Sunday, December 30, 2012

Disney Christmas- Day 1

 We spent our first afternoon at Magic Kingdom.  We went straight to Fantasyland. 
 Lily had been waiting six months to buy this Stitch that she realized she wanted last time we were here. So, he was her first Christmas present.
 Later in the evening we went to the Garden Grill in Epcot.   She loves eating with the characters in the rotating restaurant.
 Pluto was a mess.  He took Stitch and had a blast with him.  Lily got a big kick out of it!

 Of course, it is always fun to see Mickey Mouse on our first evening there.
Earlier in the afternoon, we ate lunch at Be Our Guest (pictured above).  We ate in the room where the Beast had torn everything to shreds.  It was dark and so cool!  It was really neat since the rose was in there. The food at Be Our Guest was absolutely delicious!  They definitely have perfected the Quick Service Dining issues with this restaurant.  However, after Deluxe Dining, it is very hard to go anywhere else.  We are completely spoiled!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

 We started our Christmas Vacation in Savannah, Georgia.  This is one of our favorite places, and it was also one of my Mom's favorite places.  We had such a wonderful time here. 
 We planned a lot of tours this time since we thought Lily would really enjoy that part of Savannah.  The first tour we took was the Festival of Lights.  This was a trolley tour that ended up on some land where they had tents set up with camel rides and bonfires for roasting Smores.  Lily loved making her Smores on her own.  It was freezing this night, but we managed to thoroughly enjoy our tour just the same.
 The following day, we took a tour of Julliette Gordon Low's House (she started the Girl Scouts).  Lily absorbed all of this, later saying, "I really loved exploring Julliette's house." We also went on a Paula Dean Tour with a wonderful tour guide who knew everything about Savannah.  She took us by St. John's Cathedral and let us out to go inside this beautiful church so Lily could see the manger scene.  It was a sight to behold and our pictures didn't dare do it justice.  The church was simply beautiful. 
We also purchased our very first Pete the Cat painting by James Dean.  Lily was thrilled about this one especially since she was able to help us pick it out.  We chose an earlier painting with the moon as the background because Lily has always loved the moon...since she was very little.  So, we decided together that it was the best choice. 

After spending a few days in Savannah, it was time to move onto WDW.  I will post pictures throughout the week that will show what we did each day in Disney World.  We had the best Christmas ever!  I am so thankful that we were able to spend time together as a family!  God truly blessed us!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

As Busy as a Bee

 I took some pictures of Lily's work that I have put up in the classroom.  Last week, we had a story about HoneyBees.  So, they had a few stations where they had to tell about what they had learned.  Lily had to write a summary of the story (pictured above).
 She had to make a chart listing the responsibilites of the different types of bees from the story and illustrate it.
Then, she had to put some words in ABC order.  She is such a wonderful student!  I know she will love having pictures of her work someday in her Blog Book. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

So Grown Up!

 Every single day I am amazed at the young lady that is growing up right in front of me.  We are so blessed that God placed her into our lives and made her specifically just for us.  She is truly a joy...always happy...always kind... always thoughtful toward others...and so full of perspective in every situation.  She is always evaluating and assessing everything around her in order to understand it more deeply.  She also has some explanation for every act of kindness or rudeness...she can explain everything relating it to something she has learned from the Bible. 
Every day...I say to myself- I can't believe she is just five!  As excited as I am about watching her grow into this amazing little lady- there are moments when I just wish I could hold her in my arms, rocking her while I watch her go to sleep.  Of course, I have shared this with her.  She immediately crawls into my lap, hugs me tenderly, and says, "Ohhh, Mama- I will Always be your baby."  Yes...she will.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 21...Living a life for You is the only life to live

The last official daywell, sort of.  This fasting experience has completely challenged us in ways we never imagined.  Making out our grocery store list for the weekend, we realized that we are going to continue this journeyfor God.  We aren’t going to become vegans or anything, even though I totally get the desire for that now.  But, we are only going to bring back a few of the things we missed during this journeya few milk products, a small amount of sugar, and some chocolate.  But, overall, this has truly been a game-changer.  Doing something for God for 21 days has been the coolest experience.  I had no idea that I would get this much from it or spend this kind of quality time in His presence.

     I have learned so much about myself throughout the last three weeks.  It is so sad to think I am almost forty-years-old, and I am still figuring out how much more I need to seek You.  I thought I was doing such a good job, living in Your presence, talking to You all day long, asking for Your plan to be my planbut somehow I think I missed the part when You were in charge of me.  I have learned to lose control of pretty much everything, of course, I also found out that I never had control anyway.  (Big breakthrough, there) My soul finally understands what it means to rest in Your presence and to allow You to work in such a great degree that I cannot imagine going back to the old me.  I know that the world will tempt me , engage me, and mess me up over and over againbut I will continue to be drawn back to You letting You lead me, guide me, mold me, and focus my energy into Your plan for my life.  I am even more excited to see what happens in the coming days now that I have my own choices to make again.  It was easy to rely on You and make sacrifices for You for the past three weeks.  I wanted to please You, so now I get to please you more while I struggle with my own free-will.  I know that no matter what I do, You will always be there holding my handreminding me that I am Your daughtertelling me that You made me for Your purposeloving meand that is all I need.  Thank you God for leading us to this point in our livesfor giving us such a desire to know Youfor allowing us to be bold for Youand for showing me that living a life for You is the only life to live.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 20...

And God said (in Zechariah 7:6), “You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.”

Shouldn’t that be what comes from my heart every dayI am interested in people.  People that you made in Your beautiful image.  Today I want to reflect on the ways that You have softened my heart and the influence that You have on me to treat everyone the way that You would treat them.  I never want to take the gifts You have placed within me and turn them into a wasteland of negative thoughts and behaviors.  I have never believed that is how You want my life to look to anyone.  When Lily and I pray each morning before school together, we always ask for God to allow us to be His light into this worldand for others to recognize our happiness as purely being straight from God’s crazy, reckless love for all of His children. My prayer today is that You help me to truly live a life of Your love to all others around me, allowing me to see them through Your eyes. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day the morning

I have learned to seek You more through the last 19 days!  How delighted I am to wake up with You beside me ready to guide me through another day.

Psalm 84: 10-12

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.  I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.  All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory.  He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.  It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 

Yes, even in the midst of walking through “Fire”- when God is on Your side, who could possibly be against you.  I have a feeling I might be humming this tune all day longI would rather spend one day in Your house, than thousands elsewherethan thousands elsewhere

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lily's Homework

At church, Lily has been learning about how it is extremely important to honor God...and not money.  They are also talking about how important it is to ask God for the things you want before actually spending your money.  So, one of her assignments this week was to make a wish list of the five things that she wants...and then pray about them asking God if she really needs them. 
  I had to share her list...we especially thought #5 was really great!
 ( Yes, she did write the whole thing all by herself!)

Lily’s Wish List for God

1.  A big stuffed animal-probably Eeyore

2.  A Disney princess necklace

3. Some clips from Kroger

4. Ken and Barbie

5.To do the Daniel fast every week

Day 18...after school

I am so thankful for this dayYou have shown up over and over again today. 
 1)  I have gotten to be Bold for You today.  That was totally awesome!

2)  You fixed a big problem I had this morning without me even asking!

3) You have comforted me today which I really needed, assuring me that things I needed to do today were for the best for my students. 

4)  Probably my favorite part of today was receiving a call from Jamie.  He said that while he was watching his friend eat at Chick-fil-a today (their weekly hang-out) a server came up to him telling Jamie that she had heard a word from God, and amazingly enough- He needed her to tell us.  Now, you have to understand that I am a concrete believer- God knows me & clearly He is okay with my old testament ways.  She continued with His message to us and said “The Fire has been kindled.”   Yesterday, there was a "Fire" and we kept talking about the fact that we were walking through it with God right beside us. 

     Father God- I don’t even know how to begin to thank youI don’t have words or thoughts that could even begin to recognize how truly remarkable, incredible, and astounding that Your love isto rescue me from worry with a stranger’s wordsYou are too amazing for mere words!  My heart longs to praise you all day long. Thank you for todayfor showing upfor speaking through othersand for never leaving me!

Day the morning

I need your mercy, compassion, and unfailing love today- Father God- open my eyes to everything You want me to see and open my ears to everything You want me to hear.  Make me and mold me into the daughter that You created me to be.  Thank you for the past 18 days that You have given me to focus solely on You and allow me to finish these last 4 fasting days strong within Your presence and power.  Surge into me, God, like a rapid pounding earthquake and awaken my very soul to what You would have me to experience and learn each daynot just for the remainder of the fast, but for the remainder of my earthly life as Your creation.    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 17

(Daniel 3)  Either God was going to deliver them or they would willingly die in His servicethey were going to bow or burnand what did the son of God do- He walked with them through the flames.  I want to always believe with boldness that God- my God- will be with me in the fire every single time. 

Today has not been the best day.  I hate to even admit that.  I woke up a little fussy, but I quickly started praising before my feet even hit the shower.  Yet, as the day progressed, it was a total rollercoaster ride of stressful moments and plans that I honestly don’t want any part of.  Why is it that work seems to zap all of the good out of me at times?   I can’t believe that I manage to let my job take all of the JOY right out of my life- a job which I have always loved in the past.  Regardless, I kept thinking about what those boys (in Daniel) did all day todaystanding there in the face of the King telling him that they were not going to bow down to himand they were so faithful.  I so wanted that this morning as I left for school- I wanted to be so faithful.  Yet, once again, no matter how much I tried- I was faithless today.  I let school get to meagain.  Then, on top of that, I let other things outside of school worry me.  It has been 17 days, and here I amright back in the same place I was two weeks agolost, wandering, and weary

But, waitthere is hope today.  Because I know that no matter how far off I wander- there is this awesome God that loves me with this crazy, reckless love who will come find me no matter where I go and He will meet me right where I am

I am so thankful that I have Him to lean on even when I have these yucky days.  So thankfuleven now I have to smile because HE loves me even though today I was not His childI was a child of the world.  Don’t be of this world, Stephanie- just be in this world.  Clearly, I need about a million more days to FASt!  :0) 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Little Miss Lily

Since I haven't posted pictures in FOREVER...just thought you might want to see how Miss Lily is growing up.  She is such an amazing young lady...always kind...always smiling...always happy.  I couldn't be more blessed to get to be her Mama and her First Grade Teacher this year.  I also have to brag just a little bit about her...she is reading up a storm.  She has read over 58,000 words this year through our AR program, and she is reading books on a 2nd-3rd grade reading level.  We are both so proud of her!  She is an absolute gift from God!
She is also part of our KidRave Worship Team at church.  At some point, I will post some pictures of her on stage.  She loves to praise God all of the time, and I am so thankful that FP has this wonderful program where she is able to dance and sing on stage for God every weekend! 

Yes, she is awesome!  I thank God every day for giving us such a terrific, beautiful, blessed daughter!

Day 16...Fearless

It seems that everything is pointing me toward being Fearless today.  It has come to me from all directionsfrom our new Group 1 Crew download on my ipod to my reading plan for todayalso in my thoughtsand clearly lived out throughout my life- fear is something that I have dealt with daily for many years.  Fear of losing everything- after losing my Mom, fear of not giving enough to those who I cherish and hold so dear, fear of death, fear of accidents, fear of failure, fear of defeat, fear of not being good enough for You or for anyoneFear.  It is a terrible thing, and I know exactly who fear comes from.  So today- I am choosing to be Fearless in YOU.  I am choosing to seek Youjust for Younot for what you can do for me, but for who You are.  I am seeking You to seek Your love for me, and I am choosing to ask for nothing more.  Thank you God for reminding me today that in You- I can be Fearless and in You- I can be loved.  I don’t have to ask you for anything more than just being in Your great, amazing, abundance of love.  That is something that I think I often forgetI spend more time worrying, being scared, and asking You for help- instead of Fearlessly enjoying just being at Your feet!

Psalm 27: 4-5 from The Message

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with Him in His house my whole life long.!  I’ll contemplate his beauty, I’ll study as His feet.  That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 15

As I enter into the last week of fasting for you, I have to admit that this weekend was hard.  It was a constant rebellion with food and my body.  I am so delighted to have changed the way we have eaten, to have given up desires for youbut my mind is rebelling.  It keeps telling me about the things I am missing.  So, there has been a struggle here that I did not expect.  Regardless, I am leaning on Youfocusing on Youand praying to You knowing that You will bring me through this easily.  I keep reminding myself that if it weren’t hard- it wouldn’t be worth doing.  I am enjoying this struggle while I lean on You to carry me.  I have learned (once again) that laying my burdens down at Your feet makes me feel so complete.  I am so thankful that You know meknow my nameand that you sent Your perfect son to wipe away my sins so that I could have a direct line to You- to speak to You, listen to You, and praise You every day. 

   Keep me strong this week, God.  I need You.  Use this week to cleanse me from the inside outbegin a fresh start in me where you make a Genesis week out of the chaos of my life.  Unbutton my lips so that I can sing your praises every day for the rest of my life!  I love you with everything I am.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 14

Counting my blessingsI am amazed at all of the things as I look around me that are all Yours, but yet You have shared them with me.  How kind and generous You are!  There are so many things that I am thankful for today, and I am spending the day thanking you for every single thing that comes to mind.  So, basically we will be having a conversation all day long today! 

    Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Everything belongs to You!  Remind me to always see You at work in everything in my lifeand to know that even when I can’t even understand what You are up to that there is a blessing from You around every corner.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fasting...Day 12

Father God-- please use this experience with suffering to remove anything in my life that has taken the Holy Spirit's place as my Comforter. I know that I have used shopping and food to comfort me in times of need, as well as using television as an escape from the hectic day-t0-day existence that stresses me out.  Please allow me to see those things for what they are, and remind me to always seek you First and foremost in every situation.

Note:  Eating this way is not really suffering.  My body, even with shingles, feels better than it has felt in years!  However, there are moments of temptation when I do crave some Godiva chocolate covered strawberries or coconut truffles.  But, I remind myself that it is simply something else that I have found pleasure inand I want to seek all pleasure from You!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Excerpts from Day 10-11

Day 10.

 Father God Please lead me into the same kind of preparation, power, and purpose that Jesus gained from His time of fasting.

Day 11

James 1:27--  Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

Father God- Thank you for your blessings today.  Thank you for reminding me again and again that You are in charge of everything.  Thank you for Your love, Your patience with me, Your kindness, and Your compassion.  You have taken away so many desires and wants from my heart throughout the past 11 days and I have learned to focus so much more on You.  I love needing You without desiring anything else.  I pray that I remember how this feels every day for the rest of my life!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An excerpt from Day 9...

... I am so thankful for You today!  Thank you for spending time with me todayfor giving me hopeI will do what you said.  I plan to trust you completely, have faith in you always, and love you unswervingly for all of the days of my life.  Please keep my family safeand help them to find their way to You.  Please help Lily want to seek You in her life and help her desire to be baptized.  I pray that you lead us where you want us to beguide us in every step of our journeyand provide for us in every wayevery day. I trust you with everything I am.  Let your heart live within me so that I can see the world through Your eyes, and let me love with Your precious, kind, patient love.  Thank you again in advance for what you will be accomplishing through me, your servant.

Day 7

Day 7--- 
Thank you God for spending time with me this morning.  I actually was quiet so I could hear Your beautiful voice.  How wonderful it was to experience that time with you and to hear You!  

 Why is it in the midst of experiencing You that the devil always shows up?  He has been ever present todayand I for one do not even want to allow it.  I need You to be present in our livesconstantand I want him to leave.   I am not sure what happened but I do know thisI need Youonly You.  Today has been a wonderful day- a day of rest which I so needed.  But, yet it has been a day of stress also. 

I pray that you are with us constantly, every day, standing by our sidesprotecting us from the evil onefill us with your holy spirit as we walk along the path you lay before us every day of our livesI love you completely and totally...

Day 6

Day 6-- 
     I did not write yesterday, but I should have.  My heart was overcome with thankfulness to youand it still is.  I woke up yesterday morning and you clearly told me it was time to go to the doctor.  I had a rash that had broken out on my back and leg.  I went to the doctor to find out I have shingles from all of the stress in my life.  I am not sure what that means.  I know I asked for BIG signs from you and I am praying you will reveal what that means. 

You tell me what to do and what to think.  I will listen.  Thank you for leading me to the Ultimate Daniel Fast site and especially leading me there today to read what she has written.  The birthday passage was almost too much for me to bear.  It felt like a present sent straight from you.  I know that I have total faith in everything you do and I know your timing is the utmost best.  Learning to wait on you is always hard because as a human, I simply want everything now.  But, I am working on that.  The foods going into my body are simply amazing.  I am so thankful that you have made these healthy, delicious foods for us.  I pray that they will nourish us in such a way that we can continue to give you so much glory.  Thank you so much for Jamie’s weight loss through this plan.  What an amazing side effect!  Then to wake up this morning with a weight loss of my own!  You are truly an awesome God for so many reasons.

I also want to take a minute to praise you for my daughter.  She is so wonderfully, perfectly made just for me.  That never fails to amaze me that You did thisa million miles awayyou made her for me.  You are truly my rock, my fortress, my love, my heart, my everything!  You have blessed me with such a loving, caring husband and daughter.  I could never ever repay you or thank you enough for my blessings, God.  They are all I need.  So, wherever you choose for life to lead us and whatever path you place us onas long as you keep them by my sideI will be thankful, grateful, and completely happy with your choices for our life.  Regardless of whether we are here or there or anywhere, I am choosing not to ask you or beg you for things today.  You know my needs, and I know your answers will comein time.  So, I am choosing to waitjust like Abraham.  I know that you are faithful, and that your promises will never fail to pass.  Not one.  Not ever. 
1. Against all hope, Abraham believed.
2. He didn't weaken in his faith.
3. He saw beyond the facts and trusted God for the impossible.
4. He didn't waver through unbelief.
5. His faith grew stronger the longer he waited.
6. He brought glory to God.
7. He was fully persuaded God had power to do what He said.

Day 2-4

Day 2--   (excerpts from my fasting journal)

It was a rough, tired, fuzzy morning. Yet, as the day has gone on- I am starting to feel better. I still have some occasional pains in my side and my back. At times, they are extremely painful.  I am not sure what is going on with my lower back and side.  God- please take all of the pain away and continue to help me look to you for strength today and in the days to come.

You are my strong towershelter over mebeautiful and mightyeverlasting King! You are my strong tower, fortress when I am weakYour name is true and holy and your face is all I seek!
     It is the evening once again, and I feel so excited about the healthy foods we are placing in our bodies.  I know it is not all about the food, but for now, it just seems like a huge part of our sacrifice for you.  God- please help me to make time to spend with you and help me be quiet in our time together.  It is so hard for my mind to be quiet. Thank you again for helping me feel so much better today, but you know I have a big pain in my side that I really want you to take from my body.  So, I expect you to take this from me fully and completely.  If for some reason, you think that I should take medication- please lead me in that direction.  

Thank you again for amazing, powerful, wonderful love!

Day 3--        
Today was hard.  I didn’t feel well, and I was really fussy.  Please reveal yourself to me.

Day 4--        

Today has been a great day.  I still have a lot of pain in my back and lower left side, but I am trying to medicate that myself.  But, no headaches today so that has been a huge blessing.  My body seems to enjoy the foods you have made for us.  I am especially thankful for little red potatoes tonight.  I don’t think I have ever stopped to truly thank you for the foods you made.  I am hopeful that I will continue to honor You by eating the good foods you made to nourish our bodies. 
Please continue to reveal your paths to me as I continue in this fast.  I feel like part of this journey is learning how to listen to youto really listen to you.  It is so hard for me to stop talking to you and wait to see what You have to say.  Just reveal your path to meand help me to follow it every day.  Remind me of those first few lines of Psalm 119.  It is so important!  Reveal Yourself to me!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fasting...Day 1

Day 1--     (An excerpt from my journal)
Today started out pretty well.  I was so excited for my first day of asking you for your guidance and your wisdom all day long.  But, by 1 p.m., I was toast.  I have spent the last few hours laying on the couch in pain, hot as though I have a fever, and totally miserable.  Once Jamie got home, we ate our dinner which consisted of Triscuits, Hummus, and grapes.  It was very good.  I feel almost rejuvenated, but I am still really warm to the touch with only a slight fever.  A teacher at school said that the toxins were leaving my body which is why I feel so bad.  All I know is I equate this to everything bad leaving my body so my body and my soul are getting a new release on life straight from God. 

 I just ask that I will awaken tomorrow with a cleansed soul- at least the beginning of one.  Please allow it to be so open and willing to Your word and Your ways for my life, Lord.  All I want is to please you with everything I say and do.  Thank you for everything You have allowed me to have in my earthly life and everyone You have given me to love.  I pray that I love them, along with all other people You made in your image, with everything I am. 

Help me, Dear Father God, to love you, seek you, and depend on You fully and completely for all of the days of my life!