Friday, February 27, 2009

Pay it Forward!!!

My sister, Missy, posted an idea taken from one of her friends on her blog yesterday, and I am ALL for this way of thinking and action, so here's what's going to happen. For the first three people that comment on my blog, you'll be receiving a SURPRISE gift from me! No hints as to what you'll be getting, but you'll be getting something special with hopes that you, too, will pay it forward.
At our church, we are taking this step in a big, corporate way at the end of March. We'll be giving each family that comes to church services that day an amount of money to go and pay it forward in their community. For families within LifeSong that are in need, we'll be paying it forward to them, if they so desire. It's a day set aside to push you along in the right direction. I have found that when I returned back to the States from college, the society I took for granted - you know, the one that thought of others more than themselves...the one that would spontaneously give to their neighbor without hesitation - had pretty much changed. It had become more of ME first and YOU second! Sorry, people, but that's not me. I have always taken for granted blessing others in the way that I just thought everyone did it. Well, we don't all do it, and what better time to start like the present?!

So, comment here, but BEFORE doing so, you must write a post, linking me, on your blog, showing that you, too, are paying it forward. We want to keep this going. It's not a's blessing others in unique and love-filled ways. So, who's with me? Start paying it forward! Don't forget to leave your comment for a special prize from me!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of the Lent season. It is the challenge for us to give up - personally sacrifice - self in order to focus on our relationship with God, our God Himself, and to confess those sins that bind us from walking in freedom with God. It is an intentional preparation for 40 days for the believer leading up to Easter. For the most part of my upbringing, Lent was just never really recognized. No one really focused on it in the Baptist church. It may have been mentioned, but no challenge to fast and pray was really ever given.

Today, I find myself very challenged to focus these next 40 days on prayer. It all seems like what God has already been doing in my life to challenge me to live expectantly falls right in line with focusing on prayer. For me, prayer is one of the hardest things to do intentionally. I pray all throughout the day - while I clean, in the car driving, falling asleep at night, sending my kids off to school. The aspect of prayer I miss is the intentional focus on praying expectantly for a movement of God, a return to Him by the people, a daily sacrifice to follow Him.

For the last 10-15 days, I've been a part of a group on Facebook called "40 Days of Prayer for our Husbands". I have spent those days intentionally focusing on God filling up my husband, using him, guiding him as he leads our family, etc. It has been refreshing, to say the least, but more than that, it has been a front seat to watching God's power in my man's life.

Prayer changes things.

So, I know that if prayer is making a difference in this area of my life, how much more would it mean to have it overflow into every area. For me, personally sacrificing my time, my wants, my desires to do this quite literally stress me out. I get in these routines, and whether good or bad, there are a lot of bad routines I'm in that comfort know, it's my thing, it's what I do, it's just part of my day so I do it. I don't change it because, well, it's just what I do everyday, so why change anything up.

Let me pause here and say I'm getting very uncomfortable. Writing how you feel in your heart and knowing it's going to really lead somewhere is making me highly nervous!

I am not going to let this season of Lent pass me by. I know God is calling me to sacrifice my time - especially that big chunk that I waste everyday doing trivial things - and replace that time with Him. I have tears in my eyes at the prospect of it all...somewhat because of fear; somewhat because of the power it can bring; a lot because of how it will take me out of my comfort zone; a double lot because I know He's calling me to sacrifice, but really not knowing exactly how that will flesh itself out.

I read this today and I found myself saying, "Wow, how great for you." I was challenged, but not that challenged to do something personally, until I tried to move on to the next thing and found God saying, "What about you, Amy?" That's just it! What about me?

God has got me on the verge of a lot of neat stuff happening in my life. I see it being ten times greater bathed in the power of prayer - in the personal sacrifice. So, over the next 40 days, I pray that I will return here to tell you of the incredible things God has done in that time period. I'm still not sure what all of this means, but I do know that I have to turn some attention off of me and return it to Him. A year from now, I pray that this time of Lent will not be forgotten, but it will only increase my awareness of daily sacrificing my life for Him.

So, what do you do for Lent? Has God personally challenged you to sacrifice a specific thing over these 40 days, or a combination of things? Where do you find your heart as you prepare for celebrating the resurrection of our Lord?

Monday, February 23, 2009

On My Mind...

So yesterday I woke up and was like, "Life sure has been smooth lately." Oh my word, mistake number one! I should have known better than to think such a thing, because, most certainly, what happens? We usually eat those words with a big, fat spoon! I wouldn't necessarily say that I had to eat them in the worst of ways, but God sure did deal with my heart. I was feeling pretty prideful, I have to admit. I have kind of had the mindset that I am finally at a place that I want to be. I really don't care what anyone else does anymore. I feel pretty much at ease with all I have on my plate right now - no more of that feeling that I should be doing more because that is what everyone expects of me. I don't care about not being included on everything, which if you've read my blog long enough, I really struggle with feeling left out. I also have felt like I've finally been the wife and mom I had lost a while back. I was just feeling all nice and proud of myself. Well, that was until yesterday...

Jeff has been preaching messages the past few weeks on our Passions. The series has been great, and really, if I had to pick, last week's message was my favorite, but it was this week's message that got me shaking...well, jumping....out of my comfort zone. It was one of those times that before I went in the doors of our church yesterday that I was already feeling that God was trying to get my attention. He was calmly whispering to me, "Don't get comfortable." I didn't realize the full impact of the words until Jeff's message yesterday. He preached on the Passions of the Church. In a nutshell, it dealt with our expectations. For those of you who read this that may not know me personally, I am generally a person with high expectations. I can't stand being around people, even, that can't dream big, or see past their nice little boxes to live in comfortably. I am a dreamer. My dreams rarely disappoint either. I dreamed of a godly man to marry. God answered. I dreamed of being a mother. God SURE did answer (four girls!!). I dreamed of leading women to love their husbands, families, themselves, etc. God has answered time and time again. And THAT, right there, is where I feel him tugging to answer me again. It's time to up the ante. It's time to kick it up a notch. I have not lowered my expectations for this area of ministry, but they have just remained like this --------------------------- consistent. I do NOT want to be consistent here. I want to see women's lives changed and marriages/homes walk in victory. God has called me to do that. To talk about it here seems so serious, but really the journey is loaded with fun and fellowship. It is true, though, it is loaded with a lot of deep stuff, too. That is where the last part of Jeff's message comes in. We, the Church, should be a place of Healing. We need to be restoring lives, looking past the junk itself, to the possibility of deliverance. We need to stop talking about what people are doing, or NOT doing, and begin to wrap a arm around them and hold them up. I have these expectations, people, but I, like you, am content to remain stagnant and unmoving. Well, not today. Today I choose to live in the possibilities that this day, and the days after, will be mindblowing...lifechanging! I don't even like to be all serious here on my blog, but I will not remain shallow here, either. God deals with me all the time and I don't tell a soul, thus leaving God and me the only ones in the know. Well, now you know. Know you can extend a hand of accountability to me. Know you can pray for BIG things to happen in my life, as I pray happen in yours. God doesn't want us walking to the same Ho-hum drum. He wants us "jumping, leaping and praising Him." He wants us dancing the dance of our lives today! Which music are you going to choose?

Menu Plan Monday February 23-March 1

For more great ideas and links to other menus, check out The Organizing Junkie. Now, GO, get to planning!

Monday: Chicken Alfredo
Salad and Rolls

Tuesday: Cooking for my LifeGroup
Mardi Gras Dinner
Red Beans and Rice
Salad and Cornbread

Wednesday - Date Night!!!

Thursday - Barbecue Chicken
Corn on Cob
Oven Fries
Green Beans

Friday - Taco Bar Night

Saturday - Blue Cheese Burgers
Cole Slaw and Fries

Sunday - Chicken and Dumplings
Lima Beans over Rice
Chocolate Pecan Pie

Friday, February 20, 2009

Am I the Only One Disturbed by This?

(The Interactive Jesus Doll)

AND, to top it off, it's sold at my local grocery store! I don't know, maybe it's just me...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Another Menu Plan Monday!!

Since I was sick last week, I'm using some menus from last week, but for the most part, I still had to cook last week and stuck to my original plan. Happy Planning!!

Monday - Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Tuesday -
Cheesy Lasagna
Salad and Bread

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner - Pancakes, Bacon, Fruit

Thursday -
Grilled Chicken
Steamed Broccoli with Cheese
Roasted Potatoes

Friday - Marriage Conference

Saturday - Date Night

Sunday - Ham and Cheese Cannelloni
Caesar Salad and Breadsticks
For more great ideas visit The Organizing Junkie for other menus. Take time to cook for your family this week!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Just to Prove I'm Not a Valentine's Scrooge...

I thought I'd post 14 things I love today, and random though they may be, it's what I love most at the present time...

1. I would be remiss if I didn't put my Jeffery Walton Hickman at the top of this list. He is the love of my life. I met him and it was as if the Lord said, "here's the answers to your prayers." The Lord has never once stopped telling me that!

2. I certainly love my four girls...McKenna for her servant's heart; Bailey for her social butterfly-ness; Avery for her quick and hard hugs while she takes a break from being sneaky; Quinn for calling "MaaaaaaMaaaaa" every morning when she awakes.

3. I love menu planning. Call me a nerd. I love making sure my family is well fed and loved on through a good dinner. I refuse to let the woman who cooks for her family die! ;)

4. I love Pandora radio...really, I just love music, and inside I'm a Diva singer!

5. I love where I attend church because it has teaches me everyday how to be the Church everywhere I go.

6. I love blogs...words have always been my love language, so reading other people's words and getting little glimpses into their world just really interests me.

7. I love all things, culture, language...and I like to share my experiences of growing up in that culture with anyone who will listen. Once you have traveled the world it gives you a very unique perspective on a lot of things.

8. I love my country...because of #7, I cannot listen to our national anthem to this day without crying

9. Coffee is my love wakes one up, builds relationships, comforts...

10. I love friend, Lana, introduced me to their camis and other comfort clothes

11. No list would be complete if I didn't include never gets old to me.

12. I love having people over for dinner...breakfast, lunch, snacks. Showing people I love them by having them over is always fun for me.

13. I love reality TV...I am a sucker for it.

14. Because of my Father God, I have love at all. He completes every list!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cupid Ought To Hit You Everyday!

Yes, I'm a Valentine's Day Scrooge. I really don't see the point. I'll stop here and fess up, though, and say, "yes, I do LOVE Valentine's candy, and I most certainly expect a box of chocolates when the 14th of February arrives." I just really love candy!! I'm kinda under the notion that the holiday is a great time for couples who are dating. It's kind of like dating is already good training ground for when you get married and go on dates. It's just a day for you, you dating people, to pull out all the stops and tell the one you love you love her/him. My beef with it, though, when you are married is you kinda should've grown up by now and don't need the little extra nudge to show your mate how important they are. I hear you out there saying that you don't have time to date, that life is busy, that "she/he ought to know I love her/him by now." Pshaw! Pleeeeease!
If you have time to sit and watch two hours of American Idol, and really, let's take a sidebar here and say...if you really have time to watch two hours of American Idol and endure that horrendous laugh of Tatiana, you HAVE time to take your spouse out on a date. Really, that puts things in perspective, huh? Tatiana's laugh or time with your spouse? Ummmmm....
I must say, I do love this holiday for my kids. They are just so giddy with excitement over their V-day loot when they get home from school. They get so much they never seem to notice when all the Bottle Caps go missing!
My favorite Valentine memory is from back in High School. As Seniors we sold carnations for our class fundraiser. We loved trying to sell the most we could, but for the girls in my dorm (remember, I went to boarding school) we would have one of those unspoken contests to see who would get the most flowers. I didn't do too bad, really. Practically every square foot in my room was covered in flowers. Every girl's dream, really. The funny part of this to me, though, is that eventually they would die. Have you ever smelled a dead carnation? There is no other smell to compare it to! It was horrible...ghastly, really. It was always funny to me that the flowers brought so much happiness, and really, they stayed pretty so long, especially if you took good care of them, only to die a horrible, smelly death. Kind of a picture of any relationship, huh?
There are lots of things I love this time of year, though, but I love them all the time...not just on February 14th. I think the greatest gift you can give each other as a couple is time. That is fleshed out in so many ways. It may vary for you, but Jeff and I can never say enough about taking time to date one another. It is so important. It is great to have time to talk to each other without interruption from the kids, and we try to not answer our cell phones while we are out either. We have always made a commitment to date, but recently we've upped the ante to stick to this date night no matter what. There are times we have to change, like this week for instance with me being sick, but on those times, we date after the kids go to bed. We may fix our living room up like we're at the movies and have popcorn or candy, or we may do a picnic on the floor and eat a late dinner. There are so many options to choose from that will give you quality time. I can go through the week knowing that I was important enough to Jeff that he chose to take me out and spend time with me. That doesn't let you ladies off the hook though. I plan many a date, too. Your man needs to know that he is special enough to you, too, that you want to spend time with him. I stay home and have no source of income, but Jeff and I have budgeted together for me to be able to plan things like this, too. Sometimes it's stressful finding something to do, but I never come home saying I wish we hadn't gone! So, I jest about Valentine's Day, but I really do want to encourage you to make everyday a Love Day. I mean, after all, didn't Forrest say it best, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know which one you're gonna get." It's kind of like what everyday can bring to our marriages if we let it. And really, who doesn't like chocolates?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Quinn's Birthday Re-cap

Finally finding some strength to post pictures of Quinn's birthday. It has been a rough few days around here. I'm still fighting with this flu and generally about to lose my mind. My sweet husband didn't know the church member he'd be ministering to this week was me! I am incredibly thankful that on any given day, we (the girls and me) are his priority, but I'm especially grateful that that rang true this week. He has taken such good care of me, and Quinn, too, as she's had a horrible cold. He has the best work ethic of anyone I know, so in case it ever came into question (ha!), he works circles around me here at home, but he also manages to continue to find the time to invest in others, work on his sermon prep and all the other stuff he does everyday. I get dizzy just watching him! Anyway, I've said thanks a million times, but it's hard for the Mama to be sick, but Jeff has definitely been the Mama and the Daddy this week and never missed a beat!
Anyway, on to the birthday stuff. Quinn had a family party the day before her birthday and friends her age came over a couple of days after her birthday. She just thought we were eating lots and lots of cake! :) I'll post more as I get them. She got a new tricycle that she has been dying to ride more, but since she's been sick, too, we'll try to catch her doing that on a better day!

Aunt Missy spent Quinn's whole birthday weekend with us...Meme did, too, but I don't think I got her in a single picture! How'd that happen??!

I made Chocolate Chip poundcake when my family came over (along with Shrimp and Grits!), so Quinn enjoyed blowing out candles on that cake!
Oh, yeah, she enjoyed eating it, too!

No one has to tell a girl how to open a present!
One of her favorite presents..."Elmo Potty Time" She tries to tear her clothes off and run for the potty every time she watches this!
Opening presents with her friends on her birthday playdate (don't know why this is the only good picture I took)
I made these cupcakes for her playdate...hearts since her due date was really on Valentine's Day...she's still a little Valentine baby to us!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Take an Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

Yet, sometimes taking an aspirin doesn't do the trick. Well, technically, they never do the trick for me...they upset my stomach! I do, however, wish they had done the trick this time, though, because for the past four days, I've had the flu...only I didn't know until yesterday that I had the flu. I had been sick on Sunday, but I felt A-OK on Monday, and I even had a party with Quinn's little friends for her birthday. Yes, I did this not knowing I had something to give each and ever person that walked through my door! I feel horrible about that, but I never would've had people over if I thought I was really sick. I didn't even have a fever, for Pete's sake! Anyway, there are a lot of other things I would rather be doing today than sitting around blogging about having the flu!
I don't know about you, but when I'm sick, I watch entirely too much TV, and in the case of this flu, I've eaten entirely too much! Another thing I do entirely too much of is THINK! My word, what you can ponder while you are down and out in the bed is, at times funny (especially after I've taken my meds), depressing, life-altering, or just plain BORING! I have asked myself some tough questions and some dumb questions. I have thought a lot about where God has brought me from and where He's taken me, too.
I recently was faced going through something difficult in my life. I don't always know how to walk tough roads with people I love. Sometimes, God leads you to make tough decisions in regards to people you love that hurt some and are the healing agent for others. It's the tough love part I struggle with. And yet, when I read God's word, it is filled with that same kind of tough love. The times we see that He allows us to go through things that we think we cannot any longer bear, but He allows us to walk that road because He's promised us that we won't have to bear more than we can handle. It's times when we think we know the plan for our life, but He shows us another plan for our life that is meant to "prosper us and not to harm us." Even when our flesh makes decisions to harm us, God still has a plan that will NOT harm us! Life-breathing, isn't it? So, even as I sit here typing this seeing myself in the situations, it is still so difficult to breathe the words of life to people in my life that God has allowed me to be friends with, or invest in. God asks us to be real, though, and even in the times we are being real, others have to be at a place to accept it. I have been on the saying and receiving ends of this. I don't know which is harder. We say we want accountability, but do we? Do we only want it when we are going through happy stuff, or can we take it when we are going through the hard stuff, too? It's hard when I've had friends come to me that I have asked to hold me accountable and when they have to say the tough stuff to me in my darkest hour, well...I want to claw their eyeballs out. Being on the end of saying the tough stuff to someone in their darkest hour makes me sick and makes my heartache, even knowing it is for "the building up of the brethren." It has cost me relationships, but that doesn't make me want to stop loving people as God would. The reason I say that is because, at one time, it did make me not say what God would have me say. I would say that which would make them feel good at that time, never taking into account what needed to be said for the long term. I find that even being willing to "go there" God still uses down the road, too, because He words are the life-giving, heart-healing, path-altering words of life.
Yeah, well, maybe it's my meds that have me thinking all deep today, but maybe not. I read something today that one of my friends wrote. It went like this..."Some days are for wrapping up in a warm blanket like a cocoon and letting God minister to your soul, mind, and body." That is what today is for me, and what my hope is for people that God has called me to befriend, to influence, to invest in. It's never gonna be me that makes a difference and ministers to someones soul. It has to be God! Today I can bemoan the fact that I'm laid up here in bed and feel sorry for myself, or I can allow God to penetrate my heart and minister to me today. Maybe you are reading this today and thinking, "what does God have to offer me to minister to me at all?" He has Life! The Life He has given me is the life where everyday is like walking outside your door on the first day of Spring and just really BREATHING. It's everything...even in the darkest time or the roughest day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, 9th - Quesadillas
Salad/Chips and Salsa

Tuesday, 10th - Pizza for girls...LifeGroup for Mom and Dad

Wednesday, 11th - Beef Stew over Rice

Thursday, 12th - Potato Soup

Friday, 13th - Bailey's having a party!

Saturday, 14th - Filet Medallions with Mushroom Sauce
Fettucine Alfredo with Broccoli

Sunday, 15th - Vegetable Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Check out
the Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas!

A Two Year Old

Today I officially have a two year old. Oh, I have had a two year old before, but today is different. My BABY has turned two - the baby that pretty much came along as a surprise and changed my whole world. She lit up my life in such a sad time I was going through...that our whole family was going through. When we found out she was coming, we chose to just celebrate life...all of it...the good and the bad. She has lived true to that theme, too. Never a time will you NOT see a smile on her face. She laughs constantly, talks All of the time, and gives hugs and kisses like nobody else could.
It makes me sad today that she turns two, because we feel she is our last baby, unless God answers our prayer to adopt one day. It's as though, with her, I look at her firsts as also the last time I'll ever go through that, and boy have I loved every second of it. But, the whole "turning two" part is sad because she wants SO badly to grow up and her Mama wants So badly to keep her a baby.

Today, we celebrate Quinn Olivia's birthday. She helps us celebrate life everyday and today we get to throw a little extra special love back her way. We love you, Quinn. Our prayer continues to be, first and foremost, that you will know and accept Jesus at a young age, and that He would use us as instruments in your life to bring that about. We pray for happiness and good health, as well as lots and lots more laughter. So today, you little lovey, we say "Happy Birthday" and "We love you so very much!"

Friday, February 6, 2009

National Fondue Day

Yesterday was National Fondue Day...yes, it was! My Paula Deen calendar informed me of it, and it was as though I read MANDATORY CELEBRATION, so that's just what we did. Jeff and I often go to The Melting Pot just for dessert, but here lately, we have made good use of that fondue pot my sister gave me years ago and we've done some Fondue Nights with the girls. They love it, too. We had the best time last night trying strawberries, bananas, angel food cake, pretzels and vanilla wafers in yummy chocolate.
See for yourself.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Blogging Slump

I'm in a complete blogging slump. All day long I think of things to share with you, my little blogger friends, but then I get to the computer and I'm like, "what was it I was going to share?" It's either a slump, or I'm old. Can you guess which excuse I'm going with?

Life has been plenty eventful around here. It really has, but when I lie my head down on the pillow each night, I have no clue what I did during the day, thus, my blogging slump. I know that each day I get up, brew some coffee, make lunches for lunchboxes and then I do my Wii Fit. Oh, the bonus this week is, for the first time in my entire life, I've joined the gym. I've enjoyed it so far. Yesterday I couldn't move...literally. I was hurting in my legs and feet so bad that I contemplated crawling everywhere. For the most part, though, I like going. The one thing I really struggle with is not getting distracted by the fact that yesterday, for example, was every skinny girl in my town day! Really, they were all skinny, and I, who in all actuality wore rather tight pants proudly yesterday, found myself suddenly re-thinking my decision. A girl can dream, right, but then again, a girl can be delusional, too! I fear I fell into the latter category. I mean, why did they come if they are that skinny? It baffled me. I'm not quite at the "let it give you hope that you, too, can look like that" stage yet. I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and roll right off that treadmill, but I had tight pants on, and somehow the sight of my rear end up in the air scared me more...needless to say what it would've done to the patrons at my gym.

So, let's move to another note...a happier note. I've been watching a LOT of TV lately, and if you let your mind dwell on that, you'll find yourself right back at the previous paragraph and my need to GO to the gym. I can't help myself. It was, after all, The Biggest Loser, that inspired me to join the gym (and to buy the tight pants), but I love American Idol, The Bachelor (don't tell my mom) and LOST. I simple do NOT blink when LOST is on. I cannot miss anything. If you never watched it from the beginning, I highly doubt you find it as rivoting as I do, but I tell is amazing television! I enjoy my nights in front of the TV, though. Jeff and I just chill out and enjoy that time together after the girls go to bed, and while I know he could do without the TV, he indulges my interests.

I have also been doing a lot of catching up with friends lately. It's amazing how many people I have found on Facebook that I grew up with, or met along the way. I am going to write a whole separate post about Facebook one day, or better yet, I may even write a book about it. It is a whole other world, I tell ya! But, if you don't want everyone all "up in your business," Facebook is not your thing. I love it, though, and because of it, I have been able to correspond with my college roomies a lot lately. My roommate met me for lunch last week and I finally got to give her...ahem...14 month old her baby gift! I know...tacky of me! We had a great time, though, and our next outing is to get together with our whole suite. I'm expecting a lot of laughter and reliving "the good old days." We had so much fun!

We've got big plans this weekend. Our baby girl turns 2! I cannot believe it. Time is flying. I will write more about that later, though.

Hey, well lookie there! I wrote a blog. If you stuck it out to the end, you ARE a true friend. If you did, pass it along to 10 other people and you'll receive blessings by the end of the day if you do it before 5:48pm. I know...don't you just hate those things? Naw...just relish in the fact that you might have been one of the few to make it to the end, and if you really read it all, maybe, just maybe you'll tune in again!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday February 2-February 8

Monday - Mini Cheeseburgers
Tater Tots

Tuesday - LifeGroup

Wednesday - Chili

Thursday - White Wine Chicken
Steamed mixed veggies
Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate Fondue for dessert (National Chocolate Fondue Day!)

Friday - Birthday dinner with my family to celebrate Quinn's birthday
Shrimp and Grits
Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
Birthday cake

Saturday - Quinn's Birthday!!!!
Make Your Own Pizza Night

Sunday - Baked Spaghetti
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

For more great ideas check out The Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday. Would love to hear what you are making for your family this week, so make a comment!