Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dangling off the Mountain

Hey, y'all! Hope that you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! Our family surely did! I could bore you with the 200 plus pictures that we took last week, but I will spare you all because you are my friends! We are still enjoying our Christmas decorations--the lights are twinkling away on our tree as I type! I hate to take down the decorations...I simply want to continue to enjoy them! One year, I decided to leave up the nativity scene--the really nice one that I previously mentioned--all year long! We also put our house on the market that year. Needless to say, the real estate agent highly suggested that I pack it away while we showed the house! Anyhoo...I will put everything back in the attic before New Year's Day.

My last post mentioned some of our Christmas traditions. One that we do each year AFTER Christmas is a family hike. Some years, we have almost frozen to death while munching on PBJ sandwiches! This year, the weather was just a perfect gift from God! Beautiful, sunny, and warm--temps in the 60's...couldn't ask for better! We did a hike that I haven't done in almost 20 years! Boy, does time fly! We are very fortunate in living in the upstate of SC. Gorgeous mountains are within an hour's drive. So, after packing PBJ's, crackers, granola bars, water, cheap Wal-Mart cookies, etc., we headed up the road! This is where we hiked today.

This is Table Rock, SC. It is a strenuous hike and took us several hours to complete. We went all the way up to the top. But, it is so worth it! God had a ball while creating this place!

So, do I look like Vanna?? Just kidding! I am sweaty, smelly, kinky haired, and loving every minute of it with my boys!
"Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom...They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works." Psalm 145:3,5 That, my sweet little bloggy friends, is what played in my head and my heart today while hiking.
Can you tell that there are some"steep" places around here? And, I am one Mama who is scared of heights! I was a little nervous with the boys bouncing around on those boulders and drop offs!!! Yikes! I felt like they were dangling off the mountain at times! The pictures do not do this place justice! So, all of you are cordially invited to join my family for our next hike, and we can all visit! Bring your families, too! I have plenty of cheap Wal-mart cookies to go around!
I would love to hear...in your spare time-hee hee...what you and your families enjoy doing together. Or, what you enjoyed doing with your family as a child. We also have family game night at our house! We got a really fun game for Christmas this year! It's called Last Word! It's for older kids, but it is fun and pretty fast! Just an FYI!!!
I will be back posting next week. I hope and pray that each of you will be blessed this coming year by our awesome God.

Sweet blessings,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have Yourself a Mary Little Christmas

I just LOVED the comments that you all left on my last post...which was eons ago! I had to smile when I read Sharon's comment---she mentioned a book, "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World", which is one of my favorites! I'm actually planning on leading a Bible study using it!

I think that part of my struggle the other week of feeling just overwhelmed was that fact that hubby was out of town, so I was being a single mom on top of all that was going on! For those of you who are single moms, bless your precious hearts! You girls are my heroes! I don't know how you do it and stay sane!

I mentioned that I would share some of our Christmas traditions with you all. Several of you said that your children receive only 3 gifts. We do that at our house as well. It is wonderful! One present for each of the gifts that the Magi offered to Jesus. Another tradition is setting up the nativity scene. We have two sets--the really "nice" one that sits in the entrance of our home. Then....we have the one that Mama found for 50% off at Garden Ridge years ago! It's a wonder that it's still in one piece!! The boys played with it when they were little--maneuvering the wise men, camels, shepherds and lambs all over the den! We placed Baby Jesus behind the stable until Christmas morning when we would celebrate His birth! Then, one of the boys would bring Him out and place Him in the manger near Mary and Joseph. They loved it then, and we still do it now! It's a great tradition.

Another tradition that I married into is the drink of choice we celebrate with at Christmas! No...not alcohol! Not even eggnog! Hubby's mom, my precious MIL, is an awesome cook! She prepares homemade custard that is to die for! Now, when I was growing up, we poured the custard into a bowl and ate it with a spoon---like pudding. It is simply yummy! The first year that we were married, I was inducted into a strange way of enjoying my custard! These darling family members poured it into a punch bowl cup--the tiny ones that are cut glass--and DRINK it! Y'all I had never seen anything like this before!! Maybe you all have your custard this way, but after 18 years of marriage, I still think it is very weird! Delicious, but weird!!

Lastly, some of my running friends and I get together and celebrate each year. We all live fairly close to each other except for Tracey, who lives 5 hours away in Roanoke! Well, bless her heart! She makes the trip each year with her three children to spend a little time with us! This year, she was in a time crunch. She left at 10 am on Monday and had to leave less than 24 hours later! That is a true friend! We had dinner at my house and enjoyed sharing little presents (like girlfriend jewelry) and pictures--from past races and road trips! Four of us had been together last month in Texas. We also share the love of good food and laughter! Debbie brought her 3 year old granddaughter with her--who was a doll! With my boys, hubby, and the girls, we had 9 lively people in the house. And...only one glass of milk was spilled!! (The 3 year old didn't do it!!)

I hope that your days begin to slow as we grow closer to the birthday of our Savior. I pray that you will soak in the beauty, the sounds, and the true meaning of the holiday. I plan on spending some quality time in the WORD (I'm getting a new Bible for Christmas!!! It's the chronological study Bible!! I got it on sale on Black Friday, and it's hidden in the back of hubby's closet!!Woohoo!). Wendy Pope is going to be leading a group of people through the Bible in a year starting in January! I've never done that, and I plan on giving it a try!

I won't post again until after Christmas, but I'll be visiting your wonderful blogs and will try to leave a comment! My Christmas cards are still in the box, but I'll get around to them! No stressing...I'm going to be sitting at the foot of Jesus listening like Mary did so long ago. Many Christmas blessings, my bloggy friends!!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mary or Martha--Your Choice!

It has been several days since I posted! I could give you a list of reasons as to why the blog has been silent...but you already know them! It's that wonderful time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior! It's also that time of the year when we frantically run all over town trying to get everything ready for the season! I feel like Martha instead of Mary! Y'all!!! That is NOT the way it's supposed to be.

When I think of all that is coming up--all of it good stuff--I am just silently shaking my head wondering how it will all get done! I am not at my older son's church basketball game tonight because I just spent the past 2 hours--seemed liked 20!--trying to upload, select quantity and size, and order prints from Shutterfly(which I love!) These are gifts for the senior members in my family who have all that they need and simply want pictures of my family from the previous year! Sounds simple--but it's time consuming! Anybody know where I'm coming from?

Tonight, if I can get to bed by 10 instead of the 11:00 hour like last night, I want to spend time in the Word (without falling asleep while reading!) I especially need to really ponder and pray about the story of Mary and Martha. I want to be more like Mary, but until that last present is purchased or crafted, I am running around the house like Martha! I want His Holy Spirit to settle my heart so I can truly focus on this beautiful holiday season.

See if you can choose the correct answer!

1) Martha would scrub the toilets, sweep away the dust bunnies, and mop the kitchen floor while Mary would:

A) Fold five loads of laundry while talking on the phone to plan the Sunday School Christmas party.
B) See how many stores she can zoom to on Woodruff Road (the busiest road in our town) before it's time for middle school carpool and high school carpool.
C) Get up before Martha and Lazarus and spend time in solitude--praying and reading God's Holy Word.
D) Simply stop in the middle of her day to pray and reflect on the precious meaning of Christmas.

So, which one(s) did you choose? Who will you be this holiday season? I know who I want to be like...but am I willing to truly do it and let some things slide? Who's going to know if the decorations are new or are the same old ones from last year(besides me!) Who's going to remember if I bake a delicious dessert using a new recipe or if I simply run by the deli and pick up cheese and crackers? I want to truly celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, and for me to do so, I am going to have to slow things down a bit at our home and change my mindset. I know that I can't do it alone, but I have a wonderful Savior who can help me if I will only ask! And...so do you!

How do you focus on keeping Christ in Christmas at your house? I will share some of the ways our family does this and some of our traditions in later posts--whether I get all of my shopping done or not!!! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Many Blessings,
Martha--uh, Susan!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A "Gala" Event It Was!

Do you think the church sexton was pleased as punch today when he had to clean up the mess from those boas? Hope not...because we had such a blast at the Gala yesterday! Y'all....thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the prayers and good thoughts that you blessed us with!! God is soooo good! This event was truly covered in prayer. You** Know** Who tried to throw some wrenches into our plans, but God didn't allow it! I was not even nervous when I began to speak! I wasn't even shaking! Woohoo!

The girls above are part of our Leadership Team. They are just awesome! One even shared her testimony when we were introducing ourselves and telling about the various ministries that our church would be providing. It was totally unexpected except God had deemed it in His perfect timing. She is new to our church and is just darling. Up until a few months ago, her husband was not a believer. She had prayed and prayed that he would accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Still....nothing. Then, she attended a retreat with our church in Atlanta (a Beth Moore event!!). She and another girl on our team roomed together and were talking about the situation. The other gal shared with her and asked her some specific questions about her prayers. Long story short, the prayers were changed to allow God to work on her husband's heart in His way and His timing. This scripture from Isaiah 55 :8-9 popped into my head as she was sharing yesterday. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." How many times do we want to do it our way and in our timing? I do...almost all the time! I have so much growing to do in that area of my life. By the way, her husband DID become a Christian! There was not a dry eye in that sanctuary when she finished talking!

Again, thank you for covering this event in your prayers. I knew that y'all were praying and that gave me His perfect peace.

Many Blessings,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Growing in Grace Women's Ministry

Y'all....it's a coming!! Yes, Christmas is too, and I can't wait! I'll be posting Christmas thoughts and stories next week. No, I am referring to our Women's Ministry at our church!! Our big Gala to kick off the ministry is on Sunday afternoon! We've given each lady in the church handmade invitations--darling hot pink bookmarks with lime green fru-fru ribbon--that they can keep in their Bibles for ever and ever!

We are thinking outside the box on this one! The day that we handed out the bookmarks, our girls had the ministry moment during church. We all dressed in black with black sunglasses and lovely pink boas around our necks ( Hobby Lobby)! The sound guy played the theme from "Mission Impossible" as we carefully dragged a secret black box down the aisle! We looked over our shoulders--secret agent style--as we carried it to the front. I was in my element! When we got to the front of the church, we pulled items out of the box to see what our mission was. Each item represented a ministry--most of them new--that our church would offer to the women of our church and those in our community. Y'all, we pulled out overnight make-up bags (retreats), Karen Kingsbury books (book club), microphone (guest speakers), scrapbooks (scrapbooking), Bible (of course!Bible Studies). The last items that we took from the box were 2 Barbie's! Can you guess what that was??? Mentoring!! Pretty cool, huh? We are going to have a mentoring Bible Study in the fall! So many of our younger moms and wives are needing this!

Ok, maybe "Mission Impossible" was going a little over, but...it got their attention! Our leadership team is working profusely via email--no time for meetings last week with it being Thanksgiving!--to get our ducks in a row! And God is GOOD...all the time! Things are falling into place, and I am having an absolute ball! He is in control, and we are praying that we will have a hedge of protection around us on Sunday from you**know**who! I ask you to please cover us in prayer the rest of the week, you darling sistas! God has orchestrated this entire ministry from step one! He placed it in my heart this summer during She Speaks. We are doing nothing unless it is from HIM. And, I can't wait to see the fruits of His labor of love. Thanks in advance for your prayers! I'll post about it and include pictures!

Many Blessings,