Friday, May 31, 2013

Chew on this...

I know I usually do Chew on this on Monday but this needed to go out today!

Please pray for the next couple of weeks for the mission team going to Costa Rica. Begin now for the final preparations to be made. Pray June 1st for traveling mercies. Pray for those who are going for the first time to see all God has for them to see and for those who have been before to not over look what new things God has in store for them. Pray during the week for safety and cooperation on the work site. Pray for the children who will be coming to VBS to see Christ in each one of us. Pray for rest at night and strength during the day. Pray for a closer walk with God for each one who is there and each person back home who is praying for them. Pray for new bonds to be formed with the people of Costa Rica as well as within the team members. Pray June 9th for safe travels back home and for the transition back to everyday life. ~ Frances

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Deck Update...Day 8

We have a roof! Woohoo! Moving right along!

Hubby has been busy getting the roof done.  I am so proud of him and all his hard work on this project for the family.  I know this will be a huge blessing for us to use when it is finished.

I'm so grateful to our neighbors.  They help us with so many things.  They have the best servant attitude and always willing to help.  What a blessing!  We will have a big bonfire soon with all this extra wood we have from the deck! Guess I need to pick up some marshmallows soon.

This is a rare picture of my daughter taking a break to read.  I have noticed her doing it more and more lately so that's great!

I have no idea what my son is doing in the next picture.  He is so random half the time, we just laugh at him and move on.  

Then we found a little treasure when the men moved the remaining of the old wood.  Quite a score I'd say! Kids were excited and had fun taking turns holding the frog.  It's the little things in life, ya know!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Pearl Event III

I had the awesome privilege of photographing an event that I can only describe as AMAZING!  I am so thankful to Sibi for allowing me to do this and hear all that God had in store for me through this event.  God can use anything, even things you least expect to speak to you!

The event I photographed was The Pearl Event. It was held at the crazy beautiful location of the Schermehorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  I am still blown away with how each speaker spoke directly to my heart!

To kick off the event, worship was lead by The Morning Sun, Michaela McLaird.  WOW!  What a beautiful sound! Her voice had so much depth and richness in it, you could not help but raise your hands and worship God.  Beautiful voice and music! Check her out on iTunes, you wont regret it!

Each speaker gave their testimony and how God is very alive and working in their lives.  Each poured their heart out to us.  They spoke of how Satan uses the tactic of self condemnation in different ways on each of us, how God uses hurts in our lives to draw us closer to Him, how we are a pearl of Christ and we can't run rush the process of God working on us because we could loose our luster.

I could go on and on but I wont because when I say you have to be there to truly experience what I'm talking about is true!  You really had to be there, to experience everything, from the decorations, the women attending, the music, the speakers, the vendors, EVERYTHING!  It was just beautiful!

Each speaker had her man by her side there, which was just the sweetest.  These husbands needed to be there for support and because they are a part of the stories being told.  It was very special to see them all there offering their love and support for their bride.  The men were also on camera duty for the gals while they were busy doing their thing.

The speakers were Rachel Adams, Charity Jones (you can call her Cha Cha), Cherish Pinson, and the host Sibi Riffer.

The verse on the front of the program was Revelation 2:17.  When I read that, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." Revelation 2:17

The word manna had blinking lights around it! Something God has been showing me through my walk with Him. You can read about it here.

After experiencing this event I am in need of some pearls for sure now! HA!  When Sibi said she puts on her pearls as a weapon, pearls are a mark of her innocence and the high price that was paid for our freedom, I knew I needed my own set!

Thanks again Sibi for allowing me to experience this part of your walk with The Triple Strand.  Thank you also to the speakers for sharing your heart with all of us.  The courage and strength it took was drawn from God and it showed it every way! You are all beautiful pearls!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rock my world...part 5 final

Just because we are Christians, definitely doesn't mean we are perfect or have no sin in our lives.  We are in and always will be in constant refinement to become more and more like Christ.  We have to accept that refinement offered because it is for our good so that we can be molded to be more in His image!

"And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9

"o that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 
1 Peter 1:7

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10

And my favorite,

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10

I am starting to understand that believers of Christ may even experience more trials and struggles at times.  The saying that church is full of hypocrites, it sure is, because ALL have sinned and fall short.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"  Romans 3:23

Did you catch that small word, ALL?! No limits there.  Doesn't say only Christians or only short people or only beautiful or whatever, ALL!  So Christians are not exempt by any means.

Something else I've learned is that refinement also comes in the way of being sifted by Satan.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

I know I was being sifted by Satan through these years.  Satan was desiring me to be separated from God's goodness or blessings and His ways.  Satan wanted me to live beaten down and to stay quite about God and the opportunities I had to glorify Him.  I was so consumed with fear my eyes were off my Lord.  I never said anything or told people about God and how He was working in my life.  My fear was holding me back.  I didn't want to draw attention to myself and in that I never drew attention to Jesus either.  I was living in fear of what people might think of me so I would sit quietly.  I wasn't allowing my boast to be in Christ and what He is doing to change my life.  

Satan is going to constantly try to keep our hearts and minds off God.  He will use any way, any situation, any lie, anything, anything, anything, so that God doesn't receive the glory He is worthy of! Satan used that on me, I see that now.  It kept me quite for many years, but I have broken free! Sure he'll try again in the future and pretty sure it will be sooner then later.  

I LOVE Chris Tomlin! He is one of my favorite artist, right after you Overflow

Chris's song "Whom Shall I Fear" is awesome! This particular part of the lyrics is perfect!

"You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side"

I know who goes before me and who stands behind, God of Angel Armies always by my side! Woohoo!

Keep your chin up christian soldier! :) Jesus is praying directly for you and me.

"but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" Luke 22:32

We can come to Christ just as we are, filthy, broken, crazy, whatever; we can have confidence that He loves us so much to not leave us as we are.  He continues to refine and allow that sifting, so that through the process and after it's done we can give Him ALL the glory for what He is creating us to be for Him.

Praise be to God and to God be the glory!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Homemade Coffee Creamer

I really enjoy coffee!

There is something about that first sip in the morning that just warms me all over.

I recently looked at the ingredients in my creamer and wow! I couldn't even pronounce several of the items listed.  After reading that, I was on a mission to make my own creamer!  I was so happy when I came across Deliciously Organic! She had a huge variety of choices, so I started with Chocolate Almond.  It reminded me of an Almond Joy, perfect!

Ingredients needed:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Called for maple syrup as a sweetener, but I used 2 droppers of liquid stevia cause I'm not a fan of maple syrup.
1 teaspoon almond extract
Over medium heat in a mid-sized saucepan, whisk together whole milk, cream, cocoa powder, and liquid stevia.  Once it begins to steam, remove from heat and whisk in almond extract.  Store in glass container in the fridge.  It is sooooooooo good!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rock my world God...part 4

Coming full circle back to the women's conference... had this thought after Friday night, "God I'm tired! Tired after this journey with my hubby's job, can't we take a quick break before you start on something else with me?" Not possible because the next day was when that sweet older woman entered my life, Sunday was when Todd Peterson's speech entered my life.

I went to bed with a heavy burden thinking what on earth are you up to Lord? A few days later I shared my heart with my hubby, everything I was thinking and feeling, good and bad thoughts, didn't care in that moment what I looked like to him.  He earned a crazy amount of brownie points that day because he sat and listened just hearing my heart and offering advise and suggestions, not just fix its ideas.

God used him to speak to me, coming to the conclusion, "Don't you think you are just as bad as those who draw attention to themselves?!"  I was thinking "WHAT?! Are you kidding me, I'm being humble!" He explained further by saying you are so consumed with not taking a risk for the fear of rejection or that even one person wont accept you or fear that one person will pass judgement on you.  With that fear, you in turn do nothing for God, thinking you are being humble.  We still have to put effort toward what God has for our lives.  That takes action on my part.  Actually putting myself out there for His glory, with no worry of judgement or fear of failure.  He made me realize I will even let just one persons rejection control me from giving God the glory for all He has done, provided, and given to me in my life.  I had become a martyr, but not in a good way.  Martyr is defined as a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion OR a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle.  Also saw this statement when researching definition of martyr: A great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy.  Man was that what I was doing?! Thinking this would make me look like, yes I love the Lord, I sacrifice for Him, but was He even calling me to do that?

Do you see the common thread throughout the years that God is doing with me?  This goes back years of Him pursuing me, seeking me to learn about Him and His ways and what He wants for this life He has given me.  This was something I was allowing to control me and allowing me to slow down His purpose for me.  There are so many more examples that I see God trying time and time again to show me so that I'll wake up and see the bondage around me.  I realized I was in bondage and didn't even know it.  I was living in fear and didn't even realize it.  I was telling God, "Whatever you want me to do I'll do it for you," but the fear of rejection was holding me back, and I had no clue.

Satan was feeding me truth, things about myself that sure they are true but its not THE TRUTH.  It is not what defines me.  Truth that God created me to be creative and artistic but Satan spun it to me with limits.  Told me people enjoy your creativeness but they don't value you really.  All those lies over flowed into my business as well.  I would not want to deal with the rejection of a client and sell myself short, not valuing my time and what gift God has given me.  After feeling this freedom, I thought about the song, In Christ Alone, specifically the verse that says 

"Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ."

LOVE IT! Exactly where I stand today!

To Be Continued...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thankful Thursday...Rock my world God...part 3

The whole family attended Passion again a few weeks later.  The church had a guest speaker who was a previous kicker for Atlanta Falcons, J. Todd Peterson, graduate of UGA, GO DAWGS! Todd brought a very interesting perspective to my life.  I left church that day in deep thought, trying to analyze what this challenge looks like for my life.  Todd just told the church what that looked like for him and his family but the challenge I was faced with was what does that mean for my walk with God.  I was very confused inside because there are decisions hubby and I are having to make in next several months with what seems to be great opportunities that have come with this position God has granted us.  I began seeking deep in my soul for my true motives and what is in my heart. Praying to God to show me clearly, give me your eyes Oh Lord.  

This battle inside my heart has been on going for about 4-5 years.  I have sought council from my godly mother, godly friends, and most importantly God.  A friend during that time gave me advise that was awesome.  She said you have to check your heart in every situation, what are your real motives for doing something?  This was 4-5 years ago and I was beginning to carry guilt for buying something nice or having success in my business.  Why am I feeling like I shouldn't have?!?! I was in turmoil inside! Began wondering is God calling me to a life of suffering, was He about to ask me to sell everything?! Talking to my mom revealed the same results, check your heart Coleen.  

Through the years, it has continued to be a reoccurring thought.  I have tried to make the feeling go away through things like sacrificial giving or giving my talents for His glory. Honestly not really understanding what was going on inside of me.  What do you want Lord!?!?!? Getting to a point where I just want to say, "Leave me alone! I'm so confused Lord!"  

When I think back to the time this all began, it was when I wanted to sell the BMW.  I didn't want the image that came with driving that SUV.  Just couldn't do it anymore, so we sold it.   It has been a number of things big and small that has been called out in my life.  Another example was when we remodeled our kitchen last summer.  The kitchen was well over due, all original to the 1980's style, duck blue!  Eek! We kept it simple with me repainting existing cabinets, new hardware, adding a few new cabinets my handy hubby installed in other area of kitchen from Ikea.  We agreed on granite counter tops, knowing they yield a good return on investment.  It all turned out perfect! All within our budget, and the best part was no more 80's blue counter tops! After it was all done, I looked around and loved it! It was perfect, till the next day.  I was covered in guilt, did we make the right decision, was this being a good steward with what God has provided? Confusion was setting in deep once again.  I was desiring to be a humble, good steward for God. What does being humble actually mean? What does being a good steward actually mean?  This is when I begin to get in trouble and take my eyes off God and begin to look around me at what others are doing.  The caution light is blinking so brightly but I don't even see it, signs telling me warning, turn around, you are heading down the wrong direction now.  Amazing how we don't see that till it is too late.

I saw what that meant for other families and was thinking that must be what God wants me to do.  Some families where giving up cable TV, some giving up trips to salon, some handbags, some gave up a house they built from the ground up.  I started giving up my hair color, nails, etc. Everything I could think of to bring some peace to this stirring inside.  Honestly nothing was bringing that peace I was longing for.  I was still looking at others thinking they have, but don't seem to be bothered, what is wrong with me! I was seeing it everywhere! I remember watching a Beth Moore video, thinking look at Beth's blonde high lights and pretty nails, her outfit is super cute tonight. Wonder why she has those things and I am so full of guilt when I have them.  What is going on Lord?! Even found myself looking at my pastor and his wife, they dont seem to be bothered by these things.  These are all godly people.  People who are dedicating their lives to live for Christ. Why can't I have a peace about this God.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rock my world God...part 2

The family and I are members of  First Baptist Church of Woodstock and have been for 10+years now.  We have also been attending a church in Atlanta called Passion City Church on and off the past year.  I LOVE Passion City Church! My first experience was when I attended service while Beth Moore was speaking last summer.  The worship was so authentic and moving in my soul, it was a stirring I haven't felt in a long time.  Worship was....freeing.  I am sure some of it was because I knew no one there and felt freedom to give all to God without judgement.  I know it was also the Holy Spirit in that church. The movement that is there is powerful.  My hubs loves it, my kids adore the passion kids area.  I mean who wouldn't, you are having worship in tents! So cool!

Several weeks ago, the kids and I attended by ourselves and the preacher Louie Giglio was just beginning a series called Passion +  Purpose.  Louie was challenging the flock to find their passion and purpose for God.  God has created each one of us with different talents and passions for a purpose that serves God.  Some are called to full time mission work while others are not.  Some are called to stay here and work in a salon or in the business world.  We need to embrace our passion and run with it for God!  The stirring inside of all of us is put there for a purpose so that we reflect back to the TRUE ONE who gave it to us in the first place.  The purpose of every human created is to know God and make God known.  That is our great commission.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6

One thing that really stood out to me with flashing lights, cause God knows that is what it takes to capture my attention at times, that Louie said was that we don't need to make Jesus great because we can't make Him any greater then He already is.  We are only called to make Him known, period! BOOYAH!  We should come together as a church and/or community for the same purpose, even though we aren't doing the same things with our talents and gifts.  God doesn't call us to the exact same walk or way as others.  We are special! We have to be careful when we start to compare ourselves to others.  I believe there is a healthy way to do that, but it can cross over into not walking our walk God has created us specifically for.  It can cause our eyes to loose focus on Him.  We can become consumed with  comparison, thinking we have to do or act just like this or that person.  They are walking with God on their own personal walk, so it is going to look completely different then our own.  God is personal, He desires a personal relationship with you and me just as we are.  How beautiful is that thought!  He wants us just as we are, broken, shameful, torn, in need.  Absolutely BEAUTIFUL in His sight!

Remember your talents can be used to reach people that someone else can't reach, so be careful to compare and think you have to change what God has created.  

You can use it as a challenge for your life but not as a copy cat.  I am so guilty of this! I found myself trying to copy others walk with God instead of allowing my personal relationship with God and what He has created me for to flourish in our special time together.  

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rock my world God...part 1

Ask God to rock your world and He will!

Last week was AMAZING!  I am overwhelmed with what God is doing in my life.  He has never given up on me.  He didn't leave me as I am, broken and unseen by Him.  He pursued me continually year after year, moment after moment, through many people.  I think about how I left conversations listening but yet not understanding at the same time.  Confusion set in, so I began to pray let me see you Lord.  I realize He can't reveal all to us at one time because that would be too overwhelming for our minds to handle.  We can't grasp the Lord and His mighty strength with our human minds.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." John 16:12

God revealed a stronghold in my life, which I had no idea even existed.  I knew I was walking in His will for my life but always felt like I was missing something, somewhere. Just had no clue what it was.  I even thought it was Satan fooling me, to get me off track, so I would dismiss it but it always came back in one way or another.

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." 1 Peter 5:8-9

I also remember from a study by Kelly Minter, No Other Gods, she was talking about the crafty nature of Satan and the Bible refers to him as the Father of Lies from the beginning.  When the serpent asked Eve "Did God actually say..." Genesis 3:1, it was to create doubt.  The same tactics Satan used then he is still using today, on me and you. He tells us true statements, but ultimately it's not THE TRUTH to keep our focus off God. This was what he was doing to me, using true things in my life but not the truth, all the while keeping my focus off God. 

"keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the God's throne." Hebrews 12:2

I meet an older women in the hallway of a conference two weekends ago.  I was in thought while thousands of women pass me by, thinking how each one of them have a story God is writing specifically for their lives, some in pain and suffering,  others in joy.  This lady stopped in front of me and simply said "Smile, honey." She was very petite.  I'm only 5'5" and I remember having to look down into her eyes. When I looked at her, her face had a glow about her.  I almost dismissed this opportunity but looked at her again.  She said you look like someone who just sits back and observes a lot.  I said your right I look at all these women here and each one has a story God is knitting for them.  She responded with you're right and if we are not seeking His word and guidance for our lives we will miss it.  She began to cry, then so did I.  We hugged.  She then asked me if I have ever done the study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.  I said funny you mention that study, my mom gave it to me years ago when I was very young in my walk.  I did several days and got discouraged and stopped because I felt it was way over my head.  She encouraged me to pick it up again and do it.  She mentioned how helpful it was to her in seeking God in her life and how we miss the boat sometimes with what he desires for us.  She smiled again and we parted ways.  At the time I listened but did not recognize all that I do now about that conversation with that woman.  I recently finished a study and have been praying about what to do next, but just didn't have a peace about what. A friend has been talking a lot about God working on her believing God and His promises.  He is who He says he is and He will do what he says He will.  He is faithful to the end.  We know that but do we truly BELIEVE it.  Big difference... She is thinking of doing Beth Moore's Believing God, which I thought I would do with her since I haven't heard anything else at this point.  I honestly never felt a peace about doing that study and recently told her I'm not doing it, between my schedule and timing, its just not going to work out.  Now I see the study for me is Experiencing God, like my friend who's word is believing God, my word is experiencing God. 

I left the conference in red financially with my booth, but I knew God called me to do that.  I had no idea why and still unsure why, but rested in the fact He will use this someway or another.  I don't know how but confident something for His glory would come out of it.  It always does! God is good, all the time!

To Be Continued....

Monday, May 20, 2013

Deck Update....Day 6 or 7

I am loosing count on the days of this deck now.  Mostly because hubby is working little at a time, he works for an hour or so in evenings then skips a day or two and works on a little more.  Hard to keep up with that.  

While he was working one afternoon, kids were playing out front.  When I looked out, I just thought I was going to die laughing.  Yep, they are running around with witch hats.  Thanks Grannie, they are still loving those!

I thought I would sneak out to the front to catch a picture of them playing. So I ran with my standard shoe wear of flip flops to hide quickly behind the tree before they saw me.  That proved to be more difficult then I imagined, because I slipped in the mud and fell flat on my face!

 I realized I am too old to be running around like that. Heehee!

Hubby starting on the cover for the deck.  He is very confident in his work I'd say. :)

 One of the witches, grew tired so came up to join us for a break.

Quite the majestic thinker, my hubby is.  This is his face he makes when he is in serious thought.  HA, just kidding, he is a mess!

The steps are ready to be used. No more ladder now!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Don't look Momma till after Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner, Sunday May 12th to be exact.  A day to celebrate all those hard working mother's.  Just think of the rears wiped, children bathed, homework and projects finished by the due dates, hot meals cooked, tears shed, laughs shared, hugs that will warm your souls given, lunches packed, lessons taught and learned, all from the blessing of caring for a child.

How do I know its a blessing, for the Bible tells me so!  (Did you catch that tune?!)

Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord. ~Psalm 127:3

Some days this verse rings true, from my head down to my toes, I can feel the blessing and the happiness that comes from being a mother.  Other days not so much.  When I feel myself looking at my kids as burdens or interruptions, I close my eyes and pray for the Lord to change my thoughts and actions toward them.  I pray, "Lord you say in your word children are a blessing. It doesn't say only well behaved, healthy, obedient, happy, smart, athletic, artistic, loving, or fun children.  It refers to all children. So even though my child is acting very undeserving in this moment, please give me your grace and mercy so that I can share the same love with grace and mercy you share with me with them and open my eyes to see them as you see them, blessings."

Who can find a virtuous woman? She is far more precious than jewels... 
Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. 
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. 
She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. 
Her sons rise up and call her blessed. 
He husband also praises her: 
Many women are capable, but you surpass them all! 
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. ~Proverbs 31:10, 25-30

My kids are still young but I think about what we have endured together as a family and it is HUGE! I think that is what bonds a family, riding the roller coaster of life.  It has it's highs and lows, but in the end I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!!!!

Makes me think on my own mother.  The love she has shown me and I know she draws her love for me from God.  That's the only way she would have been able to put with me.  heehee

The Lord is really the only way you can truly, unconditionally love someone forever.  We have the perfect example of how to be a mother through Jesus.  Just read His word daily and He will show you.  He will give you the strength and courage to endure each day and to become the mother He has called you to be to His children He has gifted you with.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. ~I Corinthians 13:4-7

Still looking for the perfect gift for Mother's Day?

I have a FREEBIE for you! This is part of my gift to my own mother and want to share with all of you!

You can download your own bible verse print here!

Just print as a 5x7 and place in a frame of your choice. (I got this frame from Hobby Lobby, all those that are interested.)  Perfect gift for the special mother in your life!