Friday, January 28, 2011

Mystery Meal Fun!

I'm having a hard time believing it but our sweet Mackenzie turned 13 this week...  WOW...  Where did the years go?

We have a tradition about birthday parties in our family...  The first time they get to have a big friend's birthday party is when they turn 10 (family/best friends only before that...)...  Then again at 13 and 18...  For their 16th birthday, they get a weekend trip to the BMW driving school (we don't have a BMW but it's an AWESOME driving school where you learn to drive in all kinds of conditions)...

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So this was a big birthday party for Mackenzie and she chose to have a Mystery Meal...  In case you don't know, with a Mystery Meal you choose 10+ items and you name them, even the utensils...

So our menu went like this...

Fork - A Miniature Farm Appliance
Spoon - A Shapely Shovel
Knife - Ripper's Delight
Lemonade - Golden Sweet & Sour
Cheese/Sausage Balls (appetizer) - Porky Mouses Favorite Toy
Salad - Peter Rabbit's Downfall
Rotini Spaghetti (she likes spaghetti made with rotini) - Spirals of Love
Texas Toast - Cheers for Southern Stinky Breath
Filo Pastry filled with Chocolate Kisses - Snuggled Smooches
Ice Cream - A Screaming Matter
Conversation Hearts - Heartfelt Love Notes

The girls were given a menu with only the made up names (each item was numbered) and they had to choose which items they wanted in which course (We had 3 courses)...

For example, one girl ended up with Rotini spaghetti, ice cream, lemonade and a fork...  Some of the girls didn't choose a utensil for their first course.  I had put chop sticks on the table as an option, but some gave up and used their fingers...  It was quite funny!

Mackenzie ended up with her dessert in her first course, so we stopped everything and sang Happy Birthday to her!  It was fun watching the girls go from really uncomfortable and unsure about how to eat without utensils to playing the game all out...  Ice Cream with fingers...  Cheese/Sausage Balls on a chopstick...  Civilized conventions went out the door...  They even started telling us they didn't want their utensils!!

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And if you will indulge me for a minute, I'm going to be a proud mom...  But for her 13th Birthday party she asked me to print on her invitation that instead of birthday gifts, she would like for a donation to be made to Project Canaan at Heart For Africa...  (Looks like she has a trip to Africa in her future!  God has really grabbed her heart for children who are hungry!)

Here are a few photos from her Birthday night...  She prefers a homemade cake so we always get a little silly with the decorations...  Might not be as pretty as a store bought cake, but it sure tastes better and it's alot more fun! 

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(I definitely need to get a real cake pan...  that cookie sheet looks AWFUL!!)

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Happy Birthday Sweet Girl...  You are such an amazing blessing to our lives!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hope Raiser Is On Now...

So sorry...  I realize my last post about Lori's fundraiser wasn't clear...  It starts now through the month of February.  February is a short month and I wanted to be sure she got a FULL month!  But I realize my post didn't read that way!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Hope Raising... Help Bring Home 2 Boys!!

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(Just in case you're clicking right to this post...  The fundraiser is from January 24 - February 28!)

For the last few months I've been posting from time to time about my new jewelry design business, Designing For Hope, where I use the profits to fund our mission trips to Swaziland... But it's really been on my heart that not only is Africa near and dear to my heart, so is adoption...  So I've decided that I want to do some fundraisers for families who are adopting...  And today starts my first Designing For Hope adoption fundraiser...  A Hope Raiser!!

Lori, at Joy Unspeakable, has been given approval to bring home not 1, but 2, precious boys.  So I've decided to take the month of February and donate 10% of my sales to her...

But there's another part to this...  

If you pick up my button (just to your right on my sidebar) and put it on your blog, send me a link to your blog and I'll send you a coupon. 

Now, with this coupon, you will have 2 choices...  You can use the coupon for yourself and receive a 20% discount on your next purchase...  OR you can donate your 20% and I'll give that to Lori too...

AND...  I’m going to do a drawing at the end of the month for a $50 coupon towards a purchase on my website and there’s 3 ways to get your name entered…

1.  If you post my button on your blog...
2.  If you donate your 20% to Lori
3.  If you write a post about this fundraiser…

So you could get your name entered up to 3 times in the drawing…  Just make sure you send me the link to your blog…  If you have any questions, or want something you don’t see on the website, e-mail me at  Most anything you see in antique bronze can be done in a silver tarnish resistant chain that I love!!  And if you see something that you like that's sold, most likely I can make it again, so send me an e-mail!  Looking forward to hearing from you!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

God Is At Work...

I'm going to send you over to another blog today because I have a dear friend who has a 16 year old daughter and the work that God is doing in her and through her is worth taking the time to read...  It will bless your heart! 

Let me tell you a little bit about her story...  A few months ago, this young woman heard about an orphanage in Ghana that was being built to give a home to children who are rescued from slavery on the fishing boats.  Yes, slavery...  She actually saw a chief take out his notebook that was like an inventory of the boys... 

Anyway, God grabbed hold of her heart and gave her a passion for this orphanage...  Then He gave her a vision to do a benefit concert for them.  So in May, she and a team of other AMAZING teenagers, are putting together a concert with Kristian Stanfill, Josh Wilson and Unhindered...  ALL are fantastic and you regularly hear Kristian Stanfill and Josh Wilson on Christian radio stations..

So then God called her to go to Ghana...  I wasn't surprised about that because something I've learned is that when God gives you a passion, He also gives you a story.  And with Africa, you have to go and experience it to have a story because it's impossible to imagine what it's really like...

So now she's back from Ghana and she's writing about it...  And that's where I want to send you.  The post from last night will rock your heart, but if you have time, go back and catch up with the other teens too, you won't be sorry...  But at least read her other entries from the start of the trip... 

A 16 year old whose heart is (in her words) "to make Jesus famous."  Makes me stop and ask myself...  Is that the driving desire for my own life? 

So go check out the blog...  Ghana Rock And if you stop by and God moves your heart, please leave them a comment...  It's so refreshing to see teenagers who are giving their life away, so let's encourage them!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coming Next Week!!

I am so excited...  God put a very special idea on my heart and I can't wait to tell you about it.  There's a little (really A LOT) more work to be done before I'm ready to announce the details, but I can tell you what it's about...  I'm working with a very special blog friend to do a fundraiser for her family (here's a hint, she's a JOY to read), through my jewelry business, Designing For Hope.  They've been approved to bring home 2 (TWO) boys from Ch*na and as you can imagine, that's a VERY expensive endeavor.  I truly believe that caring for the orphan (James 1:27) means coming alongside those who are adopting and walking with them and helping to carry the burden when possible...

I'll give you the details on Monday and it will run through the month of February... And I'm working on putting LOTS of new inventory on the website so you'll have plenty to chose from!  (I'm adding some new photos of previous designs too...  Learning to photograph jewelry is a work in progress!)  If you want to sneak a peak over the next few days and you see something you love, I'll count those purchases toward her fundraiser!!

And just in case you're new to my blog, my jewelry business (Designing For Hope) is for the purpose of raising funds to travel to Swaziland for mission trips...  That's where the rest of the profits go!  And we're going again next summer!!  And this time, I'm taking 2 of our children...  Our sons!!  I can't wait!!

Here's a preview of some of the new designs...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Moments...

Tonight held one of those unexpected moments of such utter sweetness that it took my breath away...  It was such a simple thing...

Abby has this funny little routine where she nestles herself down in a cocoon of blankets.  It's quite fun to watch and last night I learned that there is a very specific order to the blankets...  She knew which one came first, then second...  all the way to number...  well, I lost count... 

So tonight, as we went through the routine again, she began to remind me of where each blanket came from...

The first is her pink snuggly... "PawPaw and Granny gave me this."

Next, a pink, white and red polka dot blanket...  "Mommy, you gave me this on my first Valentine with you."

Next comes the purple fuzzy blanket...  "You gave me this when I came home from China."

From there she layers on one of those fleece tie blankets... "I went with you to pick out this fabric."

Next is a beautiful blanket made by a special friend of mine...  "Mommy, who is the lady who made this?"  That she even remembers that it was made for her by someone is astounding to me...

Then the blanket that we bought her in China...  "Her special China blanket."

And it's all topped off by a small afghan that my grandmother (who just passed away) wanted her to have...   "Mama Hazel gave me this."

From there she pulled out each special animal that shares her bed and reminded me of those details also...The teddy bear that our best friends had waiting for her when she came home, the panda we gave her in China, the first kitty cat we bought her and the most recent addition of a pillow pet...  She sleeps on a pillow made for her by Scott's grandmother...

Sweet Abby remembers where everything came from...  Maybe she can't put words to it, but I have to think that somewhere in her heart, she gets how each one is a picture of how much she's loved...  Such simple things speak of so much love...

And I love that she gets that...

Monday, January 17, 2011

If You're A Southern Girl...

Ok...  This is for all you Southern Belles out there...  If you haven't read Boo Mama today and you want to laugh so hard you wet your pants, jump on over there...  Thoughts On Pageants & Basketball  It cracked me up...

P.S.  Even if you're not from the South, but you're around my age (born in the 60's), you might think it's really funny too!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A GREAT Quote!!

I am SO loving this journey through the Psalms and learning more about God, but also about how the men and women of the Old Testament related to and experienced God!

As I've been reading the Psalms, I've also been reading an incredible devotional by Warren Wiersbe*...  This morning I read Psalm 44 and I read a quote in Wiersbe's book that I just had to post for everyone who is going through a hard time of waiting...

He said, "He always waits to do His will at a time when it will do us the most good and bring Him the most glory.  (Now for the part I REALLY love...)  The delays of God are not denials."

Let me write that again...  "The delays of God are not denials."  Denials of us or our circumstances...  I think too often when God seems silent, we are like the writer of the Psalm...  We think God has rejected us...  Forgotten us...  Or just gone to sleep on us...

But none of that is true...  Just look at the cross...  He gave His ONLY Son to die for us...  EVERYTHING He does is for our good and His glory...  We can trust that, even when our circumstances and our feelings seem to be telling us something different!

Whatever you're going through right now...  CLING to cross and the UNFATHOMABLE love of God...  He hears your prayers...  He loves you beyond your wildest imagination...  And He will answer in His time!

Remember...  Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that FAR outweighs them all!  (1 Corinthians 4:17)...  Have a blessed weekend!

*Devotion by Warren Wiersbe is "Prayer, Praise & Promises, A Daily Walk Through The Psalms."  It's out of print, but you can still find it from re-sellers...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thirst Maker...

For many years I have thought of those who know God in a really special way, as 'thirst makers...'  They make me thirsty to know and experience God as they do (or did) as evidenced through their lives, writings, etc...  Andrew Murray...  A.W. Tozer...  Steven Curtis Chapman...  My Pop Charlie...  My mom...  My aunt and uncle (S & S), and my Pastor...  and those are just a few!  I have been so blessed to be surrounded by so many who each have a unique and special relationship to God and teach me new dimensions of what's possible...

Funny thing though...  I've never thought of Kind David as a thirst maker!  I guess I'm kind of slow...  Paul has always been that person for me in Scripture...  and Isaiah...  Peter... John...  even Job...  But for some reason, never David, until now...

I think my problem with David has always been that he seemed kind of whiny to me...  an emotional basket case...  And frankly, I thought he was pretty vindictive against his enemies...  Until today...

I was reading Psalm 43 when the light bulb finally came on...  David wasn't whiny and vindictive...  He was transparent and trusting!  He took his problems to the throne...  Maybe not 100% of the time, but as I'm starting to see, it was dependency on and desperation for God that characterized his life.

And I'm sure that David was more than capable of handling things on his own if he had chosen...  He was king...  There's no doubt that he was intelligent...  strong...  wealthy...  and that he had an army at his beck and call...  But the Psalms are teaching me that he didn't rely on those things, but on God!

Far too often I find myself relying on my own strength and abilities, rather than waiting on God.  And the ridiculous thing is that anything I'm gifted at, is only because HE gifted and equipped me!  HE is the ONE who prepared me for the works and purpose of my life, so why wouldn't I wait and rely on Him? 

So as I continue my journey through the Psalms and seeking to know God more, I will also continue to let David inspire me and teach me how to live in relationship to our amazing God who loves us so much and who longs to be our EVERYTHING... 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

If Life Has You Down...

Since I decided to spend this year focused on knowing God more, I figured what better place to start than in the Psalms...  So many of them are written by David and it's clear that he had a special relationship to his Heavenly Father.

This morning I read Psalm 42 (I actually started reading the Psalms at the end of last year and that's why I realized it would be a great place to stay focused on God)...

In just 11 verses, twice David writes in 5 & 11, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God."

There's really no way to know why David was down...  He could have had a lot of reasons...  Maybe conviction over his sin...  Afterall, he slept with another man's wife and then set her husband up to be killed...  Maybe it's when his son died or his older son betrayed him and tried to overthrow him...  Or maybe it was just the discouragement that sometimes comes when life seems hard to manage....

But here's what struck me...  When David was down, he didn't choose to wallow in it, he fixed his eyes on the One who could truly make a difference.  He praised Him and in verse 6, he remembered all that He had done.  A wise friend told me once that when she's down, or life's problems get too big, she praises God because when we praise Him, we remember how BIG He is and our problems get so much smaller!"

There is NOTHING our God can't handle!!

But something else struck me too...  We can hope in God because not only is He able, but also because He cares!!  The other day, when I was reading Psalm 40, I was so struck by the first 3 verses...

"I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God."

What a personal, intimate picture of God...  Sovereign Creator of the Universe!!  HE will draw us out of the miry pit (even if it's one of our own making!)...  HE will set our feet on a rock and make our path secure...  HE will put a new song in our mouth...

So if life has you down, take a lesson from King David...  Offer up a sacrifice of praise to our Great God (praise often is a sacrifice when we are struggling)...  Think back over your life and remember the great things God has done for you...  And then trust Him to draw you up out of the miry pit...

Not only is He able...  He longs to be the one we trust and turn to!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


We had lots of snow in the south and even more fun!!

Mackenzie decided to see what would happen when she threw a cookie sheet full of snow into the air...
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Abby's first snow angel...

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Snow Tubing!

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I LOVE this next series of photos...  That's Zack being squished on the bottom!

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A few kids fall off...

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More fall off...

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Children scattered down the hill...

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Now Zack's just cruisin'!

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Mackenzie getting ready for a ride down the hill...

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But she gets a BIG surprise when her closest friend decides to hitchhike a ride too!

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Love the laughter!

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I love when Scott wears this hat!!

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Zack's about to get a lesson in whose boss!  (A fun lesson!)

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Yeah... I can still take him!

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But even with snow in his eyebrows and ears, he keeps coming back for more!  

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It was a FUN, FUN day!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love, Laughter and Hugs!

I have to admit, I was kind of dreading this Christmas...  You might remember, on Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother went home to Jesus.  As Christmas approached, I realized that in 45 years, I can only think of 1, maybe 2, Christmases that I didn't spend with her!  As a child she would often tuck me in with the warning that Santa didn't stop by houses where the children weren't asleep...  I wonder if she ever knew how much harder it was to go to sleep after that?  LOL!!

When we built our house 7 1/2  years ago, I spent an entire year and a half praying (more like pleading and begging) for just one more Christmas with her (she was in her 90's by then).  I just wanted to have memories of my grandmother in our new house...  I wanted to see her make biscuits in our kitchen, I wanted to see her oohh and ahhhh over her Christmas presents in our family room...  And God was so gracious, He gave us 6 more Christmases with her and lots of laughter and memories...

Abby's first Christmas with us...

So, as you can probably understand, I just wasn't sure how this first Christmas would be without her...  But while there were some REALLY sad moments, it was a Christmas full of love, laughter and hugs...  Here some highlights...

Chillin' on Christmas Morning

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(That's my mom...  She doesn't do "chillin'"...  That's what a servant's heart looks like from the outside!)

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That's me opening one of my Christmas ornaments from the kids (every year each one gives me a Christmas ornament so I have a REALLY cool collection of ornaments from over the years!  And I get my own tree to put them on...This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions!)

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After Christmas we went to visit Scott's family...  LOTS of cousins!!

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Riding go-carts!

Next we went to my dad's house, but unfortunately I don't have any photos...  My stepmom was sick, so it wasn't the usual visit...

Then we made an extra trip to visit the rest of my family...  And our newest 'China' cousin!!

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Nooooo...  Our sons aren't competitive...  Push-ups with children on their backs!

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Out to dinner for New Year's Eve!

So there were so many AWESOME moments from Christmas, but there's one that is extra special from this year...  If you've followed my blog for very long, you know that the first year with Abby was kind of hard.  She let me care for her most basic needs, but that was about it...  She didn't want hugs and she didn't want me holding her...   

On New Year's Eve, as we were leaving for dinner, I went out on the back porch and yelled to our children that we were leaving...  Abby stopped what she was doing and came running to the porch, she ran right up the stairs and gave me a BIG hug!!  

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I LOVE this picture!!  Happy New Year from our family to yours!