Saturday, March 31, 2007
An iPod story by Amanda
Lord, I pray that every single person that reads this post, friend, family member and lurker, will experience your incredible power exactly like we have. I have never experienced you in this incredible way until now. I now know for the first time in my life when I am forcing something and when I am sitting back and allowing you to do it all. For this is truly the first time ever, I have sat back and allowed you to work out every single detail of my life without me trying to get in the way. Thank you Lord, you really do make All Things New. (Stephen Curtis Chapman)

I knew my husband was serious when he said, "Babe, I am selling the boat." I could not believe it. "You mean the boat we paid off? The boat we have caught hundreds of fish on? The boat Josiah and Ava Beth love? The boat we have spent many, many dates on? The boat Zeke has yet to go on? The boat we have tubed behind, skied behind and attempted wake boarding behind? You want to sell that boat?" No one knows more than me and maybe a few men that have had the honor of fishing with my sweet husband, how much he adores his boat. In a few days, the boat will be gone. I have watched my husband do some extremely radical things over the last few weeks. He has resigned a job after thirteen years and now he is selling his boat. Wow! I sure love that man! I just Can't Help Loving That Man. (Showboat)

Five days. I have five days until we move from this house to a new one in Austin. There have been a few times when I have gotten a little scared. When the phone rang and the realtor called to say the house we had originally found to rent was not going to work, I panicked. For a moment I panicked and then I remembered, "There is something better." Somewhere along the way, during all the years of growing up in church, I began to believe a lie. I began to believe that God was going to call me to do something I hated. Why would he call me to do something I truly loved? Surely if it is from God, I must suffer. Right? Well, that is the biggest lie we could ever believe. To be honest, I hated the original house we had chosen to rent. There were so many things I really did not like but this was a huge step for me. Jeremy felt it was a good choice so I said, "Okay babe, whatever you think." And I meant it. Thursday we will drive to a new house. A house that I love. Actually it's a house that my friend Erika picked for me. I wasn't even there to see it but I trust her and I trust the pictures from her digital camera! :) A house that is more than I ever could have imagined living in. A house that is in our price range. A house that is way cheaper than what we have now, but nicer, bigger and brand new. No one has ever lived there before. That big bathtub is waiting for me and that incredible covered patio in the backyard will be the greatest gift while we experience the hot, hot, Texas heat. The game room will be perfect for Bible Studies and that kitchen will be my delight. Thank you Lord for giving me more than I EVER could have imagined. When the realtor called today and said, "It's yours", I screamed! Thank you Lord, thank you! Once again I am reminded to TRUST! For HE will carry me through. (Sixpence None The Richer)

A few minutes ago I was talking to one of my very best friends, Tiffany. I love Tiffany so much. Our daughters are nine days apart. Tiffany just gave me a scripture that meant so much. She reminded me of the past and then told me of my future. The scripture said it all. Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. She always, always, always points me to God's word. We have such a connection that early last week when I was hurting, Tiffany's Mom from California called to encourage me. I have never met her mom in person since she lives so far away but she knows how special my friendship is with her daughter that she felt like she needed to call and love on me for a while. I was so blessed. Tiffany had filled her in on what I was going through and I did too. Her mom listened and then told me the Lord gave her a scripture for me. Zechariah 2:8 For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. As she read the scripture to me, she cried a little and I knew the Holy Spirit had led her to remind me of how special I am to HIM. I must be a pretty amazing child of God. My Song is Love Unknown, My Savior's love to me. Love to the loveless shown,That they might lovely be. O who am I, that for my sake My Lord should take, frail flesh and die? (Choir of King's college)

I am having trouble sleeping. There are so many boxes to pack and I have no idea what it's like to move with three children. The lack of sleep isn't bad because I am full of excitement! I can't wait to be on the road, with our friends behind us. We'll have the kids, the dog, a gigantic Uhaul and our friends leading the way. We will pack the boxes and then our friends in Austin show up to help us load up and take us home! Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. One thing I know for sure, you give God ONE inch and He will go miles and miles and miles to meet you where you are at and show you the way to go! I will never forget a song I sang several years ago at church. Actually it was pretty close to my 21st birthday and since I will be thirty- one on Monday, it was ten years ago! Anyway, it was a special service because it was the very last weekend this church would be meeting in a high school. The next weekend, we were in a big, huge building. It was a huge thing to celebrate so they decided to fill the stage with boxes to symbolize the packing up and the moving to a new place, a new chapter and so much more. The song I sang was a part of the message and it was so symbolic for what this church was about to do. Looking back, I know I got to be a part of something pretty amazing. And now I get to be a part of something pretty amazing AGAIN! There's just one thing I've got to do as I search for what to pursue, is for me I choose to be Near To You. (Ashton, Becker & Dente)

So as I pack the boxes and begin a new journey, a journey I NEVER in a million years saw coming, I know it is undeniable. It's Undeniable how brilliant you are! (Mat Kearney)

Labels:


  posted at 12:31 AM
  5 comments



Friday, March 30, 2007
God Be In My Head

I have a really difficult time reading fiction. Last Summer I did get into a few fiction books by Francine Rivers and they were great but I have not read one since. Instead I usually choose books that are about true things, real things. I like to read about real people, real places and things that I can apply to my own life. There is no doubt, i am girlie girl but I really struggle with books that most women enjoy. It's hard for me to read something for fun. Last Summer I read Charlotte's Web for that very reason. But I'd rather have read Anderson Cooper's memoir or even James Frey's FALSE memoir, Million Little Pieces.

Last August I was in a Barnes and Noble looking for Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis. I was unable to find it on the shelf so I asked a guy working in the religious section. When I told him I was looking for Velvet Elvis he said that they had just got a new shipment in but it was downstairs in receiving. He motioned for me to follow him. Down the escalator we went and he began to talk. "You know if you are going to read this book, I also suggest you read Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz." I asked about the book and he said something that has stuck with me. "I know where you are at. I have been there." WOW! I could not believe this guy was reading my mind. The only thing he knew about me was that I came in looking for Velvet Elvis. We talked on the ride down the escalator, the ride back up and for several minutes while he looked for Donald Miller's book. He understood me and I understood him. We were tired of doing what every other Christian was doing. We wanted something more.

One of my best friends, Kelly Ann, is a part of something pretty amazing. Her husband is an avid wake boarder. Bless his heart! I wake boarded one Summer a few times and busted so bad I thought my eyeballs were GONE and I even suffered a minor concussion. Never again will anyone see me on a wake board! But Alf and Kelly Ann are in love with the sport. Alf has a trampoline in the backyard and when he gets home from work, he unwinds by practicing stunts on the trampoline. How cool is that? Alf and Kelly Ann have been in the ministry for seven or eight years and were even on staff at a church for a while. But they took a break and now they are both feeling the call to go back! Alf started a bible study out at the lake with all the guys out there that wake board. It's been a long process but Alf feels like it is time to start a church, WAKE BOARD CHURCH! I just got goosebumps typing that! Now that is just about the coolest church I have EVER heard of. A while back Kelly Ann was telling me a story about this guy that was at the Wake board bible study one night. It was time for prayer requests. He reaches into his ice chest, pulls out a cold beer and asks the group to pray for his wife. Every single time I think about this story, I can't help but get emotional. Folks, THIS IS WHAT JESUS WOULD BE DOING.

People are watching and waiting for Christ followers to mess up. But they would love for you to prove them wrong. They would love to know that you really are accepting and that you love them, filth and all. If we could stop trying so hard to get people to go to church or come to Bible Study and just be their friend. If we could look for ways to serve them, if we could see a need in their life and help them. Isn't that would Christ would do?

So back to Blue Like Jazz. I did not buy the book that day in Barnes and Noble but Kelly Ann bought it for me for Christmas and I have read it twice. I still go back and look at all of my highlighted sentences. The book speaks to me so much that I enjoy reading parts of it over and over again. Tonight I was thinking about this new journey we are on with a church plant. I was catching my husband up on a few of my blogs and reading them aloud when he said, "Babe, I'm so excited about this. I know this is what God has been preparing us for and I am excited to be serving with this group of people. It's gonna be awesome!" That got me in the mood to pull out Donald's book and read my favorite page. Page 135. You can read it below. Donald's talking about his pastor/friend.

"One night Rick showed up sort of beaten looking. He had been to some sort of Pastor's reception where a guy spoke about how the church has lost touch with the people who didn't know about Jesus. Rick said he was really convicted about this and asked is if we thought we needed to repent and start loving people who were very different from us. We all told him yes, we did, but I don't think any of us knew what that meant. Rick said he thought it meant we should live missional lives, that we should intentionally befriend people who are different from us. I didn't like the sound of that, to be honest. I didn't want to befriend someone just to trick them into going to my church. Rick said that was not what he was talking about. He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist- homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts. And then I liked the sound of it. I liked the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church. If the subject came up I could tell them about Imago, but until then who cared. So we started praying every week that God would teach us to live missional lives, to notice people who needed to be loved."

There's really nothing else to write. Page 135 says it all. But I will end with this. Today our Pastor/friend sent out an email to some of us letting us all know of a date we needed to put on the calendar. He ended the email with a pretty cool statement and he even used an exclamation point. It got me excited. He's not an exclamation mark user usually but what God is doing in his life and in the life of those that have committed to this awesome thing, gets him excited. What an honor to be a part of something that is going to encourage me to quit thinking about the comfortable pew and start really walking a walk that is going to reach our community!

One of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard is a song called God Be In My head by John Rutter. I have it in one of my iTune libraries and it is one of those songs that makes me close my eyes and worship very quietly, all to myself. I could listen to the Cambridge singers sing it over and over again and never grow tired of hearing it. It's classical, it's beautiful and as I wrote this blog I could not help myself. I had to listen to it several times. For it truly is my prayer.

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.

Labels:


  posted at 12:38 AM
  3 comments



Thursday, March 29, 2007
Nothing Left to Lose
If my heart is hurting, if my mind is racing, it gets me there. If anxiety has overtaken me, it gets me there. If I am feeling reflective, sad, happy or even angry, it can take me to the place I need to be. I don't need time away, I don't need a vacation, I just need a song. For some, it's painting a picture, taking a long walk or going for a run. We all have something that brings us to a place of worship.

I remember having a Tears for Fears cassette tape when I was in elementary school that I played over and over and over again. There was a song I would rewind constantly just so I could listen to it multiple times. The song was Everybody Wants to Rule The World. When I hear the song now, I think of my parents when they were still married. I think about the mobile home we lived in, the school I went to and my baggy Lee Jeans. MTV was a new thing and the only thing aired were music videos. I remember every detail of the video. I can see it now in my mind like it was yesterday. It will always be one of my favorite songs.

While growing up, my Dad listened to Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Three Dog Night, CCR, Freddy Mercury, Moody Blues and Steve Winwood. My Dad used to play darts with his friends and drink beer into the early morning hours. Often I feel asleep on the couch listening to his music. I even remember watching the Live Aid Concert with him back in 1985. It's hard to believe that U2 was around back then and Madonna too. Just recently PBS aired the Live Aid concert. As I watched it, it took me back to my childhood. A few days ago I heard Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 on the radio. Instantly I smiled. The song reminds me of Live Aid, MTV and what life was like in 1985. This is when I truly experience the music. There is no other way to explain it except that the music connects me and I even find myself experiencing a moment with God.

Lately I have had my iPod attached to me non-stop. My mind is full of lists, things I need to do in order to make the move from Dallas to Austin. At times I feel a bit overwhelmed. I find myself needing to get to that place with the Lord. Music does that for me. It's not always Christian music. Instead it may be Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac or Nothing Left to Lose by Matt Kearney. I find songs that have meaning and I make them my own. Music is one of the most powerful tools God uses in my life to get me to that place I need to be.

We serve a creative God. I truly believe he meets us right where we are at and loves us just as we are. He knows me better than anybody. He was whispering in my ear even when I was in my mother's womb. Music was his gift for me. I am so thankful that I can read music, sing it and enjoy it because music is what gets me to that place. Running will help me unwind, painting a canvas will make me sit somewhere for a while instead of constantly being on the go. But music does something so much more for me than those other things. Music connects me and almost always brings me to a place of worship.

So today I would like to share a song with you that has taken me to that place I need to be. This song reminds me of what God is doing in my life this very minute. It reminds me of all that I have to look forward to and it's confirmation that God is doing something brand new. Years from now I will hear this song and it will take me to the place where I am today. It will remind me of what God did for me and how He mapped out every single detail of my life.

If my heart is hurting, if my mind is racing, it gets me there. If anxiety has overtaken me, it gets me there. If I am feeling reflective, sad, happy or even angry, it can take me to the place I need to be. I don't need time away, I don't need a vacation, I just need a song.

click here to listen to Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney. Every single word of this songs means something for this time in my life.

This song takes me to the place I need to be. The words say it all for this time in my life. As I look back over the past three years, this song answers all of my questions. Thank you Lord for speaking to me through music.
I can''t listen to this song without getting tears in my eyes. Thank you for believing in me no matter what. While others gave up on me, you never did. I would be nothing without you Lord, nothing. Many don't understand right now what we are doing. They doubt whether or not we have heard your voice, but I know we have heard it LOUD and we have heard it CLEAR.

It's time to pack up the Uhaul and go.


Labels:


  posted at 11:25 AM
  4 comments



Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Church people and the Roomba!
Okay, the kids are sleeping so I have some time to tell you more about this church plant.

We served with Kyle (the lead pastor) and Erika before at our old church. Kyle was the executive pastor there and he began feeling like God was wanting him to start another church plant. I know how much they loved that church and they left behind many, many friends. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been. Knowing that, I trust them even more. Stepping out in faith is never easy. We think it should be simple because we are being obedient to the Lord but with obedience comes sacrifice and so much more. Many times those around us don't understand. At least, that is what's happening in my life. It would be so much easier if God revealed to everyone else what he revealed to us. But how easy would that be? If everyone understood and everyone believed we were making the right decision, would that be walking in faith? I don't believe it would.

It's kind of funny how this whole thing has been working out. Friday afternoon as we drove to our friend's house, Jeremy and I talked about our vision for church. We were kind of scared to find out where they were at. We knew that God called us down there but we hoped that when we got there we would learn that they had a vision similar to ours. If they didn't, we knew we still had to be obedient. But if they did, wow! That would be really cool! Over the past year I have read books by Rob Bell and listen to many of his sermons. Also I read a book called Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. My next stop was going to be Erwin McManus. So my way of thinking when it comes to church has really changed. REALLY CHANGED! While we have sat out of church for eight months, we have gotten a lot of criticism. In fact when we told one of our family members that we were moving to help plant a church, this was their response. "It's weird that you want to plant a church when you haven't even been in church for almost a year. How is that going to work?" We were also asked, "When is this last time you witnessed to someone? When is the last time you opened your Bible and read it?" And that was just half of it. The questions we have received have been shocking. They pretty much all have the same theme. We haven't been in church so we haven't been living for the God. Right? WRONG! This is exactly WHY we feel God has showed us that moving and helping our friends plant a church is EXACTLY the RIGHT thing to do. We do not want to minister to people who have been sitting in the pew their whole life. We want the sinners! Oh sure the people in the pew are sinners too, they just don't think they are. But the people that don't have their butts attached to the pew every week, KNOW they need something. They KNOW they are sinners! And Resonate Community wishes to reach out to those kind of people. People like me and you. Needless to say, we are on the same page. Thank you Lord!

Unfortunately, I have a huge inventory now of things that have been said to us over the past couple of weeks that I am really drawing from. Here's another. "Churches are not teaching repentance anymore. People need to be taught to repent. It's dangerous that pastors don't teach this." Well, I could not disagree more. The problem with most preachers these days is they spend so much time pointing out sin that people have a hard time hearing the message of Christ. Instead of pointing out their sin, why don't we accept them, love them and serve them? We don't have to tell them about their sin. When they get saved and they understand who is Jesus is, the sin will fall off. We don't have to beat it out of them! My husband and I feel STRONGLY about this and that is why we have been sitting out for all this time. Every single church we went to, we found a common denominator. It was filled with CHURCH PEOPLE. I don't want to spend all of my time with church people. Do you know how freeing it is to know that I can be friends with unbelievers? It's pretty damn freeing!

Last year, we tried. We tried to go to church and soon we were disgusted. I was singing in a choir and hating every minute of it. I thought I needed to do something, get myself involved and serve by singing in a choir that needed voices. Apparently they needed perfect people's voices. Rehearsal was on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday night I saw a beautiful young lady sitting on the back row rehearsing with us. When Sunday morning rolled around, she was sitting in the back pew instead of singing in the choir. Without fail, she was at rehearsal but never in the service singing with us. So I decided to ask someone why. Their response made me sick, really sick. "Well, she isn't married. She lives with her fiance and until they get married, she is only allow to rehearse. After they get married she will be allowed to sing in the choir." Okay, first of all this girl had three kids already with her fiance and she can't sing until she is legally married to him? Come on! What about all the other choir members that have sin in their life? Even worse, their sin in secret. How about the ladies in the choir that do nothing but gossip about other church members? Or what about the bass or tenor addicted to pornography? Any liars in the choir? I bet so! Why don't we do some inventory of our own and let others decide if we are worthy to sing in the choir?!

I hear church people say all the time how much they don't like Rosie or Ellen because they are lesbians. But they will watch Oprah all day long, who ISN'T married but lives with her companion. Personal convictions is one thing but judgement is another. Church people are afraid to let others know they don't agree with the war or they don't want it to come out that the like the Dixie Chicks! Perish the thought! Or some of their "church people" are coming over so they hide the wine and maybe even the wine glasses. And guess what people? I am interested in what Barack Obama has to say about our country!! What about you? Some of you are already thinking, "Uh oh. She moves to Austin and becomes a liberal!"

As we talked with Kyle this weekend, we learned that almost everyone always asks, "Where do y'all meet for church on Sundays?" When they find out that there is not a Sunday service yet, the next question is this. "When are you going to have a building? When will you start officially having church?" Brandon who is also from the church plant said something I liked a lot. "Well, some of us are meeting every single day." You know who is most uncomfortable with it? Christians! The Christians don't care about the weekly Tuesday night Bible Study or any of the other ministries happening as a result of the church plant. They don't care that you did a breakfast for all the teachers at a school nearby. They don't care that you are SERVING the community. Instead they would rather you give all of that up and get your butt in a pew or a seat of some sort on Sunday mornings! Do that and THEN you will be a church!

I know now what God was doing. He had to get us out of the corporate setting of church before we would be ready for this. It's so amazing when you figure out how much God loves you just as you are. I believe the group of people I will be serving with and our pastor is on to something. I think we are on to something big and I feel so blessed that God picked me to be a part of it.

This weekend while we stayed at our friend's house, I got really jealous of my friend's vacuum cleaner! She has a Roomba! I would trade my Kirby Vacuum any day for a Roomba! Sunday morning while I was upstairs in their guest bathroom getting ready, I heard the Roomba. People were coming over so Erika turned it on while she did other stuff. How cool is that housewives?? By the time everyone arrived for a Sunday morning brunch, the carpet was clean and even had perfect little tracks all over the place. And my friend did nothing but turn it on and do her own thing while the Roomba did it's thing! Sometimes I think we can all be like the Roomba. Turn the power switch on and watch us go in circles. When the Roomba runs into a wall or a piece of furniture, it continues and hopefully covers new ground. But it's not the perfect machine. After I finished getting ready, I went downstairs to join my husband on the couch and visit with our friends. My husband and I were totally enamored by the Roomba. He was enjoying the cleaning aspect while I enjoyed the convenience. But we both noticed a small piece of paper in the middle of the room that it passed up over and over again. It bugged me so bad that I picked up the paper and put it directly in the path of the moving Roomba! Finally, the paper was gone. Eventually the paper would have been sucked up by the inventive vacuum but I did not feel like waiting. I feel like my faith has been much like the Roomba. I have been going in circles and missing the "big" things in my spiritual journey. I have hit the wall and started over a lot but I have missed some of the obvious. Until now I did not even realize it because I was so used to doing what all the other Christians were doing. Go to church, listen to Christian music, hang out with Christian people, make sure I do business with other Christians and pray that God will give me boldness to witness. For me, there is no freedom in that. I'm just a robot or much like the Roomba, something that plugs in for a charge and then goes in circles. I don't know about you but I am tired of going in circles. I am tired of believing a certain way just because every other Christian is. I'm tired of saying I am republican just because that's what Christians are supposed to be. I'm tired of the self condemnation. I'm tired of running into walls only to turn around and do the same thing all over again! All the while I am missing out on so much more.

Freedom. That's what I want. It's risky, isn't it? After I heard my Pastor/friend's ideas and his vision for His church I told him that "Christians" will say he is liberal. Some may even say that he is ascribing to post-modernist relativism. I had a family member say that about me so nothing shocks me anymore. It's crazy how Christians act. To tell you the truth, until I encounter a different kind of christian or a different kind of "churched" person, my mind is made up. I don't want to be like them. It will be hard because I sure have a whole lot of church in me. It would be so much easier to conform. I don't like having family members that think I am not "Godly". That hurts! But, I'm not living to please them and now that I have figured that out, I feel a whole heck of a lot better!

Nothing but excitement! That's what I feel right now! I can't wait to meet all those people that need to see Jesus in a new light instead of having religion thrown in their face. I can't wait to show all those people that being a Christian is not as bad as it seems. In fact, it's pretty awesome!

Matthew 7: 1-5 (The Message) Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Labels:


  posted at 3:46 PM
  12 comments



time to start packing!







Well, it's all happening so fast! Jeremy gave his two weeks notice today at his job of thirteen years! I can't believe it! It looks like we will be moving in two weeks because if the new job. I have to get this house cleaned and packed. It will be nice not being here while the house is on the market. A ton of details left to work out but so far we have been doing nothing except watching God work it ALL out! I cannot believe that almost three weeks ago when we had breakfast with our friends that THIS would be happening. The most amazing thing is looking back and seeing what all God has been doing for the past three years! While our friends and family here are very sad to see us move, our new friends (our new family) there can't wait for us to arrive. It's going to be one heck of a Summer!! Did I mention there is a pool in the neighborhood? Everyone in Texas needs a pool to cool off in during the horrific days of Texas heat! Yee haw!

Thank you for your payers, please keep them coming! Josiah has asked me about fifty times today how many more moons until we move to the new house to meet his new friends! He has not even met them yet and they are all he talks about! God is good!
Ephesians 3:20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Labels:


  posted at 12:24 PM
  4 comments



Sunday, March 25, 2007
Yes, we are moving!
Yes, we are moving to Austin! After much prayer, we are moving to help our friends plant a church. We are so excited!

Friday morning we left for a weekend trip to Austin. Jeremy had an interview at 3pm and he got the job! I am so proud of him! He had not been on an interview in thirteen years. So he will be leaving UPS after thirteen years. This week he will be giving his two week notice and that night I plan on giving him a party! He is so excited about this change. The job thing is a pretty incredible story and I plan on sharing it with you when I have more time to write. But for now, I will just share a few details from our incredible weekend!

After the interview/hiring, we headed over to our friends house, Kyle and Erika's, where we stayed all weekend. They live only ten minutes away from Jeremy's new job. That night we had dinner with them and another couple (Brandon and Cindy) and of course stayed up late laughing and talking. Saturday morning we got up early, met the realtor and found a house in Brandon and Cindy's neighborhood! Actually it is just one street over from them. The town is pretty small so we are only a mile away from Kyle and Erika too. After that, we headed to a Church Planter Development training. That was fun and also very interesting. I learned a lot to say the least and realized how much I am going to be stretched in order to be used. My husband on the other hand seems to "get " it. I have been pretty safe for the past two years and now I am going to have to step out and meet people. Sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly. I've been pretty comfortable lately and now I will be stepping out of the comfort zone.

After the meeting we headed out for some good Mexican food and that is where I got to spend time with another amazing couple, Chris and Gina. They are from New York and I love to hear them talk. They sound so much cooler than Texans! Our speech is pretty slow and boring but not them! I already feel like I have known Gina for a long time. Erika, Cindy and Gina are already such a huge blessing in my life!

Sunday morning was a brunch at Kyle and Erika's so we could meet a few other families. There were a ton of kids, people and food. It was great! Brandon and Cindy gave us ALL of their moving boxes! Needless to say, we are packing and moving in the next THREE WEEKS!

I could write forever about how incredible God is. He has moved in this situation like I have never seen Him move before. We have done NOTHING but sit back and allow Him to work!

He has moved and now we are officially moving!!

Labels:


  posted at 7:26 PM
  11 comments



Thursday, March 22, 2007
another post about my friends!
I really had no idea how incredible blogging would be. There have been some times in my life over the past year and a half where I felt very lonely and disconnected from other moms. But blogging and meeting some wonderful blogging friends has blessed me along the way.

Yesterday the phone rang and it was Wendy! I was so happy to hear her calm, sweet, quiet voice. If you read Wendy's blog, then you KNOW how precious and warm she is. The awesome thing is every single time I talk to her, I am encouraged or motivated as a wife, mother and child of God. Yesterday I got to share with her all that God was doing in my life. She knows all the details and I am glad she does because I know she will be praying. Wendy and I have both gone through very similar childhoods so my struggles she always seems to understand. One of the most incredible things about Wendy is her heart. She really loves the Lord and she in intentional in sharing him with her everyday life. She has starting running with a neighbor friend who does not know the Lord. I love that! So many Christians spend time with Christians when we should all be INTENTIONALLY befriending people that don't know the Lord. I encourage you to start reading Wendy's blog if you haven't already. She is a beautiful lady inside and out.

Today I got an email from another blogging friend, Stacey. As soon as I read her email, I knew I wanted to talk to her and give her some encouragement so I replied with one simple sentence. "CALL ME!" Within the minute my phone rang and it was Stacey. Now let me tell you something pretty cool about Stacey! She knows God's Word like the back of her hand. Scripture rolls off her tongue and she is passionate about Jesus. Her energy makes me want to get out my Bible and read, read , read! Today was the first day that Stacey and I actually got to talk on the phone. We have exchanged messages a few times but today we finally got to chat! As soon as we began talking, I felt like I had known her my whole life. We prayed together and encouraged one another. Isn't that cool? That's what God does! He blesses you with incredible friends that you will spend an eternity with! If I need faith for something, I will email or call Stacey. She is a WARRIOR and I sure love having her in my corner. This girl can pray and her prayers get answered! Just check out her blog and you will see for yourself!

Then there is my sweet Paula, the sweetest Southern Belle you have ever met in your life! Paula has become one of my best friends in the whole world and I adore her. Plus we have already made plans for my daughter to marry her son. Who cares if they are only two right now! Paula and I just want to be mother-in-laws together! :)

Outside of blogging, I have some awesome friends too! I don't see all of them as much as I would like but I couldn't get by without them. Kelly Ann, Kelly F., Courtney, Nancy, Tiffany, Laura, Rebecca, Cheri, Diana and my cousin Cara. These gals are the most incredible prayer warriors, shopping buddies and confidantes I have ever had.

And now this weekend we are going to a new place where I will get to spend time with two other friends, Erika & Cindy. I will tell you all about them soon because they are a part of this new chapter in our lives. So exciting! (Stay tuned for more details!)

I sure love all of these incredible women. They help me and encourage me daily and I am so thankful that the Lord blessed me with each and everyone of them!

Labels:


  posted at 2:04 PM
  8 comments



Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Blessed

So much has been going on lately that I sometimes forget that I am a mother of a newborn. Now I know why the third child, the baby, is so easy going. He really has no choice! Baby Zeke knows there is so much going on around him that he has to sit back and watch it all happen. At times he has to cry for a minute while I take care of his four year old brother and two year old sister. He has also been sleeping in his own bed, in his own room, for the past two weeks. The other two kids slept in my room until almost four months old! Obviously I am a lot more relaxed with this one. He started sleeping six hours at night two weeks ago and NOW he sleeps all night!!!

Josiah and Ava Beth absolutely adore their baby brother. They have gone to my mom's a few times to spend the night and Zeke stays with us. Josiah tells my mom that he misses his baby Zeke. I catch Josiah sitting in front of Zeke all the time talking to him or serenading him with his guitar. Ava Beth loves to help hold the bottle or stick the pacifier in his mouth. It brings such joy to my life to see how much my kids love each other. Oh sure they have their moments but they are such good friends. I am glad I had them so close together! I know I say it all the time so I won't quit now, God has answered my prayers. These babies and my husband are a dream come true! I am so blessed!

Jeremy, Josiah, Ava Beth & Ezekiel, you are my favorite people in the whole world and the greatest blessing ever! I love you so much. So much! As Josiah would say, "We are five families!" :)

Labels:


  posted at 11:52 PM
  4 comments



BLAKE LEWIS
Uber sweet!
He sounds a little like Kevin Max or Maroon 5, but way better! I could listen to him ALL DAY LONG!

Labels:


  posted at 10:25 AM
  1 comments



Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Okay here's a hint!






Labels:


  posted at 10:30 PM
  14 comments



Monday, March 19, 2007
RAIN by Rob Bell
You have heard me talk about this video many times. I was so excited to see it on youtube. It spoke to me so much that I will never get tired of watching it. Enjoy!



Nooma

Labels:


  posted at 4:28 PM
  6 comments



For sure, for sure!
When Jeremy told me what He felt like the Lord was calling him do, I was shocked. The shock did not come from me thinking he was crazy. Instead, the shock came because what Jeremy was feeling in his heart was exactly what I felt in my own. I think that is incredible! God is so amazing in His ways. Without us knowing it, God was working on our hearts to prepare us for one of the biggest decisions and changes in our lives. He knew we needed to be unified. If Jeremy and I were not in agreement, the road would be long. During this process, we spoke to someone much older than us. He knows our background, he knows what's been going on in our lives as we have sat out from "corporate worship". He knows how much we have been trying to discern God's will for our lives in that area. After we shared what we felt like the Lord was leading us to do, he said some things that brought more confirmation. "As long as you and Jeremy are unified, nothing else matters. If you have to play salesman to one another, it's not right." So that night, Jeremy and I sat down on our bed and asked one another some tough questions. We even went into our closet, got on our knees and prayed. That night when we went to bed, we KNEW. We knew that we had BOTH heard from God and that it was time to be obedient and not count the cost!

This week I plan on sharing a lot with all of you that read this little blog. I will finally tell you what we are about to do. It's exciting! And I can say for me that I have never been more sure of anything than when I met Jeremy and knew he would be my husband. There are times when you have to step out and not know "for sure, for sure" until stepping out. This time we will step out and know "for sure, for sure", that this is what we are supposed to do.

It's a new beginning!

And here are a few new songs I have added to my play list!


Next Year by the Foo Fighters
(This was the theme song to my favorite show of all times, "Ed". I wish this show was still on t.v. I love Tom Cavanaugh and Julie Bowen. Oh how I hope to someday live in Stuckeyville!)

Somewhere North by Caedmon's Call
(This song has special meaning for me. I first heard it during a rough time back in my single days. And today it brings comfort again!)

All Things New by Steven Curtis Chapman
(Great lyrics and this song has really been speaking to me over the past few days.)

Stranded by Plumb
(I love this band and I love this girl's voice.)

My Hero by Foo Fighters
(One of our favorite shows is Heroes on Monday nights. If they have not used this song on the show, THEY SHOULD! This song is really cool.)

Go West Young Man by Michael W. Smith
(Every time I think of this song, I think of my days at the baptist church camps. I thought about this song over the weekend. It's perfect for what we are going through.)

Trust by Sixpence None The Richer

(I was nineteen years old when I first heard this song. I sing it from time to time when I am doing stuff around the house. Some of the best songs are ones that just have scripture. We all need to be reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6.)

Nothing left to lose by Mat Kearney
(I have been hearing this song on the radio and now thanks to a friend, I know what it is called and who sings it.)

Undeniable by Mat Kearney
(What a cool song!)

Shifting Sand by Caedmon's Call
(I would really, really, really like to sing this song someday. I can relate to the words so much.)

Fatherless and The Widow by Sixpence None The Richer
(Another song I heard when I was nineteen. It's the title song of the album. I like the bass guitar in this song.)

Labels:


  posted at 12:23 PM
  6 comments



Sunday, March 18, 2007
Step into the water
A few years ago I read an incredible book by Bruce Wilkinson called The Dream Giver. The book is all about pursuing your God give dreams and leaving behind all that is comfortable. Unfortunately, when we pursue our dreams we come across something Bruce Wilkinson refers to as "Border Bullies". At the border of the land of comfort, we find friends and family who love us very much, giving us every reason to not cross over to the land of the unknown. The land of the unknown is where are dreams are born!

We have now shared with our entire family that we will be leaving the "land of comfort" and heading out into the "land of unknown". This land of unknown is where we KNOW the Lord has called us. We are following a dream, we are following a calling and as we do that, many are going to struggle with our decision. As we have explained this new journey we are taking, we have heard many, many "buts and whattifs". "But what about this and what about that?" "What if this happens or this happens?" The most painful part is hearing those you love remind you of mistakes you have made in the past. Reminding you of all the times you have fallen on your face and even questioning whether or not you really have heard from God.

We knew they would be waiting to meet us at the border, we were prepared. But I was not prepared for how much their opinions would hurt. Just last night I stood on my front lawn and listened to a family member tell me that everything we were wanting to do could be done in the land of comfort. Face to face with a border bully. Finally I explained that he/she would have to sit back and watch us cross over because we were going and no one would stop God's plan for our lives.

Wow. This is hard. This is much harder than I expected. I would much rather have all of our loved ones happy for us and excited for us. Instead they are scared for us. They are afraid we will mess up or get hurt. They are afraid we have heard wrong. But this is what FAITH is all about. This is truly the time where we can't listen to all the voices. There is only one voice we can listen to and it's our Heavenly Father's.

When the Israelites came to the Jordan River, it overflowed all of it's banks. After their long wanderings in the wilderness, they finally reach the Jordan. As the Levitical Priests stepped into the water, the River dried up and they were able to cross. It wasn't UNTIL the Priests stepped in, that the overflowing water stopped coming. (Joshua 3:14-17)

So it's time. It's time step into the waters. I can't imagine how the Israelites felt as they followed the Levitcal Priests. This morning I tried to imagine what their faces looked like as they saw the flooded Jordan. It wasn't just a river, it was a flooded river with fast flowing waters. There must have been things going on in their minds. "How will we get across this river? It's just not possible. But we will trust. We believe God is going to make a way." And what about the Levitical Priests? When Joshua told them to STAND in the river, I am sure they were a little concerned. But they did what they were told and as they stepped in, the water stopped and they stood on firm, dry ground.

As we step into the waters, I will think of the Israelites who paved the way for me. We can learn a lot from those stubborn, worn out, blessed Israelites! For I know that if we are obedient and we step in, the raging waters WILL STOP.

Labels:


  posted at 8:57 AM
  7 comments



Saturday, March 17, 2007
PART II Warning signs
(scroll down to the next post to read part I)

I have a friend in my life, Diana, that I call when I want TRUTH. I mean I need RAW TRUTH. I call her because I know she has already been in her prayer closet that morning and she's not only prayed but she has studied God's Word. More than likely, she has even prayed for me. If she calls me, I know it's for something. When she tells me that she feels a certain way about something, I take it very seriously because I trust her with my life. When I was twenty years old, I met her at the church I was going to. She was about ten or eleven years older than me and she did a great job of taking care of "Mandi". She is one of the few friends that refers to me with that name. All of my family calls me Mandi but she is the one friend that does too.

Okay, so back to my friend Diana. Diana is an unbelievably strong, Godly woman. So if she tells me to jump off a bridge, I think I would pray about it. That's how much I trust her. Not too long ago we were discussing the voice of God. At the time, I had a situation going on in my head that I had not shared. I had been feeling a strong urge to send an email and tell an old friend how special they were to me. But there was a problem. The person I wanted to send the email to was no longer a part of my life. We were no longer friends. But I felt like I needed to let this person know that I found value in them. I tried calling this person before and I did not get a returned phone call so my flesh was afraid of rejection. My mind kept telling me to NOT send an email. I thought it would not be received how I wanted it to and I figured she would not respond. It seemed that every single night I was having dreams about this person. No matter what I did, I could not shake it. So as Diana and I discussed hearing God's voice, Diana said something that totally fit to my situation. She did not know what I was dealing with but what she said was what the Lord needed me to hear that day. "Mandi,if you have a strong sense inside your spirit to call someone or send them an email, you do it. The enemy is not going to tell you to do something nice or do something in order to seek peace or forgiveness in your life."

Well, that afternoon I prayed for the words to write in an email to my former friend. I know with every fiber of my being that God told me to send her an email. In fact, I believe that He did the typing for me. He gave me the words, the attitude and the love in my heart for this person. My flesh tried many times to stop me. "Don't send her an email. She hurt you. She said bad things about you. Don't waste your time. She hates you!" And so on and so on and so on. After sending the email, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was obedient. I listened to what the Lord was telling me to do and I obeyed. It's been several months and the old friend did not respond. I know she saw the email just like I know she got my phone call and the message I left with her husband. I pray that she has forgiven me. I had not forgiven her and the unforgiveness was stinking up my life in a big way. But when I did what I was supposed to do, the Lord gave me a love for her. Now I miss her and I think about her often. I think about what a blessing she was to me and I know how much she truly loved me.

I knew God was telling me to do something but I fought it pretty hard. Then He used Diana to bring confirmation. My delayed obedience was disobedience. I was afraid of being rejected so I didn't do it until I heard Diana say what she did. Nothing changed expect one thing. I listened to God and I did what I was supposed to do and I was blessed for it.

Looking back I know what God was doing. There was a lot I needed to let go and a lot I needed to seek healing for. It was a warning sign for me.

WARNING:
I CANNOT USE YOU WHEN YOU HAVE UNFORGIVENESS
OR HATE IN YOUR HEART.
DO YOUR PART IN THE SITUATION.
OBEY IMMEDIATELY!

Even though she did not respond, I did the right thing. Even though she did not reciprocate, I did the right thing. I am free! And there is no greater way to live than FREE!

The point is, we sit around sometimes way too long trying to figure it out. Sometimes it's pretty darn simple to hear what God is telling us to do. What may seem small to some, sending an email opened my heart to so many things. In fact, my husband and I are getting ready to step out in the biggest, deepest waters yet! We know it's of God and we know it's the right decision. It's a good thing AND a God thing! But I truly believe that if I would not have let go of some of my pain from the past, I would not be prepared or ready for the blessing we are about to receive.

I don't know about you but I want to receive what God has for me. I want to hear His voice and be protected. I want to hear His voice and be blessed! I want to hear His voice and know what the right thing is. I need His direction, His counsel, His wisdom and His guidance every step of the way. If I am not paying attention, if I am not walking in HIS ways, I can't hear Him. It's impossible! But when I am walking closely by His side, I can hear Him. When I hear Him, I can align myself with His ways and sit in the center of His will. Otherwise, the result is pretty plain and simple, cut and dry, black and white! I miss out on what He has for my life.

“He who is of God hears God's words;” John 8:47

Labels:


  posted at 10:18 AM
  8 comments



Part I Warning signs
PART I
Late last Summer my Mom and I, along with the kids, traveled to Port Arthur/Beaumont to visit my grandparents. Just a year earlier the area had been tragically hit by hurricane Rita. Thankfully my grandparents home did not suffer much damage but my great-aunt and uncle's home was close to being totally destroyed. As we drove into Beaumont, I noticed an electronic/computerized sign by one of the highway exits. It quickly caught my attention.

WARNING:

HURRICANE SEASON HAS ARRIVED.

MAKE SURE YOUR GAS TANKS ARE FULL AT ALL TIMES.

In Dallas, where I live, we do not suffer the effects of a Hurricane. Maybe some strong thunderstorms and a little high wind but nothing like those living near the coast. After seeing the sign off the highway, I got to thinking about the people that live in those towns and surrounding areas. Come September of every year, I think I would be a little nervous. After what happened almost two years ago, my awareness of hurricanes has definitely heightened. While I never personally saw the effects of Hurricane Katrina, I did come face to face with the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. Even after a year, Port Arthur and Beaumont continued to suffer. My husband and I also traveled to Cozumel, Mexico for a vacation and what Rita did there was unbelievable. Cozumel was so ravaged that it did not even look the same from when we went two years earlier. Because of the recent, horrific hurricanes, anyone that lives in an area where a hurricane may have the slightest chance of hitting, the people are warned and they prepare for the worst.

The warning sign off the highway, was clearly used by the Lord to later speak to me about my own life and hearing His voice. Growing up in church, I have been taught to heed the voice of the Lord. I have been taught and I have also learned for myself that often the Holy Spirit will put a check in my spirit or a feeling in my gut to warn me about a relationship, situation or anything else that may bring pain or danger to my life or my family's. Just yesterday I had a thought come to my head. "Ava Beth-Bunk bed." I thought of Josiah's bunk beds and how she copies everything her big brother does and how it could be dangerous for her to climb up to the top. I got up, hurried to his room and found them BOTH on the top of his bunk bed. She's two years old, skinny, dainty and petite. A fall from the bunk bed would not be good. Josiah broke his leg when he was two years old after falling out of a swing. Therefore, I am more aware of how fragile their bones are when so young. The thought of the bunk bed and Ava Beth on top was 100% without a doubt, the Holy Spirit. It's usually our first thought, that's what I know to be true for me. So I pay attention, close attention. When the Lord gives me discernment, I follow through.

The warning signs are important. I have met people in my life and instantly felt something inside of me that says, "BE CAREFUL." Sometimes I have heeded the warning, sometimes not. I have also sat back and watched others make choices that I knew could be dangerous or detrimental to their life. Unfortunately, you can't always go to a friend or a loved one and say, "BE CAREFUL, this person you are involved with is not good for you, you could be hurt. You may not see it now, but you will find out later." Sometimes I feel things very deeply, so much that I can almost see it happening. I know it may sound weird to some, but I know that I have a very strong gift of discernment. The Lord did not give me that gift to abuse. He gave me that gift to be an intercessor and stand in the gap for people that I love.

I truly believe that we can walk so closely to the Lord that we KNOW when something isn't right. If we are walking in the spirit, we know when someone is lying to us. Call me crazy but I know when someone is lying to me, IF I am walking in the spirit. We can also know when someone is trying to hurt us and/or know when someone is hurting and needs prayer. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with someone on your heart? Have you ever had someone on your mind for days and don't know why? Or what about dreams? I have actually had dreams about people, nothing bad necessarily, and woke up with a strong urge to pray for them. Only to find out later, they needed prayer at that moment.

I have learned and I am still learning that if I walk in the spirit (meaning-stay in the word, stay in prayer, keeping my mind fixed on HIM), He truly will direct my paths and speak to me. This past week I had someone very close to me on my mind. She is a precious friend and I love her dearly. I have not been able to get her out of my mind. I called her and she was hurting. She needed some encouragement. She needed some love poured all over her by a friend that cared.

It's so important to pay attention to those things. And it can be done without living in fear. Just because you have a thought come to your mind, it does not mean DANGER is coming. Sometimes you have to pray about it before taking action. The longer and longer we walk beside HIM, I believe we learn when and how to take action. I KNEW I was supposed to run into Josiah's room to check and see if Ava Beth was on the bunk bed. I have also known when people come into the church that may bring pain to the Pastor or to the congregation. It's not my job to go and reveal my feelings or thoughts. I have to pray about them first and pray for protection. When I do that, I have often watched them figure it out for themselves. Or sometimes I haven't prayed and watched it unfold badly.

Hearing the voice of God or having discernment is not a special power. It's a gift. It's a gift we should all seek. Often we make hearing His voice too difficult. We confuse our own with His or we mistake a good thing for a God thing. And just because it's a good thing does not mean it's a God thing! Hearing His voice does not have to be as difficult as we make it. We know that the enemy is not going to send thoughts that would bring protection, comfort, encouragement or ANYTHING that is pure and true. We also know that GOD will not send us thoughts of fear, worry, or anything that is not pure and true.

It's like my Mom always says, "Listen to your GUT Mandi! Always listen to your gut!"

Labels:


  posted at 9:24 AM
  1 comments



Friday, March 16, 2007
Ching-a-ring chaw!
A few months ago I was out Christmas shopping with one of my best friends, Kelly Ann. I wish I could go back in time and freeze that particular day at Target, the Target Snack Bar, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Hobby Lobby. It was a great day! Just me and her shopping the day away with no children, no husbands, just us! She's a pretty special friend. We have a ton of history together that goes all the way back to eighth grade. Not only did we attend the same junior high and high school but we grew up in the same youth group. We had a typical teenage, female friendship. There were some days we loved each other and other days we felt the total opposite. Our Youth Pastor can vouch for that! Our love/hate relationship probably had a lot to do with boys. She always had way more boyfriends than me. Not too long ago we were sitting in a Mexican food restaurant eating our chips and salsa (without our husbands) as we divulged many High School secrets. We discovered that we had kissed many of the same boys! Of course we compared notes and both agreed on the bad kissers. I know she is reading this so I have to say this for her. T.B=QB, A.W.=PK! Okay so enough inside jokes! And Janna, if you are reading this, I know you are totally disgusted by BOTH and probably shocked by the first one! Anyway! Kelly Ann had a her baby shower this past Saturday. The room was full of women, many whom I did not know. It was obvious she was in a room full of people that loved her. I sat next to some of her husband's relatives and shared some stories about my teenage years with Kelly Ann. As Kelly Ann opened her gifts, I could not help but think back to our journey together and how blessed I am to have her in my life.

In a few weeks, Kelly will have a precious baby girl named Schaefer. I feel like this baby is a part of me too. I prayed and prayed for her to come. I prayed for life in Kelly's womb and I even prayed for a girl. Not only did God answer her prayer but he answered mine too! Even though the room was filled with women that love Kelly, pray for Kelly and cherish her friendship, I felt pretty special. We've been through a lot together. From stupid boys to youth camps (where stupid boys were). From Mr.Dean in Junior High (Not only was he our choir director but Kelly Clarkson's too) to Ms. Douglas in High School, we have sang our hearts out in ugly choir dresses and so much more. No one can take our history from us. Our friendship runs deep and the memories we have created will last a lifetime. We can't be separated. Differences can't do it, life changes can't, distance or anything else! Our friendship has always been "meant to be" and it will last a lifetime, no matter what.

So I wish I could go back in time and freeze our Christmas shopping day. We were walking in the parking lot when Kelly begin to sing, "Ching-a-ring a ring a ring ching ching, ho a ding a ding kum larkey!" I almost peed my pants, which would not have been hard to do since I was eight months pregnant. Instantly I knew what she was singing. I can appreciate the musical pioneer Aaron Copeland now, but when you are sixteen years old singing Ching-a-ring chaw for UIL judges, you wonder what in the heck Aaron Copeland was thinking with this piece of music. As Kelly and I tried to remember the words, we both talked about how we had no idea what the song meant. We laughed, sang and laughed some more. It is a precious memory that know one can take from us, no one would possibly understand but us. Tonight I was thinking about all that is going on in my life and baby Schaefer who will be here soon. Things will be busy and our time will be harder to come by. Feeling a little sentimental, I found Aaron Copeland's Ching-a-ring Chaw on iTunes! Can you believe it? It's now on my iPod and I plan on putting it on cd for Kelly Ann. There is probably no one else on earth that would appreciate this song, except me, Kelly and some old women who sing in your local Chamber Choir.

Oh how I love my friends. I just couldn't do life without them. So here's to you Kelly Ann! I love you my friend. I am pretty sure we will talk tomorrow and how about let's hang out SOON! We live so close, there is no EXCUSE! :)

Ching-a-ring chaw!

Labels:


  posted at 12:43 AM
  5 comments



Thursday, March 15, 2007
How can you step out in faith? How?
John 6
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

1 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money[a] to feed them!”

8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” 10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

14 When the people saw him[b] do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”[c] 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

Labels:


  posted at 6:05 PM
  2 comments



Wednesday, March 14, 2007
enough for one day
Almost two years ago, Jeremy went to meet with a guy for some mentoring. Jeremy was at a point where he really felt like God was calling him away from UPS. It seemed extremely scary to Jeremy. At that time he had been there for twelve years and had not been on a job interview since. But deep down he knew that he was not happy. I encouraged him to meet with an older man. I felt that this man could give him encouragement. When they met, Jeremy explained that he felt like God was wanting him to leave UPS and do something totally different. He knew God wanted him to have more time with his family and that money was not something Jeremy needed to put all of his hope in. During that time I was encouraging Jeremy to heed the voice of God and come up with a plan (with God's help) to leave UPS. I specifically told him that God did not want him to wake up someday at fifty years old and hate his job. It is not God's will for Jeremy to count the years until retirement. He does not have to live under the curse of working by the sweat of his brow! NO!

While he met with the Christian, older man, I prayed that Jeremy would walk away renewed and excited about the future. Instead, he left even more beat down than he already was. The man told him he would be crazy to leave his job. He told him it would be irresponsible. He even told Jeremy that he did not like his own job but since he had been there for twenty years, he would tough it out. After that meeting, I saw my husband become extremely depressed. One month later, he was injured. As I prayed for him, I truly felt like the Lord was allowing him to get to the bottom so he would make a change. Sometimes that is the only way we will step out in faith. But Jeremy continued and talked himself into staying and making it work. The twelve hour days, the beat down body, the anguish of the day to day job began to take a toll. I continued to tell Jeremy something over and over again. "Jeremy, UPS is not your destiny. God has something MUCH bigger for you."

Well, the time has come. He is stepping out. Yes, he just got a promotion but he will not be taking it. Instead, he is trusting the Lord with everything and starting over. It hasn't happened yet but since he has made the decision, he has changed. He even looks different to me. I told his sister today that when she sees him, she will be amazed at how much joy and life she sees in his face.

I have found out, especially over the past week, that fellow Christians can beat you down. We say we are children of God, we say we have faith, but do we really? Some would say my husband is insane for doing what he is about to do. Some think he is irresponsible and ignorant for walking away. But I think he is amazing! I truly believe that the definition of a man is someone that can trust the Lord with everything and walk in faith. Not many are willing to do that! My husband is my hero! I am so proud of him and I know that we are going to be blessed because he has said yes to God. His cup will be spilling over and it will fall all over me, Josiah, Ava Beth and Ezekiel.

The Lord told the Israelites (Exodus 16) to gather enough manna for ONE day. Not a week, not a month, but ONE day. I feel like God is doing the same in our lives. We don't know what's going to happen next month, next year or even tomorrow. But we are going to trust Jesus and gather enough manna for ONE day.

(I still have HUGE news to share with you but I still have to wait until we have shared it with all of our family. I am busting at the seams right now. I want to tell you but I can't. Soon, it will be soon! This news of Jeremy's job is only HALF of what God is doing!)

Labels:


  posted at 4:25 PM
  14 comments



Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Amanda's playlist
Here's what's on my iPod today! It could change tomorrow. But this is what I have been listening to tonight while everyone is sleeping. :) I just can't sleep.

"Easy Silence" by the Dixie Chicks
Yes, I have forgiven them and you should too. Come on people!

"Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley
This song is fabulous! I love it!

"Coming Home" by John Legend
When I saw the special on TV about Bob Woodruff, it really opened my eyes to what is going on in this world. I am not anti war, but this song makes me think of all the mommies with babies in Iraq. This song reminds me of the things I don't think about enough. Do we really understand how many caskets are being unloaded every single day covered with the American Flag? I don't think we do. And John Legend is one of my favorite singers. He is one of the most gifted musicians out there.

"Pieces of April" by Three Dog Night
When I was a teenager my Dad used to play this song for me all the time. He said it was his song to me. I was born in April! Listening to this song makes me feel special. It means the world to me.

"Treasure" by Desperation Band
One of my best friends in the whole world, Tiffany, called me a few days ago to tell me this song was something I needed to listen to. She said when she listens to it, she thinks of where I am at in my life. It's been a great song for me to worship to and it means so much because Tiffany knows everything God is doing in my life right now. I love you Tiff!

"Over It" Katharine McPhee
Well, I did not vote for her on AI last year. I was a Taylor fan! But this girl's voice is unbelievable and I love this song!

"My Idea of Heaven" by Leigh Nash
Leigh Nash is one of my favorite singers and I have gotten to sing some of her stuff a couple of times. This song is my song to Jeremy. Well, one of them. I really am living "My Idea of Heaven". And you can go to http://www.youtube.com/ and see this video. I love it!

"Burn For You" Toby Mac
It's Toby Mac! Need I say more?

"It's Not Over" by Daughtry
Love, love, love Daughtry!! I did vote for him on AI!

"Irreplaceable" by Beyonce
What can I say? I love Beyonce. She makes me smile and she makes me want to dance and I love to dance! This song is something I turn up really loud when I am in the car by myself.
"To the left, to the left!"

"Public Affair" by Jessica Simpson
Hey, don't laugh! I grew up roller skating and this song makes me want to roller skate with leg warmers and a whole bunch of lip gloss! And if I were skating with a guy, he would have on parachute pants! Ava Beth LOVES this song too!

"Glamorous" by Fergie
I don't think this song is bad. I don't think it is. Well, it does have the word hell in it. I noticed on my download it has the word clean next to it which means there must be another version. I loved to feel glamorous so I think I just like the song because they mention shoes! :)

"Drifting" by Bebo Norman
This song has some meaning for me. I don't really want to explain but it's a song that spoke to me at just the right time.

"Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns
I have an aunt that has leukemia and this song makes me think of her. She is an amazing woman and I told her last week that this was her song.

"Broken" by Seether and Amy Lee
I sang this song with a good friend who was also my worship pastor. I have this song on my iPod because it means a lot to me. It reminds me of a good time in my life, a good season and I miss it.

"Like Red on a Rose" by Alan Jackson
Jeremy says this is his song to me. I cry every time I hear it.

"Everlasting God" by Chris Tomlin
This song has been my theme song for several months now. I feel like I have been waiting on the Lord for clarification, healing and ministry opportunities. Strength arises as I wait upon the Lord! I love to worship to this song.

"How To Save A Life" by The Fray
Most of you will know why I love this song.

"Come Clean" by Hilary Duff
Another song that I found meaning in during a tough time. It's nice to jam out in the car when music speaks for you!

"Never Give Up On Me" by Josh Bates
I feel like I have had some people in my life that have given up on me. Some that have not believed in me or saw my value. This song reminds me of how much my Heavenly Father loves me and how he will never give up on me. He believes in me.

"Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol
Love the words, love the music, love this song!

"Making Memories Of Us" by Keith Urban
Growing up was hard. I never knew I could have the life I have today. Jeremy has changed me life. He has brought so much healing to my broken heart and difficult past. The first time I knew I loved Jeremy, we were country dancing at Cowboys in Arlington. This song wasn't out back then but this song reminds me of that night. Oh how I love that boy!

"Take Me Higher" by Lincoln Brewster
This is one of my favorite worship songs and it brings back great memories of singing on a praise team with people I truly loved.

"Completely" by Ana Laura
This song has become my prayer. It's on the Facing the Giants soundtrack.

"My Glorious" by Newsong
Newsong has got to be the most talented Christian band ever! They are amazing in concert! And this song rocks!

"Angel" by Robin Thicke
The only thing I can say about this song is WOW! It is the most romantic song I have ever heard in my life.

"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield
I forgot about my two Natasha songs. So I am adding them to my list. This song was my favorite song last Summer.

"These Words" by Natasha Bedingfield
When this song first came out, the video was on MTV all the time. I liked the video and liked the song. It's fun to sing along to a song that you know every single word to and this is one I like a lot!

Labels:


  posted at 12:17 AM
  6 comments



Monday, March 12, 2007
We knew then and we know now!
It was February 27th, 2001. Jeremy and I had only been dating for two weeks when I decided to share something with a friend. "I love Jeremy. I know we have only known one another for two weeks but I know that I love him." I distinctly remember the look on her face as I shared. After saying something so crazy, I figured she would tell me I lost my mind but, she didn't. So I decided to explain a little further. "I think it's too early for me to have fallen in love with him because we hardly know each other but I can't explain what's going on inside of me except that I know I love him. It's like I am supposed to love him. I am meant to love him."

The love I knew I was feeling was quite different than anything I had ever felt before. It felt right, it felt safe, it felt ordained. I was not about to explain it to Jeremy. If what I was feeling in my spirit was right, Jeremy would feel it too. So I prayed for confirmation. I prayed that the Lord would confirm this love I was feeling. After having the conversation with my friend, I headed over to Jeremy's apartment to meet him for a Bible Study. I can't remember what the Bible Study was about that night but I do remember what happen afterwards. Jeremy and I were sitting on his couch and he grabbed my hand, held it tight and said there was something he needed to tell me. "Amanda, I love you. I know we have only known each other for two weeks but I know that I love you. I know that I am supposed to love you. You are the one I am to love." Instantly my eyes were filled with tears. I told him that I loved him too and we stared at each other in shock. We both knew what it meant. We both knew that God had finally answered our prayers. We both knew that we were meant to be husband and wife. Two weeks and we knew. Two and a half months later, we were engaged. Three and a half months later, we were husband and wife.

Since it happened so fast there were many of our close friends and family that had doubts. They couldn't understand the fast courtship, engagement and marriage. We even had a family member ask if I was pregnant. It wasn't until that question that I realized how crazy we must of looked to everyone. I wasn't pregnant and we had made the commitment to not have sex until we were married. And since we got married so fast, that commitment wasn't so hard to keep! The same family member that asked if I was pregnant tried to talk us into a longer engagement. She explained that we hardly knew one another and that we needed to take it slow. She felt that we were acting out of emotion and not true love and commitment. Jeremy and I both figured out quickly that many would not understand. We decided to not try and convince others of our love but allow them to sit back and watch. At times it was difficult to hear the opinions but it was totally worth it. Even though many were skeptical, we knew it was a God thing and nothing was going to get in the way of that.

Part of the big shock for those close to Jeremy had to do with them knowing his personality. You see, I am married to steady Eddie! He is not wishy washy. He is not fickle. He is slow to make decisions and it takes him a long time to process things. But one thing I have learned through the years about my husband is that when he has heard from God, he moves. He doesn't calculate too much, he moves. He doesn't ask for every one's opinion, he moves. He doesn't allow himself to doubt or question because he TRUSTS. That kind of faith has been poured into my life by him. I'm not afraid to take a risk but Jeremy has taught me how to do it and trust God at the same time. I love that about my husband. We are a good team, no doubt.

Jeremy and I had to have a lot of faith to get married as quick as we did. At times it was tough. Regardless of how long you have known your spouse, we all know marriage is tough. I truly believe that marriage brings about healing and deliverance in many ways. A bride and groom have no idea what marriage is going to be like. You can't possibly know the conflict that will come or possibly understand how hard it can be at times. You are under the microscope 24/7 and you live with a sinner 24/7 and he lives with a sinner 24/7. With two sinners, there's bound to be some sinnin' going on! And even though the road can be tough, there is no greater road to travel. Marriage is the best thing you will ever do!

And now we are another fast pace journey. People will say we are crazy. People will say we need more time. People will say all kinds of things that are logical, things that make sense. They will say smart things, intelligent things. But they will be lacking something very important. Faith.

On March 8th,2007 my husband and I experienced another moment like we did on February 27, 2001. It was a moment we had in complete unison. It was a God stop. A moment where we looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking. We knew it was time to step out in faith and go with God. The only frightening part was that we weren't frightened! Instead, we were excited. We are still excited! Throughout our marriage God has been preparing us for this moment. He has been preparing us so much that we know it is not a sudden thing. It's something we know we are supposed to do. It's something we were meant to do. Over the last few days, the Holy Spirit has been reminding us of that moment when we fell in love. Most of those around us did not understand, even to the point of wondering if I was pregnant. Ha! Well, here we go again. Most will wonder whether or not we have lost our minds but some will be blessed by our willingness. Others will see us as a testimony. So that is my prayer. I pray that God can use us to show you how BIG our God really is. I pray that He can use us to show you how to step out in faith and trust Him for your EVERY need. I pray that He can use our new beginning to bring you to yours.

It was 2001 when we first knew that God had big plans for us as a couple and just the other day, He reminded us again. We knew then and we know now!

And in due time, I will share the details. I won't try to prove that our decision is a God thing, I will just let you sit back and see that for yourself!

Romans 4:21
being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Hebrews 10:38 32-39
Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn't touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion.

1 Chronicles 2-17: 23-24 16-27
King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed:
Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this place in life? But that's nothing compared to what's coming, for you've also spoken of my family far into the future, given me a glimpse into tomorrow and looked on me, Master God, as a Somebody. What's left for David to say to this—to your honoring your servant, even though you know me, just as I am? O God, out of the goodness of your heart, you've taken your servant to do this great thing and put your great work on display. There's none like you, God, no God but you, nothing to compare with what we've heard with our own ears. And who is like your people, like Israel, a nation unique on earth, whom God set out to redeem as his own people (and became most famous for it), performing great and fearsome acts, throwing out nations and their gods left and right as you saved your people from Egypt? You established for yourself a people—your very own Israel!—your people forever. And you, God, became their God.

So now, great God, this word that you have spoken to me and my family, guarantee it forever! Do exactly what you've promised! Then your reputation will be confirmed and flourish always as people exclaim, "The God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God over Israel, is Israel's God!" And the house of your servant David will remain rock solid under your watchful presence. You, my God, have told me plainly, "I will build you a house." That's how I was able to find the courage to pray this prayer to you. God, being the God you are, you have spoken all these wonderful words to me. As if that weren't enough, you've blessed my family so that it will continue in your presence always. Because you have blessed it, God, it's really blessed—blessed for good!

Labels:


  posted at 12:30 AM
  9 comments



Friday, March 09, 2007
birth
For the past couple of years Jeremy and I have been feeling like God was preparing us for ministry. I have known since I was fifteen years old that the calling was on my life. I remember walking down the aisle and praying with my youth minister. That day I publicly surrendered to the ministry. God has confirmed that calling over and over and over again. I have known for a while that God has big plans for my husband. But at times I wasn't sure if Jeremy knew. With each church we have been to and served in, I have watched my husband take a back seat and quietly slip away while I sang, did dramas and so much more. For five years he has taken a back seat while I have pursued many things. It's been impossible for Jeremy to find His place because he has been in my shadow.

He has never complained. Instead, he has supported me and encouraged me to use my gifts. But in doing that I feel like he has forgotten the calling on his own life. How can he possibly serve others while he is so busy trying to serve me so I can do my thing? Just recently we have felt a shift coming. We have both felt like change was on the way but we had no idea what. This time we have spent out of church was never spent away from God. While we were not a part of corporate worship, we were a part of something. God has been working in our lives and in our home in amazing ways. We have experienced healing in our marriage, in our families and we have found freedom in Christ like never before.

A close friend from my old church, who was also my worship pastor, told me something one time I will never forget. "Amanda, you have to learn that it is not about you. God can't place you in an area of influence until you get that." Ouch! At the time, I did not get it. I was more concerned with a title, a promotion, being on staff or having my name in the bulletin. It was all about me. I would stand on a stage and sing a song all about Jesus but instead of being concerned with leading people to Jesus, I was more concerned with my fashion. It was all about me.

Another friend told me this. "Amanda, until you LOVE, really love your Mother-in-law, your Father-in-law and your sister-in-law, your ministry will not be anointed." Ouch again! I wanted to blame the dysfunctional relationships on them. I wanted to blame them for all of it. It was all about me!

My youth pastor, who still speaks into my life often, told me that wherever the Lord sent us that it had to be about Jeremy. He said that until Jeremy served, I was not allowed to. When he said that, I thought there was no way I could ever find joy in sitting out. I thought it would be a miserable time and that I just couldn't do it. This May will be TWO YEARS since I have held a microphone and sang. It's been two years since I have done anything. And in that time, God has changed me.

My sister-in-law is my friend. I love her and I need her. I admire her and my relationship with her brings me closer to the Lord. My Mother-in-law was in the room when Ezekiel was born and I wanted her there that day. I needed her there with me and I can't raise my kids without her in my life. God has changed me. Not them but me. God has changed ME.

About three years ago I was sitting in a church service with my husband listening to a sermon on faith. The preacher said something note worthy because I wrote it down. "Until someone says you are crazy. Until someone says you are stupid or insane for doing something the Lord called you to do, you have not walked in faith."Well, we are both feeling like God has called us to do something CRAZY. We don't understand it. We are not sure of the details. We aren't totally sure how soon, although we would like it to be tomorrow! We have never been more unified on this crazy thing. I say it's crazy because it's way more than I ever could have imagined for us. It's something where Jeremy can be used and will be used. In fact, I think it's more about him than me. I think God is about to change my husband in a way that is going to bless his socks off and mine too! We are still praying about it, still making sure we are hearing what we think we are hearing. Our lives would drastically change, everything would change. But we BOTH feel like the time has come. We both feel like we can't go back to how it was. We can't change what God has been doing in our lives over the past two years and we BOTH feel like God has been preparing us for this crazy thing.

When the time is right, when the Lord tells us to GO, I will tell the world about it. Until then, please keep us in your prayers. God is busy, busy, busy in our lives and we are excited to see what He does.

It may seem like a silly analogy but I think we have been pregnant for a while now and the birth is close. As women, we know how difficult and painful and uncomfortable those last few weeks of pregnancy can be. We long for it to be over and we long to see the fruit of our womb placed in our hands to hold, enjoy and love. And that's where we are at. We are ready to give birth and hold, enjoy and love the ministry God has called us to do.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]--

Labels:


  posted at 3:52 PM
  8 comments



Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Vacation week
Well I have been a little busy lately. Jeremy is on vacation this week and we have been doing all kinds of stuff! He has been promoted at work which requires him to take a few tests. That has required studying and test taking WHILE on vacation. Also I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were filing chapter 7 bankruptcy and as of today, EVERYTHING on our end is FINISHED!!! I can't tell you how relieved I feel! I really feel brand spankin' new! And Jeremy passed all of his tests and his job should be changing in the next couple of months, maybe sooner! I am so proud of him. He really is the hardest working man I have ever seen in my life and after 13 years at the same company, he has earned this promotion! I think about Proverbs 31 and the verse that talks about her husband being respected at the city gates. He works diligently and has incredible integrity. Other men respect his work ethic and that makes me so proud.

Even though we have filed chapter 7, our home and cars never fell behind. But for a while we had to live on credit. I started a business and invested way too much in home office stuff, supplies and product. Then the business did not work out. We sold a home two years ago and were required to take $8,500 to closing and so many other things played a factor. It's a long story, the details aren't that important. But we tried and tried and tried to get things right with finances and we could not do it. After much prayer, we were put in touch with an incredible attorney, who is also an incredible Godly man. He helped us feel like we were not failures but smart for taking action. In the past a bankruptcy would destroy a person but now that is not the case. In a few years we want to get a bigger house and it looks like we will be able to do that. As much as we are tempted to feel defeat, we are trying really hard not to. God's timing is amazing. Jeremy has just been promoted and with the promotion comes a raise. It seems that since we have moved (about a year and a half ago), some of the greatest blessings have come our way. It's pretty obvious the Lord put us on "fertile soil"(no pun intended)! Yes we will have a credit report that shows a bankruptcy for pretty much the rest of our lives but thank goodness the credit report does not have final say on God's plans for our lives. For He has blessed our socks off, that is for sure!

So now that we got all that mess out of the way this week, we decided to have some fun with the kids today! We still have lots to look forward to this week while Jeremy is on vacation. I am having breakfast with a friend tomorrow and then I am off to get my hair all funky at my Mom's salon! It's time for Spring/Summer hair color! I have already started the process after being tired of my winter hair! Yes, there is such a thing as Winter hair and Summer hair! Then Josiah's friend, Jackson, is coming over for a camp out in the backyard. Jeremy bought a tent for them so they are all going to camp out! Then I think we are headed to the Zoo on Friday. That's our vacation this week. I wish we were all in Destin, FL at the beach but I think a week at home will be just fine! Here is a slide show that I hope you all enjoy. I just love showing off my family. I am so proud of them! Oh and I forgot to announce to the world that I am going to be an AUNT again! Jeremy's sister is eight weeks pregnant!!! They came over for some burgers last night and I sent her home with all of my maternity clothes! I can't wait to see her belly and I can't wait to spoil that baby! Aunt Mandi is going to spoil, spoil, spoil!

And I wanted to tell one of my aunts, Carolyn, who is in the hospital receiving chemo treatments, platelet transfusions and so much more as she battles leukemia for the 2nd time, that with every single picture I snapped today, I thought of you. You minister to me so much Carolyn and I know that all of these pictures will bring a smile to your face. It blesses me that you find so much joy in just seeing pictures of my babies. We can feel your love for us and I pray that you can feel ours. We won't quit praying! We serve an incredible God who is KNOWN for miraculous things so that's what we are gonna wait on Him to do for you!Carolyn you are the strongest, most courageous woman I know! This slide show is for YOU.


| View Show | Create Your Own

Labels:


  posted at 4:44 PM
  3 comments





Name:
Amanda

Location: Austin, Texas


Mommy, Mama, Mandi, Amanda, Babe and whatever else you want to call me! How do I have time to blog with three kids under the age of four? I'm up until midnight and usually later!

My complete profile

www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from somethingbeautifulblog. Make your own badge here.
Fashion Statement (My Mom)
Beth Moore
Resonate Community
The Food Network
BibleGateway
Dallas Cowboys


Popsicles
not sure
feelings
Heart of Worship by Matt Redman
NO BOOKS FOR YOU!
She Runs
conviction & forgiveness
coming back to the heart of worship
NEW
Resonate Community Church

October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
August 2007
May 2012

October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006

Subscribe with Bloglines



Powered by FeedBlitz


Blog Design by:


Image from:
www.istockphoto.com

Powered by: