Comfort and Rest

"Snuggle in God’s arms. When you are hurting, when you feel lonely, left out, let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all-sufficient power and love." (Kay Arthur)

"To every toiling, heavy-laden sinner, Jesus says, ‘Come to me and rest.’ But there are many toiling, heavy-laden believers, too. For them this same invitation is meant. Note well the words of Jesus, if you are heavy-laden with your service, and do not mistake it. It is not, ‘Go, labour on,’ as perhaps you imagine. On the contrary, it is stop, turn back, ‘Come to me and rest.’ Never, never did Christ send a heavy-laden one to work; never, never did He send a hungry one, a weary one, a sick or sorrowing one, away on any service. For such the Bible only says, ‘Come, come, come.’" (James Hudson Taylor)

I ran across these quotes at the Heart of Wisdom website this week. I love what they say about God's comfort and rest. They remind me of one of my favorite verses...Isaiah 40:11. "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." A friend sent this verse to me right before my dad died, and it was so comforting throughout the days afterward to think of God carrying us close to His heart as His lambs. I love the Kay Arthur quote about *snuggling in His arms*. What a beautiful word picture! Recently I have also been encouraged by the last part of the verse..."He gently leads those that have young." I so need to remember that whether I am planning lessons for our homeschooling, dealing with child training issues, or concerned about a particular need a child has, God is gently leading, and He will provide direction if I will follow.

What a blessing to know that He is there waiting to give us rest, if we will just *come*.

Visit Sheryl at Taking the Challenge for more Faith-Lift Fridays.


Thankful Thursday

We have been planning a quick trip to my hometown in a few weeks to participate in a retirement celebration for the pastor who baptized my parents and I. Bro. Bill came to Conway the same week we moved there, and was our pastor for most of my growing up years. As I have been making plans for our trip, I have been thinking back over our years in Conway, the churches we've been involved in, and people who have made an impact on my life through the years. I'm excited that I will have the opportunity to see some of those people soon, and a little sad thinking about all the people who *won't* be there who will be missed greatly. I can't imagine going back for a celebration with old friends in Conway and not seeing Bro. Roy and Mrs. Jimmie, Miss Mary, and so many others who are gone. I'm sure it will be strange for those there to see *us* without my dad as well.

I've been reminded of many things I'm thankful for as I've taken some "trips down memory lane" lately...

*I'm thankful for Godly parents who sacrificed much for their children, and for an extended family who gave me a real sense of *family* in so many ways.

*I'm thankful for the solid, Bible-teaching churches we've been in through the years, and for the pastors and staff members who have made such an impact on my life in so many ways...Bro. Bill, Don Bingham, Bro. Roy, Bro. Larry, Ron Richardson, Steve Bell, Tommy Gilmore, Pat and Floyd, Bro. George, Bro. David McGowin, Wayne Linderman, Bro. Dave Hatfield, Kathy Williford, Keith Clutts, Bro. John, Bro. Phil, Lyndel, and Bro. Kent.

*I'm thankful for many special people who won't be at the celebration because they are already in Heaven...I can't begin to name them all, so I won't even start...but things just aren't and won't be the same without them.

*I wrote earlier in the week about our friends Mr. James, Miss Mary, Jenny, and Barrett. I am thankful for their friendship and example always. I'm thankful for many other friends in Conway who have impacted me in so many ways...many of whom have been like family to us over the years. The McKissacks, Bounds, Bakers, Gillioms, Olivers, Stuarts, and many, many others bring thoughts of thankfulness every time I think of them.

*As I look toward hopefully participating in the mass choir for this celebration, under the direction of Don Bingham, I am so thankful for the opportunity to sing with many of the people who helped develop my love of music. I'm thankful for having been exposed to *excellent* music from a young age, first by my dad, and then by wonderful church music programs. One of the people I will miss when we go to Conway is Mrs. Myrtle Lee Selig. Sitting by her in the choir at First Baptist was a real treat for a 14 year old just beginning to sing alto in the adult choir. She was quite a lady, and I was saddened to read of her death recently.

*Most of all, I am thankful for God's direction in our lives in taking my parents to Conway to begin with, and in all the ways He worked in and through that. Lots of stories there...maybe I'll have a chance to share some of them in future blog posts.:) I'm thankful that as I've reminisced lately, God has reminded me over and over again of ways that He used things that looked *bad* to bring incredible *good* in our lives. It's a good reminder to look for His hand in difficult circumstances now, and get excited about the stories we will have to tell someday of the ways that He has worked in them!

"I waited patiently for the LORD; Hhe turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

(Psalm 40:1-5)

For more Thankful Thursdays, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.


Under His Banner...Or Lessons From Jenny Mc...

"Under the banner of God, victory is always assured; but apart from it, defeat is a certainty. When the banner of God's rod was not held high, Amalek prevailed.
You can't do battle against the flesh under your own power."

~ Kay Arthur ~

Lord, I Want to Know

Loni at Finding Joy in the Morning is hosting In Other Words today, and she has selected this quote from Kay Arthur. God seems to be reminding me of this truth everywhere I turn lately...probably because, like the children of Israel, I keep forgetting it. The verse this quote references is Exodus 17:15..."The Lord is My Banner."

I am reminded by this of a lesson God taught me in a very powerful way years ago. Close friends had a daughter who was born blind and profoundly retarded. Jenny was almost my age, but never walked, talked, or even took care of any of her own needs. She was completely dependent upon the care of others. 

Although her needs eventually forced them to place her in a state facility, her parents were completely committed to caring for her as much as they were able. Almost never did a day go by that her family did not visit, reading the Bible to her, singing to her, massaging her limbs, and talking to her about any and everything. Their love for her was evident to everyone who knew them.

Her parents were an example to everyone around them. Strong, committed Christians, they were used by God to witness to many unbelievers and to encourage many believers. They were like family to us, and they taught me many things, through example and words, that still impact me today.

When I was about 16, though, God very suddenly used Jenny herself to make a huge impact on my life. I was struggling with something...I'm not even sure what at this point. I was also dealing with a lot of stress from trying to manage school, church commitments (lots of them), a hectic babysitting schedule, and family responsibilities. I remember sitting at my desk one morning during my quiet time expressing my frustration to God because I just *couldn't do it*. I was tired of failing. I was tired of missing the mark. And suddenly God brought Jenny to mind.

He reminded me of all the people whose lives Jenny had touched. He reminded me of all the people her parents had influenced, and of the testimony of her father, one of the godliest men I know, about the way that God used Jenny's birth to bring him to Himself. He gently showed me that Jenny's life had had more impact than most people ever dream of having...and yet she had never uttered a word, taken a step, or written a sentence. I realized in a whole new way the truth of 2 Cor. 12:10:

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I realized that day that Jenny was exactly where God wanted me to be....completely dependent. God began teaching me that day that He was able to use Jenny so mightily because she didn't get in the way of what He wanted to do in and through her. He reminded me through her that when I try to do things *on my own*, I am simply getting in His way. 

Only when I am completely dependent on Him am I useful to Him, and only then can He do His work through me. Just as He used Jenny's family and the staff at the Center to meet her needs, He brings people into my life to help meet my needs (as Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses' arms in Exodus 17). And just as He used Jenny's parents and the staff to meet those needs, He wants me to be available to lift up the arms of others when they need it. But most of all, He wants me to be completely dependent on Him.

I needed to be reminded of this again this week. Once again, I have struggled with feelings of failure...feeling as though no matter how hard I try, I can't *get it together*. Once again, God is reminding me that *He* is my banner...that as this quote says, victory is only assured through Him, and when I try to do it on my own, I am assured only of defeat. When I start to feel failure overtaking me, I need to get back under His banner.


For a real blessing, a dose of encouragement, some good laughs, and maybe a few tears, visit one of my favorite websites. James McAlister, or "Mr. James", is Jenny's dad, and for a number of years he wrote  a much-loved newspaper column. This site archives many of his newspaper articles and other items of interest. ( This one , this one, and this one
are *especially special* to me...they are about my parents. :) You might want to grab a kleenex before reading, though.) There is much good reading there...take some time to browse his site...I think you'll be glad you did!


It's Monday again...:)

Seems like Mondays roll around awfully quickly these days. :) Here are our plans for the week:

1. Bible Study
*I have been meaning for quite a while to go back to the Bible Study I started last fall on Suffering...I want to review what I had already done, and pick up where I left off. My goal this week is to work on that daily.
*I also want to keep the three *big kids* on track with their Bible Studies...which they have started doing somewhat more independently, in addition to our family Bible time at the beginning of our school day.
*And...I need to decide on our Scripture memory work for the next few weeks.

2. Must Dos
*I have a stack of thank you notes that are way overdue. They *must* be done and in the mail by Friday.
*We are still planning to do a very small *friend party* for the girls' birthdays. I *must* get plans for that finalized by *tomorrow*.
*The dining room is still in need of more cleaning out/decluttering/reorganizing, both so we can function in there more efficiently for school, and so that we can start prepping the walls to paint. (Yay!!) I really wanted to get that done today and tomorrow and work on some other projects the rest of the week, but my body is insisting that I pace myself better this week, so I'm going to make this the priority for the *week* and not just a couple of days.
*I *have* to get some baking done early this week. We are trying to get back to homemade rather than storebought snacks, and I have some new recipes I want to try!

3. Home Blessing/Zones
*Other than the previously mentioned dining room, I need to do some deep cleaning in the kitchen this week.
*We've gotten a lot done on the house in the past few weeks that I need to focus on *maintaining*.
*Because of our erratic schedule and health issues lately, I've gotten *really* bad about leaving the supper dishes until morning (we don't have a dishwasher.) Last week I tried to get the dishes done every night right after supper, which made my mornings much more smooth and pleasant. I'm going to try to make it *every* night this week.

4. Train them up
*One of my children in particular really needs some work on first time obedience, and also some real focus on tying heartstrings. That is top priority this week...for everyone, but for that one especially.
*One of my children (the obvious one:)), needs to be finished with diapers, once and for all. We are really struggling with this. We are going to make a serious push (again! *rolling eyes*) for progress in this area this week.
*Mom has gotten lax about not *checking* chores when given a verbal report that they are finished, which led to some *major* issues this weekend around here. This week we are going back to *inspections* before the chore list is checked off. :)

5. Menu
This week is already promising to need some built in flexibility. In anticipation of that, I'm not assigning days to meals, but just listing them so that we can have more labor-intensive meals on the days that is manageable, and easy ones on the other days.
*Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad
*Tater Tot Casserole (carry-over from a week or two ago when it got skipped:)) and green beans
*Meaty Mexican Rice, Beans, and cornbread
*Cheesy Chicken Pasta, salad, and bread machine bread
*Brat Stew and biscuits
*Frozen pizza/hot dogs as needed. :)

For more information on Monday Meanderings or to see others' plans for the week, visit Tiany at Less of Me~More of Him. For great menu ideas, visit Laura at Orgjunkie.


Living Creatively

Last spring I began reading Clay and Sally Clarkson's book Educating the Wholehearted Child. It was borrowed from a friend, and I soon decided this was a book I needed to own...to be able to make notes and go back to over and over...so I kept an eye out until I found a good deal on Ebay and bought it for myself. It is one of the most challenging, inspiring homeschooling books I've read in a long time. Over the summer, I haven't had as much time to read it as I had planned, but I recently picked it up again. Today I came across this quote in the section on "Building Mental Muscles...Mental Muscle #4: Creativity":

"Creativity is a God-given ability to take something ordinary and make it into something special. It is an openness in doing old things in new ways...The creative spirit is part of our heritage as children of the One who created all things. And nurturing our creativity is part of our responsibility as stewards of God's good gifts." (Emilie Barnes, The Spirit of Loveliness)

As I read that quote I was reminded of something I learned years ago while preparing to teach a Vacation Bible School class on character qualities. I had always thought that I was not a particularly *creative* person. My Granny Marks was creative. My dad's cousin AnnaBeth was creative. My friend Tauna is creative. They were/are not just "creative", but CREATIVE, in fancy lettering with flourishes and doodles. :) I, on the other hand, have never been particularly creative. I love to do all kinds of artsy/craftsy things, but I am the *give me some directions and a pattern and I can follow it step by step* kind of person. I was one of those people who would say, with a bit of a sigh, "I'm just not really creative."

My friend Tauna used to fuss at me. She would tell me that of *course* I was creative, and she encouraged me to stretch my creative muscles. I did, by spurts, but behind her back I still classified myself with the *not creative* crowd. ;-)

So I was hit right between the eyes a few years ago while working on VBS materials about the character quality of creativity to realize that creativity is just that...a character quality. Creativity is *not* a *talent* that one either has or does not have, it is an aspect of the character of God...the Creator of All...and it is a character quality that we are to work to develop just as we are to develop patience, diligence, and kindness. That was a turning point in my thinking in the area of creativity. I was challenged and convicted that rather than excusing myself with "I'm not creative," I needed to not only be working to develop this character quality in myself, but in my children.

I was so excited to see what the Clarksons' had to say about creativity as mental muscle to be developed. "True creativity draws upon what already exists and finds a new or better way of doing something. Far from being a mysterious special gift, it is a process that can be cultivated and trained in all children."

I am looking forward to cultivating and training creativity in my children this year. And I am looking forward to continuing to develop creativity in my life as a wife and mother. Whether it is finding new ways to make our small house *work* for us, coming up with appealing, frugal meals, figuring out how to help a child learn something they are struggling with in a way that works for them, or creating scrapbook pages to chronicle the story of God's work in our family, I want to be creative in making the ordinary special for our family and those around us. And I am reminded that God will provide the creativity I need to meet the challenges He has given, if I will simply ask, and then open my eyes to what He wants to show me.

Speaking of creative...I've come across a few blogs recently that have really motivated me in the area of creativity. If you need a boost as you strive to be more creative, take a peek at a few of these...

The Old Painted Cottage Cottage of the Month --I love cottage style decorating, and this site has dozens of cottages to browse for inspiration.

Jewel's Journals at Eyes of Wonder --Jewel's handmade journal/planners are *so* pretty, and very inspiring to a right-brained visual list lover! I've been trying to come up with a replacement for the Franklin-Covey style planners I recently gave up after using them for years, and this has my mind spinning with ideas. I'm collecting supplies to make something similar that works for me...I'll post when I'm finished!

Donna's Notebooks/Lapbooks at Moments Like These --I was already excited about using lapbooks/notebooks much more this year, but these pictures have me chomping at the bit to get started! Donna is obviously a mom who has trained and nurtured creativity in her children...and their notebooks just ooze fun and learning. I can't wait to see what my creative bunch does with their notebooks and lapbooks this year!

Visit Sheryl at Taking the Challenge for more Faith-Lift Fridays.


Thankful Thursday

I'm barely going to get this in before midnight here, due to my determination to finish my Blogger Reflection post this morning, and being gone most of the rest of the day, but better late than never, I suppose!

1. First things first. Last week I posted in TT about a birthday I was thankful for...and this week I am thankful for another birthday. We celebrated Emlyn's 6th birthday last weekend. How thankful I am for this very special little girl! Just last week, a lady at church who had taught Bayley for a couple of years, but hadn't spent much time with Em until recently, said, "They sure are different!" And they are. They are both girly girls, for sure, but where Bayley is much more like Billy's (Italian) side of the family, Em is much more like my side. When she was born, we called her our *Indian baby*...she had thick black hair that stood straight up on her head and would not lay down no matter *what* we did. My grandmother would have said that was the Choctaw coming out in her, and I agree! Em reminds me much of myself at her age...except that she is the bug killer extraordinaire (which I still won't do!). It's so funny to watch this dainty little girl lie in wait and then *smack* the little critter with a shoe or whatever else is handy! Otherwise, she is our *lady*. She loves kitty cats, notebooks, and all things *tiny*. She is my most *contented* child, and she loves to learn. Up until premature labor hit with Ammah Grace at 30 weeks, Em had been my most difficult pregnancy (a near miscarriage/bedrest, hospitalization for dehydration, a wreck, a broken ankle at 8 months, and my first c-section, due to breach presentation), but she was by far our easiest baby. I am so thankful for our Emlyn O!

2. We started our homeschool co-op today, and I am thankful for a husband who has stepped *out* of his comfort zone (without my even asking) and re-arranged his work schedule to teach a beginning drawing class to 17 6-12 year olds (yes, that said 17!). They had a blast today, and I appreciate his commitment to homeschooling our children, and his desire to be involved in that as much as he can, more than he will ever know.

3. I am thankful for air conditioning! Even though we've had a pretty *mild* summer here, with only a few weeks of temps into the 100s, and back into the 90s now, I am *so* thankful for air conditioning...in the van, in our house, and most everywhere we go.

4. I am thankful we have started school once again, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to homeschool our children. We had planned to school more during the summer than we did...but our summer didn't work out *quite* the way we had planned. :) I am so ready to be back on schedule, and get into our books! What a blessing to have a houseful of children and a houseful of books!

5. I am thankful that I didn't cry in Wal-Mart tonight. Sounds crazy, I know. But for those reading who don't know me personally, my dad died 2 1/2 years ago after a very painful struggle with cancer. I was a Daddy's girl, extremely close to my dad, and although I knew that his death would be very hard, I was completely unprepared for the enormity of what hit me when he died, or how long it would be so intense. For a *long* time, any time I ran across anything that reminded me of him (which was constantly, it seemed), I would at best get teary-eyed, and at worst completely dissolve in tears. Unfortunately, I shed my share of those tears in Wal-Mart (which led to lots of strange looks, as you can imagine.;-)) A new product he would have loved, the sight of an older man who resembled him, an eye-catching card I would have bought for him...there were all kinds of things that would re-open that wound.

My poor husband and a couple of long-suffering friends endured much as I worked through the grief. As much as I was in some ways rejoicing that I knew that he was in Heaven, completely healed and no longer in pain, the huge hole his absence here left took a long time to heal...and will never be completely gone. God showed Himself faithful in many ways through that time, taught me much I wouldn't have learned any other way, provided people to encourage and comfort me (and cry with me and make me laugh), and began to show me that He truly is the "Father to the fatherless." Finally, just over a year ago, the intense grief began to dissipate, and I began to be able to be reminded of Daddy and smile at the good memories rather than being overwhelmed with sadness that he was gone.

I still cry sometimes because I miss him...but those times are much fewer and further between than they used to be. And tonight in Wal-Mart, I realized again how far God has brought me...has brought all of us, since December 2004. I stood in front of a huge display of books about the history of Razorback football, and thought, "Wow, Daddy would have loved that." And then I thought, "That would have made a great Christmas present." And I steeled myself for the tears I thought would come. But they didn't. I smiled, put the book back on the display, and finished my shopping. I am so thankful that God is faithful to see us through our grief, and to bring joy in the morning.

Whew! I think the later it gets, the wordier I get (not that I have ever been accused of being terribly brief at *any* hour of the day!) I am thankful for much to be thankful for...even if it isn't going to be officially posted before midnight.:) Visit Iris at Sting My Heart for more Thankful Thursdays ...and encouragement every day!


Blogger Reflection Award

When I began blogging, Julie at Joyful Days was one of the first people to regularly comment on my posts. (In fact, my very *first* comment was from her!) Her comments have been so encouraging to a new blogger (especially on those days I wonder if anyone is actually reading... :-)) She always has just the right word of encouragement. I have also appreciated so much her spirit of gratefulness and attitude of worship...they shine through her blog.

One of her comments recently (ack...over a week ago, actually...it's taken me forever to narrow down my list to five!) was a very special and unexpected surprise...she posted to tell me that she had given me a Blogger Reflection Award at her blog. Her sweet words were such a blessing and encouragement!

The Blogger Reflection Award rules say this: Here are the rules for passing this award on: The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.

1. Copy this post.

2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.

3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.

4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they've been given the award.

5. Put the award icon on your site.

It has been such a huge challenge to decide on 5 bloggers to pass this award on to. Being pretty new to the blogging world, there are very few bloggers I actually know...or perhaps I should say, very few who know *me*. There are many who have blessed me in many ways by sharing their hearts and lives through their blogs...so much so that I feel as though I do *know* them...as my ever-growing "A Few of My Favorite Blogs" (which passed up a "few* long ago! :-D) list attests. I have finally managed to narrow it down to five bloggers who have impacted me greatly...but they are by no means the only ones.

First, I have to say that if Julie at Joyful Days hadn't been the one to tag me with this award, she would definitely have been one of the first on my list. So...although I probably am not supposed to pass the award back to her, please be sure to check out her blog anyway! Then grab your drink of choice (and maybe a bit of chocolate:)) and spend some time visiting these special bloggers to whom I am passing on the Blogger Reflection Award:

1. Dell at PrairieFrog Blog. I came across Dell's blog through a message board on which we both participate. She was one of those people whose posts I watched for on the board because I admired her so much, so when I saw that she had a blog, I was thrilled. Not only did her blog inspire me to start blogging myself, but her blog motivated me to take the final step in changing directions completely in our homeschool. Her wisdom and her personality shine through her posts...and she has some incredibly adorable children! I would love to go live at Dell's house for a few weeks and just learn right alongside her children.

2. Daisey Anne (Kirsten) at Home Grown Family/Masterpiece Academy. Daisey is another blogger I *met* through a message board first. (Of course, I have to say here, I tend to lurk more than post...so *meeting* is a relative term. :)) I always enjoy Daisey's openness and honesty...and her love for the Lord and her family are just exciting! Her Homeschool Open House post made me want to start school Right. That. Second. And she loves lists as much as I do!

3. Amy at Cup Half Full. I'm not sure how I happened upon this blog, but it has been a real blessing. I haven't made it through all of her frugal living posts yet...but after I read them all through once, I'm going to go back and take notes on them! She makes good stewardship exciting...and she has some great recipes and menu ideas for the frugal budget. I've really enjoyed perusing her Mommy Meanderings, too...and I have even printed this one out to put in my binder so I can refer to it often. Great reminders for us wives and moms (and I really appreciate the inclusion of number 9. It's on the list. I have to do it. *grin*)

4. Lallee of Lallee's Cottage. If you haven't been to visit Lallee's Cottage, you are in for a treat. It's just beautiful, for starters. And her adorable crocheted hats make me wish my girls were tiny again...they are just way too cute. She has motivated me to get serious again about the girls learning to crochet...and my learning right along with them! But not only is Lallee's blog beautiful, she is also a sweet, friendly, and encouraging blogger. She ran across a post on my blog about an Oswald Chambers devotional that had really impacted me, and left a comment to say that she had posted about that same devotional around the same time. She was then very sweet to mention my post on her blog last week...along with a great video of Casting Crowns' song Who Am I? with the Extended Hands drama ministry. I had never seen Extended Hands before, and I was fascinated! Check out her post here. I really appreciate Lallee's evident love of the Lord and her encouraging spirit.

5. Iris at Sting My Heart. There is no telling how many times Iris has won this award (and many others). For that reason alone, although she was one of the first names to come to mind for this award, I hesitated. Then I read this from the creator of this award..."...and if the bloggers you pick have already been given the award, don't be afraid to give to them again. They deserve it as many times as it's given." So...I pass this award to Iris again. Her blog has been such a source of encouragement to me...as have her sweet comments on my blog, an email or two that we have exchanged, and even a sweet e-card recently that was such a timely blessing. I know that many, many people are blessed by her Thankful Thursday meme every week...both by her own honesty and thankfulness and continual testimony to God's faithfulness in her life, and by the gentle push to the rest of us every week to reflect on all the ways God has blessed us. I appreciate her devotionals, her Thankful posts, and her encouragement so much!

Thank you, again, Julie, for your encouragement, and for giving me the chance to reflect on these and other bloggers who have blessed me, and on the times that God has used them to encourage, challenge, motivate, and inspire me.


More Birthdays...

More birthday pictures...

The girls modeling their new clothes from Aunt Shelly...

Emlyn with shoes from Mamoe...
and her new purse...
Emlyn blowing out her candles...
I think Dad has had a bit too much birthday excitement...:)


Birthday Girls

August is an eventful month for us...two birthdays in 6 days! (We thought Emlyn was going to be born on Bayley's 2nd birthday, but she was born six days later.) We've had a full week of celebrations, and we aren't finished yet! Here are some pictures of the fun so far...

Bayley in her pink hog hat. She and Peter follow in their Papaw's footsteps as Razorback fans, and Bayley has wanted a pink hog hat forever. Bayley ready for church on her birthday. I can't believe she is *8*! She is becoming such a young lady. Mamoe made ice cream sandwich cakes for both of the girls for their birthdays. Yummm!Bayley's birthday meal of choice (which she didn't get to have until the day *after* her birthday because we went to Mamoe's on her birthday for roast. :)) Emlyn barely awake on her birthday...ready to open presents. *Ta-Ta* called to wish each of the girls Happy Birthday. Even though they don't remember ever seeing her in person, they love her like family and love to talk to her on the phone! Emlyn was making such cute faces while they were talking that I had to get the camera. Little sister didn't have a birthday, but she was determined to get in on the phone calls. Uncle Tim took everyone to the Lone Star for the girls' birthdays. What a treat! We had a really good time and had a really yummy lunch!Aunt Shelly, Brianna, and Bay.What a birthday smile!! I love this picture of Emlyn. People at church yesterday kept remarking on how fast she is growing up...I can't believe she is six! Cousin Brianna. Speaking of growing up, Brianna starts Jr. High this week. Seems like just yesterday she was a two year old in velvet and ruffles at my wedding!Uncle Tim tipped off the staff that we had a couple of birthdays. They came and sang to the girls...causing Bayley to completely lose her appetite from embarrassment. :) Then they brought the girls two of these huge Sundaes...which *all 9* of us shared and *still* couldn't finish! Yum. Bayley and Peter were intrigued by Aunt Shelly's MP3 player. We're so techie at our house...all of my kids took one look and said, "What's THAT?"


Homeschool Open House

Tiany is hosting an incredible Homeschool Open House at Less of Me~More of Him. I've been enjoying others' posts so much, but really hadn't planned to participate...but at the last minute, I decided I had to get in on the fun! :)

For those who don't know, I'm Jennifer, married to Billy for 11 1/2 years and mom to Peter (9), Bayley (8), Emlyn (6 on Saturday!), and Ammah Grace (3). I was homeschooled my last two years of high school (back in the dark ages of the mid-80s when most people had never heard of homeschooling :)), and my younger brother was homeschooled through all 12 years. I knew as a high schooler that I wanted to homeschool my children someday, and I began to pray for a husband who would be as committed to that as I was. God answered that prayer with a husband who had never met a homeschooler before we met, but who quickly became, if anything, even more committed than I was! I am so thankful for his support and commitment to allowing me to be at home full-time and having our children at home.

One reason I was hesitant about posting in the open house is that we are far from having it *together*. I had done research and gone to homeschool conventions and read all the homeschooling books and magazines for years before we had children, and thought I had my plans all made and things all figured out. *grin* Then came real life! Things have not gone at all according to plan. We have not had a single year of our homeschooling journey, since *officially* beginning in 2003, that has gone according to *plan*. We have experienced my dad's failing health and his death, pregnancy problems and the birth of our preemie, Ammah Grace, and her time in NICU 2.5 hours away from home, a major, long-term extended family crisis, my own unexpected health issues, and Billy's ever-changing job schedule. So, our "typical homeschool day" has usually been anything but typical.

Billy is the ER Case Manager at a local hospital, and for most of last year, he worked 2nd shift. We shifted our day accordingly, getting up later in the morning, going to bed later in the evening, and doing the bulk of our schooling in the afternoon. This year, Billy is working days, so we will have a more *typical* schedule. I'm still working out the kinks in it...but here is the basic plan:

5:30 Mom up, Quiet Time
6:00 Mom Planning, Reading, Computer, or Project Time (I also do custom scrapbook work occasionally, so this would be time to work on custom orders when needed. It is also a flexible time for days when physical issues require a *slower* morning.)
7:00 Billy's lunch ready, mom's chores, supper prep
8:00 Kids up, breakfast
8:30 Kids dressed and chores
9:30 School
Bible and Singing (all together)
Math (Girls copywork while I start math with Peter, Peter work independently while I start math with girls.)
(Break/snack between math and language arts)
Language Arts
12:00 Lunch (M/W Peter and Em fix while I read with Bay, T/Th Bay and Gray fix while I read with Em)
12:45 School
Science or Music/Art (all four--science 2 days per week and Music/Art 2 days per week))
1:15 Character (We'll be doing Plants Grown Up for Peter and Polished Cornerstones for the girls during this time...as well as some unit studies on specific character traits all together.)
1:45 P.E. (all four)
2:05 History (all together)
2:45 Kids free time, mom *flex time* for phone calls, computer, paperwork, etc.
3:45 Afternoon chores
4:45 Mom supper prep, fold laundry, iron
5:45 Supper

As far as structure, I'm learning that our family works best with a loosely structured framework to use as a guide, rather than a rigid schedule. Our schedule will be a tool to (hopefully) keep mom on track and keep us moving in the right direction. We have spent so much time the past few years in *survival mode* that my goal now is to develop routines in housework and school to restore order to our home and family. I've also been working on developing some forms to help us get life back in order this year. (More about them in another post. :))

(these are still works-in-progress :))

We live in a 60+ year old home that was my grandparents' home when I was growing up...and I have always felt that with three bedrooms and four children, we really didn't have a place for a dedicated schoolroom. Our dining room has always been our central school location, with various school activities happening in the living room, and lately, our entry hall/reading nook. We have finally made the decision to turn our dining room (which is actually the largest room in our house!) into a schoolroom...so now, instead of schooling in our dining room , we will be eating in our schoolroom! We are in the midst of pulling wallpaper off the walls, moving furniture around, and painting at the moment (so check back for updates on our progress there!) No pictures of the chaos in the dining room at the moment, but here are a couple of our newest favorite learning spots:

(Our Entry Hall/Reading Nook)

(Our *Not Exactly* New Piano)

You may notice I haven't mentioned curriculum yet. I've saved it to combine with my *must share tips*, which are "Don't compare your family with others," and "Be flexible." Or, "Seek what God wants for your family/school, and do it." I mentioned earlier that I had planned to homeschool since I was in high school...and I thought I had everything planned to perfection. *Nothing*...from our schedule to our curriculum to my children's learning pace has gone as I expected. I had planned to be a die-hard Bob Jones user from kindergarten to graduation. When we started, I quickly realized this did not *fit* with our family...and yet I was so determined that it *must*...because that was the *plan*. I thought that my children would all learn to read early and with little effort, as I did...and that has not been the case. I thought we would have a very scheduled, orderly life, and we would be advanced in everything. Then we had 4 straight years of complete chaos in our family, and we are...*gasp*...BEHIND.

Through all of this, we have learned that oftentimes God's goals are different than ours. He has lessons to teach us that are sometimes more important than science and history. He has lessons to teach us and our children that can only come through difficult times...and that may be at the cost of our well-laid *plans* for our school. God has taught us, and our children, many lessons about His Sovereignty, His love, His faithfulness, and His power through the past few years that would not have been the same had they been *in school*. We are still striving for excellence in academics, but have learned that sometimes our *pace* and God's aren't the same in that area. We are thankful for the opportunities that God has given through homeschooling, and we are excited about our plans for a (hopefully) more normal year this year to get caught up academically.

And our curriculum? We have gone in a completely different, very eclectic direction with our curriculum/schooling style. The only thing we are still using from Bob Jones (which I still think is an *excellent* curriculum...just not a good fit for our family) is Bible. I love Bob Jones Bible and use it as a *spine* for our Bible time. We use a wide variety of resources now, and have been excited about using notebooking/lapbooking and multi-grade teaching in many areas. Two of our favorite changes have been Considering God's Creation for science, and Mystery of History for history. Once I finally let go of my *plans*, it has been exciting to see how God has provided things that are just the right *fit* for our family!

Thanks for visiting our open house! Check back for updates on how our year is going (and more info on our schoolroom redo and how our new planning sheets work this year...) And check out all the other open house posts at Less of Me, More of Him for great ideas and inspiration!


In the Desert Place...

"Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name…”
~ Matt Redman

I blogged a few weeks ago about the song Blessed Be Your Name and how God has been using it in my life. As I have been reflecting on the portion of those lyrics that Iris chose for In Other Words today, I thought about the fact that it feels as if we have been wandering in the wilderness or desert forever...and there is still nothing but sand in sight. I began to think about what the Bible says about desert times and wilderness times, and I had these random thoughts:

1. God's people were still His people...even when they were in the desert.

2. God always provided for His people...even in the desert. (Deut. 8:16; Deut. 2:7; Deut. 29:2)

3. God's presence was real and visible to His people...in the midst of the desert. (Neh. 9:19)

4. God sometimes led His people from one desert into another one...and sometimes they were there for a long time. (Numbers 33)

5. God had a purpose for the desert time. (Deut. 8:2)

6. God led His people every step of the way...even in the desert. (Deut. 1:33)

7. No matter how much God did for His people in the desert, they continued to turn away and rebel...and although they were disciplined, and felt His wrath, He always forgave. (Psalm 78)

8. God makes a way in the desert and brings glory to Himself through it. (Isa. 35:1; Isa. 43:19)

I started these thoughts hours ago. As I've gone about daily tasks and dealt with interruptions in between, this has unfolded to be a day full of reminders that we are, still, deep in the midst of our wilderness. Discouragement has threatened to overwhelm. I am so thankful that God, once again, has provided...even through leading Iris days ago to select those words for us to focus on this week. How I needed to be reminded once again that God is working, even in and through the desert time, and that when I don't feel like it, when I am tempted to slide into the pit of discouragement, I can instead say, "Blessed Be Your Name."

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the LORD." (Job 1:21)


Menu Plan Monday

Monday--Bowtie Pasta Alfredo and French Bread (This was Bayley's birthday dinner...they always get to choose the menu for their birthdays and this is Bay's favorite meal. She didn't get to have it yesterday *on* her birthday because we ended up going to my mom's, so we are having it tonight. :))

Tuesday--Mexican Roast Wraps, rice, and beans

Wednesday--Grilled Cheese and tomato soup

Thursday--Tator Tot Casserole, salad, green beans

Friday--Double Sausage Stromboli

To see what others are eating this week, go to Orgjunkie.


Faith-Lift Friday

I've posted before that I have struggled a lot this year with the subject of suffering...especially the suffering of children. Today's devotion from My Utmost for His Highest was really convicting. Here are a few quotes:

"Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God's will--even if it means you will suffer--is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God's will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint's life."

"The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. But the people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us."

"Look at God's incredible waste of His saints, according to the world's judgement. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places...God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be."

We would certainly never have chosen any of the sufferings we have experienced in the past few years. And yet, God has worked immeasurably in our lives through them. Through most of those sufferings, I was able to say that I would have chosen, had I been able to, to go through it all again, knowing what I know now about what God has done in our lives through it. This past year, though, I've wavered on that. If I could go back in time, change the circumstances that led us to this place, and erase the suffering that has come about because of it, would I? There have been many times in the past year when I have said, most assuredly, yes, I would. And yet as I think of what God has taught us, how much closer even our children have grown to Him and how they have grown precisely because of the suffering they have gone through, I realize that I am glad that God in His wisdom does not allow us to make that choice.

Watching my children suffer, because of a situation they have no control over and which they are completely unable...as are the adults in their lives...to understand, has been heartbreaking. But I have already seen that God is getting glory through the very circumstances that have brought such pain, and through the suffering that has accompanied them. How I would love, as a mother, to be able to wipe away the suffering just as I wipe away their tears. But what a reminder in the quote above..."And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint's life."

As a mom...and as a wife, a friend, a daughter...I have a tendency to want to *fix* things. I want to be able to rid my little world of suffering. I want to make everyone *feel better*. And yet, I have to remember that in trying to do those things, I may be doing more harm than good to the loved ones who are going through suffering. I don't think, at all, that that means we are not to offer comfort. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. We are to help bear one another's burdens, and part of that is offering comfort when it is needed. But I needed this reminder today that I must be careful in trying to comfort and encourage, that I do not get in the way of God and His work.

How wonderful to know, however, that no matter what kind of suffering we are experiencing, if we are in His will...He *will be* glorified through that suffering. And He is working through it to refine us and make us more like Him.

See more Faith-Lifts here.


Thankful Thursday

It's actually Wednesday night as I post this, but I have time and thoughts to post now, so I'm going to get a jump on it. :) My thankful thoughts this week are very random...

1. My mom finally got the external fixator removed from her arm today. We thought this was going to happen 2 weeks ago, so we were concerned about what would happen today. We are all really glad that the metal pins and bar are *gone*! She is now in a wrap and a brace/splint, and will be starting physical therapy next week. There is some damage to the ligaments that had not shown up before, so they will look at that again in a month to see if it is healing on its own or if she needs surgery. We are praying that it will heal smoothly, but we are thankful for the progress we've seen so far.

(this is what we are so glad to be rid of!)

2. My goofy husband. I've been talking for weeks about re-arranging the furniture in the living room. I finally got our bedroom cleaned out so that we could move some things in there from the living room, so that we *could* move the furniture in the living room, but haven't had a chance to actually re-arrange yet. Tonight when I talked to Billy on the way home from choir practice, he made some comment about the kids having left a mess in the living room (we took my mom to the dr. today and ended up being gone longer than we meant to be). I said, "I know, they are supposed to clean it up when we get home and I'm going to try to move the furniture tomorrow. He said, "I had an idea for how you could move things..." and proceeded to tell me what it was. I said that sounded good, and we'd try to get to it tomorrow. When I got home a minute later...it was already done! He had moved the furniture for me while I was in choir...and then went through the ruse of planning to move it tomorrow to make the surprise even better. (I should have known something was up...I must be *really* tired! :-D) Isn't he sweet? I am so blessed to have a husband who works so hard to show us in so many ways how much he loves us.

3. My friend K. Her birthday is today, and I was reminded again while writing in her card what a blessing she is. God has blessed me so abundantly in the area of friends, and I am so thankful for this special friend who has been with me through so much...who has laughed with me, cried with me, counseled me, listened for hours, and been there with a hug when I've needed it most. I am so thankful for the gift of her friendship.

4. A much-needed shopping trip Tuesday night with my friend J. Again...I am amazed at the blessing of friendships that God has given. It was good to get out and talk with no interruptions (i.e. my small people), laugh, shop, talk, eat a little chocolate :), talk, and just relax a bit. I am thankful for the *break* and even more for her friendship!

5. I am especially thankful today for a birthday we will celebrate Sunday. Our second child and first daughter was born August 12. I am so thankful for this incredible little girl...who isn't so little any more. She is growing up so fast! I am thankful for her sensitive spirit, her diligence, her organizing streak, her determination, and her nurturing heart. Most of all I am thankful that she has a desire to please God and her mom and dad (*most* of the time:)). She has gone through some rough times lately, but I know that God has a very special plan for her, and I'm glad that part of that plan is my being her mother!

To see what others are thankful for this week, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.


Time Travel Tuesday--Birth Stories

Annie's Time Travel Tuesday topic today is "Birth Stories". My first thought was of Ammah Grace's birth story...it always comes to mind because it was so dramatic...but then I decided that (a)we talk a lot about Ammah Grace's story as it is, and (b) it would take a much larger post to adequately tell it. I'll try to hit some highlights from the girls' births soon, but for today, we'll start with Peter, since he is the oldest (and has one of the funniest stories:)).

The part that wasn't funny...36 hours of excruciating back labor with only two low doses of stadol. I was determined *not* to have an epidural (I was much more afraid of the needle involved with that than of labor itself!) Billy was in front of me feeding me ice chips, applying chapstick to my dry lips, having his hand crushed to powder ;-), and constantly talking me through the whole thing. My brother was on *back duty*...rubbing my back wherever the latest pain hit, as I barked out, "higher", "lower", "right", "left", etc. At one point, he had to have a break, so my mom took over. Now, for those who don't know my mom IRL...she is a little tiny woman, and has the boniest hands known to man. Three seconds into her shift on *back duty*, I yelled, "Get her bony hands AWAY from me," at which point, Billy took over back duty for a few minutes while my mom stood in with the ice chips.

The part that we still laugh about...We had decided with Peter (our first) that we wouldn't find out if he was a boy or a girl. However, I think we *all* thought deep down that he was a girl. For one thing, my MIL had declared that I looked like I was having a girl, and she had only been wrong once in years of guessing. I had told Billy months before that I only wanted him in the delivery room when I actually delivered (after hearing about the crowd in my SIL's room when my niece was born.) So my mom and brother were in the room until I started pushing, and then they went out in the hall to wait with my grandfather, my aunt, and our pastor.

When Peter finally arrived and Billy went out to tell everyone the good news, he announced, "It's a boy!"...and my mom immediately replied..."It is NOT." Not, mind you, because she was disappointed or wanted one more than the other, but because Billy had been telling everyone for months that he was going to come out and tell everyone "It's a Basset Hound!" Billy's reputation for practical jokes was such that my mom was just sure that whatever he came out with, it would be the opposite. She didn't believe that Peter was a boy until she saw for herself!


Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Breaded Chicken and Cucumber/Tomato Salad
Tuesday: *Big Batch Beef Sauce* Spaghetti, Cheese Bread, Green Beans
Wednesday: Enchiladas and Rice
Thursday: Brat Stew (smoked sausage, cream of mushroom soup, milk, chopped potatoes, chopped or shredded carrots, green beans, minced onion,shredded cheddar cheese)
Friday: Poor Man Steaks and Squash Casserole

See more menus for the week at here.

ETA a few recipes...:)

Yummy Enchiladas

2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz. tub sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 pkg. mexican blend cheese
1 pkg. flour tortillas

Brown beef with diced onion and salt/pepper. Drain beef/onions. Mix together remaining ingredients except cheese/tortillas and mix well. Add 1/2 cup sauce and 1 cup cheese to meat and mix. Spray or grease 13x 9 pan and spread one cup sauce in bottom. Fill enchiladas with meat mixture, roll, and pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 30 min. at 350.

(This is one of Billy's favorite enchilada recipes, modified a bit from a recipe from a friend at church. It is one of our standbys.)

Cornbread Squash Casserole

3 cups cooked, mashed yellow squash (about 6 medium)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2/3 stick butter or margarine
2 T sugar
1tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 5/8 cup crumbled cornbread (Jiffy Mix suggested)
1 cup evaporated milk
3 eggs
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

Saute onion and pepper in butter till soft. In large bowl, mix squash, sugar, salt, pepper, cornbread, milk, eggs, and 1 cup cheese. Add onion, pepper, and butter mixture and stir to mix. Pour into a greased 10 x 12 inch baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 min. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake an additional 10 minutes.

(This is a new recipe for us. It is a copycat recipe from a local restaurant which was posted on our homeschool loop after running in the paper.)


Show and Tell Friday--"Shark Week"

The pictures aren't the greatest, but I have to share what our crazy, creative kids did yesterday (well, the big kids...Gracie napped through most of it.:))

The other day, Billy discovered that Netflix carries the Discovery Channel "Shark Week" DVDs. Billy *loves* Shark Week. And, as he says, it is a tradition. When Bay and Em were born (both in the middle of August), Shark Week was on, and Billy took advantage of the hospital cable to enjoy it (we haven't had TV reception, much less cable, in years.)

Billy had had a rough week at work and was really looking forward to Shark Week's anticipated arrival Thursday. (It was sent from a different shipping facility, so it took longer to get here than usual.) Billy had told the kids he would bring home popcorn and we would all watch Shark Week after supper. (I had my stack of books and paperwork ready...I can't watch a *normal* movie without something else to do, much less gory shark stuff. blech.) I was so glad when the disc arrived Thursday...Billy deserved a chance to just *veg* for a while. He hasn't gotten to do that much this summer, between work, keeping up two yards due to my mom's broken arm, and getting up in the night with the new puppy (oh, the joys of dog ownership!)

But alas. No shark week. When Billy got home and opened the disc, it was cracked. All the way through. It was apparent that someone had tried to fix it...there was some sort of adhesive over the crack...so it wasn't damaged in the mail. We waited forever for a *broken disc*. ARrggghhh.

We did a damaged disc report and Netflix is sending a new disc asap...but that didn't help the disappointment last night. I called every movie place in town on the off chance that *someone* had the Shark Week discs to rent. No such luck. Billy kept saying "it's no big deal, we'll just wait for the next one"...but I knew he was really disappointed.

Our sensitive kids apparently realized that, too. Sometime while I was calling movie places, they disappeared into the bedroom. Occasionally one of them would make a foray into the dining room or kitchen for some sort of *supplies*...and I knew something was up. When Bayley came in a started rearranging the living room, even Billy knew something was up.

Sure enough, after 45 minutes of *preparing*, in came the three big kids, costumes and props in tow. It took about 60 seconds to realize what they were doing...they had made up their own "Shark Week" program to present to Dad.

Within minutes, we were all in stitches. By the time I got the camera out, they were all pretty goofy, so I didn't get a *good* picture (wish I'd gotten a good one of the hats they made...they were great!) Emlyn's had made a little mouse that stuck out of the top of her hat...I thought it was adorable and she let me keep it after the show was over. :-D

They even made popcorn and served Billy and I popcorn with water (for Dad) and Diet Coke(for me) on a serving tray. They accomplished their goal of making Dad feel better...and their sensitivity and creativity made their mommy pretty proud in the process!

See what others are proud of this week by visiting Kelli for Show and Tell Friday.

ETA: I managed to get a couple more pictures this morning. Bayley made this pig hat, which isn't nearly as funny without *sound*. The sides and back said, "7...snort, snort...7" (I guess the 7 is for her age), and she had drawn pig snouts on the back. She kept running around with it saying, "This is my pig's motto..."7...snort, snort...7!" and then erupting in laughter. Then *we* would erupt in laughter. Not sure what the pig and the mouse actually had to do with *Sharks*...but they were sure cute!


Thankful Thursday

As is often the case, my Thankful Thursday post involves a song this week. Last night in our children's choir rehearsal, my friend K introduced the song "Blessed Be Your Name". As she was introducing it, she mentioned this verse from Job 1:21...

"the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

It was certainly not the first time I had heard that verse, but while I was sitting on the piano bench, in the midst of a bunch of hyper 4th-6th graders, God used it not only to answer a prayer I've been praying for weeks, but also to speak directly to my heart about an issue with which I've been struggling tremendously lately. As we sang the song, the words continued to speak to me, and gave me an idea in how to approach something that one of my children had been questioning recently...something I didn't really know how to deal with and about which I had been praying for wisdom.

Today I am thankful for the reminder that God gives, God takes away...and His name is to be praised in all things, because He is good.

Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful;
where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name when I'm found in the desert place.
Though I walk in the wilderness, blessed be Your name.

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me;
when the world's 'all as it should be', blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering.
Thought there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say:
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name.

You give and take away. You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say: Lord, blessed be Your name.

--Matt and Beth Redman

I am thankful today for the reminder that I can choose to say, "Blessed be Your name. "

To see what others are thankful for today, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.