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I'm tinkering with some design things today, so please excuse any craziness. :)

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Remarkable Faith: Funeral

Continuing on with the Remarkable Faith series over at Giving up on Perfect, today's topic is a funeral that has been significant in your life. As soon as I saw this topic I was reminded of a post I wrote last August when my Uncle Cordell passed away. Although the post is not specifically written about the funeral, I would like to repost it because it was a time of enlightenment and growing in my faith. My dad actually read an excerpt of this post when he spoke at my uncle's funeral, which meant so much to me. The funeral served as a confirmation of the things I felt when I wrote the post below, as well as a chance to meet a handful of the people my uncle touched with his life.

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I’m writing with a very heavy heart today.

I just found out that my great uncle, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for some months now, was taken to the hospital.  At the time I’m writing we’re not sure if he will be leaving.

After spending some time in prayer and seeking God through His Word, I have looked at some verses in a new light, and thought I would share.

First, let me tell you about my Uncle Cordell.  He has been a great uncle.  He has been the kind of uncle who never ceased to put a smile on my face, and joy in my heart.  He and my Aunt Wilma (his wife) are truly blessings to be around.  They carry warmth and comfort with them wherever they are, and I believe this is the “fragrance of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) on them.  If my Uncle Cordell knew I was writing this, he would not want you to feel sorry for him, he actually wouldn’t want any attention on him at all.  He was slow to tell anyone of his disease for this very reason, and feel sorry for him you should not.  He is a hard worker who, despite his illness, saw to it that work that needed to be done was tended to.  It runs in the family, my grandfather is the same way.  They are quite the pair of brothers, my Uncle Cordell and Pops, very much alike in the joy they bring and their hard work ethic.  I’m hoping that the same work ethic is instilled deep within me as well, it might just take a little searching to find it.

Aunt Wilma and Uncle Cordell at my college graduation/birthday party, May 2007

Uncle Cordell holding Jayden, 4th of July, 2008

It’s hard to see someone you love suffer with the symptoms of cancer.  One of the times I felt it most was a few months ago when Dipal, the boys, and I met up with my Uncle Cordell and Aunt Wilma along with my Pops, Dad, brother, and sister at some of our family’s property in Tennessee.  There was a lingering sense of sadness that everyone tried to look past as the news of the cancer was still somewhat new.  When it came time to say our goodbyes my Uncle Cordell reached out his hand to shake mine.  In my moment of ignorance I lightheartedly said, “I don’t want a handshake, I want a hug.”  After all, that is typically how we would say goodbye in our family, but Uncle Cordell immediately informed me that while he was on chemo he was instructed to keep his distance from others and their germs, but he reassured me “next time.”  

This was the last time I saw Uncle Cordell.

As I was fingering through the pages of my Bible this afternoon, I was led to 1 Corinthians 15: 35-49, which captured my attention because of the subtitle “A Glorious Body.”  Specifically, verses 43 – 44 shone a glimmer of hope (talking of the body).

43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

No matter how dishonoring my uncle's natural body may have been to him through this disease, his spirit will be raised in glory.  No matter how weak this disease makes my uncle’s natural body, his spirit will be raised in power.

Thank you, Jesus.

As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” It goes on to say in verse 4 “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Laughed we have with Uncle Cordell, but now is a season of weeping and mourning the loss of someone we loved very much.  But we have assurance that one day we will be reunited with him in a place of joy.

And I can’t wait to get my hug when I see him there.

*I started to write this yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon after hearing the initial news of my uncle.  Late last night I received a call from my dad informing me that my uncle had passed away, and I completed the post this morning.  Please keep my family in your prayers, specifically my Aunt Wilma, my grandfather, and his sisters and family.

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If you haven't already, please take some time to check out others sharing their stories at Giving up on Perfect today.


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Anyone up for some March Madness?

With my sweet little man at the Sweet 16 last year.

So, with less than 24 hours left until round one begins of the men's NCAA tourney I'm getting a little crazy, "mad" if you will. I've decided to set up a Hope in the Daily Grind group on ESPN's tournament challenge and would love for you guys to join me! My husband and I always fill out brackets and my husband usually even leads a group of friends in the challenge, which led me to the thought it would be fun to do a friendly bloggy competition. Here's the catch - you have less than 24 hours to fill in your bracket! No brackets will be accepted (according to ESPN rules) past Noon EST tomorrow (Thursday, March 17).

Although last minute, I'm going to try to find a fun gift or two for the winner as the tournament won't end until April 4th. {On that note, if you have an Etsy shop or business you would like to promote by offering a gift for our winner, please let me know ASAP.} Once I know what those gifts are I'll let you guys know.

Now on to the fun...

{Depending on how long it takes you to fill in your bracket this whole process could take less than 5 minutes.}

Click here {http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/en/group?groupID=174462} and either make a free ESPN account or enter in your account name and password if you already happen to have one.

Once you have created your account you should return to the Hope in the Daily Grind group screen with a red button offering you to "Create and Join". Click that button.

You should see your name as a link on a row highlighted in yellow. Click your name and an empty bracket will open up. To select who you think will win each game simply click on the team.

To finish you will need to type in what you think the score will be of the national championship game. Then click "Submit".

You are allowed up to 10 entries per ESPN rules. Use it as an opportunity to have your kids or hubby join in on the fun. You can name each entry as you choose by hitting "Edit Entry Settings".

If you have any other questions feel free to email me at Hopeinthedailygrind at gmail dot com.

Looking forward to some fun!
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Macaroni and Marriage


It was right after feelings were hurt and sharp words were said. I wiped my tears with the sleeve of my college sweatshirt as I put the last of the dishes away only to make room for more. I placed the pot of water on the stove to boil like the anger that was inside me. Did we really just have that argument? Did I really just say that? Did he mean that like I thought he did? I can't believe we just went there.

I pulled out the blue box of noodles and powdered cheese, added the pasta to the boiling water and turned the temperature down on the stove and in my gut to avoid overflowing. I checked on the once frozen nuggets in the oven that were halfway cooked and I remembered how far we've come since we started.

Just three and a half short years ago we were in a one bedroom apartment, newly married, preparing for our first child, and all I knew how to cook for dinner was frozen chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. It was a weekly affordable staple for our beginning family. Tonight it was an easy option for a late started dinner and a way out of spending too much time in the kitchen on a Sunday evening. It was a far cry from my husband's favorite made-by-me meat loaf or chicken tortilla soup that I've learned how to make over the years, and an even further far cry from the most mouth-watering pork chops I've ever eaten (and I'm not a big fan of pork chops) that our neighbors invited us over for the night before, yet a testament to the beginning and a memento of the origin of two as one.

As I stirred the macaroni and cheese into fruition nerves were calmed and explanations were given. Although feelings still tender, we gathered round the table as one family, praying for God's continued guidance and thanking Him for our blessings, eating our macaroni and nuggets, cleaning up messy fingers and cheesy mouths capable of the most heart-melting kisses on earth.

And afterwards we turned up the music and danced in the kitchen like crazies, and I remembered why I'm here, the promises I've made, and how they make me feel loved. The journey can be hard, but these treasures are worth fighting for.
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I Feel the Most Loved When... A Five Minute Friday Post

As someone who has always dealt with a lot of insecurities feeling loved has always been a lifeblood to me. As I thought about this topic, I realized that for me love speaks through actions and words of affirmation. My love language perhaps?


I feel the most loved when...

The sweet baby boys God has entrusted me with look me in the eyes and flash their big, beautiful smiles. They are breathtaking.

My husband shares my successes with all of his Facebook friends and seems so proud.

I mention to my mom the possibility of the boys and me riding with her and my family down to Tennessee and her response is "Are you kidding me?! We'll find a way to make it work."

When Jayden twirls my hair in his sweet fingers the way he has done since he was only months old.

When Jackson runs to wherever I am and throws his arms up in the air pleading "Hold you, hold you."

When I give Jayden a kiss and he says "So close!" just to get another one, and when he is satisfied proclaims "That's a yay!".

When my wiggle worm Jackson wants nothing more than to cuddle with his mommy after waking up from his nap.

When I feel loved all stress is relieved and forgotten.

Oh love, you warm and fuzzy feeling you. I love when you come around. :)





This post is linked up over at Five Minute Fridays hosted by sweet Lisa-Jo. Go take a peek at the other posts, but while you're there you should also take a look around the rest of Lisa-Jo's site. This post she wrote last week was one of my recent favorites. Those of you who are pregnant or who have ever been on a hospital tour will appreciate it. :)
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Remarkable Faith: Baptism

As I mentioned yesterday, Mary over at Giving up on Perfect is hosting a special series throughout Lent called Remarkable Faith. The topic for today is baptism. If you're visiting from Giving up on Perfect I want to say a huge thank you for stopping by! For everyone else {to whom I am also grateful :) }, feel free to jump on over to visit the rest of the Remarkable Faith posts.


My first baptism was when I was 8 years old. Yes, you read that right, my first. There was a special event at church for the kids and I walked down the aisle, said a prayer, and we planned a time for me to be baptized. I remember very little of it now except for a few details. What impacted me the most was how insignificantly it seemed to impact me from that point on.

As the years went on I wondered if there had ever really been a change in my heart. I worried that my walk up the aisle was more a following of others than a decision on my own part. I just couldn't fathom how at 8 years old I would have really known what I was praying about or committing to. This is not to say that it's impossible to be saved as a child, but personally, I doubted that my 8 year-old self really understood it all. After years of wondering and debating my torn heart was mended in July of 1999 when my 14 year-old self finally decided to do something about it. I prayed to God confessing my sins, repenting of those sins, and turning my life over into His control. And, yes, following the example of the Bible, I followed this decision with baptism {again}.

It was a life changing moment for me. I remember the tears streaming down my face - tears of joy - that I knew, that I knew, that I knew I was His. In fact, I still have a little notebook that I wrote in afterwards where I simply stated, "I'm happier, no more doubts in my mind." I even used the date from the event in my AOL/AIM screen name at the time. How's that for serious? ;)

Have I messed up since then? That would be a big, fat YES! I mean, uh, have you read my story? Have I doubted God since then? Unfortunately, the answer to that is yes too, and you can read some of that here. But the amazing bigger picture in this is that He has never doubted me. He has never let me fall from His hand. He knows the plans for my life {Jeremiah 29:11} and despite my mess-ups and doubts he continues to plant desires in my heart to serve Him.

What's equally as awesome is seeing His work in my family. Within the last year I witnessed my husband's baptism which was such a special moment. A subject I had literally been talking to him about for years, questioning why he hadn't already followed through with it, and trying my best not to be pushy about it. Holding my then 2 yr. old in my arms was priceless as we watched the leader of our home publicly "take the plunge" to show his faith in Christ. I'll never forget the worship time afterwards when my little one {who is usually in nursery during the service} raised his hands and tried to raise mine for me as well, as if he was saying "Mom, we have a lot to be praising for today."
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Giving up Perfect

** A perfect blog post would have a really moving picture that would be related to the topic here. I couldn't find one, and I'm working on being okay with that. :)

When driving home from Tennessee a few weeks ago a line came to my mind seemingly out of nowhere that said "Perfection is my enemy." Occasionally this line pops into my head, but usually it's because I've listened to Francesca Battistelli's 'Free to be Me'. This time it was random, although I'm sure inspired by the song I've heard so many times. So I pondered the line and thought for at least the hundredth time... That is so true for me.

I continued on with my day, picking up my husband from his almost week long trip, then arriving to our home in disarray from a combination of holidays and travels. We decided to get ourselves in gear and go to our church small group despite our long day. In fact, I had been hoping all day that we would be home in time to make it. As usual, it was a great night of being with friends and laughing, but more importantly, encouragement and enlightenment from being with this great group of people. Our discussion was about the importance of reading the Bible and why it can sometimes be so hard to stick with it. A few people threw out different reasons such as it being confusing or not fitting into the "normal" societal routine (all very true statements). Then I got the urge to throw out my own personal reasoning for not reading the Bible often enough - Perfection. You see, I have this perfect idea of how my morning should go: I'll wake up bright and early before the kids, exercise, take my shower, grab some coffee, then sit down with my Bible and soak in what God has for me in the calm and quiet.

I could count on one hand how many times my morning has really worked out that way.

As we were ending the discussion my husband shared a thought he had heard before as a challenge for everyone.  If we were going to try to add this habit as a permanent addition to our lifestyle, what were we going to give up? As our friend prayed and asked that question again I felt like I heard God so clearly and simply saying "Give up perfection."

Wow.  That was so huge for me.  And to feel like God had been preparing me all day for His message was so exciting!

How many times has my desire for perfection kept me from doing anything? It seems so backwards, but it truly happens to me all the time. If I can't do things the "perfect" way then what's the use in doing them at all? I feel overwhelmed by the tasks in front of me and decide to shut down rather than attempt.

As the Lenten season has been approaching I've been questioning whether or not I should try to participate, but I've wondered what would I give up that would really make a difference in my relationship with Christ. Then, it hit me as I worked on the draft of this very post that has been sitting on my computer for a few weeks - this is the time to give up perfection. To pray every time I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list or how others see me if I do this or don't do that. To try my best, even if it's not perfect. To be me and be okay with that. To understand I am a constantly changing (hopefully for the better) creation in Christ who doesn't have it all together and never will. And hopefully, this is something I'm not just giving up for Lent, but for good.

Giving Up On Perfect... It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? An awesome blog title perhaps? It just so happens that a blog I read regularly has that exact title and is written by another mom, Mary, who is figuring out the "journey through an imperfect life." I found Mary's blog through (in) courage and have really connected with her writing. Mary is also one of those bloggers who always replies to comments and when I emailed her with a question about my own blog replied quickly. She's cool like that. It just so happens Mary is doing a series through the season of Lent called Remarkable Faith where she will talk about her faith, but is also asking others to join in and talk about theirs. Jump on over, take a look, and think about participating. I know I'm looking forward to writing some about my own story and reading from others.


On a final note, I know Lent is not only a time of giving something up (Like Diet Coke, Chocolate, or Facebook), but a time of reflection on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, so I hope no one who is participating in Lent will think I'm demeaning this time. As one who didn't grow up practicing Lent I'm still learning what it's all about, and maybe I will more fully participate one day as I feel called to do so. However at this point in my life, this is what I feel God is calling me to work on.

What about you guys? Do you feel like you struggle with perfection? Are you participating in Lent? If so, I would love to hear what you're giving up and what Lent means to you.
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Project Life 2011: February 20-26


Sunday, February 20 ~ Today was my studly little brother's birthday which you might have read about here. He turned 13 and I'm still in shock really. It's made me think a lot about my own 13th birthday, only 3 short years ago... Sorry, wishful thinking. :)


The boys and I had a great Sunday in St. Louis spending time with some members of "the group." When we moved to STL a few years ago we were fortunate to quickly connect with a great group of friends who soon became like family. We spent almost every single weekend doing something fun with this group (Well, when we weren't traveling to TN... you know). Over time, some have moved (including us), and some have started having babies (Yay!!), hence the mini reunion at Jodi's baby shower.

L to R: Kristen, Lindsey, Jodi, Me, Elizabeth, & Lauryn
Bekah & Erica: You girls were greatly missed!
(P.S. What's with all my friends being such cute pregnant women? I just remember feeling like a chunky monkey.)

Monday, February 21 ~ Today was the long-awaited day we started potty training! I've been putting it off for so long mostly because I wasn't ready. Jayden has been doing an amazing job!

Tuesday, February 22 ~ At the end of meals, especially when Jayden finishes his food first, Jackson will take whatever is left on his plate, put it on the table, and then show me his plate and say "Wow!!" to seek accolades for a clean plate - despite the fact he didn't finish his food, he just put it on the table. Clean plate, none the less. 

Wednesday, February 23 ~ I let one of my children wear a camo shirt today. If you know me well, then you know this is big for me. I'm no fashionista by any means, but I like my boys in their polo shirts and preppy clothes - the same way their daddy use to dress when we were dating. Now that we're in the "real world" my hubby wears work polos, jeans, and boots for his job, along with his favorite camo work hat. (I'm a little more at ease about camo hats than I am clothing for some strange reason.) Due to my hubby's preppy wardrobe turned country, my parents bought us some countrified clothes for Christmas like John Deere pajama pants for me and the camo shirt for Jackson. It literally made me itchy to let him wear it, but I survived, and even took a picture of him to prove it. He even completed the picture with a cowboy hat.

Thursday, February 24 ~ Two separate photos today. The first is how I started my morning - having my Bible "colored" by Jackson. My first reaction was to get angry, but then I started thinking about how much I'll cherish those scribbles when I look at them 20 years from now. I'll long for the days of coloring again.
The second picture is a little story about Jackson's stuffed animal dog, appropriately named "Doggy." Jackson has loved cuddling with his doggy for naps and bedtime for as long as I can remember. I've even relaxed a bit and let him play with it some during the day, but I've tried to keep it from being a "have to have every second of the day" type item. When we traveled to St. Louis last weekend Doggy hid from us and stayed behind at "Mr. Gus's" (Do you use apostrophe 's' when the name ends with an 's'?) house (Otherwise known as the home of the Hill people). :) Thankfully, Lindsey found Doggy and safely sent him back home. We were quite thankful and Jackson was so excited to see him again!

Friday, February 25 ~ Dipal took Jayden to a local high school basketball game tonight, so Jackson and I had our own little fun evening. I took him to Dairy Queen to grab some dinner and ice cream and then we came back and had a movie night. As we were getting ready to leave I threw on a Tennessee hat and after seeing that Jackson went and grabbed his own hat, only the hat he chose was his cowboy hat. As he was already wearing his Woody pajamas, it was quite appropriate and cute. :)

Saturday, February 26 ~ Tonight we got to go to dinner with some of our friends (Luke and Tiffany) we've met through Dipal's job. They came back to our house afterwards and played with the kids which made the kids ecstatic because Luke and Tiffany are great with kids! Like seriously, their kids will be very lucky to have such fun parents. This is a picture of Jayden and "Mr. Luke" having a super hero showdown.

As always, you can check out other Project Life projects at The Mom Creative.

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