27 November 2007

China-Free Shopping

Is anyone else having a tough time shopping for Christmas gifts NOT made in China???

This is driving me nuts!

Nothing is safe it seems...

On the other hand, this is the perfect excuse to get creative with my Christmas shopping. I have come up with several "non-traditional" gifts for my kids this year. Of course, I can't list them here because my older kids read my blog. LOL!

Someone was telling me that Target had a HUGE ad in last week's pre-"Black Friday" sales flier promoting:

Ummm... guess someone didn't get that memo.

Hopefully, everyone reading this knows about the horrible discovery regarding the popular toy, "Aqua Dots," but if not, you can read it here: AQUA DOTS RECALL

Makes you wonder if the Target employee responsible for that ad going out is looking for a new job right about now, doesn't it?

22 November 2007


I am SO blessed!
I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is wonderful & may the Lord bless you and your family in abundance!
Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November 2007

Compassion International

At the Hillsong United concert Tuesday night, Brian Houston announced that Hillsong was formally partnering with Compassion International
This is a reputable, Christian organization that operates as a child advocacy ministry. From their website:

"Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, physical, economic and social poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean war orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 900,000 children in 24 countries."

Simply giving up pizza once or twice a month will more than pay for some child to have enough food to eat and provide them with clothing, shelter, and education. Seems like a pretty good deal to me!

Cool story:
Our oldest daughter's name is Nadia, our middle daughter is Natasha, and our youngest is Raisha. We chose the spelling of Raisha's name (since we weren't going with another 'N' name) based on the letters in our two older girls' names. The vowel sequence of A, I, A (from Nadia) and the ending of S, H, A (from Natasha).
When I went to the Compassion table to pick out a child for us to "adopt," I couldn't decide! There were SO many sweet faces of children from all over the world! I thought, "OK, God, show me which one..."
Just then I looked down and saw a sweet little girl in a bright blue dress.
Her name?
I'm not making this up! How cool is that?!
She is 7 years old and she lives in Tanzania.
I think this is a wonderful opportunity that any family can do with a bit of sacrifice... and it's such a good cause. Check them out: Compassion International

15 November 2007

From The Inside Out

My favorite Hillsong United song (video below)
LISTEN to the words:

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again,
Still I'm caught in Your grace.
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame.

In my heart and my soul,
I give You control
Consume me from the inside, out, Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
to love You from the inside, out.

Your will above all else
my purpose remains,
the art of losing myself in bringing You praise.
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame.

In my heart and my soul,
I give You control
Consume me from the inside, out, Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
to love You from the inside, out.

From the inside out, oh my soul cries out.

(segues into:)
In my life, be lifted high.
In our world, be lifted high.
In our love, be lifted high.

No matter how many times we let Him down or think we have failed, He is always willing to forgive and will draw near to us.
We need only to ask.

14 November 2007


I have strep throat and bronchitis. Oh, and my asthma is stirred up thanks to the bronchitis.

Just FYI.
I'll try to post something interesting soon...

11 November 2007

Planting a Seed...

Our Church held their annual MIRACLE OFFERING this morning and it was amazing. This was an offering for our future building and for our new church in Swaziland, Africa. I consider it to be a privilege to be a small part of something so big.
I just feel like God is about to do some pretty awesome things in our church and that we are on the verge of something huge. I can't explain it, but there is a sense of excitement and anticipation that you can't quite put your finger on...

Our church is a church who puts their money and actions where their mouth is. I never wonder where the money goes; I often wonder where it all comes from! HPC has got to be one of the most GIVING churches I have ever been a part of -- reaching out to the widowed, the orphaned, the homeless, the poor, the abused, the addicted, the unwanted. There's not a need that we aren't trying to find SOME way to fill. At times, I truly wonder how it's all even possible.

I am a firm believer in tithing (giving 10% back to the church), but today was an offering.
An offering is anything you give to the church over and above your tithe.
You see a tithe is not an option; it's a command. But it's a command that SO many people ignore or put last in their list of priorities.

I know that for years Clay and I believed that we did not have the money to tithe.
I rationalized not tithing with our need to pay the bills each month. You see, I thought that if I tithed, there would not be enough money at the end of the month. How could I possibly give 10% of our income when we had so many bills???
The funny thing is, after years of this kind of rationalization, we found ourselves deep in debt.
Yep. Even with keeping the money in my pocket, there was never enough money to cover our needs and wants and we kept putting more and more on credit cards.
My logic was so twisted that when I would have a flat tire or need a plumbing repair, I would think, "Wow, it's a good thing that I didn't put that money in the plate last week or I wouldn't have had enough to pay for this."
How messed up is that??

Two years ago, Clay and I were out walking on our street with our children. We had been going to Healing Place off and on for over a year and had made the decision (a couple months' prior) to become full-fledged members. While walking we started talking about tithing and how we both felt like we needed to do it on a regular basis (we had tithed off and on in the past, but not faithfully).
This was not an easy decision.
Despite Clay's position and income, we had gotten ourselves so deep in debt that our mounting bills made tithing seem illogical.
Interestingly, we had both been feeling the need to begin tithing again so we made a firm agreement, right then and there, to start that week.
a car came speeding into our street going insanely fast. My middle daughter, Natasha (who was 8 at the time) was on her bicycle in the middle of the road. Clay was carrying our 16 month old, Raisha, and Nadia was walking beside us.
As the car whipped around the cul-de-sac in front of our house, my only thought was
"He's going to hit Natasha! She'll never be able to get out of the way in time!"
I ran in front of his car waving my arms for him to stop.
The sharp curve forced him to hit the brakes and he came to a stop in front of me.
I put my hands on the hood of his car and looked right into his eyes. I started to make my way (with my hands still on his car) around to the passenger side to tell him to slow down, but the driver, sensing his opportunity, hit the gas.
The side of the car grabbed my body and pulled me to the ground and before I could roll out of the way, his right, rear tire had run over my leg.
Miraculously, not a bone was broken. The doctors were amazed.
I was so thankful to God that no one had been seriously hurt, but I have to tell you,
I was MAD.
This hit-and-run assault brought decades of repressed anger and depression to a hilt.
Years of pain and frustration (from my childhood), that I had kept pushed down for so long, bubbled to the surface. I don't fully understand why this experience was so cathartic, but it was. Thus began a long and painful journey for me. I sought solace in my Bible and in prayer because when you feel like that, there's not much else you CAN do. In my desperate prayers to God, a healing began to take place...

Despite my swinging pendulum of emotions (my poor family!), our decision to give back to God had not wavered.
Indeed, I saw this "attack" by the enemy as resounding proof that I was doing something very "dangerous" to the enemy through my obedience to God.
The next year for us was NOT fun.
Hurricane Katrina hit our state, followed by Hurricane Rita and everything was in turmoil. Due to the huge loss in our state, some of our credit card companies TRIPLED our interest rate (no, I'm not exaggerating; I have proof!) -- even though we had always paid on time before.
Our bills were mounting and there didn't seem to be any way out.
But still we tithed.

That was 2 years ago and I have to tell you that Clay and I are today on our way to becoming debt-free. We have paid off nearly 80% of our unsecured debt owed before the decision to start tithing.
But even greater are the things that God has done in my heart and in my life since making that momentous decision.

NOW, I have never felt more free. I still struggle with my temper and emotions at times, but I know God is faithful and "will finish the good work" He has begun in me. And He has given me a promise for the future -- something I did not have before.

This is my testimony and I want to stress this point:
Once we began tithing, even though money was STILL really tight and at times, the situation seemed hopeless, there was ALWAYS enough money at the end of the month.
Don't ask me how.
It was just THERE.
Sometimes it was just a nice surprise: I would have a REALLY good sale on eBay items or I would find some cash in an old purse, but sometimes, it was just plain FREAKY: like we would receive an unexpected check from an unlikely source.
The point is, it was always there. ALL of our needs were met and no bills went unpaid.
Furthermore, we have received financial blessings that have made it possible to consistently pay off our debt. Without a doubt, we could not have done this alone!

For those who think giving to the church is not important, or believe it's not even possible for you, I urge you to search your heart and give God a chance to work a miracle in your life.
God LOVES to do the "impossible," but YOU have to give Him the opportunity to do it. He's not going to force it on you. You have to step out in faith.

As they always say, "You can't out-give God." The seeds you sow in your giving today, will come back to you in BUSHELS tomorrow. And you are not just sowing into your own life, but into the lives of every person who will benefit from your gift.

But do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' for the pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
-- Matthew 6: 31-33

That's why I now give with a cheerful heart -- because I know this money is going to bless someone else's life and I have no need to worry for my own. And I know it's going to build a building where SO many more will be blessed as well. We may never know the full impact of our sacrifice today.
As Pastor Dino says,
"It's for those who are not yet here."

10 November 2007

SICK of being Sick...

Today marks day 13 that my family has been sick with this crud that's going around. The weird thing is that I feel WORSE today than I did a week ago.

What's up with that?

Fever, throbbing headaches, chills and sweats, sneezing, sore throat and chest congestion.
Sounds like a garden variety head cold, right?
Then WHY won't it GO AWAY???

I'm sorry to whine and moan, but I have too much to do to be sick.
Hillsong United concert is Tuesday night and I would have to be in the ER to miss that.

I need to go with Carole to paint the "clothing boutique" at the NEW BRDC (Winbourn). I am trying to call nursery volunteers and get them scheduled. I'm designing the Thanksgiving meal menus for the Thanksgiving outreach. I'm scheduled to work nursery tonight and tomorrow and there are so many nursery workers out sick that I cannot possibly call in myself. I am praying that no one catches what I have, but after 13 days I find it highly unlikely that I am still contagious.
This weekend is the Miracle Offering, so we will be busy. And tomorrow night is our annual FALL FEST which my kids have been looking forward to for a month.

You may think I'm crazy, but I started putting up my Christmas decorations last night. I'm hoping to get the tree up and decorated by Monday. =)
Seriously, this is for my own sanity.
I've got Elevate Finals in a month and I know that as the date draws near, the LAST thing I'm gonna want to do is hang holly and ornaments.
As soon as I get everything up, I will post some pics.

In the meantime, please say a prayer that I would shake this and that my family can get WELL.
For that matter, say a prayer for my whole church because it seems like everyone I know is sick right now!

07 November 2007

TO ZION by Lauryn Hill

One of my favorite songs by one of my very favorite artists... (guitar by the amazing Carlos Santana)

06 November 2007

Pass the creamer...

Ok, so CAROLE seems to think I should lighten up a tad...
What am I? Coffee?
I'm sorry.
I can't help it.
I try to sit down and write something light-hearted, but nothing comes to me.

The fact is, I find that blogging is something that I put off doing until I feel strongly convicted to write.
In other words, a thought or idea comes to me and I HAVE to write about it; otherwise, I'm always seeing things or thinking thoughts that I'd LIKE to write about, but my life is so chaotic that I never take the time to actually do so.
Does that make sense?

I could post one of those informational quizzes about myself and you could come away knowing that my favorite color is purple, my favorite food is popcorn, and my favorite author is Maya Angelou.
I could write about how I LOATHE doing dishes and that my husband and I have this awesome, unspoken agreement that I will handle most of the other cleaning as long as he does the dishes every day. =)
I could write and tell you just HOW EXPENSIVE that cute, little lab puppy is actually going to cost just to get him through the first year (we're talking acquisition, shots, surgery, maintenance, and REPAIR costs!!!!).

I could tell you my favorite recipe for what I like to call "Mexican Jambalaya" or my top-secret recipe for "Fresh Coconut Cream Cake,"
But honestly,
if I'm going to take the time to sit and blog, MOST of the time, you are going to hear what is on my heart. I don't mean to preach or lecture, but when I write, I write with passion and conviction and sometimes I might get carried away. =)
If I think of something "light" to write -- and I'm having a slow week -- I'll be sure to post it here.

In the meantime, I hope you'll comment and let me know what you think of my rants...

04 November 2007

Hey! You talkin' to me??

It's no big secret that I am writing a book. Anyone who knows me at all or who has talked to me at length in the past 6 months knows that I am writing a book. It's something that I feel called to do and I'm both scared and excited in doing it.
Actually, I'm writing more than one.

I don't talk about this much because I am only actively writing the one, but the others are constantly forming and taking shape in my head. A couple of them already have titles and I know the general outline. Others are still a vague mystery -- kind of a shadowy, generalized concept...

Pastor Dino (as per usual) hit a home-run right out of the park today with his message on how God can use ANY life -- any hurt, any situation, any struggle -- for good. The very thing you are going through right now: loneliness, fear, anger, rejection, heartache... can be used for a greater purpose.
Don't get all cynical on me now.
Hear this out:
God doesn't make bad things happen to good people.
That's a lie from the enemy (please see previous post).
But you can't have it both ways, people.
You can't have FREE WILL without consequences. That doesn't mean that some things don't happen unfairly or the way we think they should. But you can't have a God that lets you choose how you want to live AND a God that makes everything "all better, all the time." And it's not necessarily resorting to the "clockmaker vs. puppet-master" theories, either.

God is in control, but He doesn't control us.

Sin and evil are in the world; partnered with these are sickness, disease, abuse, hatred, fear, and pain.
Just because a person is a Christian does not automatically exclude him or her from the realities of this world.
But as Christians, we have the power and authority to call on God to see us through ANY situation. And once we get through the crisis, God can use our testimony to bolster others who are going through rough times of their own.
But we have to get through it.
We cannot stay in the middle of it -- dwelling on the things we cannot change.
As Pastor Dino said this morning, it's not about you. And the sooner you take the focus off yourself, the sooner you will find healing.

How did he put it?
Give away what you want for yourself.

Hate your job? Start giving your all at work and you might just get a better one!
Need a miracle with your finances? Start giving money to those who are even less fortunate than you; Start tithing.
Lonely? Think nobody cares? Be the first to reach out and be a friend to others.

And don't keep your story to yourself.
How can others be blessed by the testimony of what you have survived if you never speak it?
God can get you through ANYTHING the world throws your way, if you let Him. But if you want to get to the point where you can praise God for what you went through, then you have to tell your story.
Speak up.
Start a blog.
Write a book.
Wait a minute... was he looking at me when he said that???

01 November 2007

I'm Not Listening...

God can't use someone like you.

Your life has been a waste of time.

Look how little you have accomplished; what have you got to show for yourself?

You don't deserve forgiveness.

It's too late for God to give your life purpose.

You are not special... or important... or beautiful... or wanted...

These are all LIES of the enemy and I just want to say,

I'M NOT LISTENING!!!!! to them anymore.

Last week at the HPC "Live the Dream" Women's Conference, Tammy Trent gave an amazing testimony. She is a powerful singer with an awesome message. I bought her newest disc and my favorite track (so far) is titled, "I'm Not Listening." It's a message to the devil to just SHUT UP. The enemy uses all kinds of tricks and lies to make us think our lives don't have vision or purpose.
He is relentless.
And so often we fall for his lies hook, line, and sinker.

My dear friend, Carole, over at Wardrobe and the White Tree told me something kind of frightening.
Last weekend, when Christine Caine was speaking, the devil was attacking various women in the audience with quiet little whispering lies of self-doubt...

"You're almost 40 years old; what have YOU done with YOUR life?"
"You could never be a great leader for Christ like Christine Caine..."
"You have wasted your life; you are of no use to God now."


Well, yeah, I can.
I believe it, but it makes me angry. How DARE the enemy try to steal the promises we were given during the conference?!
I don't know about you, but I came away from last week with renewed hope and zeal for what I believe God is doing and about to do in my life. And I don't want to lose sight of that...
Some may scoff and think it's silly, but I have a peace and a joy that no one can steal. I truly feel sorry for anyone who DOESN'T feel that promise -- that sense of purpose.
Life is too hard and too short to not feel there is a reason for being here.
Why would ANYONE want to go through it alone?

Oh, I'm as vulnerable as anyone.
Satan messes with my mind and attacks my ego... I start doubting my own purpose and value, but

No matter how hard the enemy tries -- whispering all those lies into my ear -- this will be my new mantra:
I'm NOT listening!