Thursday, May 31, 2007
There is something so powerful about music. I have written about this before but I feel like writing it again. Music just gets me to that place I need to be. It's so much a part of me that I truly can't get through the day without. Yes, it's my dream to be a worship leader. I don't really do very well with all the fluffy words in between. You know how a lot of worship leaders say all kinds of stuff while they are leading?? I mean I can pray and I can talk but, the fluff in between is what scares me. I don't play a musical instrument. I did take guitar lessons for a few months but someone borrowed my guitar and I never got it back. It was a beautiful, Martin guitar. My parents got it for me when I graduated from High School since I was moving to Nashville to be famous. Oh right! I did not move to Nashville and I did not become famous! :) Anyway, I have really been wanting to start trying to play the guitar again. We shall see. But I have been wondering how I could ever lead worship and not play an instrument and then I think of my friend Tiffany that led without an instrument. She held a microphone, sang and led! I know how to communicate music and as long as I am worshipping, I think I could lead others in the same direction. When it comes to a band, I know how to tell a drummer what I need or a guitar player what I need. So yes, maybe I could do it. Only, there's one other problem. Confidence.

Sure I can sing in front of a million people and be fine but, being the main man, I mean the main gal, that scares me. I've lead worship before by filling in when someone is away and I have led at very small churches but thinking about leading makes my heart flutter. Thinking about this has really made me realize how NOT confident I really am. I think I am, but I am not. Maybe that's good because it would be ALL God doing it through me. You know? There are many reasons why I lack confidence and that's what I have to work through.

For now I am trying to figure out how I can get a few coffee shop gigs or something like that. Today I realized that when I am singing or worshiping, I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Music truly brings everything together for me. At heart, I am an entertainer. Even now, when I am singing to my kids or singing in the car or singing in the middle of my kitchen like I did today, I envision a crowd. Seriously. Today I was in the middle of my kitchen singing at the top of my lungs a Sixpence None The Richer song called, Trust In The Lord and I saw a crowd. It's weird. I don't know why, I just do. And I was still worshipping. I pray that God is preparing me to use my gift again. I pray it is soon. I pray that I get to sing in coffee shops and maybe make a CD. I don't wish to be famous, I wish to be used.

All of that to say that the song I have posted below is a song I would like sing at our church or have a guy sing because I don't know if this song could be arranged for a girl or not. Some may think it's a little much for church, I don't. This song tonight was a song I found myself worshipping to. I'm not sure I could be a worship leader that only sings Christian music. Switchfoot is a crossover band so I wouldn't say they are a secular band but there is a lot of music out there that has a powerful message that could speak to us. But, this is a girl that sang Pat Bentar's, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" during a church service on marriage! :)

This song is called, MEANT TO LIVE. The line that got me was, "We want more than this world’s got to offer". Thanks for reading my rambles and listening to the songs I love! Now click below and listen to MEANT TO LIVE!

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he’s bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we’ve been livin with our eyes half open
Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life yeah

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?

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  posted at 11:24 PM

Consume Me
Just felt like posting a song from one of my favorite bands. I wish they were still together! Their Supernatural tour was the best concert I have ever been to! We sang this song at my old church. It's a fun song to sing BGV's to. (AKA-background Vocals)

Sometimes I forget how much awesome Christian Rock/top 4o music is out there. We need another DC Talk.


  posted at 6:13 PM

The Mantle (part I)
It was hard leaving my old house before moving here. It was hard for a lot of reasons. But the thing that made it the most difficult was knowing how hard I had worked to make that home, my home. My home was an expression of who I was and who my family was. Every room was painted, every room was decorated, every room was a place where I had put my touch and made it my own. Jeremy and I worked hard to buy things for it and decorate it. When people came over, I was proud of it. At Christmas time, I enjoyed it the most. My gigantic Christmas tree, my touch of Christmas here and there, it was greatness. The thing that stood out to me the most when we first saw that house, was the mantle over the fireplace.

The mantle jumped out at me as soon as the realtor walked us through the home. It was strong, it had presence. There was something about it that just brought the family room together. Instantly I could see pictures of my kids sitting across the mantle, garland wrapped with Christmas lights at Christmas time and stockings hanging with my children's names. The mantle was a perfect representation of our family. The mantle set the tone for our entire house.

When we moved I was really struggling with leasing. I knew leasing was the only option due to our bankruptcy. Home ownership will not be in the picture for at least a couple of years. So even though our names are not on the deed to this house, I long to make this house feel like my home. The investor that built this home was excited to get us in here. He built it and it sat for six months before we came along. Thankfully, the property management company got approval for us to paint! So we have been here about two months now and I have not been able to find the time to get started on painting and I have been struggling big time with trying to get this home to feel like my own.

Before moving, I felt like my family was on a schedule. I was organized, my days were organized and I felt motivated. Since being here, understandably, I have struggled to get back on that track. Since I know I am going to paint, I have held off on hanging pictures. The walls are white and empty. Lately I have found myself feeling depressed or completely out of sorts here. So I asked a friend to pray for me and she said something that made perfect sense. "You know what it is Amanda? You need to paint, you need to decorate your home. When you have it all put together, you will feel put together and you will feel better. It will help you get a schedule." Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! It was a "GOD STOP" as Beth Moore describes in many of her Bible Studies. God used the words of a friend to tell me EXACTLY what I needed to do in order to feel like the heart of my home again.

This morning I walked downstairs and noticed the mantle in the center of our family room. There are no pictures of the kids, nothing up there that represents my family. The room isn't really functioning until I see a part of us there. Right now, the only thing I am able to notice is the emptiness. I long to make the mantle the center of my home. For I know that what I place on the mantle will cause the entire home to come together and flow like it's meant to.

There have been seasons in my life where I feel like something is missing. I can't put my finger on it, something just doesn't seem right. A few years back, Jeremy and I came to a place in our lives where everything seemed empty. We were both believers, Christ followers, but there was something that we were missing. Before I finish this thought, let me say this. Even when we make the decision to follow Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have seasons in our life that bring about a crisis of belief. It's not so much a crisis of belief about Christ, but just life and circumstances. For us, we were questioning everything around us. Wherever we went, our minds and hearts were unsettled. I remember walking into church on Sundays and my mind felt like an out of tune radio station. There was nothing but static! My skin began to crawl. I cannot remember a time in my life where I felt as uncomfortable as I did then. Just thinking about it makes me anxious! One day after Jeremy and I got home from church, we decided to start praying about our circumstances. As we did, God began to show us that we had lost focus on what truly mattered in life. Instead of Christ being at the center of our family, He was no where to be found. Sure, we prayed, we still believed in Him but, our actions, our time, our energy was not centered around Him. It's interesting how you can be so busy going to church, bible studies and all the "Christian" things, yet miss the main point of it all.

Today I am at the place again. Not with my church, not with those around me but in my home. It's my home that I am finding I am most stressed, worried and afraid. Order is missing, discipline is missing, an atmosphere of thankfulness is missing. It's here that I feel my mind resembles an out of tune radio station. And again, I think of the empty mantle in my family room.

You see, Christ is my mantle. He is the one that envelops me and covers me. That is why I need to do everything possible to make sure He remains at the center of my life. When others come into my home, I want them to feel the power of the mantle. And that will show by the love and support they feel when they are here. It's not so much about focusing on how great my house is decorated or how good my house looks, but it's about me making this house, MY home. It's also symbolic for the person that I am. When my home is out of whack, so is everything else. As women, I think we all struggle with this and we all know how incredible it feels when everything is folded and put away! Instead of all the clothes on the couch or in my chair in the bedroom, it's put away. When Christ is my mantle, everything seems to flow. Everything is centered around it and I can't help but to exude peace and love to others.

Today my prayer is that I will be covered with a mantle of strength. I need strength to do the things necessary to get this house in order. If that means paint, I need strength to do it. Especially with three kids! Today my prayer is also to be covered with a mantle of peace. My spirit has been anxious but I long to be relaxed and finally feel like THIS is my home.

If you don't mind, i could really use your prayers. I need a boost! And part II to this post will come and there will be a new picture of a new mantle.

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  posted at 11:29 AM

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No doubt, it's on it's last leg or flash! But my wonderful husband got it to work! And he took this!

Here it is folks! And yes, it hurt and yes I feel like I have an eternal BOOGER in my nose. I can't pick my nose or pop zits near as good as I used to! Sorry Mom! That did not sound very lady like now, did it? Oh and I notice it looks kind of red in the pictures but it's not that red in person. I have to keep this one in for eight weeks and then I can get a smaller stud. But this one I like too and it's just a white diamond-like stone.


  posted at 9:45 PM

My camera bit the dust!
I was all ready to show you a picture of my nose ring. Today I have on makeup, the hair is fixed, etc. so I figured today would be a good picture taking day. But, I am just about to cry as I type this, our camera is DEAD!

Jeremy surprised me and bought this camera when I was 28 weeks pregnant with Josiah. Josiah is now almost four and a half years old! We paid $400 for this 3.0 mega pixel Olympus Camera and it has taken so many pictures of my babies! Good pictures too! I've been looking on Craigslist and Ebay trying to figure out how we can get a new camera. They are still pretty expensive. Not near as bad as they used to be but, still pricey! I can't LIVE without a camera! It's a must! I have a three kids for crying out loud and one of them is only four and a half months old! He has two teeth coming in right now that I have yet to snap a picture of! UGH! I am so mad!

So if you hear of any amazing deal on cameras, let me know! I am totally bummed! :( I will just have to take my frustration out on my turkey burgers I am about to mush together for the grill!


  posted at 5:24 PM

something worth sharing

If you go to youtube, look at how many hits this video has had! A 15 year old girl created this. Pretty cool! They have been playing this on Fox news a lot today.

I don't think we even realize sometimes what is going on in our world. I don't have any family there and I don't have any friends there. But, today I have been thinking about how much these men and women need to be at the forefront of my mind. They truly need our prayers.


  posted at 4:11 PM

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
My babies!
Jeremy's mom just emailed this to me. Her friend took it when they visited them a few weeks back. I wish I could have had their outfits a little more color coordinated but this picture is still amazing! Wow. I am blessed. I am so proud of you Josiah, Ava Beth and Ezekiel! You are my favorite people in the whole world and I love you!


  posted at 9:50 PM

This is my 3rd post today
Okay, so this is the 3rd time I have posted today but, I am asking for some help. The blog I had before this one, Far More Than Rubies, was a great chapter in my life. Something Beautiful has been even better! But now, I am ready for Chapter three and I want a new blog title. So if you have any ideas, post a comment. I would really like something that describes me. It doesn't have to have a Scripture attached. I'm really open to whatever. Since I love Doris Day Movies, I looked through all of her old movies last night looking for a fitting title but, no luck.

Get creative ladies! I'm ready for a blog makeover!!!


  posted at 1:49 PM

A new hole in my nose!
Okay so put away all that old time religion because this thirty-one year old, Christ follower, Wife and Mommy to three, got her nose pierced! It's just a tiny little diamond-like stud and I love it. Jeremy called me his little rebel yesterday and I thought that was funny. Something funny did happen though. While I was standing in line at this tattoo/piercing place in Austin, my cell phone started ringing. My ring tone has been the American Idol theme song lately. I always change it to that during the AI season. I wasn't even thinking but when it went off, the guy with about fifty different piercings looked at me like I was insane and he told me to turn it off. "Turn THAT off." He then rolled his eyes. I guess my ring tone was not very complimentary to the Ozzy Osborne already playing!

Many of you have emailed asking me if I did it so now you know! I did it! This year I will not be attending our family reunion that is in two weeks. There I would be surrounded by some relatives that may think I am going to hell in a hand basket! :)I think my Grannymaw would have a cow but then again she may not even be able to see it. :)

I think I find a lot of freedom in being a Christian woman that is not afraid to express herself. I pray that God can use it to show others that ALL Christians are not as legalistic and crazy as some think! Well, crazy is a tough one because I am crazy! :)Maybe it's best to look like a punk rocker!


  posted at 1:45 PM

A Five course meal
It's never fun dealing with a house full of sick kids and all three of my kiddos are sick. Ava Beth threw up the night before last, a lot, then got a high fever and had fever early this morning. The Ezekiel woke up at 2am with a fever. Last night Jeremy slept on the couch and I had all three kids with me. Ava Beth was on a pallet directly next to my bed, with a big blue bowl next to her in case she threw up again. Poor thing carried that bowl around with her every where she went yesterday. Then Ezekiel was in bed with me because I wanted him close by since he had a fever. I don't sleep well with kids in my bed and Ezekiel sleeps horrible unless he is in his crib. Josiah slept on a pallet at the foot of my bed. Needless to say but worth saying, I did not sleep very much at all last night.

Nothing can bring you down faster than a house full of sick kids and a night of no sleep. It's days like this that I have a hard time smiling and when one can't seem to find a smile, one is in desperate need of lifting. Something about my countenance that can make or break me. My Mom has always told me that my face always gives away what I am feeling. She has the amazing ability to put on a smile no matter what but, I struggle. My kids feel pretty bad already so seeing their Mama mope around isn't going to help. They need to see me happy. They need to see that I can find joy no matter what the circumstance is. Right now, I can teach them to be thankful even in the midst of trial.

So on a day like today, I decided to pull out my recipe book. Lord knows I need recipes right now for some joy, some contentment, some rest, some peace, and some strength. That's a five course meal right there! And since I don't have my Recipe Book memorized, I have to sometimes search for that perfect one to give me what I need. Recipes to fulfill that hunger!

I love because I can look at all the different translations. I usually read New King James Version or New Living Translation but I love The Message. Sometimes I need those verses to come alive and The Message translation makes it so simple that I can apply it to my own life. So here's what I found today to help me through the day!

My Five course meal

Psalm 43: Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God. (The Message)

Philippians 4:11 I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles (The Message)

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;They shall mount up with wings like eagles,They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.. (New King James)

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (New Living)

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

AND now I am pretty full! That's the best nourishment I've had all day.


  posted at 1:19 PM

Monday, May 28, 2007
My recipe book
One of my favorite things to do is cook and bake. I must have gotten this from my great-grandmother, MamMaw Ritter. Anytime I went to her house, she cooked something yummy. She never followed a recipe, she just KNEW how to make something taste good. I can still smell her little apartment at the retirement community. Her apartment always smelled of something delicious. My favorite smell was fried salmon patties, fried potatoes and fresh squash. The ultimate southern, comfort food! A friend of mine, Courtney, totally surprised me one day when I heard her talking about Salmon patties. I never knew that anyone else made them besides MamMaw Ritter. So Courtney encouraged me to add them to a menu I was making for the week. My mom reminded me of how MamMaw Ritter made her's so I copied and now make them for Jeremy and he loves 'em!

My bag of potatoes had gone bad so I couldn't do fried potatoes today. But I did do the squash and the salmon patties. I can remember my MamMaw saying, "Don't let the squash get gritty!" So I made sure not to let the squash get gritty and fried up some amazing salmon patties. My entire house now smells of grease but it was worth every splatter! While I was cooking them, I took notice that I don't use a recipe anymore. I know they need green onions, lemon juice, mayonnaise, bread crumbs or saltines, an egg, some cayenne and a dash of this and a dash of that! I know that I can add some garlic to give it that extra punch of flavor and I know to cook them for an extra 30 seconds to make sure they crunch! MamMaw cooked 'em her whole life and at thirty-one years old, I think mine are just as good! She would be proud of her Mandi.

Sometimes I miss my MamMaw Ritter so much that I can hardly stand it. I will never forget spending the day with her at her apartment one afternoon and her talking to me about the Bible. This was a woman that rode in a covered wagon when she was a little girl. She had lived through time periods that I can't even imagine and she endured times in her life that were very difficult. She experienced The Depression, World War I and World War II, the Vietnam War and even the Gulf War. Her faith was everything to her and she felt without it, she was nothing. So that afternoon sitting in her apartment, she told me that she read her Bible every, single day. That afternoon I was going through a very difficult time with my Dad who was in the midst of a horrible addiction, alcohol. I watched him try to kill himself, I watched him fall and get a concussion, I watched him walk in the door almost every night and pass out. Many nights I was so afraid and worried about him that I could not enjoy being a kid. While the other girls at school worried about cheerleading tryouts, I worried about my Dad and whether or not he would live to see another day. That afternoon at MamMaw's apartment, she knew I was sad and worried about my Dad. But I was afraid to let it show because I lived with him at the time and I was worried she would tell my Mom (her granddaughter). Then my Mom would force me to live with her. If I lived with her, who would take care of my Dad? But without me saying anything, MamMaw knew.

MamMaw knew that I had a relationship with Christ. She knew that I would understand what she was saying. So she told me that day to read my Bible and that I would find strength. The Bible was her recipe book. She may have cooked a hundred different dishes without a recipe card or recipe book but she didn't live life without seeing what the Bible had to say about her situations in life. She knew what the book said, she knew that she was important, special and loved. She knew, because she read it. It was there that she found out how to live her life, how to get by and how to not be afraid of life's heartaches. But most of all, she knew how to have joy!

I still have a Bible that I got in the 7th grade. That year was the hardest time I can remember as a kid. I failed the first year of 7th grade because my Dad never could get me to school and I hated leaving him alone. As a result, I failed the entire year. When I look at that Bible given to me in the 7th grade, I can't help but to cry. I see page after page, mostly in Psalms, where I highlighted and underlined so many verses that brought me comfort. But the thing about that Bible that sticks out the most is a huge patch on the back of it that is pretty roughed up. One night when my Dad was drunk, he threw it down the stairs at our apartment complex. In his pain, in his rage, he knew it would hurt me. A few months ago my Dad told me that he remembered that night and how it haunted him still to this day. It was then that I told my Dad to not worry about it anymore. "I love you and I know you were sick then. God has restored those years." I can't even begin to tell you how much I love that Bible. It was there for me when I needed it the most and I am thankful for it being thrown down those stairs because it reminds me of how much I clung to it back then as a child. If it wasn't for the pain I endured, I never would have needed it as much as I did. It truly became my recipe book.

When it comes to making salmon patties, banana pudding or anything else, I don't really need those recipe cards anymore. I've got those delicious things mastered. But when it comes to this life I am living and the pain that comes with it, I can't live without the Bible. It's always been a part of me and my heritage and the long line of Bible believing women in my family have taught me to keep it close by my side. Each day as a wife and as a mother, I lean on it more and more. Someday my Bible will be left behind. My loved ones will see the highlighted verses, the pen marks and the notes inside of it. It will be worn, torn, tattered and old but it will be a gift. And even now I pray that I can show them how life changing it really is. My recipe books will go to my granddaughters and they will get to make all the great dishes I made but more than anything I pray that they will get the recipe book that has made the biggest impact on my life, my Bible.

I love you MamMaw and I think of you everyday.

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  posted at 6:09 PM

Sunday, May 27, 2007
Not sure what I am doing
Right now I am thinking about a lot of stuff. I don't want to COMPROMISE who I am but at the same time, I want to be open to what the Lord is showing me. I have to make sure that any life changes I make is NOT to please other people. So you can pray for me, I need it. I have lots of burning questions that I thought I had resolved but now I realize that there is still so much I am not sure about. Time will tell and God will show me, I know He will! God is trying to show me something and I am just not totally sure what it is. Some of it is obvious but the rest is still a mystery. I look forward to talking to my friend Tiffany. She will help me through this, I know it and I trust her because I know she prays for me. I need to see the light right now so bad!!

I have tried to do things today and tonight to preoccupy my mind so I won't think about the struggle I am feeling but so far nothing is working. I need to get on my knees and cry out to God because He is the only one that can help me through this. My entire life I have struggled with people pleasing and right now if I make a decision to change my blog, change my attitude, change my way of thinking, it will only be to please people. I have to do it to please my Heavenly Father and no one else! I don't know if I am meant to do be doing what I am doing.

Anyway, I am going to bed and Jeremy is waiting on me so we can talk. Also, Ava Beth has 102 fever and just threw up! FUN!


  posted at 10:22 PM

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Hold on a second!
The past two years, there has been lots of change taking place in my life. For the most part, I think I have gotten better in many areas. I've made lots of changes about I how I think, how I feel and so on. But hold on second! You mean there is MORE I have to "get"? Dang it!

I grew up in church. I became a Christian when I was five years old and have pretty much lived the life since then. My entire life I have been surrounded by people just like me. Growing up in the church has now been something that is causing an issue for me. I'm realizing how much religion is inside of me and I would NEVER say that I am a religious person. While I am so thankful for my heritage and thankful for knowing Christ the way that I do, I have a lot of things that I need to get rid of.

Something I have always wanted to do is to get my nose pierced. The first time I thought about it was when I was twenty-two years old. I had a wild and crazy friend and we always had a blast together. We both sang at our church and both of us were knowing for pushing the boundaries a little. People looked at us at rebels but really we were just having fun with our hair and clothes. The Dixie Chicks had just come out and people used to tell us that we looked like them. So we got a kick out of being different. My friend told me I should do it! "Get your nose pierced! I will go with you!" But at the same time I was working at the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. My hair was shorter than it is now and the "go go" boot look with short skirts was a very popular thing to wear. The skirts I wore were not too short by any means but I pushed the line a lot. I remember walking into Monday morning chapel and getting mean, judgemental looks from the old Southern Baptist Women. Finally one day, after someone complained that I was not wearing panty hose and that my dress was too crazy for the Annuity Board, I quit! All morning I sat at my desk in my cubicle and could hear whispering going on. It wasn't paranoia, it was really happening. Then I began to hear them actually talk about me. The whispering ended. They said things about my hair, my clothes and my lack of respect for the Annuity Board. So, I got up, walked into my boss' office and quit. And the fact that I did not like him either, made it even more fun to quit. I will never forget what I said to Ken, the boss. "I am leaving and I will not be coming back. I have enough in my 401k to pay rent at my apartment for a few months and to pay for a few other bills. These women here are mean, vicious and I don't fit in. I'm not going to wear panty hose and I don't know if I want to go to a Southern Baptist Church (which was required)!" I think he was relieved because he did not like me either. There was no way they would send me to a state convention to tell them about insurance to all those SBC pastors! No way! I was not conservative looking enough and I KNOW they were relieved to see me go. I'm not quite sure what all those rigid old women talked about after I left, but it wasn't me. Actually I am sure it got pretty boring around there! I'm certain of it! But, I decided against the nose piercing because I felt like it would be wrong and that it would not be a "Christian" thing to do. HA!

The truth is, I have never fit in when it comes to the Christian circles. Unfortunately I think I am having a hard time fitting in with people searching for God or people that are finding God or whatever else. I've come across as "churchy" and as a "spiritual know it all" to some. Anyone that knows me, really knows me, knows how much fun I am and knows how down to earth I really am. If there is anything in me that is going to freak people out when it comes to Christianity, I've got to change and show others that I'm really just like them.

Because I KNOW God has called me here and because I KNOW God has great plans for my life and because I KNOW that the bigger picture is worth it all, I'm changing my blog again. The people that will not understand it will be "Christians". They will say I am compromising. They will say I am not being true to myself. You know why I know they will say that? Because that's what I would say. But I am trying to do away with that old time religion inside of me and it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Hold on a second! You mean to say that I've got to do some changing so I can reach people in my community? You mean how I am doing things right now is going to have to be refined? You mean some of my blogs and some of the things I say come across "churchy" and holier than thou? Oh my, oh my!

All day I have been processing this because everything I am about to do goes against everything I know. I have not done the nose piercing thing because I thought God couldn't use me to speak to women or lead worship if I looked like a punk rocker. I thought I needed to try a little to look like a Mom and appeal to my Christian circles. How can God use a girl with a tattoo?( Kelly Ann! :) How can he use a girl with a crazy haircut and a stud in her nose? Well, I am not sure but I have decided to push all that religion to the side and be free.

As soon as I find a place to get my nose pierced, I am going and I am taking my Pastor's wife with me! :) Because here, I am free. I can be me and so much more that I don't even know. Today I talked on the phone with Kyle/Pastor for almost two hours about all of this and I feel better about who I am. And I realize that I have been walking around under so much condemnation that I don't have to feel any longer!

The blog is going to change. In fact, I am working right now on something new. Something Beautiful will always be here, just like Far More Than Rubies. I won't take those blogs down. It's a part of me. But a brand new chapter is underway. Be prepared. I can handle the whispers, like the ones I heard at the SBC, it's worth it.


  posted at 1:48 PM

Friday, May 25, 2007
I almost forgot!
Beth Moore has a blog that I check every single day. I noticed an incredible prayer that she had posted and I was planning on sharing it with all of you but, I forgot. Today I visited another blog that talked about the prayer and I remembered that I still needed to share with all of my friends! So here it is! And I just read on Beth's blog that she will be writing a study on Esther! I cannot wait for that one. Wow.

Dearly loved one
You’ve been called by God
To shine like a star
In a dark, depraved world
Don’t blend in
Refuse the daily temptation
To be absorbed in yourself
Take interest in others
Deliberately humble yourself
And live the life of a servant
As you live in the crisis
Of “continue to”
Keep working out
What God is working in
Watch your mouth
Choose words of life
And one glorious day
You will see the face of Christ
And He will show you
Every good purpose
He fulfilled through you
And there will be delight
Even if you are despised or ignored
You are Christ’s star
Go forth and shine

This is something I have printed out and taped by my computer. I love this line. "Even if you are despised or ignored, you are Christ's star. Go forth and shine!" I cannot even begin to express how much that last line spoke to me. I hope you enjoy it, print and read it daily!

James 4 & 5 has been posted.


  posted at 6:33 PM

James 4 & 5
Before I move forward. I need to share something.

Before I moved to Austin, my blog was a safe place. I don't feel like it is as much anymore because everyone I am surrounded by here, reads my blog and some have gone back into the archives and read (which is great!). Those of you that have been reading my blog for the past two years, KNOW that I'm the same old Amanda. My convictions are the same, my challenges are the same. But, now I am way more on display than I used to be. It's hard. This is my online journal. People do and will form opinions based solely on what I write. I can't help that unless I quit blogging. But, at times, it's kind of hard. I am realizing that there wasn't much risk I was taking when we lived in Dallas. Life was pretty easy. :) I'm still the same old Amanda. Daily I am trying to see what the Lord has for me. Some will understand, some will not but I must press on to the person I am becoming and the person I have always been. So if you read this and you think I am weird, you are correct. If you read this and think I am "churchy", you are correct. Can't help it, my butt was in a pew my entire life every single Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Oh and I was at Tuesday night visitation in the church van too. I'm extremely black and white and if I had to chose a political party, I would say I'm pretty Republican. I love George W. but I also love the Dixie Chicks. People are offended by me often and on most days I struggle to like myself. But the most important thing I can be is myself. If I try to be anything different, I will not be fulfilling God's plan for my life. If you don't agree with things on this blog, it's okay. I don't agree with what the Dixie Chicks said about my President but I still like them. I don't agree with the war so much anymore but I still support George. So, please, please, please, whatever you do, give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm not as tough as I might appear, I am not as strong as you might think, so go easy on me.

1-2Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. (The Message)

I truly believe with every fiber of my being that most conflict we have with other people stems from conflict that comes from inside of us. I would go as far to say that 99% of the time this is true. This helps me when I am feeling someone elses wrath because I know to not take it personal but realize that they are dealing with their own stuff. The same goes for me and how I treat others.

4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)

Many times when God is working on us, a purging takes place. With that comes conviction and change. There have been many times in my life where I have no longer fit in due to the change taking place in my life. When I write a blog about GOSSIP, others may be tempted to exclude me or change the way they feel about me. And when we try to change our ways and be different and not so attached to the things of this world, people may think we are churchy, a freak or just plain weird. I'm okay with that. I really am. The pursuit of holiness is a tough road but I long to please Him. And yes, I long to please Him. I would much rather be a Jesus pleaser than a people pleaser! Lord knows I have struggled with that!

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

There is a lot to be said about this mound of scriptures but the slander thing sticks out to me the most. I think this is something that Christians justify so much. I'm not going to budge from this. We don't need to talk bad about people. Period. If you can't say anything nice, don't say it all. This is so hard because I still justify some of this. And what about our families? I have talked bad about my brother to my parents. Not recently (Are you reading this Josh?)! But, I have. I have said things about my husband's family to him. He has done the same about my family. The Lord really convicted me of this yesterday. It's slander. If I am saying anything that will change their opinion or make them think anything negatively, it's slander. And I hate, hate, hate talking about this because I know God is really showing me these things right now to change me. UGH! Just yesterday my Mom called to tell me something about a family member and before she could finish, i went off. I've been holding a grudge against this person and I just decided to let my mom know all about it. Instantly after hanging up, I felt convicted. My Mom has a relationship with this person and it was wrong for me to go off. NO, it wasn't my brother! :)

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

Verse 17 is one I know well. How many times have I ignored something that I knew I was supposed to do? UGH! This is when I take another long sigh and think that the book of James is just bruising up my toes in a big way. Honestly I am not having fun in this book AT ALL. Instead, I am feeling extremely convicted and when I feel convicted I feel depressed. There is so much change that needs to take place in my life. Shoot!

7Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. 9Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door

Grumbling for me is something that goes on internally. That is how I interpret this scripture. How many times do we sit back and grumble about people in our lives, especially our spouse? I do it all the time. And I feel that when I am grumbling about someone that they can actually FEEL it. Things go on in the spiritual realm that we may never understand but I truly believe that when we talk about others or grumble about them, they feel it. Being patient with one another is the greatest expression of love we can show, at least it is for me. If someone is patient with me and allows me to screw up, I know they love me. Now I have to do the same with others AND myself!

12Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.

It's either yes or no. My youth pastor told the youth group this all the time. It stuck with me. I can't really interpret this verse for anyone but myself. I know where I need this to be active in my life.

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

We should always be praying, always conversating with the Lord. The biggest lesson for me to learn is to praise him not only in the good but in the bad!

16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

I think this is where accountability is so important. Plus it is so nice to have someone carry a burden with you and pray for you. There is definitely power in prayer just like scripture says!

17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins

And the only way we are going to be able to turn people from death is by living a life that makes a difference.

Well, there you have it! There's James! Tomorrow morning I meet with my LTG group for coffee and we will choose another book in the Bible to read. Be praying that we choose the right one and join me again if you would like. You all inspire me so much and I love getting your emails. They bless me beyond measure.

Love you!


  posted at 5:37 PM

Thursday, May 24, 2007
O Praise Him (All This For A King)

I have ALL of David Crowder's music on my iPod and in the car!

There is a reason why I love this song so much and a reason why I love the video even more. Why? Well, I will tell you in just a minute.

I thought of this song tonight after a long conversation on the phone with a friend. Lately we have had some pretty deep conversations about the Bible, worship, lifestyle and so much more. I really enjoy our talks because it makes me really think about things. She asked me a question about something that has really had me thinking. I am praying that how I answered her made sense. No, I am not going to tell you what the question was. :) Anyway, I thought of this song because I truly want to reflect Jesus in all that I do. I REALLY do. Unfortunately, I don't. I fall short just about every single day and always will. But I pray that how I live my life will be an inspiration to others. I pray that people will know what I stand for and understand who I am. At times I may look like a fool but I truly hope I can be this guy in the video singing at the top of his lungs, in the middle of the city and not give a flip if anyone thinks I am crazy or not. Hopefully, I will at least be on key! But if not, oh well.

If you watch the video you will see what I am talking about. It's funny because I am notorious for walking around the house with my iPod on and singing to the top of my lungs. It's one of my favorite things to do and the kids don't seem to mind it! So I kind of see myself in this video. God is busy, busy in my life right now and I am loving what He is teaching me. The benefits of Him are endless.

Lord Jesus, make me a minister. Father, help me to show you in all that I do.

Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.[a]
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b]
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
5 Foreigners will be your servants.
They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
and tend your vineyards.
6 You will be called priests of the Lord,
ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
and boast in their riches.
7 Instead of shame and dishonor,
you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.

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  posted at 11:28 PM

Well, I really don't have James 4 soaked up right now. I am going to try my hardest to get some time alone tonight or in the morning to try James 4 all over again. If you have already read James 4, do me a favor and read it again with me. How about that?

I have had kind of a slow/sleepy/sad day. My friend Kelly Ann had her baby today and I was not there. I had planned on going to Dallas to be there but it didn't work out that way. I talked to her this morning before she went to the hospital and I cried like a baby on the phone with her. I did get to pray with her and that made me feel a whole lot better. We have been through so much together since the 8th grade and she was there when Ezekiel was born. Obviously I was very sad to not be there but baby Shaefer Ann is doing great and so is Mommy!

Last night was the AI finale party and my best friend Rebecca, surprised me by driving in from Dallas to be here. I had NO idea! She called Kyle/my pastor to get directions and they knew all day she was coming but I had no clue. It was great seeing her and gosh I miss her soooooo much!

Chillin' at home tonight while Jeremy is at book club/bible study. Tomorrow begins a long weekend and a big BBQ at Gina's. Excited to spend time this weekend with friends just hanging out and having some fun!

Let's do James 4 tomorrow!

love y'all!


  posted at 7:05 PM

blogger/gmail/google trouble
I will be posting thoughts on James 4 later today but I just thought I would let some of you know that I cannot read your blog without loosing my password. Something is going crazy right now in the world of blogging/gmail/google. It is driving me crazy! So if I usually read your blog and comment but you notice I have disappeared, just know I can't read it without loosing my password and trying to log back in at LEAST ten times before I can access blogger. And for a blogging addict, that makes blogging kind of difficult. With three kids, I don't have time to log in that many times. This morning I tried fifteen times before it would work and it only happens when I view certain blogs and my pastor happens to be one of those. Ha! I have to load his page about five times before I can even get it to come up. Weird! Then there is another blog that I view and afterwards, I lose my password. Every single time. UGH!

Not sure if anyone else is having this problem but ever since blogger changed, it's been wacky. Yes, there are great things we can do with blogger now and I love the fact that it has draft auto save (love that) but it still does some pretty annoying things. But, hey! It's FREE!

Just an FYI!


  posted at 10:06 AM

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
American Idol finale party
Right now I am finishing up a few last minute things for tonight's party at my house and spiking my hair up extra high in honor of Blake! I can't wait to see him rock the house tonight! Jordin is so sweet and so good too, if she wins I will be happy for her. There is nothing I can find bad about her and there is nothing I can find bad about Blake. But I voted for Blake last night over and over again! His voice is perfect for top 40, perfect and the dude has some major talent. He's different and that's why I think he will win!

Can you believe their is a red carpet pre-show on the tv guide channel right now? And there is a pre-show at 6:30 on Fox. I have heard there will be some awesome surprises and I can't wait!

Rock on Blake!

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  posted at 5:32 PM

James 3
WARNING: No one will like this post!

Chapter three is my favorite chapter in the book of James. It hits home with me because I think it's the area where God convicts me the most. Women are known for being talkers. My husband has heard me on the phone before talking to someone and after hanging up, he has busted me. "Babe, how would you feel if someone was talking about you like that?" Then I try to justify by saying, "I am not saying anything bad. I am just trying to explain the situation to someone that will understand." But, here's the cold, hard, facts. It's wrong, it destroys, it damages, it makes you look bad. And if someone is talking/"discussing" something with you about another person, rest assured, they will do the same about you behind your back. Another justification we make is this. "Well, I am just talking about it with my friend because maybe the can help me work through it." In my opinion, that's the worst kind of gossip.

A few years ago I was in a horrible position. I had two friends that did not like one another at all. Both of them talked bad about each other to me. I should have stopped it. I should have said, "Should you be saying this to me?" But, I didn't. Instead, I sometimes joined in and talked about both of them. When this goes on, we plant seeds in the other person's mind that may not have been there until we opened up our big mouth. Ugh! I hate even writing about this because things come to my mind INSTANTLY and I feel convicted. The problem with the situation a few years ago was we were all a part of the same circle. If someone had a problem with another lady, they should have talked to someone that is totally on the outside. A friend that does not even KNOW the other person. Further more, maybe it should not be talked about AT ALL. What if we got on our knees every single time someone did something we didn't like instead of picking up the phone to tell our friends? For example, I am in a group of women right now that is pretty small. There are four girls that I come in contact with on a regular basis. A few of them I talk to almost every day and see every other. If one of them does something to hurt my feelings or if there is something I do not understand or like about them, it would be WRONG for me to call up one of the other girls and tell them about it. And if one of them calls and decides to tell me about their hurt feelings over something, I need to say "Stop. Don't tell me." This is the biggest threat to groups and it can destroy friendships and damage what God is trying to accomplish in our lives. Did you get that? Our words about others can HINDER what God is doing in their lives. That is HUGE!

As I read this passage this morning, I felt convicted of some of my behavior in the past. I have not been a part of a close knit group of women in a long time. I know how miserable it is to be a part of a group where gossip goes on and I know what it is like to be a major contributor to that sort of environment. I also know what it feels like to be talked about. There is nothing that hurts more than someones words. Physical pain is easier to deal with in my opinion. Much easier!

Several years ago I was a children's pastor at a very small church. That's weird to think about now because that is so not my gift. Anyway, I did an object lesson one Sunday that so many of you are probably familiar with. I took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed the entire tube into a bowl and then ask the kids to help me get all of the toothpaste back into the tube. You can imagine their responses. "Miss Mandi, you can't do that! It's impossible!" And they were absolutely correct. It's impossible!! The toothpaste is exactly like our words. You can clean up the toothpaste, just like you can ask for forgiveness for saying ugly things but ,you cannot take those words back. It's impossible!!

Luke 12:2 says this. "Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops. "

This morning at 4am, Ezekiel woke up. He is teething so his nights have been a little rough lately and mine too. But it's also been good for my prayer time. I knew what James 3 was about this morning so I began to pray about it and I thought of a dear friend in my life, Janna. She will hate me putting her on display like this but the Holy Spirit brought her to my mind. I have known Janna since 8th grade and I can honestly say that I have NEVER heard her gossip and I have NEVER heard anyone gossip about her. She is the only person I have ever known that I can say that about. And that is the kind of woman I long to be. I feel that God has called me to minister primarily to women and that means I have to love them instead of talk about them.

Chapter three was not the most FUN chapter to read but it is the one that has the most impact on me. I am praying that God will convict me of my words and that I will become instantly aware of things I DO NOT need to say. There is NOTHING good that comes from it. Even if it's about people in the past, people you no longer know, talking about them is wrong. I've been guilty over and over again and I no longer wish to be that kind of woman. I'm not here to make you feel guilty but if the shoe fits, it may be time to take that shoe off! I am praying that others will say, "Amanda loves people and I never hear her say bad things about other people."

And one more thing! I am so proud to be a part of a group of young women that are constantly seeking godliness. I am praying for protection over our group and I know that God has called us to be different. I am happy to be doing life with all of you.

1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

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  posted at 10:46 AM

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I am one night behind in watching Heroes. After AI, which I cried during, we watched Heroes. Since we are reading Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus in our book club, (some of the Heroes go to Erwin's church in L.A.) I felt like the last part was written by Erwin himself. His book is all about the last line. (Thanks Gina for writing it all out. I had to copy. I was thinking how I wanted to write it all down or find it on the web but I saw that you had it on your blog.)

"We all dream of hope, change, fire, life and death...the need to solve life's mysteries shows itself like a glowing light of a new dawn....There is so much struggle for meaning, purpose, and in the end we find it only in each other, our shared experience of the fantastic. The simple human need to find a kindred spirit and connect and know in our hearts that we are not alone."

That has to be the most powerful line I have heard in a TV show and it makes so much since regarding our church and what God is doing in and through our group at RC. Gina blogged about it but I did not read her blog until after watching Heroes because I did not want to know what happened. But, I knew as soon as I heard the last line that Gina had to have blogged about the last line. She "gets" it and because she "gets" it, I "get" it and others will continue to "get" it as we show them what Jesus is all about. I truly believe that our purpose in life is to show others what it means and what it feels like to be loved. Christ is loving others through us and He is loving us through others.

All of that from a show called Heroes? Yes. You won't want to miss next season. Peter Petrelli is the man!

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  posted at 9:42 PM

The brothers and the sister
(A post for the grandparents! I know they miss the babies so much!)

Ava Beth brings so much joy to my life! All three of my kids do, of course. But having a daughter has got to be the most incredible experience for a Mom. She has brought so much healing to my life. Through her I am getting to experience being a little girl all over again. She's going to be one talented little girl and I can only imagine what she will be like when she is a teenager. Yikes! Two things are for sure. She will be a leader and she will be beautiful.

I was in the kitchen cooking and walked into the living room to check on the kids. Ezekiel was in the bumbo so i wanted to make sure he was okay. When I walked in, I saw Josiah with his arm wrapped around his baby brother so I ran upstairs to get the camera! Excuse the slobber on baby Zekee! He's teething! :)

Now if I could just find Josiah and Ava Beth like this instead of fighting! It's been a rough couple of days in the world of parenting but at the end of the day, I know I have the best career and life in the whole world! Thank you Lord for these kids! Josiah, Ava Beth, Ezekiel, you bless me beyond measure. Thanks for always being patient with me and loving me exactly like I am. Mama loves you.

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  posted at 3:51 PM

James 2
(I won't always do this when I read. But right now writing out what God is revealing to me with each verse is what helps me get into the habit. I did this with the book of John last year and the book of John came alive to me in so many ways. And remember that this is what God is showing me in my own life. When you read this passage, you may get something totally different. I hope you do.)

1-4My dear friends, don't let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, "Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!" and either ignore the street person or say, "Better sit here in the back row," haven't you segregated God's children and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted? (The Message)

Face it. We live in a world that concentrates a lot on physical appearance and possessions. From clothing to weight. From housing to cars. Our society really struggles to follow the rule, "Don't judge a book by it's cover", because we do. I do believe that there are times in life where image truly matters. No matter how hard we try, you just can't get away from it. I will say that image and how we dress definitely matters. But, this is something that our world AND our churches have taken to the extreme.

5-7Listen, dear friends. Isn't it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world's down-and-out as the kingdom's first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn't it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren't they the ones who scorn the new name—"Christian"—used in your baptisms? (The Message)

The revelation I get from these verses may be different for you, I am sure it is. But these verses spoke to me in regards to my past. For some crazy reason, there are Christians out there that truly believe that God cannot use them to do great things because of their past. I know it's been said of me. Some have thought that my childhood would always hinder me from being in a position of leadership. Yes, I got junk in the trunk but we all do. Don't we? So when I read this verse and see that God chose the world's down and out, that gives me hope and it shows me again how thankful I need to be from WHERE I came from. I am so thankful for a youth pastor that saw something and me and took time to show me that God created me for something much bigger than myself.

8-11You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: "Love others as you love yourself." But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others. The same God who said, "Don't commit adultery," also said, "Don't murder." If you don't commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you're a murderer, period. (The Message)

We are pros at picking and choosing our sin. I hear Christians say a lot, "Well, it's your own conviction but it may not be someone else." True. But, I think we walk this line dangerously. When we choose to follow Christ and we learn His ways, there are some non-negotiables. Murder, Adultery, lying, those are three things that can't be justified. There are many, many other things that do not belong in the life of a Christ follower. But, I believe this is where the Holy Spirit comes in and shows us what it is in our life that we need to say goodbye to. And this is where we need to keep our mouth shut and not cast judgment on others but allow God to have His way. We have enough sin in our own life, why go pointing it out in the lives of our friends and family?! Sin is sin and if we have a relationship with Christ, He will show us what doesn't belong in our lives. We may fight it and struggle to give it up, but deep down I think we know.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (New Living Translation)

Honestly, this is something I really struggle with. I have empathy but I struggle to have mercy. I am praying about this in my life right now. If others are going to show me mercy, I need to be able to do the same. Where would I be without the mercy of Christ?

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (NIV)

I remember being pregnant with Josiah and having a certain day where I did not feel him kick. I prayed and I truly felt like the Lord was saying, "Do not worry. There is strong life inside your womb." This day is one I will never forget because I had a lump in my throat all day long. I was only about 23 weeks along and now that I have had three, I know that it is totally normal for babies inside the womb to have days where they are not as active. On my drive home, I pushed on my tummy over and over again trying to get him to kick. When I got home, I called my Mom and she said this. "You know why you are so worked up? You know why you are so panicked? Because you are sinning! You have been sinning all day long by worrying. Nothing is wrong with that baby. He's fine!" We hung up the phone and I laid down on the bed to sleep until Jeremy got home from work. I remember I had Oprah on. Just as I was about to doze off, Josiah kicked and moved a lot. For some reason this sticks out to me as a time that my faith was without works. I knew deep down that the Lord had spoke to me and told me everything was fine. He gave me a gift that day by speaking to me and telling me not to worry. I had an opportunity to walk in faith and my deed would have been to put a smile on my face and not worry. I chose differently. My faith required action that day. Our faith always requires action. The Bible says so.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (NIV)

I have not met very many people in my life that don't believe in God. Just about everyone believes in God. As to what that God looks like, I am not sure. I hear politicians, celebrities and many others say they believe in God. It's not enough to just believe. I believe a lot of things in my life but without action, my belief is pretty useless. Now I won't even begin to compare myself to Abraham. But our move to Austin was a moment in our lives where we had to take action. We knew that God had told us to come here so we had to make a choice right then and there to take action. Sometimes people make the mistake of sitting around waiting on something or someone to come along and change their lief or change their path. Faith requires us to get up, get moving and move in the direction God is calling us in. As soon as we felt the call to move, we started looking for a job for Jeremy. We came down here to visit so we could find a home. I truly feel with all of my heart that because we got active and stepped out in faith, God rewarded us and blessed us with a job, a home and a smooth transition. Sure, it's been hard but it really has been awesome too.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

God will always give us an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is.

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  posted at 12:06 PM

Monday, May 21, 2007
James chapter 1
Where do I begin? James 1 is exactly what I needed today and just reading it reminds me of how much I need to be fueled by God's word. I really like to think of it as a power source. Just as a light plugs into the wall, I need to plug into His word. This morning I sent out an email to my LTG girls asking them how I can specifically pray for them and also asking them to pray for me about some things too. It felt good releasing it and confessing what I am struggling with. So if any of you out there need someone to pray for you and your not quite sure how or who to ask, send me an email. I tend to get way more emails from a lot of you than comments and I love that because I get to see a part of your heart that I might not see in a comment posted on my blog. Lurkers, email me! :)

I've read James a lot. I remember my youth pastor telling me to read James once when I was teenager. I know when to go to James because I know how it will help me. But the interesting thing is this. When I read James, something new is going on in my life. A new struggle, a new challenge, a new trial. I've heard it said many times that if you aren't in a trial, if you haven't just finished a trial, you will soon be in one. That may cause some fear for some of us to look at it that way but it's true. But the great thing about trials is what it produces. James1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing Our faith cannot grow without trials, it's impossible.

Last week I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone and I told her that I was in the midst of being uncomfortable. But I also told her that I knew what God was doing. I know that the struggles I am facing right now are producing some pretty great things in me. If you go back and read some of my entries in FAR MORE THAN RUBIES, you will read a lot about my childhood and the struggles I faced. Honestly, I would not change my past for one second. It's my past that has produced a strong, Godly woman. It's my past that has shown me how much I have to depend on God and it has taught me to do so as soon as things get crazy. It's my past that has taught me to go into my closet, turn out the lights and cry as hard as I want to, for I know the Holy Spirit will comfort me. My Mom has always told me that there is a cost for our anointing and now I really know what she means by that. Our trials are a gift. Think about that for a second. The pain you are enduring right now is a gift.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. I am struggling beyond measure right now with my parenting. Right now all three kids are sleeping and I have to be honest with you. I am very upset with two out of three right now. Josiah and Ava Beth seem to be fighting all the time. Their closeness in age is a blessing but also extremely difficult. Both of them have been throwing fits, bad fits. Consistency is key but sometimes it doesn't work either. For the first time in my parenting, I have hit rock bottom. I am frustrated beyond what I ever imagined I could be. Having three is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. This week I am really trying to work on some things in this house and really pray for guidance. Too often I feel like I am wingin' it. I printed out some scriptures to meditate on for my parenting and James 1:5-6 is one of them. I want to choose the best plan of action with my children. I want to make sure I am disciplining exactly how God wants me to. I don't want to yell. I want to handle it God's way. The only thing I can do is ask. So this week I am going to ask boldly and I am going to BELIEVE that God is going to help me.

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. I used to struggle with a spirit of vanity big time. Sometimes I still do. When I was twenty-five years old and engaged, I suffered from severe adult acne. After trying everything ever created for acne, the dermatologist placed me on acutane. No doubt, it was a miracle drug. Unfortunately I have some scaring on my face. Most people don't know it is there but I do. It's a huge insecurity of mine. I also have large pores. I hate pictures of myself that are in color because I feel like I can see all of my pores. There are times when I struggle with this a lot and usually it's because I am around women that are obsessed with their looks or I am spending too much time in the flesh worried about stupid stuff. If I was singing on a Sunday, I would go buy a new outfit to wear to church on Sunday. It was so ridiculous that I would not wear the same thing twice. No other word can describe it better than vanity. Some change took place in my life when we moved from Little Elm/Frisco back to the mid-cities. God got me alone and really convicted me of vanity. I still love to dress hip and trendy but the Holy Spirit instantly convicts me when it becomes a god in my life. My obsession with having new clothes and new shoes and new accessories was not healthy. Really I was just filling up my life with the wrong thing. I over compensated for what was really going on. I grew up with a Mom and a grandmother and a great grandmother that had matching handbags and shoes for every single outfit. I come from a long line of clothes/shoe loving women. I am proud of my heritage and proud that my mom taught me to look my best even when going to buy groceries. Texas women usually get made fun of for this kind of stuff but I kind of like it. My mom gives me a hard time if she sees me wearing sandals with chipped polish. :) I feel better when I get fixed up, I really do. But I know in my heart when I have crossed the line. I will continue to struggle and I will continue searching for the balance in this but reading this verse in James reminds me of what is important. All of the surface stuff will fade away. Our clothes, our shoes, our cars and our accessories will mean nothing when we get to Heaven.

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c] and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. My flesh is a pretty powerful source. Too often my flesh has it's way in my life. It's loud, it's dominating, it's pushy and if I am not careful, it will have it's way in my life. This morning I prayed that the Lord would show me every single time I am doing something in the flesh. I pray that I can become so aware of it that I rebuke it. I pray that any sin in my life will die so that it will not be able to give birth. Sin seems to be waiting to manifest in our lives on a daily basis.

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. Lord, please help me to be a better listener. May I learn to respond instead of react. People cannot see Jesus in me when I react. But this is an area where I see the most growth in my life.

21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. Reading this verse reminds me that I need to take inventory. There are things in my life that I KNOW I need to get rid of or not associate with. I justify it too much and even my fellow Christians will justify it. But Father I know what needs to go. I know the things in my life that do NOT match up with the woman you have called me to be. Show me, remind me of what doesn't fit so that I may make room for your blessings.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. The only thing I can say is ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!! This one hurts! How often do I do the opposite of what I KNOW to be true. The BIBLE talks about not gossiping, have I gossiped? The Bible tells me not to worry, have I worried? So much I know I am supposed to do and I don't do it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. There is an old contemporary Christian song from a band called Degarmo and Key, "Casual Christian." Well, I have a few friends that are new to Christianity and to hear them talk about what they thought of Christians before they became one is pretty sobering. And then I think of a DC Talk song that has a voice at the beginning of the song, What If I Stumble that says, "The Greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and then on by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

There you have it! I really enjoyed James, Chapter one today. I am praying that my spirit can truly soak up all the stuff in there that I need to digest. God is doing a new thing in my life once again and I am excited to see what He does with me!


  posted at 1:28 PM

The book of James
This week I am starting something new in my life with Resonate Community. I am going to be a part of a Life Transformation Group (LTG groups). It's me and two other gals, Cindy and Ruth. I couldn't be happier to have these two girls in my life! We are starting in the book of James and we will meet once every other week to talk about what we have read and to also pray for one another. This morning I woke up with Cindy and Ruth heavy on my heart. I am excited to see miracles take place in their lives and I get to be a part of it by praying for them. I truly believe that the three of us will experience God in an incredible way.

Matthew 18:19-20 Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

Ecclesiastes4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up.But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I think a good start is important when you commit to doing something daily. We are committed to reading the Word daily. We will not finish a book in the bible or move on to something new until all three of us have finished. So if one falls behind, we read with them, even if we have already read it. Cindy suggested the book of James and I think that is a perfect way to start. The book of James is something I always read when I am facing trials or change and what a perfect way to start. It's a short book but I look forward to reading one chapter a day and praying that God will open my eyes to the verses in a brand new way. I'm praying for revelation in my own life and for my friends.

This morning I really prayed that God would bring these ladies to mind constantly. I want to stand in the gap for them and pray for their husbands and children. And I hope they do the same for me. I can't do this alone so having them by my side will sure help in my daily walk.

So if you are struggling with your daily Bible reading and need a little more encouragement or accountability, you can come here daily. I will be talking about the book of James for the next five days. It's a short book so we have decided to read one chapter a day. Not sure what we will read next but I am excited about starting here.

Join us if you would like! I did this last year with the book of John through my blog and it was incredible! So come along if you need to get in the habit of reading the word daily. You will be amazed at the strength that comes your way by making the Word of God a part of your daily routine.

I'll be back later to post some thoughts on James, chapter one.

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  posted at 9:12 AM

Sunday, May 20, 2007
Ava Beth, my biggest fan!
This past week I was asked to come back and sing at Mitch's church again. Mitch is Kyle's coach and he also does our CPD stuff for church planting. Anyway, I said yes (of course) and so the whole clan headed to Mitch's church this morning. It was great to sing and look out at the end of my song and find my friends sitting all together watching me/supporting me. Kyle is pretty easy to find in the crowd. He's tall and kind of Rob Bellish looking. :)Anyway, I could not find them during my entire song until the end. As I am singing, my eyes are searching in the audience for the RC clan and I could not find them anywhere, not even Kyle. Not even Jeremy! Finally during the last part of the chorus, I spot all of them. I felt better and was so happy to have my RC family there with me.

But the highlight was during rehearsal. There was drama that my song went with and so I had to practice it a few times for the sake of the girl acting in the drama. Jeremy and the kids came early with me and sat in the audience listening. There was a handful of people. Mostly technical and volunteers setting up. The first time I sang through it, I hear Ava Beth yell at the top of her lungs, "Yeah Mommy!" And she clapped forever. Thankfully she did not did not make the dog pound noise like she does while watching American Idol! Then I sing it again and the entire time I am singing, I can hear her over the music and over my voice, yelling! "Mommy! There's Mommy Siah (this is what she calls Josiah)! Siah, do you see Mommy?!" The song ends and again with the clapping but this time she melts me, totally melts me! "Mommy, good singing. Good job Mommy! Yeah!!" Of course everyone thought she was a doll and she made me feel like a million bucks with her cheers. Then the worship pastor asks me to sing it one more time. So I sing it again! Finally, I am done and Ava Beth screams even louder, "GOOD JOB MOMMY!! GOOD JOB SINGING!!!" Thankfully Ava Beth was in Children's church during the real performance or I am afraid she would have stolen the show with her applause for mommy!

And I look forward to being there someday in the audience when she is singing or dancing or whatever else and doing the same for her. The applause of my children has got to be the greatest applause I have ever received. Oh I love them so much! So much!

Thank you Ava Beth. You made mommy feel so good. I love you tons and tons and I am so glad that you are just like me! Well, sometimes. :)

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  posted at 10:20 PM

Thursday, May 17, 2007
Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest is a life changing book. I remember reading it in High School and getting so much out of it for my daily life. Unfortunately I can't seem to find my book anywhere. So I go to the website from time to time and read the entries online. This week I have not read it at all. But tonight, my sweet friend in Canada, sent me a link for tomorrow's entry. It gave me goose bumps and I know that she did not send it to me by mistake or just because. This entry was meant for me and maybe it's meant for you too. The more I fall in love with Jesus, the more and more I hate this flesh of mine and the more I realize how much it is all about HIM and nothing about me.


Click the link to read Living Simply— Yet Focused.


  posted at 10:50 PM

decided to change this post and remove me from it
One of my favorite verses that reminds me that HE is creating something beautiful! But, I got to stay the heck out of His way so He can do it!

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3


  posted at 2:54 PM

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Calling all BLAKER GIRLS!!!
Okay, so let me brag on my incredible talent of KNOWING from day ONE who will be the final two. I have said from day one, Jordin and Blake! And guess what? I was right! And I have always said that he sounds like Maroon 5 and last night the producers chose a Maroon 5 song for him to sing. HA!

Now, here's the deal. For all of you that have Tivo. When your phone rings as soon as American Idol is over and you have yet to watch the show, you need to answer the phone by saying this. "I haven't watched it yet! DON'T TELL ME!" Do I make myself clear, KYLE? Sorry, but you knew Blake wasn't going anywhere!

So here's a shout out to all the RC folks! Finale party at my house next week! Gina and I will be wearing our Blake t-shirts. Okay Chris??! I'm thinking I will make a HUGE batch of tortilla soup and everyone else can bring whatever!


(I will be fine with Jordin winning too but I still think Blake will win!)

P.S. Kyle, all Lost fans know that Charlie is a dead man anyway! So there! :)


  posted at 9:45 PM


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!

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