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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Storms.....

I actually love storms...at least when I'm at home, when my man and my babies are all safely tucked in with me. I don't love the ones where we're glued to the skies because tornadoes have been seen or predicted - those I could do without - but a good rattling of the house and watching the yard light up at midnight from the lightning - love it! I think it's because when I was little my PawPaw used to sit me on his lap during the storms and tell me God was bowling. (yeah I know, not very theological, but it kept his little "brown eyed huzzy" - what he called me - from being scared) The thunder was him rolling the ball and the rain fell because He's so big and His bowling ball is so heavy the clouds couldn't hold the rain in. The lightning - you guessed it - a strike! LOL Funny thing is I've tried that with my kids and they just look at me and go "Yeah right Mom". Oh the power of the PawPaw!! LOL

So, I'm in a bit of a storm right now. Some people would look at my life, the pattern of the way things have happened in it, and think that I've always been attacked following a major spiritual event. They would be right. I went to hear our preacher's wife lead an amazing women's event - it was the final night in a series she'd been doing - and that night ended up in the hospital bleeding internally and losing a baby. I went to another women's event on a Saturday at our church and my Daddy went to be with Jesus on the following Tuesday. I had been on a retreat with my Sunday school class and my brother-in-law died the following week. So, after going to Deeper Still this weekend - well, I've learned to brace myself. Life did not disappoint. Fortunately it's not anything as tragic as a death or an illness, but it's a storm for my family. Long story short, our landlord has decided to sell his house and we've got to move. Right before school starts. Special. We've had this conversation with them before and they decided to wait but this time events in their life have lead them to this decision. I don't blame them.

When you read that last paragraph some people might say "Girl, I'd stop going to those things if I was you. Every time you do something bad happens." But I say "Look how faithful the Lord has been to fill me up so that when those storms have hit - I'm READY!" And He was faithful again. Last weekend Priscilla Shirer brought the thunder with her when she taught from Eph 3:20-21. Among the many nuggets God gave me thru her was this one: When you pray, be specific. Ask God specifically for things that you want. Ask Him to specifically meet this need or that one. But then say to Him "But God if you have something better in store for me....GIVE ME THAT!!!" So that's what I'm asking Him to do. I'm asking Him for something better! I have no idea what that something better will look like - and frankly I could care less - I just want HIS something better for my life! I want Him to go BEYOND the beyond that I could ask for or imagine! That's the truth of Eph 3:20-21. His Spirit is at work in me and that power, combined with my faith in Him, combined with the pattern of faithfulness I can see in my life bring me rest! As Jesus slept on a cushion in the boat during the squall on the sea in Mark 4, so I will crawl up in my Abba Daddy's lap and rest while this storm passes by. That doesn't mean I won't see the storm, hear it or even feel it's power trying to shake me, but I will rest. I'll rest because I know who holds tomorrow and He is Faithful!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Forgiven...

That's a hard word in this world. Forgiven. Lots of times we say we forgive people. Someone steps on your toe, "Oh, I'm sorry", "It's okay" we answer. Forgiven. Someone takes your seat at a party "Oh, I didn't know this was your seat", "Oh, that's all right" we offer up. Forgiven, but are they really? Someone talks about you behind your back, "You know I really didn't mean that" they say, "Oh, I understand" we say, but do we really? Are we willing to trust them with our secrets again? Forgiven. It's easier said than done - for most of us anyway. I know there have been people in my life that I've had a HARD time forgiving. They've done unspeakable things to me. Things that could've destroyed me - literally and figuratively.

This morning God had me in Exodus and the study I'm doing talked about "Israel's Golden Boy" and since we were in Exodus I thought - Moses. Surely we're gonna read about Moses, and of course we did, but he wasn't the 'golden boy' in this story. Today the focus was Aaron. In Ex 38 Moses is on the mountaintop quite busy with the Most High. Meanwhile, Aaron was left with "the people". They got bored, they got lonely, they got scared so they went to Aaron for help. What did the golden boy do? Gave them what they wanted. A god. A god made of gold in the shape of a calf. Strike 1. Then when baby brother returns with the "Word" what does Aaron do? Blames the people. Strike 2. They asked for his help and he gave them what they wanted. I think he could see on Moses' face that he wasn't buying it so then he tries to play it off as a miracle. "I put their gold in the fire and out popped this calf". (my paraphrase of course) Strike 3. You'd certainly think that God would be ready to move on from Aaron, don't you? I mean, maybe he'd get to herd the cattle, or maybe carry Moses' tent around for him, but no. Just a couple chapters over (40) we find God telling Moses to go get Aaron and anoint him as priest.

Say what?! Yes that's what I said. Aaron becomes priest! Not only that, but his sons, they do too! In fact "Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue for all generations to come." Ex 40:15b. Don't you just love that about God? Not only did He forgive Aaron, but He turned around and poured a blessing on his entire family line! Amazing!!

That my friends, is forgiveness. In my own life I can tell you that the Lord took a girl who was born into a family that served Him. A family that raised her to know, love and serve Him. However, that girl made some mistakes....just a few......THOUSAND! lol Yet He has turned my life around. He has blessed me beyond measure. He has given me a life that I surely didn't imagine I'd have. He has blessed me with a man that I adore (and adores me too, most of the time lol), with kids that couldn't be any more amazing if they even tried, with a family that I love and with friends that love on and support me every day. He has used me in the ministries He has blessed me with and that, in and of itself is a miracle!
He is faithful. He reminds me every day that I'm nothing without Him. He does it in a way that doesn't condemn me, but convinces me not to even try it on my own. He is good. He IS forgiveness!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why.......

Why is it that bad things have to happen? I know the whole sin in the world speech but I still sometimes wonder why.
Why is it that the ones we love hurt us most? Shouldn't they be the very ones that do their best to NEVER hurt us?
Why are family dynamics so difficult to deal with? Webster's defines family as a group of persons that come from the same ancestors. Shouldn't that mean something?
This post has become very depressing hasn't it? lol. I'm really not sad this morning just shaking my head in amazement at some of the relationships in my life. Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed at the things people do to one another - the things they say, the way they act - that cause pain that I just can't even imagine.
Don't get me wrong. I KNOW I've treated people I love badly. I've taken out anger on them, I've spoken hatefully to them, I've ignored them - but I can honestly say that I have been sorry for it! I can honestly say that MOST of the time it wasn't intentional. I didn't set out to hurt them. Then I have hurt after the fact.
It just amazes me how the Lord can turn a life around. I have seen in the last week, a change in some one's life that has been such a witness to those that they love! I have sat, shaking my head, at how the Lord has used their life to impact so many lives around them. Like tossing a rock into water and the ripples it makes, their life has been making ripples in the lives of the people around them that don't know the Lord. AMAZING!
Then the question that comes to my mind is....why don't they trust him too? Why don't they just turn their life over to him? Why do they continue to run, to hurt, to lose, to fight? Why? He's waiting to show them love. He's waiting to bring them peace. He's waiting to give them life. He's waiting to.......... Why don't they let Him?............
These questions were true in my own life at one time. Then finally I realized how very much I needed Him in my life. How I was never going to find the peace I was longing for apart from Him. He has changed my life. Sure, I still blow it.....daily, but He's there to pick me up, dust me off, and set me out to try it again - this time in His strength. He's there to love me. He shows it to me every day. He forgives. He is patient. He is kind. He never hurts me but corrects me when I need it - the way a Father should. He's there. Always. That makes me wonder why? Why would the Creator of the Universe, the God of Heaven, the King of all Kings do all this for me? For me?! Because He is faithful, He is loving, He is mercy, He is.........
Oh how he loves you and me.
Oh how he loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give?
Oh how He loves you,
Oh how He loves me,
Oh how He loves you and me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Voice World Tour Stop 2!

LOL. That's what my man called last nights event!. He's our road manager. One Voice (the ladies group I sing with) sang at a Missions Festival about a 3 weeks ago and last night we sang at the Charlotte Rescue Mission and today I just can't stop smiling. It was incredible!! When I began asking the Lord which songs to sing He gave them to me immediately and I have to admit that sometimes when that happens I get a little nervous. Not that I don't trust Him, but I know myself well enough that sometimes I get in his way. This time - as He does EVERY TIME - He was faithful!!
We sang "He Reigns with Awesome God" and some of the men knew that one and they sang along and clapped and hollered! It was great! Then we sang "Orphans of God" and I think for the first time - in a very long time - I could see the entire room on the edge of their seats listening to the message that "There are no strangers, there are no outcasts, there are no orphans of God. So many fallen, but hallelujah, there are no orphans of God." Could there have been a more encouraging song for that particular group of men.....I think not! God you are so good!!
Then we sang "Shackles" and this group of ethnically diverse men were on their feet!! We loved every minute of it!! But most importantly God was glorified!!
The message that followed was just amazing and I was reminded of the amazing teachers we are blessed with at my church. I mean, it was GREAT!!! God's Word never fails!!
Over the days leading up the event I was asking God over and over to give me the right words to say to these men and to guard my mouth so that I wouldn't get lost in nervous chatter. (I tend to do that when I'm in front of people - lol) But yesterday God led me to a verse that just blew my mind. Ps 119:50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life." I know that in that room there were men suffering. Suffering from losses. Suffering from addictions. Suffering from disappointments. Suffering. All of us are suffering and that is what the Lord was reminding me. Sure, I have a home. I have food. But I'm not that far from where they are.....none of us are really. And as I walked in that place and saw all their faces I was just overcome with the weight of suffering. But then that second line in Psalms. "Your promise preserves my life." What promise? Well, the promise that He will never leave me. The promise that He will never walk away from me. The promise that I am engraved on the palm of His hand. The promise that He knows my name. The promise that I can do all things thru His Son. And I tell ya, I was then overcome with HIM!! I was a wreck! I didn't know if I could stand up there and sing to these men, much less speak to them because I was so emotional, but my girlfriends surrounded me and we went before the throne and I could feel the Father telling me, I brought you here for a reason and don't you worry girl, I'll get you thru! AND HE DID! Not only did He get me thru, He gave me words that hopefully touched someone and I know it made them smile.....what more could I ask?
So today, I'm so overwhelmed again. I'm overwhelmed that the Creator of the Universe, the Maker of the Stars, the God of heaven would use me. Me. I'm so grateful that He gave me this opportunity and I'm praying that He'll give me others. I'm praying that He'll use 'One Voice' to accomplish His mission of spreading His Message to this city. "You broke the chains now I can lift my hands, and I'm gonna praise You, I'm gonna praise You"!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's my BIRTHDAY!!

I'm not proud. I'll be glad to tell you it's my birthday!!! WOOOHOOOOOO!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

God is working.......

He's still working, God is working even now. Tho' we often don't know just how, God is working, He's still working, God is working even now. LOVE me some Brooklyn Tab!!! It's so true. God is working. He's been working on me over these last weeks so much that I'm tired from it. ;-) That's the good thing tho, at least I know He cares.
There's been so many exciting things going on. We've got our annual Celebrate America program coming this weekend (it's so funny that going in this is my least favorite show but after it's over He always blesses me tremendously!), and getting ready for that with practice on SATURDAY....ugh.....We're just coming out of VBS which is always fun, but this year was a bit stressful because we had a mini "musical" in which my oldest had a part so it was studying lines, practice, etc. The ladies group I sing with, "One Voice" has been busy as well. We had the Breath of Heaven event in April, then a wedding in May (congrats Mandy!), then we sang at a Missions benefit in June and next week we're going to the Charlotte Rescue Mission to sing and we're singing at our Deacon's Wives meeting in August. whew....We're also working on a few other events (Jimmy has taken it upon himself to become our manager! lol) so if your church needs some music let me know!! We'll even travel as long as we can be fed! LOL
This is how I know God is working. I wasn't sure about the direction of this group and what we should be doing so I began praying for the Lord to either close the door for us or to swing it wide and well.....He is faithful!
Also, there are exciting things coming with STMM. The conference in Sept is starting to sell tickets, but we can always use more. If you wanna travel to - or if you live in - the Southern Ill area in Sept then check it out. Here's a link. It's gonna be great and we're praying the Lord will send people, the people of His choosing, to hear a Word!! BTW did I mention that Travis Cottrell will be leading worship. OH YES THAT'S WHAT I SAID!!!! ;-) If you can't come would you please be in prayer for this conference? We will most certainly appreciate it.
So, here it is summer, the months of slacking (as if), and we're slamming! I have to admit, I LOVE it!! Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!! and if you don't know what tomorrow is, then shame on you! lol JK! I don't know what my plans are, but who cares! I'm alive another year, I'm (relatively) healthy, I'm in love with the most amazing man God could've chosen for me, my kids are happy and healthy and I have a circle of friends who love me, challenge me and lift me up. What more could a girl ask for? Million dollars maybe?.....lol If I had a million you can slap guarantee I'd be getting 365 pairs of shoes - one for each day of the year! LOL Sad, I know.

Friday, June 19, 2009

For my brother......

Jeff, it's quite possible that you won't see this post, but my prayer is that you will! I just wanted to say Happy Birthday and that I love you! I can't begin to imagine how hard it was growing up with 3 sisters but you have to know that you were/are our hero! You've protected us, loved us, made fun of us (Bubble 2 - lol), picked on us, fought for us, helped us and just been there for us and I know it wasn't always easy, or even what you WANTED to do, but you did it.
I hope your birthday is a great one and I hope that you don't start to fall apart now that you're 50!!!!!!!!lol

Love you!
BiKay

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our weekend!

This weekend was a TOTAL blast for my family! First "One Voice" sang at the World Outback Missions Festival then we loaded up the Smith girls and headed to the pond to fish. Here's a few pics from the fun we had.

Maddie's first fish - not too close Jimmy! LOL
Here she is reeling in the "big catch"!
Josh caught a few as well.
Sheldon was certainly not to be outdone.
Here's all us girls singin'!
Note Beth left her mic to go cut the rug! LOL
Praisin' in a stable!
Yes, Liney was the only fan we had that day! LOL

It really was a great weekend and we had EXCELLENT weather. We called this the "One Voice Outback World Tour"! LOL Seriously though we were honored to be a part of the day and we got some praise on too! Hopefully those listening enjoyed it as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't try to tell me.......

That God's not in the miracle business anymore!! I can tell you that He most certainly is! I got one today in fact!
In Jan. my oldest son went for an eye exam and was told he needed glasses. I noticed the Dr. was doing lots more tests than usual and at the end of the exam she rather nonchalantly goes "Yeah, I think he has glaucoma, but you don't need to worry." AS IF! He's 11 for Pete's sake, not 91. So I take him to my family Dr. who says he sees the same problem and then refers me on to a specialist. We had our first appt. back in April and the specialist does a TON of testing - I mean we were there for 1 hr and 45 min - but I was glad they were checking so many things.
After all was said and done he said he felt certain it was glaucoma - which is EXTREMELY rare in kids - but before he sentenced him to a lifetime of daily eye drops he wanted to recheck him in 2 weeks.
The 2 weeks came and a few days before the appt. they call me to reschedule. Today was the follow up. The didn't do all the tests from the first time, but according to the ones they did do - they were all NORMAL!!! Yes, no signs of glaucoma!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! He did say that the inital "cupping" of the optic nerve (the thing they saw that started this whole ball rolling) was still there and it was something they needed to watch, but at this point my son is HEALED people!!! WOOOHOOOOOO!
For those of you who have prayed I say the most sincere heart felt thank you I can possibly offer! You'll never know this side of heaven what it meant! To those who offered words of advice or encouragement I say thank you so much! To my Abba Father, my Heavenly Father, my Jehovah Rapha there are no words........Thank you seems so inadequate. All I can say is PRAISE YOU, PRAISE YOU, PRAISE YOU!!! I will never cease to sing of your mercy and love for my family!!! THANK YOU my Father!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Word is alive!

Before I jump into my title today, I'll do a little debriefing from my weekend. My sweet nephew JR graduated from High school Saturday so the kids and I loaded up and went to WV. It was a super quick trip - left Friday, came back Saturday - but it was well worth it. Jay graduated from a small Christian school and they allowed each graduate to speak. (yeah, it was that small) My sweet nephew has been thru so much in his life - losing his dad a few years ago - and he has always been a very caring and compassionate person. His speech left the entire room in tears - even the Principal was seen wiping a few tears away. He's an amazing boy who is totally sold out to Jesus and I know the Lord is gonna do great things with him! I love you Jaybir and I'm so very proud to be your Aunt "Wal"! (think wow) lol
So this past week has been busy, busy for me. The STMM team has really been picking up and we're in the process of creating a prayer team - in fact it's about ready to roll! So we've been taking prayer requests and have been praying over them. Here's where things get good! I read the first request that came in and the Lord took me to Isaiah to share some Scripture with this sweet sister. I did. Then I read the second request. I began searching thru Scripture and asking the Lord for something to share, but the Lord sent me right back to the same verse! I just love that! I mean, here were 2 women with 2 very different requests and yet, the same verse was alive for both of them! I then poured thru all the requests that came that day and as I read each one I just sat there having me some church right at my computer desk! You guessed it, the same Scripture applied to each and every situation!!!! The Word is alive y'all! If you don't believe me, just dig in and see for yourself - I dare you!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! Mine was awesome!! I'm so blessed!

Friday, May 8, 2009

video

These shots were taken by my friend Antonia and I made this little video so y'all could see what a GREAT day we had at Breath of Heaven. I must say that "One Voice" was honored to participate that day and had a BLAST doing it!!

Broken......

The title sounds kinda depressing doesn't it? I think about breaking things - like the time I broke this amazing dish that belonged to my grandmother. AWFUL!! My maternal grandmother died 3 months before I was born so I never knew her, but I've always been told how much I look like her and act like her too. (scary) My paternal grandmother died when I was 5 so I've never had the joy of having that relationship in my life. Isn't it funny how the Lord works because all I ever knew was my maternal grandfather (paternal died when I was five - about 2 months before my grandma) and I LOVED my Pawpaw! I mean LOVED him! He would tell me all the time that I was his favorite. In fact, he would tell EVERYONE I was his favorite! LOL You know my siblings and cousins just LOVED that?! LOL Now my kids only have their grandmothers in their lives. Both of their grandfathers are in heaven. Hmmmm.
So anyway, (sorry for the rabbit hole there) I broke that dish that was my Mawmaw Millie's and I was torn up about it. I tried to glue all the pieces together, but it wasn't happenin! I still have all the broken pieces in a box - I just can't bring myself to throw them out. Sad, I know. So my theme today is broken. My foot is broken. Yes it is. I fell during our kids program Sunday night at church into a bucket of kazoos - yes I said kazoos - and landed on the outside of my foot breaking a bone. SPECIAL! It still kinda hurts, but I can walk and I have a very lovely big blue shoe to wear for Mother's Day. In fact, the UC Doc says "Happy Mother's day" as he puts this hideous thing on my foot Tuesday morning. (yes, I waited til Tuesday to go to the Dr)
Broken. UGH. So during this time of no computer that's kinda where the Lord has had me. Broken in such a way that He has had to heal and then fill me. I love that about Him! He's had me in His Word more than ever. He's put a new love for His Word in my heart like never before. I mean, every time something comes up I'm finding Scriptures to go with it. I even whipped some out on my kids when a note came home from school - and no it wasn't "Honor your father and mother so that your days may be long" (that's from the Valarie International Version by the way). It was Scripture about their particular behavior and how sin breaks the Lords' heart. He's making His Word come to LIFE in this house and I LOVE it!
So, while I've been broken, both literally and figuratively, I can truly say that the Lord makes beauty from ashes! So often the Lord breaks us because He knows there's things that need to be healed, cleaned and repaired in us. It's not fun. Breaking something never is. But oh, the finished product is worth it!! So, I can say that I've been thankful for this time away. I've missed checking in on friends and being able to keep up with things via email, etc. but I wouldn't trade the time with my Lord for ANYTHING!!! It's shown me what matters. What He wants. What He demands. What He deserves!
Next time let's just hope there's no kazoos involved!!! ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

GOOD TO BE BACK!

Land sakes it stinks not having a computer! Mine died - I mean totally and completely died on April 19th and I've been without since. I can't begin to tell you how frustrating that has been. I mean, Beth Moore changed her blog and I didn't even know it! LOL!
Anyway, I'm back in computer land - thank you Jesus! - and as you can imagine I'm SOOO behind! I've got some catching up to do as well as a gigantic inbox to empty but I can't wait to tell you all how the Lord has been speaking to me during this time! I'm getting ready to go fill in for Donna F. and lead an "Esther" study (which I LOVE) but I've got so much to tell all 5 of you! LOL!
I'll be back later to fill you in. It also involves some broken bones! OUCH!.....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

That's My King! I wonder...do YOU know Him?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week

I've always looked forward to Easter. I'm a Spring/Summer kinda girl so Easter was kinda the 'kick off' to Easter for me. I know, not exactly the 'church' answer for loving Easter, but I'm just keepin' it real here.
I have to say, however, that this year there's something new in me. God has done such a mighty work in me over the last few months that I'm just totally blown away by how excited I am for this holiday!! After doing the "Esther" study I have a whole new appreciation for this season and a whole new reason to celebrate! Of course the meaning of Easter is still the same, to commemorate the resurrection of my Lord, but for me this year is so much of a celebration that my "Easter dress" has a whole new meaning. I told my friend Melissa that I was ABSOLUTELY getting something new this year (even though I'm on Praise Team that day and have to wear a black skirt - ugh) and I kinda feel like I'm getting a prom dress. FOR REAL y'all!! Do you even understand why we have a reason to celebrate? I mean, there's the obvious power of the Resurrection, Jesus' defeat of sin and death, our sins covered once for all....AMAZING when you just think of that alone. But do you understand the freedom we have? I mean FREEDOM!!
Reading over Esther, pouring over the MANY celebrations, the feasts, the laws....it's exhausting. I have to admit that there's a part of me that finds the traditions of the Jews absolutely fascinating, but it just makes me sad at how bound they are. I say that in love, I mean it. They are just tied to those laws like nothing. I am so thankful that I am tied at the foot of the cross! I have freedom there! I have life there! I have power there! I have love there! I have forgiveness there!
Don't you think you need a prom dress too?! YAHOOOJAH!!
Thank you Jesus!!
Sorry for the yelling y'all but I'm free to yell all I want! ;-)

(PS - YAY Tarheels!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Y'all gotta see what God did.......

OH YES HE DID!!!!!
Y'all seriously have NO idea how badly my family needed this and God just totally took care of everything for us!! Jehovah Jireh showed up and showed off! Y'all I've never had a sunroof in a car in my life! Leather (heated) seats, power everything, stow-n-go seats, multi cd player and get this, just to really show off - IT HAS A DVD PLAYER!!!!!!! Oh yes I am one of those moms!! AND PROUD OF IT!!!! ;-)

So all I can say is PRAY when you need something. Pray without ceasing. Pray continually. PRAY people! I've been praying for this for over 2 years and not only did He answer it but just to top off this little sundae He lowered my payments by $100!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY GOD!!!!!!!
Sorry for the yelling, but.....actually no I'm not sorry for the yelling!!!!

HHAAALLLLEEEEELLLLLUUUUUUUUU-----JAH!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waiting.......

Here I am waiting, abide in me I pray.
Here I am longing for you.
Hide me in Your love.
Bring me to my knees.
May I know Jesus more and more.
Come live in me,
All my life take over.
Come live in me,
I will rise on eagles' wings
Love that song. Waiting....not so much. I'm waiting on some things today. BIG things! Things that have the potential to ROCK my world!! However, in the waiting.. I will rise! You see, I know who holds tomorrow. I know Him. I don't just know about Him. I mean I really, really know Him. We have a relationship. I talk, He listens. He talks, I listen (may not like it, but I listen!;-))
Doing this Esther study has changed me. Has changed how I approach things. Has changed how I see every detail of my life. I don't want to give things away for those who haven't done it, but my story is being rewritten! PRAISE THE LORD! The story that I scripted is, well...trash! It's junk. But the Father is writing a novel to be read one day.....okay I really don't wanna give that part away!!!
So here I am waiting. He's abiding in me. I'm longing for more of Him. Not just for the answers I want, but for Him!! I'm going to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride instead of pacing and worrying all day. Because "the Lord longs to be gracious to (me)you; he rises to show (me)you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" Isa 30:18 (emp mine)
Y'all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Already?

I love the anticipation of beginning a new Bible study. I love picking up the book and looking thru at all the blanks and wondering how God will fill them in for me. I love reading ahead - just a little - to see what we'll start with. I love it! But where does the time go?
Tomorrow is the last day of our Esther study. Sniff. It's funny because I had been doing my homework a week ahead of the class, but decided as we were going thru it that I didn't like that so I was only about 1/2 a week ahead. (being the leader I decided I needed to be prepared! haha) But this last week was different. I didn't read ahead. I couldn't. This study is truly amazing! If you haven't done Beth Moore "Esther, It's Tough Being a Woman" PLEASE do! You think you know the Esther story already? I challenge you to think again. You think Esther has little to do with your life? Think again. You think how could you possibly relate to a Jewish girl who becomes Queen of Persia? THINK AGAIN Sister!!! You'll find yourself in EVERY character in the story. Yes, even in the evil Haman. Trust me.
So tomorrow we wind this study down, but here's the exciting thing. The ladies who have been SOOOOO faithful to come and y'all there's been about 15 - 16 ladies who have been FAITHFUL to a Wednesday morning Bible study, want to start another study! They're so hungry that they don't even want to take a week off! That makes me want to go out in my yard and do a cartwheel!!!! Of course, I'd likely either break my wrist or fall and break my leg so no cartwheels - they'll just have to be done in my heart!! I love it when the Lord sets a fire of passion in women for His Word! That's the ONLY reason I agreed to lead this study. I knew I had NOTHING to offer these women, but my love for the Word, my passion for breaking it open and diving in! There's nothing like it! You think you know a verse - you think you've heard it all before - you think it's a nice story.........THINK AGAIN! It's alive! It's active! It's breath! It's life!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOO! I'm 'bout to run a lap for the Word girls! LOL!
So as we close the book on Esther, I find myself on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I can't wait to see where He leads next! I can't wait to go pick up my Sword and see where He leads!!Don't you wanna come along?.....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let it go.....

Easier said than done, isn't it? Letting things go. Sometimes I have said I let it go in my head, but in my heart it's been a different story. UGH. HATE it when that happens. The Lord has really been showing me areas in my life where I've held on to things that should have LONG ago been let go of. Been laid down. I'm so thankful the Father hasn't given up on me. Where would I be? SCARY!
So I have to tell you what happened in our Bible study yesterday. One of my sweet girlfriends came to study with her 2 yr old niece in tow. It was unexpected for her and she wasn't able to send her to childcare so she stayed in the lesson with us. I know what you're thinking - bet that was fun? Actually it was amazing! That precious little thing hardly made a peep for 2 HOURS! I think I heard her sweet voice twice the whole time. Mine would've been crawling under the tables or twirling in the middle of the group. Scary, I tell ya! ;-)
There's a story behind this sweet little girl. Her momma doesn't know Jesus and neither does her daddy. Her Auntie is the only Jesus this baby girl ever sees. (And boy does she see Jesus in her life!!!) When her momma found out she was pregnant with the princess she wasn't quite ready for the "commitment" motherhood would bring and decided to abort. My sweet friend intervened and convinced her to change her mind!! YOU GO GIRL!! To the great glory of God, the sweetest little angel was born and thus graced our study with her presence yesterday.
As we ended the Esther session, Beth Moore was talking about letting things go, giving our giant-size weights of life to the Only One who can truly carry them so she had us lifting our hands as she prayed. Everyone raised their hands during this time of surrender. As we opened our eyes this little miracle girl had gotten down into the floor and was standing with her precious little hands lifted to Jesus. Imagine the weight that baby carries every day in a home where Jesus isn't. Amazing! Needless to say, all of us just fell out! It was one of the most precious experiences I've ever been a part of.
It's so hard to let things go, but oh girls when we do...the freedom! We can truly dance in the glory of God! We can truly sing, smile, shine for Jesus. Yes the hard times come. Yes difficulties arise, but trust can turn that thing around! Trust that God will sustain you regardless of the outcome. Trust, let go and live.....

Monday, March 16, 2009

"I know Baby"

This weekend my baby girl got a boo-boo. No, there won't be any pictures posted of this one! LOL. After it happened I just sat rocking her and kept saying to her - in some attempt at comfort - "I know Baby, I know". Not really sure it helped all that much, but it was all I had to give her. It's hard when our kids hurt. It's hard when we can't do a thing to stop it or make it better for them, or for ourselves for that matter.
Lately I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed. There's a LOT going on in my life - a choir concert in 2 weeks, the end of my Esther study (sniff), Easter, Spring Break, a women's conference, children's choir spring concert. Just a LOT of stuff. I think because it's all relatively close I'm just feeling the stress of it. So God, in His loving kindness sent me to some Scriptures for comfort. He's so good that way. He's inviting me to crawl up on His lap and just rest a bit and let Him gently rock me with the Peace of His Word. I hope you'll gain some comfort from them in your day as well. Some of these are just portions of the verse, but they still speak VOLUMES! Enjoy!

"The Mighty One, God the Lord! He knows!" Josh 22:22
"for the Lord is a God who knows" 1 Sam 2:3
"he (the Lord) knows the way I take" Job 23:10
"the Lord laughs at the wicked for he knows their day is coming" Ps 37:13
"he (God) knows the secrets of the heart" Ps 44:21
"The Lord knows the thoughts of man" Ps 94:11
"for he (the Lord) knows how we are formed" Ps 103:14
"the proud he (the Lord) knows from afar" Ps 138:6 OUCH!
"he (God) knows what lies in darkness" Dan 2:22
"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him" Matt 6:8
"Your Father knows that you need" Matt 6:32
"God knows your hearts" Luke 16:15
"The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile" 1 Cor 3:20
"but God knows" 2 Cor 12:3 (do we even need anything else?!)
"The Lord knows those who are his" 2 Tim 2:19
"the Lord knows how to rescue" 2 Pet 2:9
"and he (God) knows everything" 1 John 3:20
AND THAT'S THAT! Now I want you to find someone in your house (even if it's your pet), look at them and say "THE LORD KNOWS"!!! ;-)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENAN - a day late!


Oh my word sweet boy! I can't believe you've been here a year already!!! I'm so thankful that your Momma has shared you with me. I love her - and I guess your daddy too! ;-) Your big sister brings fun everywhere she goes and so do you!! I love you Kenan and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for your life. I know it's going to be big because of all the prayers that have been lifted on your behalf!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweetie pie!!
Auntie V

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Week of some CRAZY TV!

Was anyone looking for "After the Final Rose Part 3" last night? I know I sure was. In fact, I was hoping it would be a live show from somewhere around Dallas with Melissa telling everyone what a horrible kisser Jason was and how vertically challenged men can NOT be trusted!! LOL - just kiddin' shorties! ;-) (for a girl who's 5'9" there's always an abundance of men shorter than me!)
Then AI. Ugh. What's the deal with bringing back the losers? I mean, I'm all about second chances, but they had auditions, they went to Vegas - or wherever they were - they had their "big shot" on TV and STILL didn't choose the 'right song'?! COME ON! Someone, somewhere shoulda told them - "Uh, have you really decided on THAT one?" For real!
Last night was the kickoff for season 195 of "America's Next Top Model" and is it just me or have you EVER seen one of those winners on a magazine cover? Enough said.
So this week has just been some weird TV and I'm hoping tonight will be better. It's Thursday - it's MY tv night. Grey's, CSI, ER, Private Practice and one other show that only Melissa knows I watch on Thursdays (and I'm hoping she won't tell! haha). So much TV - so little time. Thank goodness for DVR. Yes, I don't think it appropriate to thank God for DVR! ;-)
Anyway, I'm dome with my rambling for today and since there's this 6 degrees or separation thing - if anyone who reads this knows someone, who knows someone, who knows poor little Melissa from the Bachelor, tell her she got off lucky. She needs a taller man! ;-)

Oh yes, I must mention that I FINALLY made it to the IKEA!! LAND SAKES people. Land sakes I tell ya!!! It's my new fav place to go. I walked in with sweet Melissa and we both just kept going on and on about how pretty everything was and we had only made it to the cafeteria!! Even the people were pretty - which Melissa said affirms that WE were in fact pretty too! LOL! Anyway, I'm going again....soon! Anyone wanna come along?! LOVE it!!! WOOHOOOOOO!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Voice

This is my group singing at church. Not bad for practicing once! ;-)

Renewed, Refreshed, Restored....

Had an AWESOME weekend! We've had snow here today so I can't take the time to blog all about it, but the Lord's Presence was felt in a mighty way in the mountains and I had a GREAT time with my man and a few of our friends. Here's a few pics.

Dr. Rummage and Michelle bringin' a word... ;-)
and cheesin' by the fireplace!
Todd and Lisa Smith givin' us the CHEESE!
Steve and Antonia reliving the prom! ;-)
The girl can SING y'all!Some of the gang.....
Weldon and MaryAnn Ogles - so sweet!
David and Trudi Milsaps
and last but certainly not least...
Me and my man!!!
Ain't we so cute?!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Retreatin....

I'm SOOOO excited! My man and I are fixin' to head to a marriage retreat hosted by our church! I can't wait!! My sweet sister Regina is coming down to keep my kids. Pray for our safe travel and pray the Lord will continue the work He's been doing in Jimmy and me as well as our entire church!!
Have a great weekend!!
I know I will!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Empowered Church!!

LAND SAKES! I just don't know where to start this morning. We've just had one of the MOST powerful conferences at our church that I have EVER been to!! I mean, POWERFUL!!! The Holy Spirit not only showed up but He SHOWED OFF!!! (sorry for the yelling but I'm excited people!) It started first thing Sunday morning in the 8am service and my prayer is that it won't end! I don't even know how to put it all into words.
Sunday morning our counseling rooms were so full that they were sitting out in the halls with people. There were little boys and girls, teens, moms, dads, even a few grandparents!! It was AMAZING! Our pastoral staff were pulling people from the pews to come and counsel people because we didn't have enough decision counselors. Then Monday night the entire church came to the altar to pray together as a body. I mean there was hardly a person left in their seats and those who didn't come up knelt in their pews. The last night the Holy Spirit sparked a fire and people were on their feet shouting - yes I said SHOUTING at the Grove!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOO! lol
There's been a lot of 'talk' about our church and while I will admit that there are issues and we are not a perfect church I will also tell you this, I've been in church "all my life and 9 months before that" (to quote Dr. Roc Collins) and my dad was on staff in several of those churches. I've been in big churches. I've been in little churches. I've been in churches that were on FIRE and I've been in churches that you would've sworn you were the only one with a pulse. The bottom line is this. As long as we are on this earth, there will NEVER be a perfect church. Anywhere. You won't find it. The minute you think you've found the perfect church you'd better look out 'cause the enemy is on to you and he'll get busy! You won't find a perfect church because PEOPLE are in it and besides Christ Himself there's no perfect people. I say all that to say this. I love my church. I'm grateful for the blessings we have there and I'm grateful to be serving the Lord there and I'm grateful that He has answered my prayers for His Hand to move.
I'm claiming Hosea 6:1-3 for my church.
"Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us; that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." (emp mine) Y'all our conference was THREE DAYS long and I'll tell you I feel restored as a body of Christ! I believe He will. I believe He's begun already.
BTW - Remember how I said the Lord has been faithful to give me little 'hugs' to know that I'm doin' ok with teaching my Sunday school class? Well He sent me a hug, a kiss and a bouquet of roses Sunday morning!!! One of my girls went forward to rededicate her life and to be baptized!!!! WOOOOHOOOOOOOO Thank you Jesus for Ashley and her Momma!! I love you Lord! I thank you for this time of restoration and I pray that you will continue to appear. Continue to come to us. Continue to bind up our wounds. Continue to use the Grove as a place of healing for the hurting and continue to bring lost souls in!! Thank you Lord! Thank you!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jesus - The Suffering Servant

This is the title of my Sunday school lesson tomorrow. We're doing a study called "They Call Him Jesus" and so far it's been really good. Here's the thing though. 9th grade girls are hard. I mean, they really wanna know about Jesus and they really do know a lot more about Him than I thought, but they really want whatever I'm teaching them to apply TO THEM! That's where this study is....shall we say....lacking. The application part of the lesson doesn't go as deep as I/they would like. This is where my inexperience/insecurity/fear comes in. This is where the enemy likes to get me every Sat. evening as I'm finalizing things.

He likes to whisper in my ear that they're going to be giving me that face of "will you please just shut it". That face of "I see her mouth moving, but I don't understand a word coming out of it". Do you know that face? If you have a teenager I'm thinking you do. (lol) I've done what I can to prepare for these girls and just when I think I've wasted their time and mine, the Father is faithful to give me a little reassurance. Like a couple of weeks ago the pastor from our North Campus came down and preached and he was talking about carrying things and had a heavy backpack on his back. He dropped it dramatically on the floor to represent laying things down at Jesus feet and several of my girls turned and looked at me. I had done a similar illustration with a bag of rocks a few weeks earlier and they REMEMBERED! YAY God!

So tomorrow as we talk about how the world does it's best to tell us that we need to look a certain way, have certain things and do certain things to be loved and accepted but Jesus showed us in His life that to serve others was the way to greatness in His Kingdom I pray that something will stick with them. I pray that the Lord will honor His promise that His Word will not return void as I share it with these girls.

Father God, I know that you've promised me that I can do all things in Your strength so I pray now that You'll give me the right words as I lead class tomorrow. I ask You to start - even now tonight - to soften their hearts and open their minds to what it is You have to say to them. You are faithful Father, and I thank you for the joy of sharing with these amazing girls. Show yourself strong tomorrow and every day in their lives. In the precious name of the Ultimate Servant Your Son Jesus I ask it. Amen.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blogging Funk

It seems that I've been in a bit of a blogging funk lately. I've just been really busy and then when I sit to catch up on a few of my fav bloggers any free time I had is gone! So, today I'm going to turn this train around. Time to shake the funk and get back at it.

I'm leading the Esther study at church and we're 1/2 way thru. Let me just say that it has been AMAZING! The Lord has spoken to me over and over and over. Not just thru His Word but thru the incredible women who are participating with me. We have a great group and a variety of ages are represented and I just love how the Lord uses the older ladies to encourage me and I hope I'm doing the same for them. We've prayed together, laughed and of course, cried - we are girls after all - but God has spoken!! Who knew that sweet little Hadassah - a Jewish orphan girl who would become Queen of Persia would have so much in common with a stay-at-home mom of 3! Who knew?! The Word is alive and active I tell ya!!

Today we watched a video session on fear. When I told my friend Lisa that I was leading a study on fear today she just started cracking up! You see, I'm a chicken! Total Queen of Chickendom (maybe that's what I have in common with Esther - we're both Queens! haha). In fact, I have seen it start to manifest into my kids too. My daughter is scared to death of bikes. My middle son the dark. My oldest of heights. Fear. Ugh. I know it's sad.

Here's a few of things I've been afraid of in my life. The dark, close quarters, locked doors, bugs, the woods, being alone. Do I really need to go on? I think you get the point. I mean, my man always knew that if we went somewhere and I went to the restroom and wasn't back within 5 minutes he was to come looking for me because I was likely locked in the stall. For real! The list could go on and on. Finally the Lord said "Girl, when are you gonna start trusting me?". He put a friend in my life who pointed out how irrational my fears were and not to mention how utter disobedient I was being. Then He put my feet into the fire and took away the one person in my life who I knew would ALWAYS keep me safe - my Daddy - so that I would be left with no choice but to find my security in Him. So today as we watched that video on fear I truly did have a testimony. Sure, there's time when the enemy does his best to get my mind going. Like, when the bus is 5 minutes late or my man hasn't called me all day, but thank you Jesus this is one lesson I can say that I've learned. Mark 5:36 "Don't be afraid, just believe." I believe God loves me. I believe His plans are for my good and not my harm. I believe He wants me to live life to the full. I believe. I believe that when something dreadful happens...and I've lived thru enough to know that it will...He will be faithful! He will sustain! He will be with me thru it!

What's the worst that can happen to me? I die? Then I unzip this cloak of flesh and step into my heavenly body (which will be a size 2 by the way) and be in the Presence of the Very One who will wipe away all my fears, all my tears and be at peace. I say, BRING IT!

Friday, February 13, 2009

FIRSTS......

Today is a day of firsts. My oldest has his first "dance" at school. (let me qualify by saying this means that the 5th grade class will walk "single file" from their class to the gym where all us mom's will be waiting with not one single slow dance in the mix! haha) My boy-man got up, picked out one of his best "church" shirts, got dressed, and then much to his Momma's delight brushed his teeth - TWICE! LOL!! Then came in and asked if I had any mints!! Do you love that? He won't be within 2 feet of this girl, but he's worried about his breath!!! LOL!!!

Anyway, I've got to get myself ready for this big day and I'm sure there'll be pictures to post later. I'm trying not to cry as my baby is growing up. sniff

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Check this out!!!

Hey y'all! My friend Traci is FINALLY blogging! Cut her a little slack since she's been adjusting to a new baby boy in her house over the last year. Can NOT believe it's almost been a year since that precious gift rolled down the walkway at the airport!!! OH MY WORD!!! Anyway, go visit her!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS........

Ok, first I have to say sorry for not having the drawing last night, but things got a little crazy around here so I did it this morning and congratulations to............
CYNDI ABERLY!!!!
Cyndi, go to the STMM site, pick the purse you want and let me know then we'll get it shipped to you!!!
Thanks to everyone who visited our site and please spread the word about STMM!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

CUTESY BAGS!

Just wanted to mention that when you visit the STMM site you can choose any bag from the site if you're the winner. Forgot to mention that in my original post. Good luck and leave those comments!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

GIVEAWAY!!!

Don't you love free stuff - especially girly stuff? Well, this can be yours.....
If the price is right.....sorry couldn't resist. Seriously though, if you'll go visit THIS site and then leave me a comment on what you think of the Ministry, I'll put your name in a drawing and if you're the lucky one it's yours! I'll be holding the drawing on Fri Feb 6th so get busy! LOVE free stuff!!!
Good luck!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes.....

Yep. Changed my layout. Like it? I think it's cute. Anyway, gotta fix all my gadgets and widgets and all that other lingo that I have no idea what it really means! haha

I'm doing a little project for my upcoming Bible study and I'd really LOVE your participation if you don't mind. (Don't worry the names and identities will be changed to protect the innocent! teehee)

Finish this sentence:
"It's tough being a woman......" (when you've got to change the filter for the furnace. When you have to take care of sick kids. Because of all the stuff we need to do to be presentable - just a few examples!)
Leave me a comment and I'll greatly appreciate it and I'll pray over whatever you feel is tough.
Thanks!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Torn.....

Have you ever been torn between two decisions? Ever felt like the Lord could be calling you in either direction but you need some CLEAR guidance - like a burning bush?! I've kinda been feeling that lately. Not major, life-altering decisions (well one is) but decisions still the same. The funny thing is, I see it happening with a TON of my friends as well. I've had at least 4 conversations with 4 different people this week who have all said the EXACT same thing.
One of my sweet friends told me "Every calling is a good calling, but not every calling is YOURS". So true. I'm one of these spoon in every pot kinda girls and I realize that isn't where God wants me, but it's my personality and it's sometimes hard for me to let go of things. Can anyone else relate? UGH.
I think it's no small coincidence that God has me in Esther. That I'm leading a study called "It's Tough Being a Woman". Can I get an amen on that one? So as I've been having these emotions and feeling a bit torn about where EXACTLY I'm to be serving the Lord sends me a big ole' hug thru my Sweet Honey Butter Roll Donna! She reminded me from Eph 6 that not only am I to put on the full armor, but what do I do once I'm armored up and ready for battle? I'm to STAND and pray. Not fight. Not charge ahead full steam. Not go in like gang busters and change things but STAND.... Oh does anyone else have a hard time with that one?
I love how the Lord works. That's what He does. He works. If we'll get out of His way, He'll work. I love that. Anyway, that's my thought for this day. Tune in tomorrow 'cause I'm sure it'll be something TOTALLY different like, "Why am I serving in this ministry? That's it! I quit!" hahaha

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here we go......

**Update - as I read this post I realized there were a lot of "wow"'s in it. Sorry about that! haha

Is anyone else finding it hard to comprehend that we're kicking off a new year? Wow. I remember as a kid hearing my parents talk about how the time just seemed to be flying by and thinking how dumb that sounded to me. (sorry but I'm just being honest) Now I realize that I was the dumb one! haha The time is flying.
As I'm preparing for the new year, the many changes that I know are inevitable, I find myself anxious. Not anxious as in worried but anxious as in Christmas Eve! More anticipating, I guess. I've jumped into the pool of teaching High School Sunday school and it has been AMAZING! Each week I look into the faces of these beautiful girls and think of the possibilities and pray for their hearts to be just WILD about Jesus and for the most part I believe He's given me a group of girls who are. But in reality, I'm the one who walks away learning more and more from them. The things they face. Their battles. WOW. That's all I can say. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
But I'm also anticipating leading a Bible study in a few weeks for our Women's Ministry. It's Beth Moore's Esther study and as I've been previewing it, all I can say is HOLD ON TIGHT! WOW!! If you are able to come on Wed mornings from 9:30 to 11:30am (childcare is provided) PLEASE come. Not at all because of me, but because the Lord has something for you and I'd love to be standing there when you receive it!
Also, the Lord is preparing me for a mission trip this year. I thought for a long time it was going to be Chile - and it still may be - but all I know is, I'm ready. He's calling and I'm ready to go. Not quite packed yet, but ready. teehee Who knows, it may be that I don't go anywhere, but just that He wants me to be ready. Either way is fine with me.
Another big change is my oldest starts Middle School in the fall and that makes me just about need to barf! I had someone (a kid) say to me "Don't worry Ms. Val, the threat of guns doesn't really start til about 8th grade." WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! So, I don't have any idea what the Lord will do in THIS area of my life and though it scares the bajeebers (spellcheck loves that one! haha) out of me to say this, I'm willing to do whatever He asks. (oh land sakes!) All I know is that I trust God more than I trust myself or anyone else with the care of my kids and I know that His plans for them are for their benefit, I just don't want to get in His way so I'll do what He asks. UGH.
So here we go. 2009. What will it bring? What will change? What blessings will it hold and what disappointments? Are you as excited as I am? WOOOHOOOOOOO! Here we go........

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Elswick Family Holiday Highlights

Here's a look at some of the highlights of our Holiday season!! ENJOY.....


Happy New Year's!!!!

My man and I at the WV/UNC Bowl game. GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!

"Mom this is a Wii game and we don't have a Wii."
WE DO NOW!!!!!!

Trolley Ride with our HS girls and some friends!
Look at this face as we're seeing lights at McAdenville....
Yes that's Kenan!
The Trolley Princesses. ..
You better hold on Jorden!

Party with the Nutcrackers! ;-)
Happy Holidays from the Elswick's!