Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

A friend asked me the other day if I did the New Year Resolution thing... I thought about it for a bit and said, "nahh, I don't think I do. I'm sure I've said, Hey I'd like to do this better this year, or that, but I do not think I make what they call New Year Resolutions.... but let me check... if I did make them, I would have written on my blog at the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009".

Ha.... Yup, right there, first post of 2009 is my New Year Resolutions. I should have checked back on these things sooner and compared with how I was doing throughout the year, but obviously I have not... so I'm going to reflect a bit on the things I said I wanted to do more of during 2009. Maybe I can evaluate myself and see how I did.
  • To be more disciplined. - B-
    o This entails both physically (working out and/or eating better) and spiritually (spending more personal time with the Lord). I've learned that when my body is disciplined physically, I am more prone to be spiritually disciplined in my quiet times. I want both of these things in my life to improve and become more constant.
  • To be still more often. - D
  • To read more. - A-
    o Kelly laughed at this one - he believes I read plenty... but he didn't see how often I read before we were married. I love it... I want to soak up more words on the pages of books this year.
  • To work on the house and make some of the dramatic changes we've talked about. - B+
  • To speak my husband's love language more often. - C
    o Kelly actually said this one about his own resolutions, and I am taking heed to his great desires... I want to do the same!
  • And most of all... LESS OF ME, and MORE OF CHRIST. - C-

So looking back... all of these listed are still things I want to continue to work on... things I could ALWAYS get better at, a work in progress, especially those involving discipline, my relationship with my hubby, and my relationship with Christ. I want to constantly develop those aspects of my life and each new year offers availability to reflect and pursue a greater focused effort with each of these.

I am so thankful for the many blessings and life we were able to live in 2009. However, I know that not everyone had a year that they'd want to repeat. Some have lost loved ones in 2009, lost jobs, lost friends or family, some have been ill, some have separated, divorced, or broken up with a love, some have experienced hardships I'm sure I cannot imagine... for those that cannot wait to waive goodbye to 2009 and welcome a new year, I leave you this encouraging verse:
“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”- Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

As good as 2009 was for me, I am looking forward to the new year... 2010... I feel and see the Lord stirring many hearts right now... and cannot wait to see what happens as God blesses the actions of those pursuing Him and listening to His calling! He has great plans for us (Jer. 29:11). I cannot wait to see what's in store in 2010!

Happy New Year!
Hello 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The ABC Challenge 2010



The Amazima Blessing Coin Challenge

aka The ABC Challenge 2010

Step up and start your new year by doing something for someone else in 2010!

So here's the challenge... step up and commit to collecting your CHANGE for 30 days. In addition, challenge yourself to spread the word and get a friend or two to join the challenge. Starting January 1st, collect your change each day until the second to last day of the month, January 30th. On that day, report to the Verbal Vomit blog post about the ABC Challenge, commenting with how much change you were able to collect and will be donating for Amazima Ministries International... free to leave an anonymous comment if you like. Remember, every LITTLE BIT helps... we'll see how a little bit adds up to a lot when multiple folks get involved!!!

How much can we collect in 30 days simply out of change we usually put to the side? Change we usually do not notice. How much could that "little" make a LOT of difference for the orphans of Uganda?

The final step will be to deposit that change into your bank, January 31st, and cut a check to Amazima Ministries, writing "ABC Challenge" in the memo line, and mailing it to Amazima Ministries International, 1694 Autumn Place, Brentwood, TN 37027. If you're not in the mood to go to the bank yourself and live in Memphis, I'll be happy to pick your change up prior to that date - just let me know!

How many checks can they receive from one small challenge? How many lives can be changed by your change? Dare you?!

Check out this video about Amazima Ministries, this shows them IN ACTION:
video

Why Amazima Ministries? Because they have been laid on my heart and I want to help.

Who is Amazima Ministries? Because they DO SOMETHING and are making a difference in Uganda. I'll let them say it best, from their website: Amazima Ministries International is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit based in Brentwood, TN. Amazima Ministries strives to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual encouragement to those who need it most. In the local language, Luganda, Amazima means "truth". Amazima desires to reveal truth to these children. The truth of a bigger world through education, but more importantly the truth of a God who created them beautiful in His image. A God who loves them, values them and wants the best for them. The truth of death on a cross, unconditional love, and eternity.

Amazima Ministries operates a sponsorship program for 400 orphaned children. These children are provided an education, school supplies, 3 meals a day, and medical care. They are also provided with spiritual encouragement and attend a weekly Bible study/fellowship program.

Another aspect of Amazima Ministries, is the feeding program provided to the displaced Karamojong people of the Masese community. These people are Uganda's poorest and often considered outcasts. A lunch meal is served to over 1,200 children Monday - Friday and a plate of food is sent home for dinner. This allows the children to attend school and not go to the street in town to beg. Also provided is basic medical care, Bible study and general health training.

Above all, Amazima desires that GOD is glorified and people who otherwise have no hope, would place their hope in Him, our Lord and Savior. We pray the our ministry will be a tangible example of a glimpse of Christ love!!


READY?! The challenge has been SET! GO!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Secret Is Out

Well the secret is FINALLY out and I can now tell all about our fabulous Christmas gift for my parents. I was pumped about it and could not wait for Mom and Pop to open the gift, knowing fully well that they'd adore what we did.

In November, my sisters and I conspired with one another to make a photo session happen with us and the hubbies. Considering we're now five kids, three girls and two married-in boys, we're aware that at some point grand babies will come into the mix and we will no longer be the prized possessions of my folks. So with this in mind, we worked out a plan to meet in Nashville, where my middle sis & her hubby live, and get photos taken of the five of us to share with my folks.

We had the pleasure of working with Katie Dunlap of Capture Photography in Nashville. She did a awesome job and we had a great, laid back time. We did our shoot in downtown Nashville, stopping here and there to get some neat backgrounds. To check out some of the shots we got along the way, go to Katie's blog post about our session.

In addition to giving our folks the photo session in general, allowing them to choose to order printed photos as they desire... we also had Katie make us a collage for them to open on Christmas day. Below is the collage we ordered (click on it to view a larger size of the image). We printed it in the 16x20 size and Mom and Dad ran to find a frame the day after Christmas... from what I hear, it's already hung in the living room. I think they liked it... he he. The quick hanging plus the tear filled eyes of my mom suggests it to be true.




I'm pretty sure we're ordering one of these for ourselves in the next coming weeks. In my opinion, it's too good not to have it hanging in our house also. Thanks Katie for the awesome work! And thanks to my sistas and B.I.L. for allowing this project Christmas gift to happen with huge success!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wrecked & Wondering: Part 2

At the beginning of November I wrote a post titled Wrecked & Wondering. Within that post I described how I had been made aware of a young woman named Katie from the Nashville, TN area that is changing peoples lives, not only in Uganda where she serves but here in the States where her testimony is spreading. To understand what I'm talking about better, go check out my post last month... and additionally read the blog of this young woman being the true hands and feet of Christ.

But the gist of what's happening to me is this... I have been made aware... I have been told... I have been awoken to the cause... and since that time I can only describe myself as WRECKED & WONDERING. Wrecked to know of so many children going to bed tonight on the streets, hungry, alone, scared, without Christ... Wondering, God what would you have ME do? Where do I go from here?

You see, I've had a heart for Africa for some time now... I think if I had to trace the deepest roots I would say it developed in 2001 or 2002 when I dove into an upper level college class titled African Politics at Mississippi State University... so take my long running heartbeat for that continent and its many struggles and add it to the needs of children... and a call for Christians to be God's hands and feet, and you have me sitting here Wrecked & Wondering.

For Christmas, my husband and family showered me with literature... of the six books I got for Christmas, seven if you count the one I bought for myself, I have three books currently ready to "give it to me" in regards to a Christians' response and need to respond to the social injustices of the world. The three books are: When God Stood Up: A Christian Response to AIDS in Africa by James Cantelon; Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith by Jen Hatmaker; and Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan.

I am currently diving into James Cantelon's book, When God Stood Up: A Christian Response to AIDS in Africa. Thirty-five pages into the mix, I'm totally wrecked and wondering! Cantelon writes, "I would join the army of those fighting for the greatest victims of HIV/AIDS - the orphans and the widow" (pg. 2). He continues on page three, "In the book I'll try to describe how the Almighty sees orphans and widows. ... I hope this book changes your life. My life and my wife Kathy's have been changed. And isn't that what scripture does? It's a might transformer wrestling with our self-absorption. So, wrestle with me. As we're changed, maybe we can change the world."

The amount of underlined, starred, circled, written about text I have within the first thirty-five pages of this book is amazing... I could write them all, but I will leave you with this one... it has left me pondering tonight as I am about step into the pages to come...

"John Milton, the great poet, put it this way: "Truth and justice are all one; for truth is but justice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice. ... For truth is properly no more than contemplation, and her utmost efficiency is but teaching; but justice in her very essence is all strength and activity, and hath a sword put into her hand to use against all violence and oppression on earth" (John Milton, Eikonoklastes, quoted in Systematic Theology by A.G. Strong, Judson Press, p. 292). So when the "alien, the orphan, and the widow" cry for justice, the righteous had better respond, quickly, consistently, and with strength- if there's any justice. Otherwise, all is lost" (pg. 27-28).

Wrecked and Wondering.

If you're interested, here are a few more blogs/websites that are spreading the word regarding orphans and how we can help:
http://147millionorphans.com/ - you can even buy apparel here that helps feed orphans!

Ps. I'm learning that every little bit helps. If everyone chipped in something small, lots of folks together make something big. Here is a link to Amazima Ministries International, this page shows how EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS: http://amazima.org/projects.html

James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."


Saturday, December 26, 2009

My B.I.L.

Meet my B.I.L. (aka. Brother In Law)...



For Christmas, one of the items we gave him was a Red Ryder BB Gun...
What boy/man (what's the difference, really?) wouldn't want the Red Ryder BB Gun?! We were very excited to give it to him and looked forward to seeing him open the gift. Yup, not to our surprise, the man was very glad to receive our gift, even if his wife, my sis was not so happy.... "You'll shoot your eye out!!!" So to help settle my sister's possible concerns, we also provided my B.I.L not only with BB's to enjoy, but some safety glasses also. Ralphie did not have such a luxury in A Christmas Story... so hopefully my B.I.L. will head the warning and not "shoot his eye out" by wearing those.

Following our Christmas day festivities, my sister and B.I.L. traveled back to their home in the Nashville area to celebrate Christmas with my B.I.L.'s side of the family. Ironically, and completely unplanned, my B.I.L. opened a gift from his family that held a full body Pink Bunny Suit!!! How perfect and classic.

Wow. In one quick day my B.I.L. turned into Ralphie Parker. Merry Christmas, Brent! We love that you're such a good sport! Check it out:




Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Traditions: McGugan Mailer 09

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
May you and your family be overwhelmed by God's grace this season and remember the true reason for the season: the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

One of our annual traditions is to publish a yearly, McGugan Mailer. Below is this year's mailer.

McGugan Mailer - 2009

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Today, as we enjoy Christmas Eve with anticipation of Christmas morning tomorrow, I want to take another moment to stop and think about the real meaning of Christmas. With the hustle and bustle of present buying and visiting one house to the next, I'm certain that often the true meaning gets pushed aside. My hope and goal for our family, is that we are able to stop and remember, stop and recognize, and stop to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. I think Linus from the Peanuts says it best in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Listen and watch his speech below, and take notice of his blanket (security blanket) that he's known for possessing at all times... something neat happens during his speech regarding that blanket. Enjoy.




Did you catch what happened to his blanket? I was not aware of this until someone pointed it out for me yesterday, but think it's so cool... when Linus says "FEAR NOT" and begins to recite the words of the angels, he too is able to internalize those words from the Lord, "fear not, Linus!"... he then lets go of his security blanket, letting it fall to the ground and enjoys the freedom, security, and comfort of God throughout the rest of his speech. Very cool.


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Legend In My Own Mind

Well, it happened... Mr. McGoo has entered into the blog-o-sphere. He is now a blogger and has his blog up and running full steam ahead. Check it out: www.mrmcgoo.blogspot.com.

I am actually very excited about this endeavor, even though I told him last night that I wasn't happy that he was blogging because I quote, "I was afraid he'd take all of my readership". I said that just for kicks. he he. In all actuality though, I am very excited about his blog for a few reasons. First, it's my man, and I support him - we're a team. Second, he's a good writer and it'll be good for him to utilize the blogging outlet. And thirdly, my hubby wrote BEFORE I came into the picture. He wrote often, actually, and those writings are partly how I got to know him when we first met. He had a myspace account back then and often posted his "journaling" on myspace. When we became friends, I was able to go back through those postings and read them all... read how he wrote, read how he thought about this or that, read about his walk with Christ as he jotted it on the "page"... it was awesome. For some reason though... after I came into the picture as a significant other, the writing stopped. I joked with him last night saying the reason for that was because he knew he'd write only about me now that I was in the picture, but of course that's silly. I don't know why he stopped writing...but as of Monday night, he has begun again. I can't wait to see what unfolds.

Add him to your blog reads: A Legend In My Own Mind is the title, and he already has three posts up. The first of which gives a good "here is what you can expect" description. I cannot and will not always endorse what he will say... because let's face the fact, he likes to wind people up sometimes, it's a gift, him being an instigator at times... but I can promise this... somehow, someway, you'll be entertained. I have been since the first day I met him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Extravaganza!

Along with three other fabulous ladies, I hosted a Cookie Extravaganza last night. It was an evening of edible sweets swapping, salty appetizer devouring, beverage drinking, and a good time of laughing and visiting with friends.




I believe this was my first "cookie exchange" experience... if I've been to one before, I do not remember for sure. This event was perfect... totally laid back, a group of ladies, good conversation, good laughs, good food, and good drinks. Each lady brings a double batch of their favorite cookie or treat... and then at the end of the night, you walk away with all the delicious treats brought by the group. You swap: I bring one thing and get to walk away with twelve or more other options. Make lots of one, and get multiples of many.


Hostesses: Me, Erin Marie, Lindsey, Emily

For our Cookie Extravaganza, we not only changed the name of the event to give it a more festive feel, but the hostesses also provided salty appetizers for the ladies to enjoy while we visited with each other. What woman could want more... a little salty and a little sweet... gab awhile and eat a treat!? In addition, we asked each gal to label the treats they brought to share. Here is a list of a few of the items we enjoyed: Partridge in a Pear Tree Peanut Butter Sensations, Reindeer Drops; Santa's Strawberry Delight; The $250 Cookie Recipe; She'll Snicker Your Doodle; Santa's Breath Fresheners; Christmas Tree Bark; Reindeer Patties; The Can't Bake Cookies Cookie; and Grandma's Famous Oatmeal Cookies.



I think one of the highlights of the night came about after my dorkiness was put into plan sight. I not only brought our Canon camera to catch photos of the event (not so dorky, more historian like of me... always want to capture a photo of an event... everyone loves photos after the fact to reminisce about the experience), but in light of my desire to catch a group shot of the ladies attending, I also brought my TRIPOD with me... thus equals the dorkiness! Needless to say, this got quite a few laughs... and even caused one of my fellow hostesses to catch a shot of me setting up the trusty tripod. But back to the highlight of the evening... we took quite a few group shots, which was fun... but when the ladies got a chance to go through the photos and see how they turned out - now THAT brought about a load of laughter!

Enjoy the group shots... I think they speak for themselves in regards to the personalities of the ladies involved last night! One of our hostesses is missing in the group shots, as she had to leave a bit early. We missed you, Emily!






And last but not least... I must include a shot of Emily's awesome, yummy, adorable Mini BLT's. I was impressed how their color went with the Christmas theme also.



Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Decor

With every Christmas season comes the unpacking and displaying of Christmas decor. Having been raised in a home where the Christmas tree was always lit and covered with ornaments during this time of year, as well as having the stockings hang from the fireplace... these items are something I too equate with Christmas time. It's amazing how a lit tree and some stockings can instantly bring a warmth within a house, not only looking inviting to others, but also offering comfort to those living here. There is nothing like turning off the lights in the house, except for that tree... sitting on the couch under a warm blanket and reflecting over the blessings in our life.

Every year, my hubby and I debate over the type of lights we will put on the tree... white or colored, white or colored? Each year, we put up colored lights. Not only are these the lights of our childhood... both my man and I were raised with Christmas trees hosting colored lights, so it reminds us of many childhood Christmas memories... but there also becomes a decisive reason for displaying colored lights on our tree rather than white. My man and I both are attracted to white lit trees... they look so put together, so sophistated, so nice... but when we look at who we are and what we are like, it's too easy to make the decision, like my man has said before, .... "who are we kidding? We're anything but sophisticated!" ha ha, so colored lights it is this year, and colored lights it probably always will be.

Here are a few of the pictures of our current Christmas decor - it's the most wonderful time of the year!


My fabulous Aunt Terri gave this adorable mat to me while we were in KC. It's quickly become one of my favorite happy decorations around this holiday. Too cute! I've received multiple compliments on it. Thanks ATerri!



The Christmas Tree, colored lights and all. My hubby puts the red garland on it every year and it is a great touch to fill out the tree...


The mantle... one of my favorite aspects of our Christmas decor - 4 stockings, one for my man, one for me, and one for each of our furbabies. The stocking hangers spell out J-O-Y with a pine cone decoration to hold the fourth stocking.


And last but not least our welcome wreath on the door - Pier 1 purchase a few years ago. I love it.

Christmas is only a week away! I cannot wait to celebrate our Savior's birth with my family!
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

4 day weekend

I was off work today and will be again tomorrow... the plan was to take these two days off and travel to Kansas City this weekend... however when my Grandma's thyroid cancer took a turn and developed tumors in her brain, my hubby and I changed our annual Thanksgiving in Kentucky plans and went to Kansas City to spend time with our KC family, and definitely time with my Gma. Although we missed spending time with my hubby's fam, I am so glad we went to Kansas for Thanksgiving and were able to see everyone and spend some quality time with my awesome Grandmother.

Once we decided to head to KC for Thanksgiving, we figured we'd switch this planned long weekend travel to Kentucky, however my man's mom will not be there... she's flying south to Florida - - - so we've decided to enjoy these two days off anyway and stay here at home... it's a 4 day weekend, I'll get another next week. Today, I've enjoyed sleeping in til 9am, lunch out with my handsome husband, shopped a bit for a few gifts, wrapped presents, worked a bit on the remaining Christmas cards I have left, watched some TV, and vegged a bit. It's been a good day and we have another one to enjoy tomorrow even before the weekend is fully underway! Yay.

Now as I sip on some delicious coffee from the Lexington Coffee Times Coffee House, I've pulled off photos from my camera in hopes of making room for the numerous photos I'll capture over the next week. Here are a few of my favorites from the mix and some descriptions of the things going on within the photos or events taking place. enjoy....

I'm a little bummed at how few photos I took during our Thanksgiving KC trip... usually I have plenty to choose from, but the choices were sparse this go around. Nevertheless, here are a few...


This is my youngest sis... on our way to KC we stopped in Sikeston to visit Lambert's Cafe - Home of the Throwed Rolls! Kelsey is showing off the roll.


The T-shirt says it ALL... here is my favorite shot of Madison. Too cute!


She's getting so big - I remember when I could hold her with one arm.


My cuz, Lyndy and her youngest of 3 - Coleton. He's a cutie!!!

My company had our Christmas party last week on Friday and we had a fantastic time. It was a great opportunity to visit with each others' significant others and cut loose outside of the office. So thankful for stable and steady jobs with so many folks unemployed these days.


I try not to be too sappy too often on here, but I must say... my hubby is a hottie!


Mr. & Mrs. Jay Dawson - awwwww


The hot ladies sitting at our table: me, Laura, Jeni, and Shan

Since September I've been missing my Bunko Divas... I've had stuff come up every month so I've missed them... but this past Monday I was able to enjoy the game of bunko once again and get to visit with my fellow divas. Our Big Bunko wear this month was a leopard print SNUGGIE, only at Kali's ha ha. I have to share some shots from that also... I still cannot believe someone is making MILLIONS on adding sleeves to a blanket, or really turning a robe backwards.


It's so silly... but they are selling millions of them.


Did I mention that Candace got something crazy like 6 big bunko's that night?! What the heck?! I think she just wanted to keep the leopard print SNUGGIE - maybe I should share with her hubby, so Santa can drop one by her house next week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thankful for Day Planners

This past week has been a WEEK... seriously filled with crazy busy-ness! I would say that "it's that time of the year"... but I do not want to resign to the idea that it HAS to be that way! I want to find a way to pursue a worldview where the season of Christmas is more known for Christ's birth, joyful songs, the fun fellowship, family, love, and great eats, rather than getting sucked into the busy nature and staying on the run. I want my family, especially when kids come along to know that Christmas is a time of fellowship and togetherness where we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This year, I'm not sure that I have accomplished that task. I have found our schedules packed full and although most of the things we have going on are all "good" things, piling too much on our plate can quickly turn into a stressful thing rather than having availability to bask in the blessing of the events at hand.

Don't get me wrong, we're TOTALLY enjoying all the activities going on right now... extremely blessed to be a part of them and be surrounded by so many awesome people. It's fabulous once we get to the event and are able to enjoy them, but the hustle and bustle of getting to and fro is when you can start to say, "wait, am I really stopping enough to acknowledge the great reason for this whole holiday? Am I spending adequate time with my family during this time?" We're living and learning, and I want to do better at carving out the time needed for me and my hubby; for me and my family; for me and my closest friends... not forgetting to stop together and praising God for the blessings He's given us.

So back to our busy week, and week to come... (some extra posts coming soon on some of the festivities, providing some pictures and all)...

In addition to having festivities after work throughout every weekday this past week, we had my awesome Company Christmas Party Friday night, Bible study with a girlfriend Saturday morning, wrapped some presents, hungout with my rents from 4-8pm Saturday, dropped my man off to watch the UFC fights with friends while I decided to go home and clean houes a bit before crashing after a full day, church today, then a surprise engagement party for Erin Marie & Johnny (CONGRATS!!!!), and a Christmas dinner with friends tonight! Tomorrow is BUNKO time with the ladies, hopefully using our massage gift certificates on Tuesday, Singing Christmas Tree event with friends on Wednesday, and a few days without activities on the calendar before a wedding to attend Saturday and a Cookie Extravaganza Sunday... the calendar is filling up quickly!

Gotta jet... Friend Christmas Dinner Gathering is calling.... Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Greatest Christmas Decoration EVER!

I absolutely love this email that has been forwarded around. Check out the photo below and be sure to read the "story" at the bottom. Well worth it...



"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."



I'm tempted to put this up at our house... we live in a neighborhood surrounded by renters and college kids. My guess is that no one would try to help the guy down, rather they'd stand there and take bets as to how long he'll stay up and/or when he'll fall. Ha ha. This is hilarious, complete with the Christmas lights partially hanging down. Props for super creativity by the homeowner! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Never Hear the End of It

People do stupid things all the time, but you know you've done a "really good one" when you realize that you'll "never hear the end of it" from those around you. Such is what I'm experiencing with my Stupid List experience. To best appreciate the following information, you'll want to make sure you've read this post.

"never hear the end of it" example 1: Following the incident of me spilling the beans directly to my hubby about his Christmas gifts, I later sent out another email regarding an additional gift I had gotten for my man. This email was sent to the extended family... to which my brother in law replied to everyone, "We won't tell him if you won't."

"never hear the end of it" example 2: Today I sent an email to my coworkers, letting them know that I would work through lunch (being catered in) and would take my hour after everyone was finished so that I could go to my parents and wrap some of the gifts I had purchased for my hubby for Christmas. Quickly someone replied, "Why wrap them, he already knows what you're getting him!"

Never going to hear the end of it... this is a story we'll tell for a long time, such are the stories of stupidity. Way to go Mrs. McGoo. Let the laughs continue. ha ha.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Something New: Chicken Florentine Pasta

So thanks to a friend posting something about Chicken Floretine Pasta on her Facebook status, I was able to inquire with her about the recipe and later enjoy this delicious dish! Because I was only feeding my man and myself, I halved this recipe and put it in a 8x8 baking dish. We had plenty and even leftovers. Also, I used penne noodles instead of bowtie because that was what I had in the pantry. Mmm Mmmm good.

Ingredients:
4-5 Chicken Breasts
1 box Bowtie Pasta
1 pk Frozen, chopped Spinach
8 oz Sour Cream
2-3 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

To Do's:
Boil & chop chicken breast.
Cook & drain pasta.
Mix spinach (thawed & drained), sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, chicken and pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake covered in greased dish at 350 for 45 minutes.
Uncover and bake till golden.


bon appetit!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Carpe Deal'em 2009

I cannot believe Thanksgiving has truly already come and gone... December is here and that means we're getting into Christmas cheer. Okay, I don't know why I keep rhyming - I found myself doing the same thing on our Facebook status. And they are not even good rhymes...

Anyway... Thanksgiving. Stepping out of our normal tradition as Mr. & Mrs. McGoo, we did not go to Kentucky this year for the holiday, but found our way to Kansas City to visit with my Grandma and other KC family. We were more than happy to be there, but we also knew that by not going on our yearly Thanksgiving Kentucky trip, we not only missed seeing my hubby's family, but also missed out on the Carpe Deal'em Tradition.

Carpe Deal'em (as seen at this link) is a special Riser family tradition that my hubby has been allowed access into the brotherhood. Because we were to miss the event, we ended up making a Carpe Deal'em Kansas City Version. It was a raggamuffin group, composed of my hubby, Uncle, Father, and even a GIRL (me), but we got some of the main aspects of Carpe Deal'em accomplished. We woke up at 3:30am on Black Friday, left the house by 4am, and visited as many stores as needed. We worked as a team, complete with a driver, line stander, and shoppers. And last but not least, we SEIZED THE DEAL.



Above: 3 handsome men in my life - UFrank, My Man, and My Daddy!

Below is a video I put together of our Carpe Deal'em 2009 experience away from Kentucky. Click the play button and listen to the ways of Carpe Deal'em KC Version. (ps. The opening screen sits for 10 full seconds - a little long, sorry - but will soon embark into the 14 minutes or so of interviews about our experienc). Enjoy.

video

My uncles take on Carpe Deal'em can be found HERE on his blog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Stupid List

So although I'm a list person by day and love checking things off a "list", and keep a day planner for all activities... I am not.... I repeat.... I am NOT a list person for Christmas. Seriously, I don't like it, I'm not good at it, and it's not fun. Call me crazy, but I never really know what to put on a list for Christmas. Sure, like anyone I see something at the store, on TV, or on the net and think, "ewww, I'd like one of those"... but the problem is, I can NEVER recall those items when it's time to make a list. So I don't like them. I usually do not make them.

Well this year, apparently I got a stray hair and I made a list BEFORE I was ever asked. Following our arrival home Sunday evening from Kansas City (more to come later about our trip there), I sat down and made a Christmas list. I hand wrote it on a notecard and gave it to my hubby following completion. To say he was shocked would be an understatement. I think he actual said when I handed it to him, "What's this?" and when I replied "My Christmas List", he responded with something of this nature, "YOU?! wrote a Christmas list.... Oh Wow... uh....". See, I don't usually make such lists.

So I tell you all of this to get to the main point here...

Yesterday (Tuesday), I sent out an email to the family regarding Kelly's Christmas list. I typed it up all nice and neat, shared with the family what he's mentioned as wants, what he's interested in, and even included what I've gotten him to help them coordinate accordingly. I send the email.

Following the email I get a reply from my hubby's dad.... "Where is your list?"

Considering all that I've told you about my actual dislike for Christmas lists, and the fact that I actually made one on my own without coxing this year... I was a little anxious and extra assertive to my father in law's inquiry.

Without thinking, I clicked reply and cc'd my hubby onto the following response, "Your son has it. Should be typing it up."

My intension was that my husband would see what his dad was still waiting on my list, and therefore he needed to get on the ball and send that out to those inquring about it. What I didn't think about was the email my father in law replied to and that I was sharing that info with my hubby considering I just CC'd him on the email!!!!

This reality did not hit me until minutes later when I received a gmail chat im from my man... his words:
have you looked at that email you forwarded to me


As soon as I read those words, I completely realized my mistake... Uh Oh.... I just gave my man a spelled out list of the items I was giving him for Christmas... GEEEZ LOUIZZZ... items I had worked hard to decide on and find... stupid stupid stupid.

So rather than blame this incident on my stupidity (the reality), I'm choosing to blame the reason my hubby now knows what he's getting for Christmas is because of STUPID CHRISTMAS LISTS.

Moral of the story... when working with surprises... slow down and THINK.


Fireside Dinner

Last night I came home after a Bible Study with a friend and arrived with take out dinner in hand. As I walked up to my front door, I noticed that the lights inside the house were completely out.... did the electricity go out? Worried that I might trip with food in hand, plus my hands were full with another bag in the car to be grabbed, I hollered out for my man to lend a hand. He met me at the door, smile on his face, and took the bags from my hands. Right before I asked, "is the power out" I noticed a flickering of light back into the farthest part of my home... "is that a fire?"

I lean into the house and see directly to the back where the outside porch/deck is lit up with our burning firepit, beautiful flames rising over the wood within its gate. "What's this?"

What awaited me was a wonderful evening!

My hubby had prepared the set up for a fireside dinner... all I had to do was walk in with the food! We walked out onto the back porch/deck and the firepit was lit and ready to provide me warmth in the cool evening. TV trays and chairs were set and waiting, and a blanket was laid on top of the trays to gain the heat from the firepit. Once I sat down, my man covered me with the now warmed by the fire blanket, served me some homemade delicious hot chocolate, and set out the food for us to eat and enjoy. And to top it off, Christmas music played out of the speakers for the perfect background music.

It was a good GREAT night. I couldn't have asked for a better night - just me, my man, and our two furbabies enjoying the cold weather outside by a fire. Picturesque!

Thank you honey, I am a very lucky and blessed woman! It was a great surprise last night.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Something New: Zesty Potato Cheese Soup

I know I've posted about a Potato Soup already, but I'm looking for that one super easy, but tasty recipe to stay in my collection. I have a "from scratch" potato soup recipe that I got from my mom. I love my mother's potato soup, and when I make it, it's not bad. But it takes lots of work, from boiling the potatoes to dicing celery and carrots and all sorts of things like that. Boiling potatos takes awhile, and if you're zoom zoom and do not have the time nor want to take the time to stand in front of the stove too long, I want a recipe to call for backup.

By the way, does anyone else have the same issue as me... every recipe I've gotten from my mom, dishes that are TO DIE FOR and super delicious when she makes them, when I prepare them (FROM THE SAME RECIPE), they somehow just don't turn out as good or right? Am I the only one that suffers from this issue? Perfect example, hashbrown casserole. I use my mom's recipe. Mom made it for Christmas brunch last year, my hubby and I devoured our servings, and probably got seconds. I made the same thing for my hubby's family Christmas event that same night (just hours later), and my man looks at me while he's eating it, and says, "do you do something different than you mom with this? It's good, but it's different". SEE?! What does my mom do that I can't seem to grasp and complete within a recipe!???

Sorry, didn't meant to get sidetracked that substantially, back to the Zesty Potato Cheese Soup. Super Easy, And Yummy. I made it and my husband concurs, Mmm Mmm. So we're going to put this one in the recipe book to keep for a quick meal. It seriously took 10 min. Quick!

Zesty Potato Cheese Soup
Prep/Total Time: 10 min.

what you need:
  • 3 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (we did without this go around)
  • 6 slices ready-to-serve fully cooked bacon, crumbled (we used the bacon bits we already had)
what to do:
  • In a large saucepan, combine the potato soup and milk.
  • Cook over medium head for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.
  • Ladle into serving bowls.
  • Sprinkle with cheeses and bacon.
Yield: 6 servings

This one is a keeper. bon appetit!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thanksgiving



I am thankful that God is in control and I am not.
I am thankful for family.
I am thankful for friends.
I am thankful for good health.
I am thankful for God's grace!
I am thankful for a place to call home.
I am thankful for two crazy dogs, okay one crazy Dexter and one cool Kodi.
I am thankful for love.
I am thankul for my husband.
I am thankful for my church.
I am thankful for a stable job.
I am thankful for laughter and fun.
I am thankful for God's constant provision.
I am thankful for ways to connect with those who live far from us (email, Facebook, snailmail, etc.)
I am thankful for coffee dates with girlfriends.
I am thankful for a good book read.
I am thankful for Christ's blood that set me free!
I am thankful for cameras and the memories they catch through photos.
I am thankful for the brave men and women who fight for our country.
I am thankful for competition and sports.
I am thankful for my freedoms.
I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Remind yourself what you're thankful for... when we are thankful, we make it difficult to be discontented.


“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roller Coaster

I have mentioned in the post "Here Comes the Bride" that the last few weeks have been a whirlwind and an emotional roller coaster. There are multiple reasons for that, and I'm not sure that I can explain every facet of that roller coaster, every twist and turn, although there have been many. But I can at least give you the highest inclines and greatest falls that this roller coaster has been taking us on.

My grandmother (Mom's Mom) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer months ago. Immediately the plans were set into play to have her thyroid removed and the goal was to have radio iodine treatment there after to kill any remaining cancer cells that might stay once the thyroid is removed. This did not bother us too much, my Aunt had experienced the same thing. Thankfully thyroid cancer is on the upper side of "everything is going to be alright" when it comes to cancer, and my Aunt went through the process like a champion. And praise be to God for her being cancer free today. With this background, I didn't fear when I found out Grandma would have to go through the same journey.

Unfortunately, we have found out in the last few weeks that the cancer attacking my Grandmother was not only in her thryoid. It had spread into some spots on her lungs and in her breastbone, I believe. With this info and some other minor issues, my folks traveled to Kansas City to grab my Grandma and Grandpa and take them to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. (For details on what occurred there, or the great facility it is, check out my Uncle's blog: Simple Thoughts. Read this one or this one for more details.) At the clinic that first week with my folks, Grandma was able to meet with many doctors, get lots of tests, and work towards a treatment plan for some of the odd symptoms she had been having like her right arm losing functionality. They also looked at the spots found in her lungs and breastbone. They asked that Grandma come back the following week to begin treatment, so my Aunt and Uncle took Grandma and Grandpa back to the clinic in MN that next week.

The Thursday of that week with my Aunt and Uncle, my Grandma took a turn for the worst. She began to be exteremely confused and was unable to answer questions being posed to her. In response to her downturn in situation Thursday my Grandmother was taken to the Emergency Room. Since that day she arrived in the ER and following meetings with some Mayo Clinic doctors, we have learned that the thyroid cancer has spread to my Grandma's brain. She has multiple tumors there on her left side and thus has begun to be affected by the tumors and their placement. I'm told she now has good days and bad days.

The day I learned my Grandma has multiple brain tumors due to thyroid cancer, I found myself, for the first time I believe, admitting and acknowledging that my Grandmother will not be around forever. I know that sounds like a "duh" statement, of course no one will be around forever, but the reality is that sometimes our own mortality, our loved ones mortality does not hit us until something dramatic happens. I love my Grandma, and I am so thankful that she is not hurting right now. Although she may get very confused at times (so they say), and she has trouble walking without losing her balance to the right, and although her demeanour has changed a bit (so they tell me), she's currently not in pain because of these brain tumors - PRAISE GOD FOR THAT!!! I love my Grandma.

I'm looking forward to loving on my Grandma and Grandpa especially well this Thanksgiving Holiday. In light of the new health situations, my hubby and I have suspended our annual visit to Kentucky over Thanksgiving to see his family. Instead, I sit here in Kansas City, ready and willing to give thanks to our Almighty Father for everything He provides for us. For Family! For Health! For Love! For Food! For a roof over my head! For safe travel to KC! For all the blessings that are flooding through my head.

But especially this Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks that my Grandmother is here and family can come together to celebrate this holiday. I'm looking forward to seeing her tomorrow and visiting with other family members. I know it'll be a bit different than years past... Grandma usually has the lead roll in the food category, but when you have family together and some good grub too... LIFE IS GOOD!



Ps. I miss my little sis and bro-in-law who were unable to make the trip. I hope they know we're thinking about them and wish them a very Happy Thanksgiving! Love you guys!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Something New: Layered Mexican Bake

So we finally slowed down a little bit, well as much as we can to an extent, and I have tried three new recipes in the last several days. Yup, three new recipes. So I'll post one for the next few Mondays. They were all SUPER SIMPLE, so don't get your hopes up to find something fully Julia Child worthy, but they were all edible. One we'll definitely make again, one probably, and another I probably will not add to my recipe book.

The first one I'll post is the:

Layered Mexican Bake

what you need:
  • 3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/4 cups Thick N Chunky Salsa - the specific recipe recommends Taco Bell Home Originals brand, I just used Pace Picante brand.
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen corn
  • 3 high-fiber whole wheat tortillas (8 inch) - I used flour tortillas because that's what was in the pantry
  • 1/2 cup Light Sour Cream
  • 3/4 cup 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided - my hubby does not like Sharp cheddar, so he brought me back Mild from the grocery.
make it:
  • heat oven to 375 
  • brown meat with onions and peppers in large skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in chili powder, cook 1 min. Add salsa and corn; mix well. Simmer 5 min.
  • spread 1 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 8-or9-inch square baking dish; top with layer of 1 tortilla. 1/2 cup meat sauce, sour cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with 1 tortilla. 1 cup of remaining meat sauce and 1/4 cup of remaining cheese; top with remaining tortilla and meat sauce. Cover with foil.
  • bake 25 min or until casserole is heated through. Top with remaining cheese; bake; uncovered; 5 min or until melted.

I forgot to put the onion on the grocery list, so I did without (sad day, because I love onions), but the dish was still good without it. This is one we'll probably make again, but not something I'd put as a staple meal in our schedule. bon appetit!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Home Alone

Last Thursday, after a coffee date with a girlfriend and a get together after that with a few girlfriends following my full day at work, I arrived back to my home late to find a home smelling good, completely picked up and cleaned for me out of love by my main squeeze (he's good like that). I did my best to praise him for the nice thing he did for me and was looking forward to spend a little time with him before bed.

Turns out, my hubby apparently had a "Home Alone" moment while I was away... Check out the Facebook status I found below from that evening:



Almost burned the house down tonight. Tried to speak Heather's love language and clean the house. Now I'm cleaning candle everywhere. The thing just blew up on me. All up the wall and blew sparks of wax all over me and the house. It blazed 3 or 4 feet up the wall. Throwing water on it didn't help, only made it grow more. P.S. Don't tell Heather. :)


Ha ha. Sorry the mental image I get with this event cracks me up every time. I can see the blaze and the "thinking cap" coming on my hubby's face as he tried his best to correct the situation. ha ha. I'm SURE it was NOT funny at the moment... ahh, but good times now!

Thankfully though, my man wasn't harmed and the house looked great and was all in one piece when I got home! To say the least, he received quite a few comments on this status... I think the last time I checked there were over 20 replies to this one. ha ha.

Word Play: STRESS

STRESS
The confusion created when one's mind over-rides the body's desire to choke the living crap out of someone who desperately deserves it.



Ps. This is not original. I took it from a friend of a friend's Facebook status. ha ha.
Too good not to share, though!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here Comes the Bride

It's been a week since my last post was published, but the reality is that it's been over a week and a half since I've truly written a blog post. See, my last post has been worked on for multiple days prior to the weekend of Nov. 7th, however I wasn't able to proof read and stop to publish the post until the date seen, November 10th. So here I am, a week plus finally saying hello again.

It's been a busy busy few weeks and an emotional roller coaster of sorts. Let's start at the beginning though, this post will not tackle it all - we'll just start like any story, from the beginning...

On November 7, 2009 - our friend Laura Reddin became Mrs. Jay Dawson.
I was blessed to be a part of the entire shindig. From bridal showers to couple showers to work showers to bachelorette/lingerie parties, to bridesmaid luncheons, to the rehearsal dinners, and finally arriving at the BIG DAY, I was able to be there with Laura the entire way. What a fun and busy time!

As the Honorary Attendant, I truly think I had the best part in the entire affair minus the Bride (because seriously, the Bride is always the greatest!). I was able to participate in the same manner as a bridesmaid, however I did not have to buy the same blue dress (even though I too wore blue), and I didn't have to stand during the ceremony. I could run around and do what needed to be done behind the scenes if necessary (the best type), and STILL was able to get all the perks of a bridesmaid. Couldn't ask for anything more. Fabulous. Oh, and the fact that Laura already had three wonderful bridesmaids that were a joy to be around made the festivities even better!

Here is a photo of the Bachelorette/Lingerie Party we had for Laura the Thursday before the Big Day at Sauces. The food was the delish. The mojitos were oh so yummy. The laughter abundant. The goodies for Laura's husband to be extravagent. And the Good times rolled. We got a group shot during the night (below).



Here is a shot (below) of the Bride to Be on the BIG DAY. Her niece (more about her later) actually took this photo. If I remember correctly, she's only 4 (yep, FOUR) and a budding photographer! Doesn't the future (then), NOW Mrs. Dawson look gorgeous?



As promised here is a shot of Laura's niece, aka the flower girl. I call her Sassyfras because she nicknamed me... ready for this... she nicknamed me Goomigoom. Yup. Goom-i (sound like eee) - goom. I had to make her repeat herself a few times before I understood what she was calling me, but it stuck all night and days following. She was my buddy, especially the day of the wedding. I had a blast with her. Thanks Sassyfras (Becca) for keeping me company and taking all those good shots of the day. Ps. Her older brother, I think he's five, Noah took this shot of us below. He asked us to sit as such and pose funny or silly, I forgot how he said it. ha ha.



And last but not least of the shots to share, is a photo of the Bride to be with her other nephew, Eli. He's a cutie too, but I like this photo because Laura looks especially beautiful in this one. We were playing Uno during this shot, while we waited in between pictures and the wedding ceremony. Since the wedding was held at a Catholic church, we had to give time for mass to occur prior to beginning the wedding ceremony. Uno was fun, hadn't played that in forever!



Sorry Jay, I didn't find a photo in my quick mix of the two of you together that did the "cute couple" justice - so I left you out. I'll find one sooner or later and be sure to give you the props! Thank you guys for allowing me and my hubby to be a part of your special day! We are so excited and happy for ya'll!!! CONGRATS Mr. & Mrs. Jay Dawson!!!

So that's some info about two weekends ago... more updates to come soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wrecked and Wondering

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have seen a blog show up time and time again: www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com. From being posted on more than one blog I keep up with, to being shown all over a few Facebook pages... I knew I had to go take a look at this blog and see what was causing everyone to spread the word. All I had gathered prior to reading the blog for myself was that it consisted of a young lady that was doing the work of God in Uganda.

So on Sunday (Nov 1), I made myself stop and began reading the blog. It started in 2007 and I began at the beginning... reading post after post as to Katie's experience and God's calling for Katie and His perfect provision. I found myself reading every single post that day, from 2007 to 2008 to present day 2009. And I was left with this... "What now?!"

Here are a few posts that Katie has left that specifically impacted me. Please take the time to read these, and let me give you a little background knowledge. Katie is now twenty-one (just turned), and two years ago she went to Uganda on a short term mission trip. Since that time she has fed thousands of men, women, and especially children. She has started a non profit organization, Amazima Ministries International that works to provide the financial assistance to put the children of Uganda through school and provide them not only an education, but medical care, food, and the love of Christ. Katie is mother to 14 beautiful children. They live with her in Uganda and call her Momma. Her daily experiences now are to love in Uganda as Christ loves. To care for those that have not been cared for, to feed thousands, to share the love of Jesus Christ to young and old, and to teach us here, Stateside that God has plans for us and is willing to use us if we make ourselves open and available as Katie has and have FAITH!

From Katie's blog:

well since you asked...
I LOVE getting comments on my blog. They are so uplifting an encouraging. It is so nice to know that I am prayed for and prayed with. So thank you for all of your encouraging words regarding potty training and all your prayers for precious Maggie!

Pretty much daily Gwen answers comments that are in reality questions. I think its time I answered some of them publicly myself, so that Gwen doesn't have to keep explaining things like my "faith doctrine" to total strangers.

Since I am still potty training (currently nap time...) AND I am pretty certain I have Ecoli, I have a bit of free time on my hands :)

"What is your faith doctrine?"
I think this is a pretty strange question. I KNOW that it is not a question Jesus would have asked anyone before serving or loving or communicating with them. I am also saddened to think that my LOVE FOR JESUS may not be so apparent in my writing that it answers that question automatically. But here it is for those still asking: Jesus wrecked my life. All my life, I had everything this world says is important. In high school I was class president, homecoming queen, top of my class. I dated cute boys and drove a cute car. I had supportive parents who so desired my success that they would pay for me to go to college anywhere my heart desired. BUT, I loved Jesus. Jesus says to Nicodemus that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must be born again. Check. Jesus says to another guy that in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven one must sell everything they have a give it to the poor and then COME, follow Him. Oh... I realized that I had loved and admired and worshipped Jesus without doing what He did. So I quit my life. Originally it was to be temporary, just a year before I went back to normal Brentwood life and college. It wasn't possible. I had seen what life was about and I couldn't pretend I didn't know. So I quit my life again, but for good this time. I quit college, I quit my cute designer and my little yellow convertible, I quit my boyfriend. I no longer have everything that the world says is important. BUT, I have everything that I know is important. I have never been happier, and I have never been closer to the Lover of my Soul and my Savior. JESUS wrecked my life, shattered it to put it back together more beautifully. I am in LOVE with Him. Period.

"What made you decide to be a missionary? Do you like being a missionary?"
I think that missionary is a funny word. I think that if you declare yourself a Christian, you MUST also be a missionary, your mission to live and to love like Christ, to share Christ with others. My walk with the Lord and my life should not seem so unusual that it has to have a special label. I'm just a mom. I just strive to live and to love people like Christ. The people just happen to be brown and poorer than you. It's not a special mission, It's everyone's mission. I do not deserve a title, and if you are going to give me one, I prefer "Lover of Jesus." And yes, I like it.

"As a young single woman, don't you think living in Africa is dangerous? Are you afraid?"
I am more afraid of America. Matthew 10:28 tells us not to fear things that can destroy the body but to fear things that can destroy the soul. I can literally feel my soul suffocating in the safety of Brentwood and all it's numbness, complacency and comfort. Scary.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
"I shall feel rather nervous meeting a lion," said Susan.
"That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they're either braver than most or just silly."
"Then He isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Who said anything about safe?! Of Course He isn't safe. But He is good. He is the King I tell you."
(The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

No, I do not always stay safe. He's the King I tell you! We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger God is right there with us, and there is no better place to be than in His hands. We are supposed to SHUDDER, knees knocking, when we think of our Lord and all He has called us to. So here I am, trembling.

"Is it responsible to adopt so many children?"
Is it responsible to let them starve in the streets?

"What are you going to do next/with your home/with your children/with your ministry/in five years/when you are older/ect?"
I am not concerned with what I am going to do. I am interested only in what I am becoming. Each day, I am hoping to become more like the One who created me.

There is an old Franciscan saying, "Preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words." So I am going to quit this silly preaching with words and go make dinner for my precious ones. Your questions are welcome.

It is my 16th Birthday and I am eating sushi at my favorite restaurant with my parents when I tell them that I would like to explore the possibility of taking a year in between high school and college to do mission work. This is unheard of in my family and they say they are not sure and will think about it. I am nervous, but somehow I know it is right. He changes their hearts.

I have just turned 18 and find an orphanage online. I beg my parents to let me visit over break, just three weeks. A month later I am on a plane. I am so excited. I am so scared of being, but I know He is going with me. I fall in love.

I graduate high school having made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for a year at a school in The Middle of Nowhere, Uganda. In August I get on the plane. I’m apprehensive and I cry most of the way because I miss my Mommy and my boyfriend. I am eager, but so uncertain. I trust Him. I teach 138 children how to speak English and to love Jesus.

It is October and I am just not sure I can do it anymore. I live in the smallest room I have ever seen in the back of a pastor’s house. I am more uncomfortable than I had bargained for. No one understands, not people here, not people at home. I am tired. But I am prideful and I am not going to quit. I don’t like this. But I know He has a plan. I learn, I grow, He is there.

It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.

It is January and I am looking at a little girl, crushed under a brick wall with no one to care for her or her younger siblings. I offer to take the three home with me until we find them a better placement. I am not really sure what to do with them, but I know they are God’s children. They stay.

It is three days later and the littlest looks at me and calls me mommy. My heart might break in two. Something clicks. I am even more scared than I was the day I stepped on that plane, but I KNOW. Today I have 13.

I have to deliver a baby, give a boy stitches, pull a tooth, give and injection. I am petrified. But no one will do it if I do not. He is present, He holds my hand, they are all fine.

It is August and I must get on a plane back to America to go to college, as I have promised my father. I do not remember how to be a teenager or what it is to be normal Brentwood, Tennessee. I will have to leave my babies. I will have to make new friends. I am sad and I am terrified. He wraps His arms around me. He puts just the right people in just the right places, and they help me and they make me feel at home.

First semester is over and He speaks clearly to me that I cannot serve two masters. “Go HOME,” He says, “and stay.” I am uncertain, but I want to be obedient. He squeezes tighter. I am thankful.

I have to look at my loving parents who have given me everything and tell them that I will not go to college right now, because I feel God wants me to be in Uganda. I know how disappointed and how angry they will be. I am more scared than I was when I got on the plane and more scared than I was when I took my first children. But I know that this IS the Plan. They love me anyway.

It is February and my daughter’s biological father comes to take her away. My heart breaks in half, and I am not sure I will ever be able to get out of my bed again, let alone foster another child. I am more than devastated, but I want what is best for her, what He wants for her. She comes back and her biological father learns about Jesus.

It is March and a lame little girl is brought to my gate. She is undoubtedly mine, but I am still anxious. What if I can’t do it? I don’t know what to do with a special needs child, especially as my 13th child. I am criticized and ridiculed. I wonder. I trust and praise God for her sweet little life. She starts to walk.

I find myself in a village full of starving people that for some reason seem to want to kill me. God says to serve them anyway. I am not sure how it is going to work, or if it is safe. I can’t figure it out, but I know He can. 1,200 Karamajongs, the poorest of Uganda’s poor, are now served hot meals daily.

We keep taking in more children until there are 400 in our program. There is no way we will raise enough funds, but by now I have stopped worrying. He has always provided. Blessings rain from the sky, and all 400 children go to school.

I am 20 years old and have 13 children and 400 more who all depend on me for their care. Who are all learning to love Jesus and be responsible adults and looking up to me. The reality of it all can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is always pure joy. There is a common misconception that I am courageous. I will be the first to tell you that this is not actually true. Most of the time, I am not brave. I just believe in a God who will use me even though I am not. Most mornings, before I even get out of bed I am overwhelmed with His goodness, with His plan for my life; I stand in awe of the fact that He could entrust me with so much. Most days, I don’t have much of a plan. I don’t always know where this is going. I can’t see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter, getting out of the boat. I do not know my five year plan; even tomorrow will probably not go as I have planned. I am thrilled and I am terrified, in a good way. So some call it courage, some call it foolish, I call it Faith. I choose to get out of the boat. To take the next step. Sometimes I walk straight into His arms. More often, I get scared and look down and stumble. Sometimes I almost completely drown. And through it all, He never lets go of my hand.

Ironically, my heart and mind had already started thinking of Africa and orphans prior to ever coming upon Katie's blog, the Journey. Recently, my church announced its short term mission projects that will be going underway this next summer. Of those trips listed two of them tugged on my heart and mind... one to Ethiopia working with missionaries that are associated with The Forsaken Children and the second trip was one my Sunday School classmates took last summer - to Agua Viva Children's Home in Guatemala. I've made a commitment saying that if the Lord opens up my summer schedule (where nothing mandatory is in the way) during one of these two trips timeframe, then I'm going. I'm serving.

So after reading Katie's blog, all I can say is that I'm wrecked and I'm wondering. I'm wrecked because my heart is hurting for the orphans, for those that haven't been told they are loved today or yesterday or ever. For the babies that aren't held before the fall asleep. For the children that go to sleep hungry. For the need that is so evident around us in this world. Here. There. Everywhere. I'm wrecked and I'm listening. I'm wrecked and I'm wondering. I'm wonder, what do I DO NOW?! Wondering where do I go from here? Wondering with the knowledge and the way God has allowed me to be wrecked by this, where do I go and what do I do?

Wrecked and Wondering.

If you're interested, here are a few more blogs/websites that speak about this stuff also:
http://147millionorphans.com/ - you can even buy apparel here that helps feed orphans!

Ps. I'm learning that every little bit helps. If everyone chipped in something small, lots of folks together make something big. After reading Katie's blog I mailed a $5.00 check while I wrestle with the Lord as to what I'm supposed to do. Here is a link to Amazima Ministries International, this page shows how EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS: http://amazima.org/waystohelp.html

Spread the word!

James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."