Monday, December 29, 2008

Things that made me laugh this Christmas....

Well, its Monday...after Christmas.....before New Years and nobody is really in the mindset of going back to work are they??? I feel like the holiday has lasted about a month...but in a good way. I like that. I am almost ready for routine...but will enjoy this one last week of laziness!! And some work too....

I was looking through pictures, making some online albums for my family to enjoy and thought I would share a couple with you that made me just laugh out loud. Love those moments...don't you. You may not get them....and that is ok - but you might enjoy the thought behind them.

This is one of our Nativity Scene that Nick had when he was a toddler. Each year we bring it out...and it is placed in the bathroom. Odd I know - but when he was little...just like his two little brothers - it became the bathtime Nativity set. Seriously - so now, each time I see them in the bathroom I can tell that the boys have re-arranged them in some crazy way. Here, the donkey is taking on one of the wise men...or is that Joseph? I do see one of the wise men standing on his head. They used to put the baby Jesus in the Alligator mouth in the bathroom - that was a bit too far for me - you know?

This next one is not truly captured...but it is Nick explaining to Scout not to hit him in the head with the nerf darts....he wants the suction cups to stick to his back. "Get closer if you have to Scout!" I think those were his last words....

This one...I've already blogged about - but its worth repeating. Scout in a banana suit on Christmas Eve...too funny....and weird I know.

I love this one....the laugh I get from this one is just awesome. Its when the puppy we got the boys ran around the corner to see them. Nick's face....Scouts yell....Max's action to scoop the pup up....will stay with me for YEARS! Total awesomeness.

These last few are just some great family shots. To quote Scout as we left my mom and dad's house on Christmas day..... we have a great family...we are truly blessed.

The Johnsons celebrating in Young Harris, GA

The Men (and Dixie) at my parents house Christmas day

The Girls at my parents house Christmas Day

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and also found time to be amazed at the true gift and miracle of Christmas. I look forward to 2009....who knows what we'll laugh at this year!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas Eve

So its Christmas Eve....well technically its already Christmas Day because its after midnight. I have found myself somewhat my sweet husband sleeps on the couch. He is fighting a cold and though we still have much to do tonight....I'm letting him sleep. I am listening to Alabama Public Television - wonderful Christmas music and feeling content.

Tonight was wonderful - we had a beautiful first Christmas Eve Service at a2 with our new church family. My sister and her family came. So very special. Beyond words..... I held my niece while the pastor spoke and just felt blessed to have her with us. My sister and I enjoyed being together on Christmas Eve for the first time.....since I married 17 years ago. Lots of time has passed.....and now we are raising children together. I guess I'm pretty well ahead of her, but feel alot of the same things now. Here is a pic of them from our Candlelight Service.

Here is me and my men...minus Nick...he was talking.

One of my favorite parts of tonight was waiting for the Hoover Fire Truck. Nothing happened....its just a fun thing they do each year. For the last 14 years...maybe longer, but I only remember 14 - the Hoover Fire Department rides around on the firetruck - sirens blasting and Santa riding on top. The kids in the neighborhood love it. All 3 of mine love it still! So tonight...was no exception. They loved it. This year, Scout opted to greet them in a banana suit. He enjoyed every minute. I'm not certain why....but that didn't matter...he just enjoyed it. I think the firemen got a kick out of it too! eyelids are getting heavy...and like I said, there are still a few things to do so I need to wake my sweet husband and get this show on the road...Oh....did I mention there is a puppy keeping warm in Kevin's shed? Yeah....she's a sweet baby dachshund that will run to our boys with a big ole' bow around her neck. I can't I must sleep now so I can enjoy it. a few minutes at least.

Whatever you do on Christmas day - know that a Savior came down from Heaven because he loved you. Even if you were the only one on earth....he still would have left everything for you...because you are worth the cost. He loves you and me. I am thankful and celebrate today because of that one reason. My pastor reminded us that out of all the Christmas Bible Verses we can find in the really comes down to just one....John 3:16.

John 3:16 (The Message)

16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Didn't quite get the song right....

You know, I can think of quite a few songs where I thought I was singing the right words, only to realize after YEARS of proudly....and loudly singing that I totally did not get what the song writer was really saying. My youngest son does this too! We listen to music on quite a few radio stations and that typically results in the kids knowing the words to all kinds of songs. (Nothing horrible....) Well about a year ago, Daniel Kirkley had a song on our Christian radio station, My New Dawn that sounds alot like Josh Groban. Anyway, after hearing this song a million times - Max shared with me just how much he liked that song. And as he told me....he was really feeling it. You know the feeling when you totally 'get' a song. It speaks to Chicago's 'Your My Inspiration' when you were in High school. Remember that? HA! Anyway, as he's telling me this - he's saying "Mom, he must really like his dog". My reply was...."What???" Max then asked, "He is saying this is my new dog isn't he??" I just died laughing....and we laughed for a bit. Because the song at that point took on a whole different meaning. Max had been hearing a 'boy' sing about his new dog and how it truly changed his life and took him out of the darkness into light.... see the lyrics below and substitute dog...each time you see dawn.

Hiding in the midnight
I’ve watched life pass me by
Haunted by each heartbreak
And mistake, I’ve let weigh
Me down
Now it feels like

( Chorus )

This is my new dawn
My yesterdays have come and gone
Walked in the dark too long
This is my new, this in my new dawn

I have washed my hands now
I’ve laid down all my doubts
I see that sun rising
Baptizing and shining
Straight into my soul

( Chorus )

Just like a child suddenly everything’s new
The colors collide and I see a beautiful view
Now I feel alive

Ok...can you see how his interpretation totally changed that song for him. A dog speaks volumes to him....totally life changing!! A new dawn does not signify as much to a 9 year old. HA! I had to laugh. We think about that often, and laugh each time the song comes on. He still feels Daniel Kirkley missed the mark on that one...or at least the opportunity to speak to 9 year olds all over the world!

In the same way, sometimes songs take a while before they resonate with our souls. Maybe its because we move so fast that we don't take time to let them sink in...or maybe its because we've never really sought out what the songwriter is really thinking about. What they want us to hear and feel with their words. I am finding that this season,a very familiar Christmas Carol is sounding much different to me than possibly ever before. O come all ye faithful. We've heard it a million times right? But did I really hear it all those years??? I mean wow.... we sing the words, "Now in flesh appearing.....O come let us adore him". Wow...God became dwell among us....Wow.....that's no ordinary thing. And many times have I sung it as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Luke 2:8-18 (The Message)

An Event for Everyone
8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Merry Christmas to you! I wish you and your family much peace, love and happiness this blessed Christmas season!

You know, just for fun...and speaking of words that we didn't get quite right when we were younger because we twisted them all up and made our own..... Well, in case you've ever wondered what Earth Wind and Fire was singing during the chorus of September. I'll tell you. I used to think I was making up my own words singing "Ba de ya...say do you remember....Ba de ya....Dancing in September...Ba de ya..." Remember that part? Well...guess what??? That is what they are saying! HA! Go figure. I was kind of shocked when I googled it. Thinking that i had missed something really good. Nope...just some fun grooving sound before the chorus. Man, that was great music as you would 'truck' around the skating rink...was it not?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spend Less - Give More

This has been a wonderful - yet very different Christmas season for us. Don't get me wrong, it has been great - its just felt different. We've put far less emphasis on the gift part....and we've tried hard to spend more time just 'being' together. Enjoying the gift of our family.....and trying to be more mindful of what this season is truly about. Our Pastor has been leading a series of Sundays that have been amazing. The entire series is entitled Christmas Rebellion - Taking Christmas Back. If you weren't there....I wish you could have been. There are some great notes on our church here to read more.

The first Sunday we began this series, we talked about Worship. Worshiping the one we celebrate during this season. As we came in that Sunday, we were asked what burdens we were carrying. What was keeping us from truly experiencing the gift of Christmas. Was it money worries? Family issues? Depression? Name it....then write it down. After we wrote our words down on paper they provided - we tore them up into little pieces - then placed them in a bowl that was passed down each row. Chris asked us to just get rid of those things....give them to God. Worship him fully - and allow him to be the reason for movement and worship and celebration this season. At the end of the service......the tiny pieces of paper had been used to make a beautiful mosaic creation. Two hands holding a heart.

If the picture were closer, you would be able to see portions of the words that were written on the papers. I imagine there were all kinds of words. Being honest with you now...when asked what could hinder me from enjoying the true meaning of Christmas this year - I had to write down busyness. I can get so busy some times I just miss it you know? Not this year....I will not be busy about being busy this year. How beautiful it can be when we give our worries to God and truly worship him with everything we have....holding nothing back. Remember, he promises to give beauty for ashes right??

Last Sunday, we talked about the spending aspect....buying less. And giving more. We even talked about the wise men who set out on their journey to find the one who was promised. They followed a star in the dessert to find the one they knew would change history. Not a king in a palace, but one in a a barn. How God is that???? The art that was created this past Sunday was pretty amazing. We entered to find a painting of a lady who had a shopping cart full of packages. Through out the message, Chris had taken off packages that were glued to the front of the painting. The Macy's Star that was formerly at the top of that painting was taken off and a majestic star was painted at the top of the canvas. As we sang about the Glory of God and worshiped God....while thinking of changes we could make this season.....pieces of the painting were being cut away. The first layer was being taken off in certain places - where the shopper was once standing. What was unveiled underneath the lady who was in a hurry to shop....was a wise man, on a camel - following a star with a gift in hand...for His King.

It was pretty totally made you think. The question I left with yesterday was this; What am I giving this year to my King?? What am I teaching my kids to give? Have I taught them that it really is all about Jesus??? You know, I think my kids do get it. And I'm thankful. Grateful. Chris did ask us if we wrap up Christmas each year....thinking to ourselves that we missed the mark spiritually. You know, thinking that this year...I will make Christmas all about Jesus. Then, we get busy, don't do the things we planned, and still shopped and spent like every Christmas before. Did we not do the devotions...or read with our kids like we planned??? I think we have all felt that once or twice haven't we? He also commented on what the Wise Men must have talked about as they walked away from being in the presence of 'God with us', Emmanuel. Do you think that the Wise Men walked away saying..."yeah, I had big plans for this event...but it didn't really turn out as spiritual as I wanted it too...." No way....they walked away pumped...changed.....and totally fulfilled because their hearts were all about him. Wow...They followed the sign straight to Jesus.

I can't wait to see what next Sunday holds! If I can encourage you to do anything this Christmas besides the obvious of spending less and giving more...I encourage you to find time be alone and thank God for sending his be with us here on earth. Read the Christmas Story, you know..the birth of Christ. Click long has it been since you've walked through these words in the Bible? Its amazing.....inconcievable....and true.

In case you are wondering....yes, Kevin is partly responsible for the artwork you see. I am excited that he is using his talents again within church. We are so excited about what God is doing at a2 Church. We are growing....and Gods word is spreading and that is very say the least! We meet each Sunday at 9:45am and always have a fresh pot of coffee going. We have a special Christmas Eve service planned that will be wonderful I know!!!

Matthew 2: 1-2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Merry Christmas - May you spend less this Christmas as you give and receive so much more!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Fun

Each year, I love creating our Christmas card. Its fun for me. Seriously.....I love it. I also love the craziness that is always behind the picture that nobody really sees but us. It takes a lot to for all 5 of us to take a good picture together. I used to dress us all in matching outfits - and take a cute, serious photo.....not any more. That stressed me out too much. You would think that making the boys dress alike for even just 30 minutes - was major torture. So...we adapted. It was either that....or keep creating these pictures that my kids NEVER looked forward to! What a fun family moment that would have been.

Anyway, we now enjoy silly pictures and we all discuss ideas and what would be fun. The ideas are hysterical sometimes! This past week we finished our new picture - and the photo shoot did not disappoint. It was funny....and had a bit of stress too. But not like the stress of the 'matching sweater' days. But...there was some stress when I was wanting to do something serious for a moment. But....looking back, I love how the boys crack each other up and do stupid stuff. They are having a good time! They will remember that far longer than taking a silly picture. Unless....I totally freak out and scream....that they will I refrain, with the help of Jesus of course. (I'm serious) As we were finding the good pictures we took...I enjoyed the funny ones too. I am glad Kevin just kept clicking even when we were not ready - it captures some honest moments. All but one were funny....we were all laughing and being this...

But then I ran across this one....when I was ready for them to be serious again. I cracked did my friend Laura when I shared this with her. Such truth in one little picture.....can you SEE what I am feeling???

Could not be more real could it? But you would never see that on any card I would send would only see the smiley face and perfect happy family. I couldn't resist sharing this with you and hopefully in some weird way....its an encouragement to you to are not alone. Every mother and father gets stressed and sometimes loses it. Even when intentionally trying to create a special moment. Ha! You know exactly what I mean!!! Nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. Sometimes we have no idea what happens before that perfect Christmas photo is taken. That has been brought home to me lately in a big way. There are families we are close to going through more than we could have imagined....they looked so perfect on the outside, but they are truly hurting on the inside. So...offer more love and more kindness than you have before to them on this Thanksgiving. Remind our kids that they may think others have it so much better than they do...more stuff....more gadgets....but if they have the love and security of parents who love them - who spend time with them, they are rich far beyond those who don't.

You know...I am glad to tell you that the picture above is as crazy as I got this was a silent show....just a pout only caught by my sweet husband. I didn't stop the silliness of the boys that day....believe me, they went on for a while. So....we joined in. And it was fun.....and it was real life in the Johnson house that day......

I love the candy cane on Max's ear in this one. Subtle.....sneaky.......where did he learn that?

So.....that is some fun from the Johnson house this week. And I guess you could say some silly, trivial....yet life making advice too. Remember, it doesn't all have to look perfect, be perfect, feel perfect...real life is fun, spontaneous and chaotic some times....enjoy it now before its gone! Oh....and don't be the stressed out mother during picture times that they will talk about to their future wives...OK??!!! We have a choice ya'll....Enough said???

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Special Thanksgiving Vacation

We have had an amazing week. It all started last Sunday, November 23. We woke early to drive to Nashville. That was Scout's 14th birthday present - Tickets to the Jets Vs. Titans Game. Brett Favre did not disappoint! He played great and the Jets broke the winning streak of the Tennessee Titans. Sad for Titan Fans....exhilarating for Favre fans.

Yes...that is a Jets Favre jersey...with the Packers Cheesehead combination. He's good with the compromise.

We enjoyed some time in Nashville - even though it was short. Kelly made a Thanksgiving dinner for us and we enjoyed being with our family.

Great food and fun as usual with this crew.

The next day, we woke early again to drive to Washington DC for a week of major site seeing and family time.

This vacation was so different for us. For one, it was during Thanksgiving and we are always with with other members of our family for Thanksgiving. As I was thinking how different this was for us....I began to remember that this is the way it was for me growing up. My family always took a family vacation the week of Thanksgiving. We would go to Navarre Beach every year. The special thing for me, was that there were other families who did this same thing and for years, we would go in anticipation of seeing these friends that we only saw once a year. My parents made friends as well and they would gather during the week and play cards in the sun room of the hotel we stayed in while the kids ran wild. It was GREAT! I loved my Thanksgivings. This vacation - was a perfect Thanksgiving for us.

We stay so busy with everyone's schedule that sometimes we don't have as much downtime as we all would like. The boys can nag each other TO DEATH at home. It can be crazy!! But this past week - they hung together and laughed constantly. The boys had a hotel room across from our room. Every time we went over there, there was wrestling, laughing, being goofy....just fun stuff. When we take them out of their environment.....they become the best of friends. Such a blessing for me and Kevin to see that.

Its neat to see them growing into young men and how their personalities are changing and growing too. Coming home, I'm determined to not put off trips like this anymore. We had an amazing time with tons of memories we will share for YEARS to come. We are already planning something for the spring....we hear Wyoming is wonderful....and I want to see my boys enjoy the site of the buffalo and those amazing mountains and valleys. Seeing my kids enjoy something new is a priceless gift. Experiencing new cities and sites together is special. It makes me wonder if that is a tad of what God experiences when we take delight in his word....and his world. He enjoys, enjoying life with us just like we do with our own families. Just a small reminder of how good God is.

There are some funny moments that stick out from this past week -

During our Thanksgiving Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, our server gave Max a coloring book and set of crayons, he politely put his hand up and said, "oh, no thank you, I'm 10 now". The server, who had a GREAT personality, said "Oh! I see, so you don't color anymore! You are too grown up for coloring, huh???". We all laughed. Then Max said, "Well, you know, I am 10, but I still have a little left in me sometimes".
Typical Max.

Walking to the subway after dinner one night. Max saw this statue in the window of an antique store. He walked up to the window of this shop, pointed to the statue and yelled, "Look at this guy!!!! He looks awful!!!!" As soon as he did this, a man sleeping against the door in a sleeping bag rolled over....Max's foot was literally an inch away from his sleeping bag. None of us had noticed the man,until he rolled over and the sleeping bag moved. Only Nick, Kevin and myself noticed the movement and we grabbed Max and walked away quickly. I know...where was our Christian compassion? My first reaction was mama bear mode - move my child, because I didn't know who was in that sleeping bag and was not sure how safe we were. I feel bad now...seriously. But, back to the story - When we told Max what had happened - he didn't believe it at first and thought we were kidding him. But then he got really sad because he thought the man might have thought he was talking about him when he was really talking about the statue. (His brothers might have put that in his head too) Max talked about the man the rest of the way to the subway and then on the way to our hotel too. The next day while in Chinatown, we saw many homeless people. One man asked me if I had any spare change that I could give. My first reaction was no, but then I stopped and Max said, "mom you don't have any change you can share with him??" Of course I do...was the answer. I took out all the change I had in my purse and gave it to the man. We had walked almost a block and Max said, "Mom, I want to give that man my $7. Please mom". He had $7 left of his souvenir money. My first reaction was to tell him to save his money, but I could see that this tied into his experience from earlier in the week. He was thinking about the night that he woke the homeless man and his concern that he had hurt the homeless man's feelings and the fact that the man was sleeping on the sidewalk in the first place. I asked him if he really wanted to give all the money - and he said yes, and then ran all the way back to that man by himself to put his $7 in the man's cup. My eyes just welled up with tears as he ran back to me. Max smiled and said, "I feel good Mom, I think he's happy. He needs $7 more than I do". We thank God for his sweet spirit, tender and generous heart. We pray God continues to speak and work through Max as he grows up and that he always listens when the spirit tells him to move, give and speak.

Well, like I said, we are back and this day holds much laundry and some Christmas decorating for me too. I better get busy. But not too busy to enjoy my quiet house for a moment....everybody needs that the day after vacation right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love these girls!!! I knew today was going to be really, really, great....and it was. I had lunch with two of the dearest friends in my life. I have been friends with these ladies for 30 years!! Crazy! We've not only grown up together and been in the same youth group at church, but we've been in each others weddings, thrown baby showers for each other and now....we are going through teen and tween stages with our children together. We had not seen each other in a really long time! It had been too long, but we picked right up without losing time. Those are good friends. We see each other periodically.....and we've vowed to make it more frequent. I am looking forward to spa day. Oh yes!

I love these ladies and I'm reminded of God's love for me when I spend time with them. He blessed my life with them years and years ago. They truly were friends that always encouraged me to grow in my faith, do the right thing and encouraged me to be a better person. While at lunch today we all talked about how thankful we are for our families and how our lives have played out. God is good.....and sends good gifts to those he loves.

Here we are back in high school (can you smell the perm solution???) We haven't changed that much.....seriously! That was 20 years ago. I can't wait to snap a picture in another 10 years!

Teaching your kids to be happy for others

So I've found lately that teaching your kids to truly be excited for someone else, can be a hard thing to accomplish. I've witnessed a couple of situations where I would not have thought my kids would act that way. One situation is from a few weeks back when the boys were still playing football. Scout and his buddy would jump in the car after practice and I would hear the friend say something like, "man, did you see me today? Did you see that catch I made?" and Scout's reply might be something like, "Dude, what are you talking about, I saw that fumble. I never saw you make a good catch....but did you see me? I was awesome". I would just cringe. Of course, after we let our friend out at his house - we would chat for a bit on giving a nice compliment or encouraging, "man you were good today" to your friend. I sometimes hear my kids return a request or need for encouragement with a statement that totally rides over the other person and pumps themselves up instead.

Last night at the Boy Scout Pack Meeting, this was more than apparent with our youngest Max. It was award time - and Max was all about that. Reminding us to be sure to get the picture of him accepting his award. He had been working on his Citizenship Award. Well, he got that award....but several of his friends got that one, plus a few more because they went to the Boy Scout weekend camp out. Max was crushed. We were supposed to go, but we had to cancel because the church that we are helping to start had its first Sunday that weekend. Max understands that...doesn't like it, but we explained our situation with this particular camp out. Anyway, the crushing moment came after we all sat down after the awards were given out and they called about 13 kids to the stage. They were ranging in age...and Max's antennas went up. "What is going on? Are they about to get something special?" he said, very seriously. As we watched, the Den Leader pulled out a bag of awards. The Den Leader then told us that because the weather was so cold during their camp out, each Scout that attended had earned their Polar Bear Badge. He went on to explain how this was most unusual because Scouts of this age don't typically camp in the coldness required to get this badge. Kevin and I watched Max's face - not only was this an award he could have was one he would probably not easily have the opportunity to earn again really soon. He was just down. Did not congratulate his friends. Didn't even speak to them. When the closing of the meeting came, you should have seen his ill fated attempt to cheer with his team for the spirit stick.

Now, I'm not saying I don't understand his sadness. That is not what I am saying at all. In fact what I am saying is that I am trying to find ways to be empathetic to that...yet still teach him to be a good friend by being happy when our friends win something we don't.....because we love them and we want the best for them.

What I come up with is this;

Philippians 2:1-4

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I remember reading this when I was in high school thinking could not be said any plainer. This is what I want for my kids - and yes...I realize they are not in high school yet and don't think beyond their age at times, but its my goal for them. So, each time we face one of these situations, I'll keep reminding them of this. I have to remind myself at times too. When I become envious of others - or feel a twinge of jealousy when good fortune comes the way of those I love. Instead of wishing it were me, I thank God for blessing those that I love so much.

I know its a process....and as a mom, watching it happen can be frustrating, and sometimes hard too. We want our kids to be happy and have everything...but sometimes everything doesn't help make us into the people we are to be. Losing and not getting what you want sometimes creates not only character but an attitude of thankfulness too. Learning to be thankful for what you have.....and happy for others when they have something you desire too. can be hard sometimes. Especially when you are a 10 year old and really, really want that Polar Bear Badge. I know that next time we go to Scout's and those boys have the Polar Bear badges sewn to their uniforms....Max is going to be tested. It will take all of his 'goodness' to tell his buds how cool they look on their uniforms. But, I'll pray he can do it. It will be a start and just another step in the process.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One week.....til craziness and wonderful memories too, I'm sure!

In exactly one week, we'll be rising early in Nashville, TN to hit the road and drive to Washington, DC. Yes...11 hours in the car! Oh, we did consider flying but after looking at the $2200 we would have to spend for the five of us, we decided driving was not that bad and it would be a memory they could cherish for years to come. Ha!

We are so excited! This whole trip has been a bit spontaneous and out of the blue for the boys at least. We've wanted to go for years, and have always ended up putting it off for one reason or another. But a few weeks ago, after I looked at our calendar, I called Kevin and said, "let's just go to DC - the kids are out of school for the entire week, nobody has football, church camp or anything else that is in the way". The one thing that was sad for us, is that we would miss Thanksgiving in Nashville with a flag football game on Thanksgiving morning. I am sure we'll wake up on TGiving morning with a sigh about that one.....but the week was just too perfect to NOT go to DC. Especially when we begin thinking.....we are guaranteed to have Nick in the house for 2 more Thanksgivings...this being one of the two. The hour glass containing his days with us at home are truly running fast!! So, we are grabbing the time and doing something fun.

Scout is sooooo excited. For him, this means quality time which is one of his love languages and he talks about the trip every day. Last night before he went to bed he told Kevin and I this would be one of the longest weeks of his life just waiting to get to the weekend before the trip. We've got great things planned...and have already heard from our State Representative's Office and secured our White House Tour tickets! Woo Hoo!

With all the craziness that this week will bring, I will look forward to the drive in the car with my family. There will be mad libs, movies, conversation, laughter and lots of arguing at times I am sure. Would it really be a road trip without at least one good fight among brothers????? Kevin and I will listen to our favorite music up front and we'll both talk about how great it is all the way there....we always do. And I am sure, once its over, we'll regret we had not done it sooner....but we were busy.....and I can't seem to remember exactly why we were busy and could not plan this trip. What a shame!

We are learning to make the most of every opportunity. Family and friends are two of the greatest blessings this life gives us to enjoy. Why not put those two things above schedules and other activities. I need to be reminded of that at times.

So this Thanksgiving.... I will be Thankful for my entire family....thankful for friends, my country, my church, for God's amazing grace and alot of other things too. But, I will be thankful to be in DC with my 4 favorite men in the world! (Dad, I have 5 with you included.....but I don't think Mom will let you get away for this one! On second thought, I am not sure you would want to do the car ride. Been there done that right???? LOL )

I am sure they'll be much to blog about soon.....I'm sure!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday are 10 and such a blessing to us!!!!

Last night as Max was heading to Boy Scouts, he asked me to take his picture. As we were flipping back through them....trying to find the perfect Boy Scout salute, I realized how grown up he is beginning to look. Kind of made me teary! He's my baby you know!! I need him to still be a baby for while. This picture makes me laugh because he's wanting to be so military....and while I appreciate the stern face, I giggle a bit at the darth vadar scarf holder!

Exactly one decade ago, I was just about to leave my home and check into the hospital. It was an exciting day for us because we were going for the inducing of our 3rd (and last) son, Maxwell. I remember being so excited about the hospital stay. I'm not kidding! I knew giving birth would be a pretty exhausting event....however, once that was done, there would be two complete days of rest in a bed where I did not have to get up unless I needed too. How crazy is that? AT the time, our other two sons were 7 and 5. Believe me, they kept us busy!

I remember little things about the day Max was born. It was also the day of my sisters birthday. She was in the delivery room with me...and almost fainted! What a birthday present to her. Ha! I remember worrying about the other two boys and Nick's homework too! He was in the second grade and had a big spelling test that week. My sister in law came down from Nashville to stay with the boys (and be in the room with us when Max was was truly a family event) and be the mom while I was away for two days with Max. She reassured me that she would work with Nick on the word mountain. Nick had a tendency to write mowntan instead of mountain. Nick got a 100 that week! Thanks Aunt Kelly!!!! I wonder if she remembers that as well.

I remember worrying about little Scout. He was excited...but there was a bit of him that did not want to share his mommy. However, he was the most intrigued with his new baby brother. I remember him always wanting to lay beside me and just touch the baby....all quietly while sucking his two fingers. It was like it was his way of saying...ok I'll share my mom and love you too...but I'm not going anywhere!!!

Its amazing the little things you remember....and sadly probably forget as well. Since the boys were born, I've kept a written journal for each of them. At first, it was a way to record important moments, precious memories and funny situations so I would NOT forget. I still enjoy going back and reading entries and crying a bit too.
But as the years go on, I realize that those journals are probably some of the most treasured things I own. I had intended to give the journals to my future daughter in laws on their wedding day. Um.....I am not so certain I can part with them. Maybe that can just be the 'something borrowed' and I can get them back???? No....that might not work. We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.
But today, as we celebrate Max turning 10, its like this feeling of no more babies in the house. I know he's not a teenager and he's not grown, but he's double digits. In our house...that's a big deal. And...if the past 10 years have flown fast will the next 10 years go? When Max turns 20, and his brothers are then 27 and 25. GOOD GRIEF......I surely will not be old enough to have sons of that age!!!!!! And all this keeps me thinking of a verse that I always share and I've talked alot about in other blogs, because seriously - I don't want to waste one day of this life I've been given;

Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom

I want to be wise with my days, enjoy every moment. There are days when I see things passing before me...and my typical reaction is to just stop...take a step back and sometimes run away with my family for a spontaneous weekend away or just stop doing the mundane things and just play a game with one of my boys. Do you feel what I am saying? Its so important to grab every moment of this life because we are not promised one more day. Each day is a gift and only the heavenly father knows how many days we'll receive.

Psalm 139:15-16
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I am so thankful that I have the awesome privilege of being the mother of my boys. I've been entrusted with helping to raise 3 wonderful young men to grow and be godly men. Future husbands, fathers and mentors. And while I think I know them better than anyone on this earth - God has me beat. He knows their every thought........He knows how many hairs are on their heads.....and he knows every day that I will spend with them. And you know what? He is a good, good God.

So today, we are enjoying all things 10! We've decorated our kitchen to surprise Max when he comes down this morning for his 10 tiny pancakes! They'll be more 10 stuff too. So, off I go to begin the fun....journaling a little along the way. Tonight, I'll write in his written journal and have one more entry just for him.....and maybe just maybe I'll decide to give that journal to a future woman that holds his heart - but right now, that woman is me. But oh to day there will be a woman who loves him, as much as I love his father. And then to think that our heavenly father loves us more than we can ever even imagine loving someone??? Mind blowing.... that is overwhelming to me. Seriously!!!

This is a picture of Max and his birthday pancakes....taken after this cute I had to add!!!

Family shot at breakfast

Getting your big bro to take you to school on your really cool! Especially when he's picking up Krispy Kreme for your class treat!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nick's Homecoming Pictures

Well, Friday night was big at the Johnson house! Not only did my husband have a huge Halloween fest....but our oldest went to his first homecoming. Though he's a junior, he's never asked a girl to ANY dance....that includes middle school. He tests me in that whole pushing your child thing.....whew. Anyway, I've always wanted him to go...even with a good friend and just have a good time. Well, he did and he said it was awesome. They went as a group and he had a great time....with a really great girl. I hope they stay friends for years to come!!!!

Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A new blog find!

All I can say is Thank You Michelle Nichols!! I have a new fun blog to keep up with!!! I love the Favre family....even more now. To know they love the Lord and have a great family!!! Oh.....all you can say is Go Jets!!! Sorry honey.... :)

Click here....or see the side link to The Favre Family Blog. Good reading!!! Even if you aren't a Packer/Jet fan!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

God is our refuge & strength, an ever present help in trouble.....

Have you ever felt that you were losing control when your kids are out there making their own decisions and sometimes falling on their face at the same time? Yeah, right now is one of those times for me. I have such a controlling personality. I want to help….at least that is what I say to myself – but in all honesty it’s a controlling thing because of my fear that either my kids will fail and get hurt….or they will miss something.

God has been telling me daily….Let it go Shannon. I’ll do it Shannon. Don’t move on this Shannon. Let them work this out Shannon. Oh boy, I could go on. So I sit and pray. And pray and pray some more. The verse that tells us to pray without ceasing has never been so real for me. I find that each time I consider one of these situations we are walking through with our boys, I want to plan out a course of action – sit them down and pray with them and help them realize what they could do differently. I want to help them fix it.

That is not a bad thing – Not entirely. And there is a place to step in when our kids are at risk or need us. But there is a time for our kids to walk their spiritual journey all on their own, while they are in our homes under careful care and prayer. That is where I am. Trying to find a balance as a mom as they are learning to fly……before they leave my nest.

So, I hear this verse…..while I hear the Father telling me not to act right now… “Be still and know that I am God”. And I hear it, but I want to be sure God doesn’t need my help….you know what I mean? I know you do. How many times do you feel the need to work something out because you feel you can….and God needs you to do that right? Wrong….He needs us to be still. He needs me to be still and allow his spirit to work within my kids. He needs Kevin and I to lead them…but then he will allow his spirit to grow within them. They won’t be under my wing forever…and I know that, but truthfully, I don’t love knowing that. Not right now anyway.

As I was praying this morning for my family – the Lord also led me to Psalm 46. When I read it, I realized God is the help of my children just like he is for me. They are at an age where they will and can call out to God when they need something and he’ll be there. Just like he’s been there for me. I remember a few years back, our Pastor at the time – Pastor Culpepper talked about giving Canaan to your Kids. It was a great series on brining our kids up in the Lord. Anyway - during our prayer time, I confessed to God that I had issues with trusting him totally with my kids. I knew he created them…but I had to protect them from everything here on earth. And at that time – God gave me the vision of a big umbrella and my kids were under that umbrella. The umbrealla represented safety...and being under God. And I said, God…what if they move from under here….what if they go away from where we know they need to be. As clear as I heard Pastor Culpepper speaking that morning, I heard God speak so sweetly to me – “Then I will be there for them Shannon – just like I was for you”. Yes you were God – and I am so thankful. Help me to trust you more and listen to your voice so my kids can be all they are supposed to be in you.

If you are walking out this season of parenting……I’ll pray for you. And please….pray for me too!

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields [b] with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Girl Time

I know...this post is completely girly. I like that sometimes!!! I work for a great hotel and with absolutely GREAT people. I really feel blessed. Part of my job does have me traveling to Atlanta and some of our other hotels from time to time - which are all in the state of Alabama. Anyway, today I had a group of pastors and their wives come tour our hotel in Florence, Alabama. My job is to kind of be the host...tour them around and allow them to enjoy the property and all the great spa! I am such a spa girl...I enjoy it in a BIG way., tonight, we opted for spa treatments in lieu of doing dinner in the fine dining restaurant and then we all went back and had room service. That is my kind of night. So...while Kevin and my boys are sitting on my amazingly comfy couch watching Man Vs. Wild....I was totally enjoying my jammie time with room service while feeling quite relaxed from the spa time.'ll go to bed soon - but before I is a pic of my dinner.... was too late for a big dinner. ;) wasn't very good.....can you tell?

And my movie....Sisterhood of the Pants 2., I shall sleep. However, I'm reminded of the verse that has popped up in my life for the last couple of months....and fits in a very practical way.

Hebrews 4:10 - 11
for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

Does God ever just put scripture in front of you over and over again in the most unique ways. Maybe you hear a verse and feel moved. hear that verse on the radio or a friend shares it with you. Or....even a month later - you receive a greeting card with that very verse on the front! To me...that is God's creative way of saying...Hey you...I'm trying to tell you something. That is the way Heb 4:10 is for me. I know the full context of the verse is our afterlife...and that final rest. But that one section keeps coming up for he wants me to hear something specific about the here and now. So....either He is telling me to get rest....or I'm the one falling by following the example of disobedience....I hope its the first. So...on that note - I'm going to rest in my big ole' comfy Marriott Bed. You know they do have great bedding packages....its true.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

All kids ARE NOT the same...and that is ok! (I'm reminding myself)

How is it that your children can be so different? Not only in looks…..but in personality as well. I know some siblings who are so much alike that they truly seem interchangeable. My kids….are not that!
I’m reminded of that with my 14 year old. Scout is truly a kid that marches to the beat of his own drum. Actually….all three of our boys have a bit of that. But…Scout’s drum beat……is not what most others hear as rhythm. You feel me?

As a mom – I think I started out thinking that I had to treat all three of our boys the same. Somewhere along our journey, I’ve learned that treating each fairly doesn’t always mean the same. That is hard for me to grasp sometimes. I’ve found through trial and error that their discipline and even acts of love need to look different in order to connect with them on a level where ‘they get it’. What works with my oldest is not necessarily going to work with my middle son. And what works with my middle son may not work with my youngest. AGGHHHHHH….you could go crazy trying to figure it out. But after years of trying….and still trying mind you, I’ve found that if I go to their creator….my boys ‘heavenly father’ in prayer he will direct my steps. The holy spirit works within me to prompt me…nudge me to move when there is a need. Some may say its that mom thing inside….and though that may be true…..nothing is just a ‘thing’. The Lord uses us as his tools each day when we listen to that little voice inside.

All of this thinking comes from watching my middle son try to find his place. He has a church trip this weekend and he could not be more excited. My oldest loved this particular trip too. Now he liked it because he swears Mentone is God’s country. He says it is one of those places that you truly just sit and find God everywhere you look. So, with knowing that – last year I was so excited for Scout to go too…..and you know….find God everywhere!!! Who wouldn’t want their son to have that??? So last year and this year alike….I begin to prep Scout for his big weekend encounter and I just wonder when I check out Scout’s packing list…..and his Bible didn’t make the list…but his new Star Wars Light saber and full blown Banana Suit did. You know…if you know my boys….you can just see Scout now with a big….no, ENORMOUS adorable smile on his face when he’s planning for the trip. I mean he is psyched.

There is a part of me as a mom that wants to reign that in….and say “but Scout…what about finding God on this trip… and the rocks…you know…finding God everywhere you look and stuff…….don’t miss that!!!!” And though there is nothing wrong with wanting those things for my boy…what if I AM the one missing all the stuff God has created that shows up right in front of my face, in my life each day. Like my incredibly silly, fun and talented son that is just packaged a little different than the more serious one. Wow….like a ton of bricks that thought hits me in the head. God created Scout and he knows him better than I do. And I bet….he laughs at him daily and that Scout brings so much joy to Him…..each time he puts on his banana suit or dreams one of his crazy dreams of doing something WAY OUT THERE.

I don’t know if you struggle with this, but if you do…you are not alone. Hello!! I’ve just put it all out there for myself. And I pray that as I learn this and walk this out….I’m a better mom for Max….and that I have less expectations for him to act like what has gone before him….because I am telling you……I see another Johnson boy….about to break the mold in an entirely different way.

Gen 1:26
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

You know, I need to be reminded at times that we are all made in His image….and not in the image of others. If what I see in my kids are reflections of the attributes that mirror Christ…….then what more could I ask for? I wouldn’t want anyone to want or expect anymore from me….. I know he is growing in the Lord and I know that the Lord will use him in the plan that he has just for Scout. I know this full well……. Psalm 139.

Oh……here is a picture of Scout with his Light saber……I’ll post one of the banana suit once he is finished stuffing it with ‘the right’ foam. I’m not kidding.

I'm going to go re-read Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages of Children. I should have finished that book!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just talked with the doctor

Dr. Shaver just called and told me that all lab work is back. His Hepititis test came back negative and all looks like it was caused by a severe case of Salmonella. Yep....pretty gross. It's been reported to the health department as well as the places he at on Saturday before he got sick.

Dr. Shaver said he is good to go back to school as he gets his strength back, but as far as football goes - he's out for at least the next two weeks. Which...because Spain is not in the running for pretty much the season.

Nick feels so much better today! He really does....this is Nick today.....

He's smiling again!!! :)

Thank you again so much for all of your prayers. I have no doubt the've helped with his healing and protection and overall well being!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Life is Good

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for our son Nick while he has been sick this week. Though he is not 100%.....he is incredibly better. We see God working in him, making him better each day. We still await some test results that we should get probably Monday morning - but all indicates to this ordeal beginning with Salmonella. The preliminary tests came back Friday afternoon positive for Salmonella - but his liver enzymes were elevated more than when we first went to the hospital. This gave them cause to check for Hepatitis A. Which, out of all Hepatitis choices...that is good! It is just caused from bacteria and most cases you can only get it once! We'll take that one!

Thankful is the word that comes to mind when I think of our family who prayed and visited us. Who drove from Nashville just to say hello....(and do my laundry...and feed my kids..... etc etc) Thank you Ken, Kelly and Alec...that was more than sweet - it was a reprieve in our life!

I am blown away by two church families that love us so. Our kids are active within Metro and the youth ministry was awesome to pray over him in proxy during the Wednesday night service along with awesome people who came to visit and pray with Nick in the hospital.

My new church family at a2 was there the moment things happened. I got a call from our pastors wife while we were still in the ER. With all that was going on with our clean up and building program - we were being visited by even the pastor - and others who were busy cleaning and scraping up the floor!

Of course our VN and Tres Dias families were there.....where else would they be???? If you have not yet experienced a Tres Dias weekend....I challenge you to get there. Talk about a group having your back......

Spain Park High School has also been amazing. I have heard from almost all of his teachers in concern for him. They put his name on a prayer list at First Priority and his counselor even asked for Nick to drop in and they would discuss getting caught up on his missed assignments. The head football coach had some great personal words of encouragement for Nick. Life went on....but they took time out to check on him. I was so thankful.

Friends from all over called and messaged us through Facebook and email.

What does this mean? The body of Christ in action - and it is beautiful. We thank you because more than anything else we never felt alone or in need. We were so blessed and thank God for every person involved. We pay that you are in turn blessed and given much JOY for the joy you shared with us!!!!

1 Corinthians 12:26 - 27

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

If you read chapter 12 in its entirety - you get the clear picture of 1 Corinthians based on what God wants us to see in regards to spiritual gifts and how we all connect together to work properly and effectively as a physical example of Christ.

We don't all have the same gifts....and that is such a good thing.

I am thankful for all of you who shared your gifts with us this week. Thank you and we love you!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update on Nick

I don't have much of an update other than the doctors did say that Nick was responding well to his treatment. While that is good....we still don't have all the answers and results of his lab work. Please pray with us that we get that today. They took more blood this morning and our close friend who is a doctor at Brookwood pushed around on Nick's abdomen a bit....and it was still tender. A little too much I think. He also said with Nick on the pain meds still ever 3 hours, it might not be likely that he'll go home today. We hope for an update from our GI doctor soon.

God has blessed us with so many amazing friends. Awesome is all I can say. Not only did so many adults come in to pray over our sweet son......but a group of his friends came by to lay hands on him and pray as well. Nick's Muslim friend came along as well and found himself in the middle of a group of teens laying on hands....and claiming healing in the name of Jesus. God is good.

This is the group of kids that prayed over Nick.

This sweet visitor stayed a bit longer than the others....

Nick's friend Lucas dropped by late last night....right when he was getting his 'happy juice' as he calls it. The first 15 minutes afterwards.....are pretty fun for him.

I'll update more soon I hope...but for now, Nick is comfortable when the pain meds kick in. However, Kevin told me they were walking the halls at 1am last night trying to get Nick's mind off the pain in between doses. I'm going to relieve my husband now so he can something other than the hospital recliner.

Psalm 139
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

Thank you Lord that you are EVERYWHERE we are....and that you never leave us....never!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nickolas -meaning; Victorious People

I love when God speaks to you through others. Thank you to my sweet friend who sent an email to me reminding me that as we pray for my son to get better.....his name means Victorious. Oh yeah.....I knew that.

I do have a peace about my son right now. It's something in the center of my core - I know he will be fine and I felt good going to sleep last night. Don't get me wrong, I worried about him, but I felt that he was in the right place and had the right people around him to help him get better.

My friends email this morning simply said that she felt led to share the following with me;

I was praying for Nick tonight, and I really feel like the Lord showed me that there is a reason Nick's name is Nick. As you know, Nick means "victorious," and God is going to give him victory over this illness. You guys are making an incredible impact on the lives of children and their parents, and Satan can't stand it. I'm just going to keep praying for healing for Nick as well as for protection for your entire family.

Now, I don't know how much impact we are making, but I do pray that each person in my house is used to bring others to the Lord. That is what it is all about. And I do know that Satan will attack where he can.

So as I look back, I am encouraged, because I see that we have been down this road before. SERIOUSLY - Nick has gone through some crazy 'health' stuff for his young life and each time.....God brings him out just fine....and we say, "Wow....that was crazy". But this time.....I will be sure to say, Thank you Lord that you continue to win these battles over my son's health. Thank you Lord that you have a plan for Nick and it is good. Thank you Lord that you have called my son to do something.....whatever that something is.....great for you! And NOTHING will stand in your way. I love that. It's a promise for me and my family. God is good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Save the Date for the a2 Block Party!!!!!


Sunday, October 19, 4:30-6:30 PM
Parking Lot of Future Site of a2 Church
600 Montgomery Highway, Suite 208
(Just above Pet Supermarket)

SHARE: a2 Team Members are invited to join us from 2:30 - 4:30 as we canvas the neighborhood with targeted prayer walks, door hangers and post cards. We'll invite everyone to join us for the block party.

CELEBRATE: At 4:30 we'll kick off the block party with good old fashioned fun including hotdogs, smores, chips, sodas, the works. Our goal? LOVE THE CITY. At around 5:30 one of the premiere bands in the country will join us.

Act of Congress will be our SPECIAL GUEST for the evening. AOC is the 2008 "Disc Makers Independent Music World Series" Winner. Their debut album titled "Declaration" recently Sold Out it's release concert at Workplay, "One of PASTE magazine's 40 best venues in America." They also have upcoming features in Billboard, Portico, and Birmingham magazines. AOC will present a live concert on the parking lot of a2. Invite your friends, neighbors, family and work associates to join you for a great evening under the stars. We'll wrap up the night with a brief pre-Grand Opening message by Chris.

Originally Posted by Chris Goins at

I love that he grants sleep to those he loves!

Psalm 127:2
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

I've read this verse quite a few times lately. Don't you just love it when God places His word in your path over and over, as if to say....HELLO!!!! Don't you see what I am trying to teach you? To show you???? I think God is trying to tell me to stop trying to do it all on my own...and to let him show me the more important things I should be doing. I love how sweet those words sound....'he grants sleep to those he loves'. Ah.....sleep a good thing......we should not try to get less in order to do more. Funny...THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DO! And now...I've read quite a few times, that doing all in vain? It's like a ton of bricks are falling on my head...and I should be saying...DUH.

I was talking with my friends Shelley and Kay this past Friday about how fast we run and how over scheduled we seem to stay even with good things we think we are supposed to be involved in. Sometimes you have to take a step back and check your 'margins'. What are 'margins' you may ask?

I've been enjoying a devotional workbook by Patsy Clairmont and she talks very descriptively about the margins in our life. She talks about our lives as glasses of water and mentions that if we continue to fill them all the way up to the top....there is little room to add to every now and then. And we all know our lives are added to each day. The unexpected sick child, the friend who needs us, the extended family who misses us etc. And when our glasses are full....and these 'add to's' happen......we are over full and thus.....STRESSED!

I'm hearing God speak to me....I like the beginnings of the 127th Psalm too

Verse 1 - Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

How much of what I do is driven by me? What would happen if I filtered everything I do through HIM? What a thought....It's a process.....I'm learning, I'll keep you updated.

But now, I must run and get Pepto for my 16 year old who has a less than cooperating stomach. first 'add to' of the day. :) Glad I had margins this morning.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ok.....when you assume too much.

A friend once told me to never assume anything. She says that if we assume without makes a *&% out of you and me. Please accept my apologies if that offended you. I actually thought that statement was kind of funny because it really made sense of the letters inside the know? Anyway....

I struggle sometimes with how frustrated I get because I assume my kids know better some times. Like Max today, when his first response was rudeness to his guests, I had to remind him what being the host is all about. You know, allowing them to go first, chose the game to play and being sure they have what they need to be comfortable? Like offering drinks, snacks, those kind of things. We had a quick heart to heart and he was good. We just had to get that out and he was reminded. I assumed he knew....and I was wrong. Or...maybe he did know and just needed his mom to remind him like they all do every now and then.

Scout has to be reminded about not sweating the little things. We got haircuts Saturday and he was mad that the lady moussed his hair and pulled it all up when conditioning it. He felt angry that she made him look silly. WHAT????? I had to remind him that nobody is out to get him. She was truly just cutting his hair and conditioning it with some leave in conditioning mousse. It was not her sinister plan to make Scout look silly. There was a guy Friday night that took Scout's hat and ran off with it. He eventually gave it back, but only after stomping on it. It seems as though he was not a Bama fan.....and didn't like the Alabama logo. Well, that got the best of Scout all night. I had to tell him to let it go....just let it go or you will waste loads of time being angry because someone was stupid. We washed the hat and all is well in the world again. But assuming Scout has the tools and the patience to deal with all of these situations could lead him feeling pretty lonely. Because I know Scout, I have to talk with him and help him get through these crazy situations and key down. It's just what we do.

Nick....has learned a great deal of assuming too. It seems as though this weekend, his girlfriend told him she needs more attention. Meaning, ask me out more. Meaning, when our plans fall through, take me somewhere different don't just go out with your friends, like he did on Saturday. Let's just say that did not go over well and she is putting the breaks on making sure he gets the message that she deserved better. I am proud of her actually. Her parents have raised her right. Without going into the whole situation, she felt slighted and feels that they have jumped from being best friends to girlfriend / boyfriend.....but sometimes the way Nick treats her on the weekends, feels like it always used to. And that for her...was not good enough. She loves the special things he does for her like the song, the flowers....but she wants to be 'courted' and taken out....alone not with his guy friends tagging along. Nick's response was, "I assumed that she was OK with those guys hanging out with us" . Because that is what they always did. Well...assuming has his girlfriend rethinking some things. And on his toes now....because he's realizing how much he cares for her. So...we've had the talk about assuming and how important communication is.

The same goes with me within my marriage. When I assume Kevin is fine.......I might miss something. Every now and then, its vital to ask the question, how are we? Are you OK? Do you need something more from me than I am giving you? I find that when Kevin and I take time to ask each other, there is always something to work on and change. I admit, I have to take a time out usually to make the time to do that, but it is so worth it. To assume your lives are perfect just might......well you know.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

He's learning from the best

My son Nick recently asked a girl to go to Homecoming with him. You might have read a blog about that earlier. If not....check it out. It was sweet!!!! In fact, since that blog, things have developed into quite a relationship for those two. Talking to Nick tonight, he said it was cool that they are still able to be the best of friends. Its a great relationship for him...and I pray for her too. Tonight, he uploaded the video of him playing the song he wrote for that sweet girl. He posted the video on his Facebook and it was simply entitled Aly's Song. I'm telling you....he is a romantic and I love that. Kevin keeps telling him that romance is not just a one time thing. He went on to tell him that even though he asked her to Homecoming.....and its not for another few weeks...she thinks of it daily. And he needs to understand that and talk about it with her. Plan with her....we all like day dreaming with the one we like (love) don't we?

I see his dad in him in a big way. I truly am married to an amazingly romantic man. Kevin can make anything special...truly and I am so grateful for the way he loves me.

OK....I have to share this video with you. I'm a proud mama - he wrote this song himself. Not that it will every win a Grammy.....but it sure stole that sweet 16 year old girl's heart. One day....she'll think back and hopefully feel pretty special if she does not already.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it I might be taking that out of context a bit. But I do think about what we are teaching our son. You know, what are we teaching him about loving a spouse and being a parent. Will I want him to mirror my actions.....or would I be disappointed to see him acting out what I do on a daily basis. Harsh thinking...maybe...but definitely worth thinking about. Right now, Kevin is training Nick and our other sons to cherish and treat girls like ladies. To romance a good way. To know that they are precious and one day will be someones wife - if not his own so he should take great care in how he handles their heart, their minds and their bodies too. Can I get an amen???? Now the way you should train up a child......and that is totally not taking that out of context.

Monday, October 6, 2008

When God Calls YOUR Name....

Wow, I am so excited to share what is going on in our lives. Since May of this year, we have been part of a vision to plant a new church in Birmingham, Alabama. The church is called a2. That alone has you asking questions doesn't it? It is a church that loves God and all His people. I know all churches do......its just that I am experiencing this in amazing ways right now where I am with a2. The reaching out to others has been such a blessing to me! Beginning this church has opened doors for me to share my faith with others, that I might not have had without this experience. a2 is a different church...we are in a storefront for goodness sakes. I never thought that would appeal to me...but sometimes, that is what is most appealing to others. Sharing a2, I'm finding that is simply what some people need and are craving.

Check out this video from our lead pastor Chris Goins. I watched it this morning and was more than excited! I can't wait!!

We are a body of believers that are totally excited to provide new opportunities for worship and encounters with Jesus. It's a church for those who might have given up on church in the past. A church that desires and longs to see what God sees in each and every person...... His image, people more than worthy to be reached out too....the reason we go to church and the reason each of us become Christians in the first place. It's all about Him. About the God who loves us all....equally, and gave his life for us...that we might go out and reach the lost, the ones who feel they have nowhere to go. The ones who feel....maybe church didn't 'work' for them last time. a2 will be a beacon for God's Love.

About a year ago...or possibly more, Kevin and I felt a stirring to do something. But, we didn't know what. It was like a restlessness that I can't explain any other way than to say it was just a sensing that God was leading us to do something different. We talked about many things....but nothing felt definitive in that we knew it was where God wanted us. We've talked occasionally about the mission field and what that would mean for our day...would that be our calling??? Well, in hearing about A2, and the plans that were unfolding - we became more and more drawn to the vision. Once we heard the plan - we knew - we both knew immediately God wanted us to be part of this church plant. Once we both said out loud our feelings, and agreement - we no longer felt that restlessness. When God calls you to do something you can run and run, but you will not find rest. When you submit and might be busier than you've ever been in your life - but your soul will find rest...that is for sure.

Take a moment and read Acts chapter 2...its not long. Click here.

These verses sum up a2 for me;

The Fellowship of the Believers

42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I praise God for my new church family and I pray many blessings for those involved in this amazing adventure. It's my privilege to run this race along side all of you!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Scouting Adventure

Last night I had fun helping to chaperon Max's Scout troop to the library. THE LIBRARY. I was thinking we'd see some cool stuff - like know typical library stuff. Well, it was a different kind of Library. This was the Lister Hill Library of Health Sciences. There was a reason the Scout Master thought the boys would enjoy this. It was full of medical specimens, antique tools, waxed models of the most gross things ever.....and Max thought it was totally cool. They loved it. I had to laugh a bit.

But seriously, as we walked through the unique things held within that library, I was constantly drawn to the stained glass window that was in the foyer. It was a beautiful stained glass picture from the mid 1800's that depicted the story of the woman in the Bible who knew if she could only touch the hem of Jesus's garment, she would be healed from her 'bleeding' disease. Appropriately enough - this window graced the foyer of the first women's clinic in New York city from the mid 1850's until the 1960's when it was brought to UAB by a doctor who had visited that clinic in New York and fell in love with the glass work.

In between the grotesque models, the livers and kidney specimens that held cancerous tumors.....there was beauty. And a reminder that he holds the power over all illness and oddity. He is God and he chooses to heal, or provide ultimate healing by taking us home. He allows things to happen at times for a greater good....that we have a hardtime finding, but we know, we never leave the palm of his hand. Wow...he is a big, big God.

Some of the gross things that were in the glass dishes at the library.

More specimens...

I love that Christian doctors get to enjoy the amazing gift of understanding the human body with the understanding that our great God created each of us differently. He created the human body and all the organs inside to work like a machine.....sometimes perfect...sometimes needing help. Just cool to think about.

Well, Max had fun and he is truly enjoying Boy Scouts. He's a Weeblo now. I am proud of him. I've always enjoyed Boyscouts. I remember when Nick and Scout were in Scouting. I always felt that they learned great stuff...real life stuff that would help them as they grow up. Last night....Max learned that going to the library can be really cool. Especially when you get to see gross organs that have been pickled and wax figures of gout, smallpox and whatever was wrong with the head that captured the boys attention!

You can see Max pointing here.....

He wanted the group shot too!

I thought this was on the picture to see a larger text.

But wrapping up everything from last all comes down to this for me;

And suddenly a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment; for she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made whole.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you whole.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (Matthew 9:20-22)