The Invitation......

I heard this song for the first time today, thanks to a dear friend, and I just loved it!

It seemed so fitting after thinking about being washed in the blood of Jesus.

It's hard to watch Jesus suffer like He does in this video, but I wonder how hard it is for God to watch us live our lives as if His Son doesn't matter that much after all He did to save us from our sins.

This life is really just a vapor.  Even if we live to be 100, there will come a day when we will face the next life.  And 100 years will seem so short in comparison to what lies ahead of us.  How will we feel when we stand before God to give an account of our life?

Come find peace.

Accept His invitation.

(Don't forget to push pause on the blog music to the right before listening to the song. :)   )

Whiter Than Snow........................

Psalm 51:7

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

There's about 4 inches of snow on the ground this morning.

It is so pretty.

I walked out in it this morning very briefly - just long enough to dig out one of Olivia's friend's sled that had been left here a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't help but notice how the snow evened out all the imperfections in my yard. I couldn't see all of the places where I knew there were dips and bumps and rocks and weeds.


Everything had been made beautiful and "equal" with a blanket of white peacefulness.

Jesus' blood promises to do the same for us.

Today, I am challenged to see all of God's children through His eyes........beautiful and matter their past, no matter their present...................

Lord, help me view my Christian brothers and sisters through Your eyes. Remind me of the white blanket you have covered us all with so that we could be pure and holy. And Lord, give us all special ways to share this "blanket of peacefulness" with a hurting world.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

No Wonder Roller Coasters are So Popular......

I've been watching Joyce Meyer this morning and just feeling so inspired, strengthened, and renewed!  She's been talking about this story of John Baptist from Matthew 11-

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

See, John the Baptist was surely wondering "Why in the world am I sitting in here if you are out there?  I have been preaching that you are the one who came to save us."

But Jesus answered,

"Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Jesus KNEW that many would stumble because of Him, because in this life things aren't always going to end in "miracles, healings, releasing from struggles.."  No, John the Baptist would be beheaded because of his faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  He had been called to a painful road.

So, what does that have to do with roller coasters, you may be asking?

Well, as I listened to Joyce and became so RENEWED this morning, I thought to myself, "Tammy, you are a mess.  You can be so sad one day and so full of questions.  And the next day you can wake up feeling like you are walking with Moses or Abraham on the greatest journey ever.  You make roller coasters look boring."  But then I thought to myself, "Life is so much like a roller coaster."

roller coaster going down Look at this picture.  Just imagining the feeling in my stomach when barreling down a hill like this is enough to remind me that my roller coaster days are probably over.  But there's something exhilarating about the free-falling experience of a roller coaster's plunge.  Knowing that we are on a safe track and knowing that we will soon be shooting back up a hill to prepare for the next great moment brings a feeling of peace even in the midst of the chaos of the ride.  There's ups and downs on a roller coaster, but there's control.  There's security on the track.  There's the promise of an end to the ride where we'll get off and say, "That was awesome.  Let's do it again!"

I think we were created with a longing for suspense, drama, excitement, and unknowns.  We just don't always like having the starring role.

roller coaster going into water

See, John the Baptist was on the kind of roller coaster pictured above.  His coaster was headed into a track he had no way of predicting.  His trust was totally abandoned to the Creator of the track.  And truthfully, so is ours. roller coaster with twists We want to stand back and see our life from this perspective, saying, "Oh, I remember when things were great like that huge hill over there," or "Wow, can you believe we survived that upside down time in our life?  I thought it would never end," or "I'm glad we didn't know what was behind those trees before we got there, aren't you?" 

And we want to also see what's coming next.  Is it a valley or a mountaintop-view?  Are we going to be holding on for dear life or sitting back and just relaxing for a while?

When I go to an amusement park, I love watching people in line for roller coasters.  Some people are watching the ride with great intensity, evaluating every curve, examining the faces of people on the ride when they get off to see if they enjoyed it not (that's usually me), some are oblivious to the ride and just enjoying the wait, some are even tearing up in fear and being encouraged by those around them that "they can do it."

Here's the deal:

We are all on a ride called "life."

Our Creator designed each of our tracks.  Some days are ups.  Some days are downs.  But it is the constant awareness that Jesus truly is WHO HE SAYS HE IS that keeps us pressing on toward Heaven.

Trusting Him in every twist and turn.  Realizing that whether our hands are gripping tightly to the rail in front of us or are thrown up in the air in total abandonment that we are OKAY! 

I'm thankful for God's Word and how even the greatest men in the Bible had questions from time to time.  That comforts me when I have questions too.

Nahum 1:7 (New International Version)

7 The LORD is good,
       a refuge in times of trouble.
       He cares for those who trust in him.

John the Baptist lived a life of extreme ups and downs.  He baptized the Son of God and then suffered imprisonment and death because of His belief in Who He was.  I'm sure he experienced a roller coaster of emotions along the way.  But I am comforted to know that God cared for John the Baptist and was a refuge in times of trouble.

He's our refuge too.

And in the end, if we keep trusting in Him, we'll walk the streets of gold with John the Baptist and so many others amazing men and women of the Bible!! 

What a day that will be!

Now, I call that a ride with a great ending! 

Thursday Thought............................
COL. 3: 23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Minutes roll into hours. Hours roll into days. Days roll into weeks. Weeks roll into months. And months roll into years.

My dad says, "Life is like a "roll" of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes."

I'm heading out the door, but I wanted to take a minute to just stop and think, "How am I spending my quickly "unrolling" life???"

January is almost over, and I just can't believe it. 1/12 of 2010 will soon be gone.

I want today to count.

I want your "today" to count too!

For me, making a day count means doing even the tiniest things as if they I am doing them for God, because actually..................

I am!

And so are you!

Praying your day "unrolls" into a beautiful one for Him Who loves you most!!!

The Right Shoes.............

Ephesians 6:14-16 (New International Version)

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled

around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted

with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

random january photos 012

random january photos 011

Well, I've always been either a "barefoot Kentucky girl" or a "barefoot Oklahoma girl" until now.

Looks like those days are over.

One thing I've learned in my little journey with a foot problem is that my feet need more attention and support than I've ever given them.  So, after hearing about Earth brand shoes from Nick's oncologist nurse practitioner, Suzanne, I ordered a couple of pairs.  They came yesterday!!!  I have to admit that after teaching two days in a row, my foot was throbbing again yesterday afternoon, so placing my feet in these new slippers felt so wonderful!!!  They have a "no-heel" technology system that is amazing, placing most of your weight when walking onto the ball of your feet and taking it off of the heel.  Yeah!!!  Thank you, Suzanne!  And thank you, too, for all of the other little tips on exercises and things to help my foot feel better! 

I don't know when I'll stop being amazed at how God uses ABSOLUTELY everything to draw us closer to Him.

I've been having my quiet time this morning and Wow!  God is just pulling everything together and speaking some powerful words today!

First, just as my earthly feet need to be fitted in some type of shoe that will bring physical peace, my spiritual feet need to be fitted with readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.

I did a little research and learned that a soldiers shoe at the time Ephesians was written was an open-toed, spiked shoe that laced up the ankle.  It served an important purpose.  It kept him stable when he was in battle, so he would not lose his he wouldn't slip and then be overcome by the attacker.

Hmmmmm.....sure makes me think about the spiritual battle we are all in today and how God calls us to life of peace.  Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

There are a lot of things in my life that, when I speak them out, should not bring me peace.  But there is something powerfully freeing about RELEASING these things to my Heavenly Father who longs to bring us peace. 

Zechariah in his song about the coming of his son, John the Baptist, said in Luke 1,

6And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
      for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
      through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
      by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the path of peace."

John the Baptist came to guide our feet into the path of peace!  He came to prepare the way for Jesus.  And when Jesus came, He was declared none other than the Prince of Peace!

Now, here's the tricky part and the part where I believe God is speaking to me today.

Jesus from His own mouth once asked this question in Luke 12,

51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?

I think it is very, very important for me to remember that the answer to that question was, "No."

We will not find perfect peace on this planet.  But we can live a life of peace knowing that perfect peace is promised in eternity!

So, my feet need to be fitted with His Word so that I can walk in peace with God and carry the peace of God in my heart as I walk.  I read a great online devotional that shared about both of these verses.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6,7)

So, today as I venture into my list of things to do, I'll wear my new shoes that are bringing a sense of peace to my body; but more importantly, I want to choose to have my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Like a Roman soldier, I want to be prepared for the battle ahead of me.  I know the devil has plans for me today, and I want to be found standing firm.

I want you to be found standing firm today! 

Lacing my spiritual shoes up over my ankles,

Have you ever had one of those moments where you want to stand up, lift your hands to the sky, and say, "I'm listening, Lord!!!!!!!"

That's how I felt yesterday morning as I was talking with a fellow teacher during a little break time at school. I had been sharing with her about my life and she had been sharing with me about hers. Part of our conversation was about what is going on on KLOVE right now (a Christian radio station).

If you listen to this station, you've probably heard about their "My One Word" campaign for 2010.

Inspired by a minister who challenged his congregation members to do away with the traditional long list of New Year's Resolution and instead embrace "one word" that they want to use as a catalyst for change in this year, KLove is asking listeners to choose their "one word" for 2010.

I have listened to this challenge on the radio every morning for the past week and just this morning was telling my kids on the way to school (and a couple of friend's kids who were part of the carpool) that by Friday I thought we should all have our "one word."

Well, I have thought and thought about what my "one word" needs to be this year; and as my friend and I were talking, the word "release" was mentioned with regards to a couple of my children and the reality that they are entering the adult world very rapidly.

Suddenly, my friend and I both knew that God was saying,


Oh, I have so much to release this year!

Baggage, fear, control, my grip on things, and the list goes on and on and on!!!! Like the scared little bunny in the picture above, I have to realize that freedom is mine if I just accept it!!! God longs to release me from so many different things, and I am ready to be free!

My friend is still trying to decide on her "one word." For yesterday it was "survive!" But we'll see if something else comes to her heart in the next few days!

What's your "one word?" I hope you'll think about this and then share your word with us!!

Go to www.klove. com and click on the "My One Word" button to learn more about how to pick a word that fits you best!

I love you all so much!

I'm heading out the door to spend the day with little fourth graders!!!!

Releasing my life into His for 2010,

They BOTH were there!!!!

sledding and grandpas funeral 1-20-2010 0310 resized

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If

anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will

come in and eat with him, and he with me.  To

him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit

with me on my throne, just as I overcame and

sat down with my Father on his throne.

Rev. 3:20-21


As we stood visiting for a few minutes after Grandpa's funeral, I was struck by a gentleman's tie who was standing right behind me.  On the tie you can see Jesus knocking at the door.  I felt such peace when I saw this image so strategically placed right beside Grandpa, as if Jesus were saying, "I'm here!"

sledding and grandpas funeral 1-20-2010 0313 resized

But before I even saw the tie, I had been given a big smile by none other than Nick!!!

Nick loved Batman.  I have so many pictures of him in Batman shirts, ball caps, and jammies!  When we turned into the cemetery, my sister said, "Look, there's Batman!"  And I couldn't believe it!  Almost perfectly in line with Grandpa's gravesite was this tombstone!!!


sledding and grandpas funeral 315 I felt embraced by God and Nick at Grandpa's funeral! And during all of this, I was receiving texts from a friend back home who was on a walk and was finding a new penny each time she did a lap around the college campus where our husbands work!!!  She ended up finding three pennies on one walk!!! 

Nick was making us all smile that day!

sledding and grandpas funeral 1-20-2010 0321 resized

Thankful for a Father who is creative enough to use a tie ,a tombstone, and three pennies to say "all is well,"

Writer's Block...

I have heard it said that when you come up against a writer's block the best thing to do is to "write through it" which seems like very difficult advice in a way.  Kind-of like telling someone who can't swim to just jump in the water and "swim through" their inability to swim or telling someone who has a fear of heights to climb to the highest point they can find and just "look down" in order to conquer their fear.

But then again, if we didn't face some of our fears head on, I guess we'd be paralyzed by them - which is oddly enough how I have felt the past few days when I have attempted to log on and place anything of meaning on my blog.

For those of you who blog, I'll bet you can relate.

I just watched "Julie and Julia" or "Julia and Julie," I can't remember which way their names were listed.  Its a movie about a blogger who cooks her way through Julia Child's cookbook.  I had to laugh out loud several times as Julie was lying in bed with her husband stressing about her blog while her husband would go from being very patient and encouraging to very irritated and fed-up with the whole blogging began to overtake her life as her online audience grew and she felt more and more responsibility to her readers.

Here's the truth:

I don't want my blog to be about me.

I want it to be about God and His Promises and His ability to get us through EVERYTHING.

And lately, I've been thrown into some "much smaller than losing Nick" and yet very time-consuming, painful, and difficult situations which have drained me emotionally and physically in my personal life and have in many ways made me think too much about "me."

So, rising above those things in order to share with you has seemed almost impossible at times.

The great news is this:

The same God who walks the road of grief with those of us on that pathway is the very same God who is with all of us who are dealing with other struggles.

Illness, job loss, financial stresses, loneliness, depression, parenting drama, marriage problems...

Whatever it is that brings you to the lowest point in your life today is the very thing that God is ready to lift you from by His strength and power.

That's what I have to remember as I find myself having an unacceptable pity party about my foot.  See, I'm a mover.  I rarely sit down other than my quiet time and to watch a few shows with the family, so being in a recliner all day goes against everything inside of me.  I don't like to be waited on.  I don't like to see things I could be doing and not be able to do them.

So sitting here, feeling trapped, does not inspire me to write beautiful things.  It makes me want to scream....really loudly.

But I have got to remember that God is working even now, and I have got to listen. 

What is He saying?  Right now, in all the "corniness" (no pun intended since I'm talking about my feet) of how this might sound, I think He is telling me to take care of myself.  Especially my feet.

I've learned from several different friends who do not even know each other that one of the biggest things I am going to have to do is change the kinds of shoes I wear and get rid of my old worn out shoes...

I've been given several websites to look at, and I realize more and more as I click through the many wonderful options of shoe apparel just how minimal my effort has been in taking care of my feet through the years.  Clearance rack shoes with no support have been a norm for me.  Wearing the same shoes for years and years and years has been my pattern.

I also think He's also calling me to look more deeply at what He has to say about "feet" in His Word.

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:15

He doesn't say "eyes, mouths, or hands."  He says "feet."  In those days, people walked most every place they went.  They knew that sharing Jesus involved meeting more and more people and introducing them to the Hope of Heaven.

Today, we have telephones, televisions, books, Internet....those are our feet many times.  But are we using them to share GOOD NEWS!!

There's a lot of bad news right now.  As a matter of fact, that's the kind of news that people seem to be drawn to most quickly, its the kind of news that travels fast.

But as Christians we have good news!

Jesus died for our sins, so we are forgiven.

This world and all its troubles will pass away one day and we have the gift of eternal life waiting for us if we give our hearts to Him!

Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

So for today, my writer's block has led me to these truths:

God is with us all.

He longs for us to know His Son as our Savior.

He walks the roads we walk.  We are never alone.

He longs for us to share this good news with others.

I guess writing through a writer's block works after all.

Sitting at His Feet Even More While I Can't Walk on Mine,

Sorry I Haven't Written Much Yet.....

I started my new part-time teaching job today and I'm subbing tomorrow at a different school, so I've been in a bit of a whirlwind since I got back home.

But the real issue with my lack of writing is an injury to my foot a couple of weeks ago which has flared up and had me in tears this evening.

I'm pretty sure it is a condition called planters fasciitis.  Maybe some of you have had it or know someone who has..if so, I am open to any suggestions.

Praying I can make it through a day with sweet little second graders tomorrow....

Love you all,

I'm Home......Again............

With my hair up in a pony tail, luggage still in the living room, the washing machine running, and my contacts not yet in my eyes, I had to sit down and check on all of you.

I miss sharing life with all of you when I am away, but believe me when I say that I think of you daily when I see God in sunsets, in roses, and in all sorts of other unexpected places. I constantly take pictures and store away thoughts to share with you as I travel.

God was with me on this journey to my grandpa's funeral, and I just know and believe He is ever-present with all of you as well.

Mandy, you commented on a recent blog post, and my heart simply broke as I read of the struggles your family is facing. It was a moment when I wish I had access to Donald Trump's resources and could just send you a gift to help you get through a very tough season. But then again, I'm not always so sure that God wants things fixed as easily as I do. There's such an opportunity for growth when we are truly trusting in Him to provide NOT just our wants but also our NEEDS day by day. My prayer for you and your family, Mandy, is that God will shower you with unexpected blessings as you are doing just that right this minute. I pray that your four children will witness a mom and dad who are leaning on the ONLY SOURCE of TRUE STRENGTH and HOPE!!! I would love for you to email me, though, so I can write to you a bit more. :)

To all of you who prayed our family through this emotional weekend, thank you.

I will write more a little later and share some things that God shared with me along the way.

Much love,

I'll be home on Wednesday.........
My son Todd and I arrived last night at my parent's house around 10 p.m.

It's now 2:20 a.m., I am up getting ready for our journey to Oklahoma where we'll have Grandpa's funeral in the tiny town he lived in most all of his life.

My grandpa was such a constant in my life.

Just looking at pictures of him makes me smile and feel thankful for a grandpa who loved me unconditionally.

Even though Grandpa hasn't been able to visit in the past few years like he once did, his sweet little smile was enough for me to know that "all was well" in his soul.

I will be away from my computer until next Wednesday, so I had to send a quick "good bye" and "I love you" to all of you and a "thank you" for every prayer.

Thankful for each of you and asking you to especially remember the people of Haiti in your daily prayers.

Praying the Lord's love will fill each of your day's with grace and beauty,

The Mysteries of God's Plan..........................
I remember the morning of Olivia's birthday last week how Olivia was having a kind-of "blue" birthday. It was a snow day (again), so she wouldn't be seeing her friends at school like she had hoped. As far as she knew there were no big plans for her special day.....

It was just another day.

I was trying to "sneak" around and get everything in order for her surprise party, but I vividly remember feeling a little sorry for Olivia because she had no clue that anything special was coming. She tried to invite a few friends over, and they all seemed to be busy. Little did she know that they were all planning to surprise her in just a few hours.

As I left the house to run some errands, Olivia sat alone on the couch watching a cartoon. I leaned back in the door and said, "Olivia, everything I'm doing today is for your birthday. Trust me. It will be a good birthday." And I left.

Eventually a few friends showed up to go sledding for a while, which did help pass the afternoon, but as I was driving from our house to run a few birthday errands, I remember so clearly the feeling that overcame me as I felt God was trying to say this to me,

"Tammy, you are Olivia. You do not know all the things I have waiting for you. The plans I am orchestrating at this very moment so that one day there will be a celebration like you have never seen or could even imagine. Please just trust me."

I felt so reborn in that moment.

It was as if something clicked inside me that I already believed was true, but I had never seen played out so clearly in "real life."

Olivia had to make a choice to either trust me and have a great day or not trust me and be miserable all day.

We all have a choice too.

We can either trust God and have a great life or not trust Him and be miserable.

So, when I sometimes read about a breakthrough in brain tumor research, I have to take a deep breath and not get angry because it came too late for Nick. Or when a friend is struggling because of an unfaithful spouse and I can't fix the problem, I have to pray that God will work in ways I simply can't. Or another friend is deep in grief and I'm not sure what to say, I have to pray that His Comfort will be enough. Or when I watch the news and see the devastation in Haiti.......................

I have to trust God.

Not that he caused the cancer or the divorce or the loss of another child or the earthquake,

but that He will take the imperfections of this world and somehow use them to draw people closer to Him.

I watched Wall-e tonight with Olivia for the first time.
The people in the "perfect world" had no worries, no problems, no need to even walk............they floated through space being fed and entertained constantly. But guess what? They began to get bored and grumble, and in the end, they were finally able to get back to planet earth where they had to grow crops and work and rebuild destroyed cities...........but they were happy again!

God knows us better than we know ourselves.

Perfection on this planet is never going to happen. And even if it could, we wouldn't appreciate it for long in our earthly bodies.

So, God uses our pain and sadness and questions to teach us compassion and trust. He uses our struggles to draw us back to Him over and over again.

Tonight, as I think about my grandpa being safe at Home and as I think about the accident that Maria (our son Evan's girlfriend) was in today (here are a couple pictures of her car) where her car was totaled but her life was spared, I have many questions about life and death. And at the same time, I am thankful that I do not understand the mysteries of God's plan.

I am, oh, so thankful that Maria is still here, but I am equally sad that my friend's daughter is not. I am very thankful that many kids may be cured from brain cancer some day, but I am also very sad that Nick was not.

What do I do with these conflicting emotions?

I think I do just what I wanted Olivia to do on her birthday when everything didn't appear as it should to her.

I simply trust.

And in trusting I am free to stop questioning. I am free to rest in the Promise that one day my faith will be sight!

And oh, what a glorious day that will be!!!!

Full of Questions but Trying to Patiently Wait for Answers,

Please say a little prayer for our family............

My sweet grandpa passed away this morning. This is a picture of me with him last Christmas. We decided to go see him for the holiday after Nick passed away on November 29th of last year. It was healing for me to be with my grandpa, and now I am so thankful that we made the trip.

I'll be heading to Oklahoma Saturday with my parents for the funeral.

Please pray for us as we make the 20-hour trip.

Much love,

Harvest Time Doesn't Stop in Winter...

The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 

Matt. 21:43harvest

The trees may be bare and the flowers hidden under a blanket of snow, but God promises that just as certainly as winter followed fall, spring will follow winter!

And that gives me Hope on a cold, winter day when I'm longing to see the wonderful colors of springtime!

In a very earthly sense, I look forward to spring and all that it promises!  Sunshine, warmth, blossoming trees and flowers!

But in a spiritual sense, I LIVE for spring.....where death is swallowed up in victory! 

And in living for spring, I have to remember that God calls me as a Christian to live a life of fruitfulness all year round!  He speaks very clearly about the dangers of becoming spiritually "dead," and I believe that happens when we stop bearing fruit.

So, even though the earth seems to have taken a break from bearing fruit, I know that underneath the cold, hard ground, God is working to produce yet another spring (if He does not return before then).

And because I believe this, I desire to be a living promise that spring is coming.  This means I must walk with Jesus 24/7 and share Him every chance I can.  I must prune away those things that hold me back from being ALL HIS.  Sometimes that pruning is painful, but I must trust that God's ultimate desire is to have all of me for only Him. 

It may be winter, but believe me, God is still in the harvesting business.

I pray that your day today is filled with opportunities to bear much fruit!

Heading into the field,

Books That Are Ministering to Me These Days and Reflections on 2009

The Bible

I have enjoyed my one-year chronological Bible so much over the past year.  I was sharing in Sunday school yesterday about how neat it was to finish reading of the incredibly descriptive, Heavenly events in Revelation on December 31st and then begin January 1st back in the quiet, peaceful garden as God was just creating the Heavens and the Earth.  I love that "His story" is such beautiful "history."

The Road God Walks by Germaine Copeland.

Fasting by Jentezen Franklin.

Jesus Calling by Saray Young.

Jesus Day By Day by Beth Moore.

Daniel Bible Study with Beth Moore.

The more I read, the more I realize how much there is to learn about God's love and faithfulness.

It's been a little crazy here with five snow days in a row, the older boys moving back into their dorms, and Tim diving back into the college work world.

I'm going to continue subbing when I can, but I have agreed to take on a part-time job with an area elementary school where I will be working two days a week helping fourth graders one-on-one with their writing skills.  I feel that this job is just what I need right now to help our family financially while allowing me to make a difference in the lives of some children I have yet to meet.

We have a lot of work to do with Nick's foundation, and we need prayers for wisdom as we decide which aspects of the foundation to concentrate on in this coming year.

As I look back on 2009, I have so many thoughts, so many emotions...I am....

Thankful that the Lord was faithful in all my nights and days of agony and tears

Thankful that my friends allowed me to grieve openly as well as privately with no "expectations"

Thankful that my marriage survived yet another rocky test as we grieved the loss of our second child

Thankful that our surviving children have continued to love us and surround us with reasons to smile

Thankful that Nick's friends have checked on me and included me in their life journeys..I still love them all so much

Thankful that I have met so many other grieving moms and dads and have been able to share their sorrow while meeting some of Nick's new Heavenly friends in such personal ways

Thankful that love has blossomed in my brother's life, Erich's life, and Evan's life.....

Thankful that God's Words that strengthened me while Nick was fighting cancer now comfort me as I live with grief

As I look forward into 2010 there is so much I want to do and be....

A better friend

A better mom

A better wife

A better Christian

A better daughter

A better sister

A better human being

Sometimes I feel as if I cannot complete in a day all of the things I want to do and then I smile as I realize that God has given me the ability to set goals again, live again, press on again.

My sadness is different this year.

I can talk about Nick now and smile..even laugh.

Oh, my heart is still broken and I know tough days will continue to face me, BUT

it seems with every passing day I realize more and more how blessed I am to have been Nick's mom and even more than that how blessed Nick is to be HOME ALREADY!  Away from this world with all of its troubles....

Looking up so much more than I look around and feeling thankful for the view,

A Few Thoughts Tonight.....

Right this minute I am trying to regroup from staying up ALL NIGHT at a junior high lock-in at church as a chaperone.......

Playing "sardines" at 3 a.m. and "four square" at 6 a.m. has taken more of a toll on me than it use to!!!!

Continuing to pray for our friends Tracy and Cheri as they face Sasha's funeral tomorrow afternoon.

Thankful that the Bible includes this promise:

Psalm 34:18

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
       and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Trusting Him to Remain Faithful to These Words for our friends,

Snowy Birthday.......

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Our backyard today.....we're getting more snow tonight. olivias  birthday and quelf 077

Thank you, Donna, for making Olivia's lemon cake!!!  olivias  birthday and quelf 076

  I still can't believe Olivia is 12!!!!!!!!!!!  When I started my blog, she was only 9....where has the time gone?????? 

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Maria and Tim, I couldn't have pulled off the surprise without your help!   Thank you!

olivias  birthday and quelf 099 Olivia made a "rice creation" at dinner! 

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I couldn't help but smile as I plopped this piece of randomly cut cake onto a plate and then realized it was a pretty good "thumbs up!"  I just love when God shows up to remind me that Nick is doing great...

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Loved this gift bag!!! 

Cameron, you know just how much Olivia adores pigs!!

olivias  birthday and quelf 204 Some of Olivia's friends who were able to brave the snowy weather met us at Tres Hermonos tonight for a little surprise birthday party..thanks for coming, guys!

We threw this party together quickly, so please forgive me if your child did not hear about the little get-together.  We would have invited more if we would have had more time to get in touch.

In the midst of great sadness here in our small town, it is bittersweet to celebrate a birthday.  I'm learning more and more every day about the reality that God longs for us to cherish every minute while being fully aware that no extra minutes are promised. 

What we have in this very moment is truly

all that we have (here).

So for today, we cherished the minutes of Olivia's 12th birthday as much as we could while both keeping in touch with and carrying with us the heartache of our friends who are grieving the loss of their daughter.

Painfully aware of the fragile nature of life and yet faithfully and joyfully clinging to the Hope and Promise of Heaven,

Heavy Hearted Tonight.....

Dear friends from church had to say good-bye to their daughter tonight after a tragic car accident earlier today. 

Please keep the Brown family in your prayers.


Placing them in His lap for comfort, strength, and peace,

It'll be worth it!

Luke 19:3-5

3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

2009 cruise pics 0953 resized   They knew what they were getting into as they looked at the rock-climbing wall that loomed at the front of our ship towering above the ocean waters.2009 cruise pics 0954 resized  The shoes they were given were designed especially for maneuvering the surface of the rock wall.2009 cruise pics 0959 resized

Evan chose the middle track which was definitely the most difficult.  The rocks jutted out in a way that made it appear as if you were going to fall backwards as you climbed.

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Maria chose the track to the left.  I was so proud of her for making it all the way to the top to ring the bell!

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Maria was venturing up as Evan was gliding back down.  I'm sure that seeing Evan's successful climb gave Maria an extra boost of determination!

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Todd chose the track on the far right, and truthfully, I was shocked that he decided to take on this challenge.  He has a HUGE fear of the ocean water, and I never thought he would want to climb to a height where he could see it so clearly.  But he did, and he made it to the top!!2009 cruise pics 1007 resizedAfter they all made it down, my sister video-taped them sharing their "secrets" to rock climbing!  It was cute the way she interviewed if they had just finished some type of marathon on live TV.

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When I look back on these pictures, it's easy for me to see how life is just like rock-climbing.

First, we have to face life head on and KNOW that it's not always going to be easy.

Then we have to make sure we're equipped to face the challenges that come along the way.

Just like Evan, Maria, and Todd faced different types of climbs, it is good for me to remember that not everyone is going to face the same kinds of struggles in life that I do.  When I remember that, then I don't become angry as often or feel some sort injustice because of the pain I have had to endure. 

It's also good for me to remember that, just as Evan's successful climb encouraged Maria to keep climbing, there are people around me who are facing things I have already had to face and in seeing me "survive" they may be encouraged and realize that they too can make it if they just keep on spite of the pain.

And just as Todd didn't let his fear keep him from climbing, I don't want my fear to keep me from moving forward.

I want to be able to ring the bell someday in my "spiritual life!"

I want to keep on climbing even when it feels like I'm falling backwards.

I want to help others who may feel like they're that they will know THEY CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Life is tough.

Looking up is the only way for me to keep climbing with hope.  I hope your day today is filled with moments of LOOKING UP and that you will remember that the tougher the climb may feel the more rewarding the ringing of the bell will be!!!!

Now, I'm just praying that I can remember these very things all day long too!

Like Zacchaeus in the verse above, I often "fall short" in life (maybe not physically but definitely emotionally and spiritually)

,,,,,..but I know Jesus is coming, and I want to see Him!!!

So, I'm going to climb whatever I have to in order to see my Jesus!

I know it will be worth it!!!

A Breathtaking Moment....

Psalm 50

  The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
       speaks and summons the earth
       from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.

From Zion, perfect in beauty,
       God shines forth.

2009 cruise pics 0489 resized Habakkuk 3:4

      His splendor was like the sunrise;
       rays flashed from his hand,
       where his power was hidden.

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 I caught these pictures of the sunset on Tuesday evening of our cruise just as Uncle Dick and Aunt Betty's anniversary reception was ending.  Some of us slipped outside to take a few pictures, but we were never quite able to capture the beauty of those few fleeting moments we had witnessed from the upper deck.

Still, there was something majestic about being so close to such a beautiful sunset.  It was almost as if God's very Presence slipped back to earth for a few minutes just long enough to remind us of His Splendor and His Faithfulness.

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In just minutes the sun sank behind the lowest clouds, but we soaked in what we could of a beautiful sunset over the ocean, and I'm so thankful that we did.

Psalm 72:5

           "He will endure as long as the sun,

       as long as the moon, through all generations."

Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for

the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw

the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down

out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride

beautifully dressed for her husband. And I

heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now

the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live

with them. They will be his people, and God

himself will be with them and be their God. He

will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be

no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for

the old order of things has passed away....."

"...I did not see a temple in the city, because

the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its


The city does not need the sun or the moon to

shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,

and the Lamb is its lamp."

Thankful for an ever-present, splendor-filled, and faithful Heavenly Father,

I couldn't resist........

 2009 cruise pics 0637 As I watched Olivia in the waves......

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She laughed.........2009 cruise pics 0653

And laughed when the ocean waves washed the sand up over her head time and time again!2009 cruise pics 0612

As I caught this shot of my nephew Ben as he walked by..he's grown into such a handsome young man........  2009 cruise pics 0601

As I snapped this picture of my sister and her husband......2009 cruise pics 0594

As I watched all the people playing in the waves......

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As I posed for this photo with Tim......2009 cruise pics 0627    As I wondered what Todd and Ben were talking about as they lay in the sun....

2009 cruise pics 0674 Even as this photo was being taken of all of us who spent that particular day on Paradise Island....

I knew deep in my heart that someone was missing.

And I couldn't resist.

I had to let him know how I felt before I could leave that sandy beach.

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