on your bookshelf!
Tricia, I'll get your copy in the mail to you soon! :)

Friday, May 15, 2009


Comments are now CLOSED for this post...Stay tuned for a winner by tomorrow, the 20th!

Update...You have until 8am Tuesday morning to post your comment. All comments should go through without having to be moderated by me, so no more worries that your comment won't get posted. I will disable comments 8am Tuesday morning and reveal a winner by Weds., the 20th....Happy Posting!

OK, I'm trying my hand at this again. I have lots of cute gifts up my sleeve, so if we have some good success at this giveaway, it might just be a frequent thing around here at The Hickman Happenings!

So, have you heard, Me With You by Kristy Dempsey is in stores now? What, you say? You did not know! Then you must not be reading my blog! I just happen to know the author. She's my cousin! We even sort of look alike! We smile the same, have a bold deep belly laugh and spent
many a day cavorting around know, back in the day! We have shared so many memories in our lives, from me wanting to be just like her growing up (she was a gymnast, and well...I just wanted to be one) to her coming to Venezuela to live with us the year we welcomed my little sister, Katie, into our lives, to later having Kristy be a part of my special day - my wedding. She and I have a relationship that, irregardless of the fact she currently lives in Brazil, when we talk, FACEBOOK, or actually see each other from time to time, we just catch right up where we left off...usually, that means laughing our tails off. So, you see, relationship is important stuff to us, and it just so happens to be the subject of Me With You. What began as a love letter to her husband, took the shape of a children's book that embraces the relationship of a grandparent with a grandchild. Some of our (Kristy and my) memories are shared together primarily because of the relationship all of us grandkids had with our Nanoo. It was at her home that we played, bonded, made memories. So, this book, you see, is really just the right thing to do! I'm so happy Kris envisioned this, and even more happy that here we are once again making memories together. I get the honor of promoting and bragging on her!

So, if you haven't viewed the trailer (make sure you pause my playlist), watch it's the following post. Once you view it, come back and tell me the most significant memory you share with your grandparent, or the person that impacted your life like a grandparent would. We'll pick the one we like the best and you will receive a signed (did I mention I KNOW the author?) copy of Me With You. You will also receive an all expense paid vacation to Brazil to meet the author! NOT REALLY! Got your attention, though, right? Nope, you can meet the author if you live in my area on August 11th at LifeSong Church. She will join us for a community wide book signing, along with craft time. It's the perfect BACK to SCHOOL event for all of your kids!

So, hop to it! Let's hear those stories about your grandparents! Tell your friends, and have them tell their friends about this giveaway. This will be a book that you will treasure for the rest of your life!