because i promised

I recently got a message from a friend who reminded me that I hadn’t posted on the blog in a while.

That same day I had submitted my written testimony as part of a job application to a Mission organization that I really would love to work for.  In the process of writing the testimony, I handed it to my pastor to see if he had any edits or suggestions.

He handed it back to me and to my utter shock said this

“Don’t change a word. Oh, and I want you to read this during my sermon this Sunday”

Can you spell shock?  or how about flabbergasted? that’s a good one.

So I did it.  I read it in church.  My husband says it went over really well.  I wouldn’t know.  The whole experience is somewhat of a blank to me.  Something about the dark room and that spotlight just erased my brain I think.  Anyway, here is the written version.

Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing…..
As a Christian child, I loved the Jesus of Sunday school and songs, but my faith had no depth, so my adult choices resulted in two failed marriages. At my lowest point I was living in a sinful situation, with no repentance or desire for God.  I thought God was all about “no” and rules.  Eventually my wrong thinking took me somewhere I had never planned to go.  Friends and family alike were fed up with my continuing disasters.  My life was a mess, and it was my fault.

I was alone.

God then poured out His mercy on me through one friend – Barbara.  She made it clear that she deplored my choices, but Barbara also made it clear and that she, and God, loved me. And she set out to prove it.  After unsuccessfully inviting me to church many times, Barbara decided to kidnap me.  Every Sunday she got her family up early, drove to my home, rousted me out of bed, and took me to church.  My unwilling ears heard truth at that church.

Sometimes I would come home from work, expecting a silent, lonely house and I would find instead a home full of Barbara’s family.  The kids were happy to see me, dinner was on the stove and I had a family to eat it with.  We would read, talk, and fellowship.  My hardened heart saw love made tangible.

Because of Barbara’s deliberate ministry to me I began to want to know God.  I finally read the Bible, and found out about a God beyond Sunday school songs.  A God that wants an intimate relationship with me.  That still blesses me with fresh meaning every day.

My life still has highs and lows, but every day I learn more ways to praise my redeemer.  These days my husband and I host a Bible study in our home, I write devotionals, volunteer in our church, and I’m currently learning the inductive method of Bible study.  Martin works for our church and we have a beautiful daughter through the blessing of adoption.  My Lord has bound my wandering heart to Him through more goodness, blessings and merciful moments than I can count.  Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing.  Here, I raise my Ebenezer indeed.

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enough

okay, enough dwelling on the lost job thing.  I’m done with that.  My new reality is the job hunt, and my joy in life right now is being with my family in this gorgeous fall weather.

We have taken in a few fall festivals, county fairs, local parks and of course spent plenty of time in our own back yard with our neighbors.  Here are a few photos of Ginny enjoying this concentrated family time.

picking tomatoes

cherry tomatoes, right off the vine, make a yummy snack

 

a better view of the garden.  We will do a bigger one next year….

papas garden

the tomato vine that took over the world

That arbor is for a cherry tomato plant that went insane in terms of growth.  It was growing up over our hedges, so Martin created an arbor. Every time we walk under it, Ginny gets to pick any red tomatoes and eat them right then and there.

 

fun with camera angles

Mama & Ginny looking up at Papa

 

at the little gym

Papa, Ginny & Mama-Altie at the Little Gym

coolest girl in school

you wanted something?

ponie rides

Ginny's first ever pony ride

bunny!

okay, I know it LOOKS bad, but honestly Ginny was NOT strangling the bunny.

pumpkins

the Pumpkin Patch at the Family Tree Nursery Fall Festival was in the sun, so we went inside to find a place where we could get a good pic without making Ginny squint into the sunlight

Many people would say that we are now poor, but I look at these photos and can’t help but be aware of just how wealthy I am in the things that matter.  We do indeed have

Enough.

God said it…..

… I just wish I had listened better…

One of the things we bought for Ginny for Christmas was a full DVD set of the Cedarmont Kids albums.  For any of you who are unfamiliar with this group, give yourself a treat, go get them.  Even if you don’t have kids.  Just suspend your adult-ness for a day or two.

These DVDs are packed with loads of songs that Ginny loves to dance to and “sing” along with.  She is getting active play and being indoctrinated at the same time.  All the videos are subtitled with the lyrics so she will eventually be getting reading skills too.    And it’s not just classic stuff that I remember from my childhood.  You know the ones..

“I am a C.   I am a CH.  I am a CHRISTIAN”  and “This little light of mine” and “Climb, climb up sunshine mountain” and “Do Lord, oh Do Lord, Do remember me”  and “Jesus loves me”

Those are all in there, but included are some songs that I had never heard before.  Songs that might have made a difference in my life if I had ever heard them AND managed to believe them.  Like this one, called “Every promise in the book is mine”

Every promise in the Book is mine!
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on His Word divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!

Pretty straightforward, eh?

I love this song.  I mean I sang about being a “son of Abraham” but I never really grasped that that meant that through Christ’s sacrifice and the fulfillment of that covenant, I personally partake of EVERY promise in the Bible.

And it is such a wonderful tune that I find myself singing it all day long.  Which is very good for me.  The soundtrack that runs in your head all day needs to be an affirming one.

Yes, the soundtrack in your head.

Don’t even try to tell me that you don’t have one.  It is there.  You may only consciously hear it when all else is quiet, but you do have one.  Mine tends to be very repetitive.  I get stuck in a groove all day.  Sort of like how you feel after coming out the “small world” ride at Disney.  That stupid song stays stuck in your head for HOURS.  If conversation around you lags or you have a moment of quiet…it floats back up to the forefront of your brain and you find yourself humming along…..it’s a small world after all….its a small world after all…AARRRGGH !   That’s what I mean when I say the soundtrack in your head.  So it behooves me to fill my mind and heart with good songs.  Songs that point me to God.  Otherwise I can spend all day (inadvertently) contemplating utter drivel. And who wants that?

Or this one …

Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the Heaven above;
Deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Savior’s love.
I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care;
For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere.

I sang “Deep and Wide” enthusiastically as a child, but here again this song (which has a haunting melody by the way) addresses some of my deepest concerns.  My feelings of insecurity and shakey self worth are directly addressed by these lyrics.

And then there is this one.  This is priceless.  And what it is doing in my heart as an adult is absolutely staggering.

God said it, I believe it
That’s all that faith demands
Though heav’n and earth shall pass away
His word will stand.

I have to wonder, did it take hearing these lyrics as an adult for them to sink in?  Would I have never really understood the lyrics if had known them as a child?  It occurs to me that one of my favorite Sunday school songs as a kid has some pretty good depth to it…….

Like a tree
Like a tree
I’m like a green olive tree
in the house
in the house
of the LORD, hallelujah
I will trust
in the mercy of God
forever I will trust
in the mercy of God

This song is engraved in my mind.  And yet, I didn’t trust in God’s mercy. It never reached my heart, my blood stream.  It never became part of me.

I’ve sung this song around many a campfire and yet I’ve spent decades of my life either trying to personally make up for my sins (which isn’t possible) or feeling completely unforgivable and therefore licensed to sink into depravity.   Also a bad choice, by the way.

It is only in the last few years that I am starting to come to grips with the truth that God really does love me.  Personally.  And that I really am forgiven.  Really.  Yes, even for that.  and yup, that one too.  And oh yes, THAT one. (no, I’m not going to enumerate my sins for the world to view.  They are between me and Christ.  He washed them away and no longer remembers them)

Maybe that’s why these songs are having deep meanings for me now.

Now, they are real.

I, though so unworthy, still I’m a child of his care, for His word teaches me that His love reaches me EVERYWHERE.

Blessed reality.

valentines day just came early

ah spring!

Young love!

the adrenaline rush!

the anxiety!

the rainy day trip to the bookstore…..what?

what does a rainy day trip to the bookstore have to do with love?

Well what would you say if I told you my wonderful man got up at 7:00 a.m. this morning, on his day off, dressed our toddler girl up, complete with bow I might add, and drove an hour and a half across town, in the rain to stand in line to go to a book signing.  A book signing of an author who means a lot to us both, but really more to me.  Mostly ’cause I’m the slightly hysterical female here.

Does that sound like love to you?

it does to me.

Did I mention that he did all this and sent me updates while I was stuck at work?  Things like.  “Ginny fed, dressed and adorable. leaving house now” and “arrived in parking lot. all is well”  and “in line. 30 women. one other man”

and then came the text that said that not only had he met the author, she was very gracious and sweet….even though Ginny cried almost through the whole thing.  Oh, and he says that when he mentioned my blog name she stopped in her tracks….and said she knew who I was.  um…….Wow. Can that feeling be gift wrapped?

As far as I’m concerned I need to bring HIM flowers for Valentines.  First he bought me my dream fridge a couple of years ago for Valentines, and he always hand delivers flowers to my work.  I thought it couldn’t get any better, but today. …the love he showed me in entering into this enthusiasm so completely with me…..Lord you are too good to me.

Oh….did I mention that he PROUDLY wore a pink feather boa through the whole thing?  it’s a Siesta thang.

Proud Papa and Ginny in line

the line was a little too long for Ginny. She melted down right when they reached Beth

papa trying everything to calm Ginny down. singing, animal crackers....anything!

...sign the book to my wife, she's got a blog "screamofcontinuousness"...

"well I certainly do know who your wife is"

and then, as they said goodbye, Martin did something that he may never be forgiven (by other Siestas) for doing…

he. squished. Beth Moore's. hair.

fortunately it seems to have recovered immediately.

perhaps everything will be alright after all.

I promise that tomorrow I will go back to being a normal 40 year old with a toddler and a superlatively wonderful husband.  I’ll stop sounding like such a freakish fan-girl over Beth Moore.  I AM a fan, but I’m not a freak…..  But that’s tomorrow.  Right now I’m gonna go start reading the book that he went to so much trouble to get signed for me.

and count myself as one blessed woman.

thank you Beth, for being so sweet and gracious to a tired, flustered daddy and child.  You made my day…oh heck, you made my month.

and thank you Martin. for being so wonderful in the first place.

still grinning from ear to ear

I know I should be posting a recap of this past weekend.  Which was the culmination of a years worth of Scripture Memory Team work with encouragement from the Living Proof Ministries staff.

So here’s the short version –

I met Beth Moore.  I always thought that I would hug her, but she hugged me instead.  Does that make any sense?  It was as if she has always wanted to meet me instead of  the other way around.  Wow what a gift of hospitality God has granted her.

I stayed with a wonderful friend that (till last week) I had only known through blogging.  And our husbands are now best friends too.  Which is kinda freaking us both out.  As in “have we started the end of the world as we know it?”

The event was fantastic.  I got to meet Travis again.  I think it is going to be a once a year “date” for us.  I met him for the first time last year in January.

Last year

this year. (wow, my hair grew a lot in one year!)

We had an eventful time getting home to Atlanta.  Nothing like getting your child all set up and timed right to fall asleep on a 5 p.m. flight and then having the gate agents tell you “the flight has been delayed, please come back in two hours to check and see IF we are going to re-schedule”  IF ???? IF????

I met Beth Moore.  She knew me by my blog name.  She KNEW my blog name!  Give me a couple of years to get over that one okay?  I am STILL reeling from that.  Grinning from ear to ear actually.

Missy found the most amazing Cajun food any of us have ever eaten.  And that is saying quite a lot, ’cause my hubby loves cajun food.

But best of all, God granted me a temporary boost in memory.  Instead of saying the 14 verses that I was sure I would be able to. I recited ALL TWENTY FOUR.  Okay Missy did say I got one word wrong, but ya’ll that was not Me.  I didn’t cram, or try hard or anything.  I just let it go and God came rushing in.

And it was a rush.  It was even better than meeting Beth.  and Amanda.  and Travis.  In a way.

The reason you aren’t getting a real, insightful, spirit-filled re-cap is that I am just too tired.  All three of us came home with colds and/or ear infections.  So I am just plain pooped.

but hey, I got to meet Beth Moore.  Or have I mentioned that already?

Have a great week.

halloween, not according to plan

The original plan for Halloween this year was for us to go up to Knoxville for an award that was being given to a friend.  We wanted to be there to congratulate her and a lot of our friends up there haven’t seen Ginny ever and we’ve been wanting to catchup with folks.

That plan got derailed by the various successive illnesses in our collective household.  First my mom got sick, then Martin, then me, then my dad.  Energy levels are shot and we finally had to cancel our trip in the face of utter exhaustion.

Enter plan B.

Dress Ginny up, dress ourselves up, go energetically trick-or-treating round the neighborhood.

That got derailed by the weather.  Nasty ucky rainy weather.

Enter plan C.

Stay home.  Set the yard up to encourage trick-or-treaters to come to US. Stay home.  Dress up ourselves and the baby, greet loads of people energetically and with enthusiasm.

That got derailed by the aforementioned exhaustion factor.  And the rain kept all but two small groups of brave trick-or-treaters from our door.  Add to that – Ginny started running a fever on Friday night (just 99.2) so we didn’t bother to make her get dressed up.

We stayed home all weekend.  I didn’t leave the house from Friday night till Monday morning.  Our family came over and watched Corpse Bride.

So, you ask, was it a bad weekend?

no.

decidedly no.

It didn’t go according to plan, but it was a great weekend.

Why?

well let’s see.

  • Martin got a job this week and he started work on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Ginny’s fever was just enough to make her very very cuddly all weekend, so I spent almost the whole weekend with a sweet baby girl in my arms who just wanted to be loved on.  That was a huge treat.
  • It turns out that I DID lose five pounds last week.  Just from being sick.  I’m still mostly just eating crackers and water.  so maybe that will continue…..
  • Yes, okay, Georgia lost their football game, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
  • Texas moved up in the polls.  Which, while unfair to Alabama (how can you drop in the polls when you didn’t even play?) is still good for one of my favorite teams.  Actually I like all three of the top three right now, so it is hard to have a bad football weekend.
  • The Saints won’t beat my Falcons up til tonight, so that doesn’t count as part of the weekend.
  • Ginny is only drinking from a cup now.  We went cold turkey off her bottle and she adjusted beautifully.  She is a little short on fluids at the moment, but she is catching up nicely.
  • (selfish pleasure alert) I had the best costume at work on Friday. Not according to some contest, but my admittedly subjective opinion.
  • I just got to register for an event in Houston January 2010 that I’ve been looking forward to since January 2009.

I’ve got some really cute photos of Ginny in our church pumpkin patch from last week that I need to post.

Basically it was a good weekend spent a home in the comfort of family and simple treasures.  What were your blessings this weekend?

well hail did freeze over…

Okay. This weekend went better than I expected on a number of fronts.

First off I took out that wretched pony tail while I was still at work on Friday.  I went to the bathroom armed with a hairbrush and an iron determination that I would come out of there with hair that looked at least marginally decent and was comfortable.

okay, now don’t freak out.  I rinsed my head in the sink and re-stlyed it right there in the bathroom.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Short hair does have it’s occasional benefits.

So, that took care of my headache and I set out for the airport in a much more cheerful frame of mind.

which was a good thing.  Because the airlines were not my friend this weekend.

We got through security just fine.  I really think we are starting to get a handle on this whole “getting us and baby and baby’s stuff through security” gig.  No problem there.

We got on the plane.

the plane sat at the gate.

and sat.

and sat.

confession time.  I had deliberately timed Ginny’s feedings so that she would want a bottle during take off.  Which is one of the best ways I know of to keep a baby’s ears/eustacean tubes comfortable during such a rapid change in altitude.  But the plane is just sitting.  And Ginny was getting past hungry and into angry.  I finally gave up and decided that we’d better go ahead and feed her.

good choice as it turns out.

FORTY FIVE MINUTES LATER the mechanics finally signed off on whatever it was they were doing and we could leave the gate.

Have I mentioned that we timed our flight so that we would arrive in Denver one hour before Martin’s mother?  Have I also mentioned we had concerns about Mama Altie’s safety if she were to find herself alone in the airport.  We HAD to get to that gate.

yup. so the “paperwork issues” have eaten up 45 minutes of our safety margin.  Ya’ll we HAVE to get to Mama Altie’s gate before she has a chance to wander off on her own.

I prayed.

then we hit rough weather.

I prayed some more.

Apparently I prayed too hard.

When we landed in Denver we rushed over to Mama Altie’s gate….only to hear that her flight from Dallas had not even left the ground yet.  (by the way, just TRY rushing through any airport these days with a stroller.  it’s an adventure)

Weather and mechanical difficulties in Dallas.

alrighty then.

We now have a tired, hungry baby. A tired, but compliant mommy, and a frustrated Martin.

I won’t bore you with the catalogue of our loooong evening in the Denver airport, but let’s just say that we still had many more hours to go before we had finally collected everyone and everything and gotten in the car on the way to the cabin.  All in all we spent 12 hours on Friday in the airport.

I am so glad I took the pony tail down.  It may have saved lives.

The rest of the weekend went pretty much as planned.

oh.

Except for the TWO INCHES OF HAIL. In Boulder, CO. in June.  On the way to the airport.  Which delayed our leaving Denver and resulted in us landing back in Atlanta at 1:30 a.m.

but, hey we met the Life University Rugby Team on the plane.

and Ginny slept beautifully for most of both the flight out and the flight back.

And I won something from AllKidsFurniture! An outdoor table for Ginny to play at from Missy over at It’sAlmostNaptime.

So basically life is good and I’m glad to be home.