Thursday, January 29, 2009

Steppin' Out!

I am stepping out of my comfort zone! I am NOT the world's great cook. I don't even enjoy cooking that much--I'd rather be crafting or reading! But...I had a few friends over yesterday for lunch. One of my sweet little friends is down in the dumps, and we wanted to show her our love--through food and fellowship! (Proverbs 17:17) So, we decided to have a "Cheer You Up Snowman Lunch!" We had no snow--only rain and some of these!
Aren't these snowmen plates adorable? I just loved them! I found these on sale BEFORE Christmas at Kohl's! I love those 70% off deals! I have the red mugs and little dessert plates too!
Then, I picked these from my lovely winter garden!! Just kidding! They were from Publix! But they just brightened the table! I rarely buy flowers...I just grow many varieties just so I can pick them and add pops of color to my house! I do have the tips of my daffodils peeping out in the front bed! But it's not time yet!

I made some chicken chili, another friend brought dessert(y'all-T. dipped strawberries in dark and white chocolate!!), and another sweetie brought chips for the chili. It was economical, very laid back, and it gave me a reason to clean my house--at least the downstairs! We shared ups and downs laced with laughter. We actually solved some problems! After lunch, we were full and happy! Mission accomplished!
I wanted to share this recipe with y'all. A precious friend made this delicious soup/chili for our Bible study before Christmas, and boy, was it good! I am surrounded by wonderful cooks--Praise God!--who will lovingly share their recipes with me! This is Anne's recipe--cut and pasted from an email!!
I start with Bear Creek Tortilla Soup Mix @ Wal-Mart: you will save a dollar or more if you purchase it there. I bring 9 cups of water to a boil w/ my 6 thawed chicken tenderloins. When they are semi-boiled, I remove them and set aside for chopping later. I then add about 1/2 cup of Swanson's Chicken Broth to the mixture and the soup mix. Whisk well--this is important. Add 2 cans (small) of Great Northern Beans (drained and rinsed). Also add 2 cans of chili style tomatoes. I also add 1/2 cup of chopped black olives--(Susan--we don't eat olives, so I left out this ingredient) and either 3-4 jalapenos, chopped, or a can of green chopped chilies for a milder taste. Add chopped/diced chicken to the mix and boil until thickened. Garnish with sour cream and sprinkle cheese and tostito chips. (Susan--I poured/spooned the chili into my crock pot--on low--while I was at Bible Study. I do not leave pots cooking on the stove while I'm gone.)
Y'all, this was easy and very delicious! Even my picky boys ate it for supper! I feel like we get into a rut with our meals. So, I am trying to step out and try new recipes! I hope that you enjoy it! Let me know if you make it and how it goes over at your house!
Many Blessings!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's OK to Fail!

Have you ever pondered the question why God might want us to fail? We live in a society where success is everything. We tell our children from early on how great they are, what a good job they've done, etc. We do this to build their self-esteem and confidence. There's nothing wrong with being confident.....but in what and in whom?

The Bible study we're doing that I mentioned last week, The Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle, discussed " fail vs.succeed" this morning. And let me tell you, it was a lively discussion!

God wants us to fail so we can realize that it's not about "me" and what "I can do". It's about Him. "Our Weakness is actually his most effective tool in using us for His glory and honor." In order to succeed, we have to fail fall down on our knees and confess to our Father that "I can't do it alone! It's too hard! " Once we do this, we invite Him in to help us succeed--through His grace.

When we are discouraged from our weakness and disillusionment of what we think we can/can't do, we need to focus on this scripture.

"This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD. 'Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message.' So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." Jeremiah 18:1-4

Are we allowing the Potter to shape us into the form that seems best to Him or to us? I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been praying for a while about taking a leap of faith in starting a little business with painting and photography. I've struggled with God on some aspects of this. All weekend long, my head was full of ideas, ideas, and more ideas! It was one of those times when you wake up thinking and can't go back to sleep! I am not a fan of that! I love my sleep!

Yesterday morning, while trying to have my quiet time, "stuff" simply kept popping into my head, and I couldn't shake it or focus on God! I finally closed my Bible and asked Him if these ideas were from Him and if so, did He want me to follow up on them. Once I asked Him this, my heart was at a peace (Phil. 4:6-7) that only He could provide! I was calm! I knew in my heart that His timing was now...He would be with me in order to succeed and not to fail. I had to wait on Him and trust in His ways, not mine. In the past, I've failed on following through with ideas. This time, I was trusting in One who is Holy and Perfect.

In the past 12 hours, I have FINALLY shown my work to several friends, and their reactions have been so encouraging! I have several orders already! I am really excited! But, I know it was His timing and His desire that I follow up on this dream. In order to glorify Him, I need to remember that I am His clay.

Many Blessings,

Friday, January 23, 2009

And the Number One Answer Is......

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6-7

This was MY verse in college! I had it memorized so well that I could say it forward and backward. It spoke volumes to my heart then, and it still does today. Tonight, my women's ministry leadership team team and I are planning our first retreat. It's a day retreat that will be held on beautiful Lake Keowee an hour from here on March 7. Our topic is "Indescribable"--how awesome our God is. And yes, it is based on the song by Chris Tomlin and the DVD by Louie Giglio. Y'all, those by themselves are fabulous! But, we need a little more! We have lots of ideas that we need to pray over and discuss. Several of the team members are not going to be able to come. So, there will only be about 6 of us. And, hopefully, your prayers will surround us!!! That's what this blog is about today! I've asked y'all in the past for your prayers, and you have so lovingly lifted up "Growing in Grace" for us! I come to you again for prayer and thank you in advance! How wonderful it is to be able to call on "bloggy friends" that you converse with weekly and have never met face to face! (There are a few exceptions there!!) That is something only God could conceive!

Here's something else that I would also appreciate! Tell me what you would absolutely love in a retreat if you were going to attend! Dream big! We already have fabulous food! And, beautiful scenery! And...wonderful door prizes! Think of details that would add to a retreat...some that might be small or large, but something that would always remain in your heart and would come to your memory when someone mentioned that retreat.

I can't wait to see what God says through your answers! Y'all are awesome, too! Have a wonderful weekend! We're FINALLY thawing out down here!! I am SO not a cold weather person!

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hot, Cold or Lukewarm?

I am so privileged to be facilitating a wonderful Bible study at church this winter. It's called the Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman To Do. The authors are our precious friend Lisa Whittle and her darling Mom, Kathie Reimer. They took turns in writing the chapters. This was Lisa's first book--and ya'll, let me tell's great! Kathie and Lisa did a wonderful job in listening to God for the topics and then writing...Wow! We just finished chapter two this morning. And, Lisa stepped on some toes!

Last Monday while preparing for Tuesday's lesson, God blessed me with my e-devotional that spoke directly about Chapter One's topic. I shared that with the ladies, and they loved it. Well, God truly has His hand in this. Yesterday, the other gal who is facilitating the study at night in her home sent me her Monday's e-devotional . Yep, He did it again! He is just so awesome! Another Monday devotional that not only mentioned the topic, but gave the exact same scripture reference that was in this chapter! I shared that with the ladies this morning too. Let me tell you, there were some wide-eyed girlfriends sitting around the table!! Loving this!!!

So, here's your question. Would you consider yourself a hot Christian--one on fire for the Lord at all times? A cold Christian--the love affair with the Lord has worn off? You are a Christian--you know that you have a place in Heaven after you die, so you're just going to sit back and watch--no will give the Lord one hour a week on Sunday mornings...maybe. Or, are you a lukewarm Christian? You show apathy--a lack of excitement, emotion, or passion rather than the zeal for Christ that He so desires. You play it safe. In Rev. 3:15-16, Jesus is talking to the church in Laodicea. He describes them as apathetic. He says, " I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth."

That is NOT a pretty picture! Another version "softens" it by saying that Jesus "spits" rather than vomits. We're talking vile, stronger spit! Yuck! Jesus is so frustrated by this church's ho-humness, that He uses vomit to strongly get His word across. The commentary that I read even said that Satan prizes a lukewarm Christian more than a cold hearted sinner. That's one to chew on for awhile.

I don't know about y'all, but this chapter on God's intolerance of mediocrity among Christians really made me think! And pray! And read His Word a little deeper! I don't want to be a lukewarm Christian! I want my actions and words to show that I am striving to be a believer on fire for the Lord! Lisa's question at the end of the chapter is one that I'll leave you to ponder. Does living a life of mediocrity hinder God's plan for you and stifle you from what you should be doing? We need to ask the Lord to give us the strength and desire to be all He wants us to be.

Many Blessings,

Friday, January 16, 2009


Yes, this is pronounced just like the other gain! But it stands for something a little different. Let me share with you what Hubby has been a part of through our church continuing through this Sunday morning!

He is on the Outreach Committee at our Methodist church. One of the mission projects that we are supporting is helping out homeless families in the community. You know, we as Christians will dig deep into the pocketbooks and wallets to share our wealth. We will purchase extra groceries for the local food banks. We will write letters to missionaries and pray for them. How about inviting homeless families into your church and giving them a warm, dry and comfortable place to live--rather than under a bridge or an abandoned building! That's what GAIHN is. The photo is the trailer that carries the "stuff" of those less fortunate to host churches. A certain number of churches sign up to serve "the least of these." For one week, we will serve these families by providing shelter--converted Sunday School classes; providing meals--lovingly cooked by a variety of SS classes, circles, committees, etc., and providing love---given by the entire church family. Then, the folks that we are serving will go to another host church the next week. Right now, 13 churches are involved. So, in 13 more weeks, our church will be doing this again.

Y'all, at first, no one was really sure what we were getting into. Lots of prayer and trust and obedience had to occur. One of our church members had been involved in this at her previous church. That's it! Just one! Well, Hubby felt called to help her by co-chairing this project. And...what a blessing it has been! Wow! We have been more blessed by these two families than they have been by us. Everyone was calling the house this week asking what could they do. "Mrs. Co-chair" didn't have a clue--I was at my Mama's and nephew's birthday party on Sunday night when these folks moved in!! Hubby had to spend the night--two church members spend each night with them. Sleeping on a cot for one night is doable! So, I really didn't hear about everything until Monday evening.
Wednesday night, I had the opportunity, the blessing, to meet these wonderful folks. We have a mom and her 14 year old, and a younger family with three small children. The oldest boy turned eight on Wednesday. Well...y'all know what that means!! Party!!! After our Wed. night supper, the kids in youth choir and many adults surprised him with a cake, candles, oodles of presents. Precious! I have awesome pictures that I WISH I could share....but due to privacy issues, just use your imaginations. The smiles, the joy, the paper and ribbons were justa flying! Whoohoo! God was in the middle of it having a great time! The mom of this child was more excited about the new socks than she was the power rangers and bay blades and games. Socks, people...socks!

I am going to my most favorite place in the world after while--yep, Wal-Mart--to develop these pictures and to put them in a photo album for her. Wouldn't you do that for your friends too?

I want to tell you a little about this last picture I have for you to see. The five year old little girl--who I could just bring home with me!!--had a fit over my camera. So...being the mama that I am, surrendered it to her until the batteries ran out. "J" had a ball! She was snapping pics of everybody--and making sure that they were posed for the moment!

She has attached herself to my Hubby--she adores him just like me!!! When she sees him, he has to carry her, eat with her, and play with her. Hubby is a great daddy, and it shines through in his desire to serve this child of God as he does his own boys. So, I leave you with Hubby --the one in the picture who is bent over posing for this darling little girl. Remember, this is from the perspective of a tiny five year old! Please remember to lift up those without shelter especially during this winter weather we're having. It's only 17 degrees here in the sunny south. Thanks so much! Have a great weekend.
Many Blessings,

Monday, January 12, 2009


My sweet Daddy, Mama, Child #1, and Child #2

Hey, y'all! Greetings from busy "Mama Central!" Whew! I subbed three days last week--as well as today, and ran all over the place the other days. I've got a few minutes before I pick up the boys from track, so I thought that I would share some family fun with you all!
My sweet Mama (age 81)and darling nephew(age 6) share the same b'day month. Their b'days are only 4 days apart, so darling sister entertains all of us at her home in Lexington. She is a fabulous decorator and cook--I got none of those genes!! Oh, well!
Darling nephew enjoys some of his Sponge Bob cake!

After church, the boys and I took off to celebrate. We left hubby here doing church work--I'll post about it later this week! By the time we all were together, we had a group of 9. We simply enjoyed our day together. It made me think of how God told us to keep the Sabbath Holy. How often do we find ourselves running errands--that could PROBABLY wait until Monday? Or cleaning house and finishing the laundry because we ran out of time during the latter part of the week? I'm guilty as charged. But...I'm aware of this, and I intend on praying about it and trying to make some changes. Changes that will glorify Him and settle my heart as I prepare for a new week ahead. I read something by Louis Giglio recently where he talks about how God wants us to simply enjoy His creation--and He gave us Sunday on which to do it.

So, we enjoyed our sweet time together. My parents are a little older, and I want to make sure that we take advantage of each opportunity to visit with each other. They live several hours away near Lancaster--outside of Charlotte. So, it's a drive that we don't make nearly as often as we should. Nine years ago, my Mama suffered a stroke. To this day, the doctors can't explain why it didn't end her life. She has been a diabetic all of her life, and this was just a double whammy. I believe that I know. God still had plans in store for her. (Jeremiah 29:11) My nephew was just only in God's plans-not even here for several more years, and Mama was still needed! It wasn't her time. She is still amazed that she's her age and going strong! The stroke slowed her down--no more driving or cooking! Bless Daddy's heart! He's become a great cook! I shared in an earlier post that he waits on her hand and foot...and loves it! He has such a servant's heart. At the age of 85, he just gave up teaching Sunday School after leading it for over fifty years. They were so excited about my Chronological Bible that I got for Christmas, that they had to have one too! They are beginning a Bible study this Wednesday at my former church. And...they can't wait! I pray that I continue to have their enthusiasm and zeal for life when I'm their age. I hope I'm still running marathons too!!! God does continue to bless us with miracles!

Many blessings,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Dreams

Good morning! Hope that y'all are doing well on this lovely but wet and warm day! God is blessing this part of the drought stricken South with much needed rain! Woohoo! But, my outside dog is not very happy! Bless her little heart.

I want to share the scripture that I read this morning in my Quiet Time. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!" Ephesians 3:20-21. Read that again and just ponder it in your hearts for a bit. What touched me this morning was the phrase "...Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power...Notice it it God's power, not Susan's power or will or desire, but His. I have put God in a box so much that I don't expect to see great things on a daily basis!! Every once in a while, sure! But I hate to bother Him with my little things when He is such a Big God and has really important stuff to attend to. Do any of you ever feel that way? Just look at the newspaper..the Middle East, poverty, homelessness, and the list goes on. But, I want to talk with Him regarding these words from Ephesians! Will He have the time? Of course He will...He's my Abba.

For quite some time, I've wanted to have my own little business here at home. Nothing huge! I don't want to have to book a party and invite tons of my friends and have them feel like they have to purchase something for me to make a percentage. Don't get me wrong, invite me to a Southern Living at Home par--tay, and I'll be there with bells on! And cash in a little envelope! ( the Dave Ramsey plan, thank you very much!) I simply have too many commitments with the boys after school and at nights. Night time is family time--not Mama going to work time.

I have always loved to take pictures. Got my first 35 mm camera at the ripe age of 18--first job too! Had to convince Daddy (who had the credit card) that I could take better pics with a camera like this rather than the old kind that used the drop in Kodak film--I'm dating myself!!! When I produced the first pictures with this camera, he was amazed! So was I! My favorite subjects to shoot--besides my family and friends--are His creation. He just amazes me! The dazzling light on the bright yellow leaves leave me breathless! If I can capture the moment, I can enjoy it over and over again. The same with a painting. If I can capture the right curves and angles, mix the colors just right, then I just do a happy dance! I love to create things! I'm excited about what I can do, but I also know what I need to learn!

I really want to begin a that brings glory to Him. I have one piece of artwork that I'm almost through with. I have several photos that are framed. I have an idea for a logo and a scripture to go along with it. I have no money, but I have the promise from a Big God that He can do immeasurably more than I can ever imagine!

Many Blessings,