Garden Project

We’re adding a couple of raised beds in one portion of our garden this year, and thanks to some friends, we have free pallet wood to do it with. It’s not as easy as it looks! Dad and I worked on this all afternoon. We have 4 to make, the one below being the biggest at 3×8, and the others being 3×5.

Study Buddies

When I work at my desk during the wintertime, I often have a “study buddy” kitten. They love sitting under my lamp to soak up the warmth and get some scratching. The only problem, is that they tend to think my work isn’t nearly as important as their little selves, and so they sit and roll on my books, purr in my face, and bat at my pencil or hand. It’s a distraction I can tolerate.😀

10-MONTH-old Knox

10-YEAR-old Twinkles

An Iceberg

On this frigid January day, with temps in the teens and a negative wind chill, we have descended into the yawning chasm of our basement…

…to tackle this iceberg inside of our house:

A long overdue freezer defrost is finally underway!

Merry Christmas!

With love and snow, we wish you a blessed Christmas full of joy, peace, and abundant Life in Jesus Christ, the Savior!

Here’s a little peek into our Christmas Eve…

It will be a white Christmas this year!

Around the dinner table tonight

Our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner – Lasagna, garlic bread, and salad

With 7-month old kittens in the house this year, we opted to decorate our Christmas tree in Victorian-fashion, and with non-heirloom ornaments

Reading of the birth of Jesus and singing corresponding carols together. It’s a favorite tradition that always puts our hearts in the right place!

Thankful – In Spirit and In Truth

Over a week of the thankfulness challenge (and also November!) has gone by, and I have struggled at times to enter into praise before my Lord – my thanks seem trivial, and my heart lacks animation. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I am thankful for them, but though my lips move uttering my thanks… my heart does not grasp the God who has given them. I do not know Him better, or find myself at all humbled by these contemplations. Who am I thankful to? What Greatness has bestowed these things? Where is my motivation for thankfulness coming from?

Oh loved ones in the Lord, may we not be satisfied with mere words, but continue seeking our Lord’s face until our knees buckle and we must bow down before His Majesty! In this month leading up to Thanksgiving day, may our thanks be a necessary overflow from a heart that knows it’s Maker and it’s Lover! May our thanks be a prayer, an offering, a sweet-smelling savor for God’s sake alone, a response to our own frailty… may they mingle with our tears of unworthiness and yet acceptance before the great throne of our King on high. Offer your thanks in spirit and in truth, and be thankful unto HIM, whose name is forever, whose holiness cannot be described, whose love is everlasting, whose judgments search the heart and are true and right. May His name be praised!

The Psalms are filled with exhortations to praise the name of the Lord. And that is where my heart is today.

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)

…my Savior, I thank You for Your work of salvation, and grace, and mercy poured upon me freely! I thank you for being the champion of my soul…

…Lover of my soul, I thank you for seeking ME out personally, for so loving me with an Your everlasting love that You will not let me go…

…my Creator, I thank you for Your faithfulness to Your creation! I am always in awe at the thought that Your work as Creator did not end on the 6th day of time, but rather continues even now as You hold everything together and sustain us through each moment! All for the manifestation of Your glory and for the love of Your people!…

…Father of the fatherless, I thank You for upholding us when others fail and bringing comfort to hurting souls, for putting adoption into the hearts of Your people and being the Might for those who have no might…

…our Holy Judge, I thank You that Your ways are just and right, that no man can change Your mind, that in Your judgement You are not capricious or changeable to sway from one view to another, but righteous through all generations…

…my King and my God, I thank You for Your sovereign control! What comfort and peace, what humble reverence and trust is mine! You rule over Your people in mercy and wisdom, for their good and their salvation. My heart rests secure in You…

…O Strength of my life, I thank You for being the defense of my soul, for protecting me from the enemy’s mortal blows. You make me confident, You take away all my fears, and I thank You for the great Bulwark You are in my heart…

May my thanks ever flow before the Lord’s throne as an offering poured out in love and praise, from a heart that is wholly fixed on pleasing Him and no one else – not myself, and not you. More of You, dear Jesus, and so much less of me!

Humble Thanks For A Sweet Weekend

We are home from the Worship of God conference this weekend, and we have been unimaginably blessed. The humbleness and Christ-centeredness of the speakers and their messages has been a beautiful thing and my heart has been convicted of my own pride and selfishness. It hurts to see it in myself, in the ones I love, and in those who pass by all around me. My heart is often broken in sorrow over it.

We heard a prayer offered for the next speaker that he would “disappear,” and another speaker started by asking that no one would applause him but rather say amen, alleluia or praise the Lord. True worship can only happen when man is abased and the Lord is exalted. All glory be to God!

I have also been moved to prayer often over the last few days, and have realized my faithlessness in the past. I have been exhorted to joyfulness in the Lord, and I will praise Him for His wonderful goodness and humbly trust the rest to His merciful care.

My loving Father, I praise Your name and thank You…

…for godly men who teach and exhort with humility and conviction
…for the fellowship of the saints
…for the instruction of Thy Word to all of life
…for the great delight and satisfaction You give us in worshipping you
…for Your work of transformation (Rom 12:2), and of conforming (Rom 8:29, Phil 2:5 and 2:13) in the lives of so many beautiful families, small and large, new and established
…for the access You grant us unto You in prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit to pray according to Your will
…for the confidence and contentment and joy that You have more firmly fixed within my heart

…for the conception of beauty that You created in us
…for the beauty of many sincere and loving voices lifted in worship
…for the expressions of our hearts found in the Psalms
…for convicting my heart, for convicting my mama’s heart, and for convicting the hearts of others I have talked to – I pray that we do not lose this tenderness!
…for new acquaintances
…for gathering so many people together from all around the country with the unifying desire to know You and obey Your Word
…for the blessing of simply being around each other, and the support and encouragement we can give each other – Oh Lord, work in our hearts that it may be so!

…for joyful smiles that come from the inside and lift the spirit!
…for examples of biblical discipline in families, and children that respect and love their parents for it
…for content babies in church
…for fathers who command their children after them (Gen 18:19)
…for the great mercy of Your ways, especially in forgiving our lack of understanding and the revelation of Your will as we continue seeking Your face to learn and please You more
…for the exhortation to fellowship and unity around a meal on Lord’s day afternoons – particularly in the church, but also in the home – for the purpose of continuing to worship and please You!
…for the order and wisdom You gave in Your worship this morning and the peace and sweetness that it contributed
…for a safe trip home

At the Worship of God Conference

We are so thankful that we are able to attend The Worship of God conference! The first keynote is very soon (and we are REALLY excited to hear it!), so let me quickly post some pictures from this morning.

We drove all day yesterday and slept late this morning.

Some of the necessary comforts from home: organic coffee with raw honey…

We sat outside together as we each finished in the bathroom, and read God’s Word, discussed some things, and relaxed from the past few days of hurried trip preparations.

For breakfast, some of us had bread and butter with apples, and some had homemade instant oatmeal. Bringing food was a challenge on this trip, as the only way we have of cooking or heating anything is hot water!

We picked up our registration packet.

Toured the grounds here at Ridgecrest conference center.

And saw some beautiful mountain scenery!

From the overlook, the three of us girls hiked back down to the conference center.

And now the conference begins!😀 More updates will come as time allows.

Much love in the Spirit (Col 1:8),

2013 Give Thanks x7 Challenge

If we are talking about things we are thankful for, one of the first things on my list is this challenge, hosted by The King’s Blooming Rose Ministries. As I have participated over the past three years, I have seen my heart grow warm and content in the realization of the great mercies of God, and I am always sorry to see the end of November come! I do, of course, continue praising my Lord, but the accountability and sweet fellowship, encouraging me in an ever upward motion, is precious.

So what exactly is it? For the whole month of November you record 7 things a day that you are thankful for, and optionally, post them on a private group to share with the other ladies participating. The praises and biblical application spilling forth is a blessed thing.

Psalm 145:7 says, “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.” This is talking about literally “gushing forth” the great and sobering goodness of the Lord, and as I meditated on it last year, I was encouraged and challenged.

I hope you’ll join me and my sisters, and so many other sweet ladies, as we praise the Lord for all that He has done.

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Holy… Lord, God, Almighty –
Perfect in power, in love, in purity.
Early in the morning, my song shall rise to thee!

On our birthdays, we each choose something special we want to do. This year, I wanted to go the beach for sunrise. My family was so sweet, and despite some funny looks and moments of disbelief that they were actually going to get up at 3:30 in the morning to go to the beach, they embraced my idea and made it a wonderful time.

It was a beautiful morning. A lovely day. Full of the goodness of the Lord, the blessings of family and the priceless friendships we share with each other. My sisters are so precious! My parents tender and careful of me!

That moment when the sun hits the horizon – breathtaking!

A 6:55 sunrise (and being out of bed and more than just technically awake for it) is quite amazing for the mood. And the pictures.

We brought bagels with us, and had a nice breakfast at a picnic table on the boardwalk… laughing and feeling a little self-conscious as we were the only ones sitting there eating bagels while everyone else was jogging and exercising on down the boardwalk. *smile* Oh, well. I have a sneaky feeling most of them were jealous anyway.

beautiful wrapping job by a crafty sister!

Then the three of us girls walked up the beach a ways, while mom and dad took a little nap with the gentle rolling and sighing of waves in their ears.

the flowers in my hair are the contents of that gift package!

Sand crabs. Ranging from little…

…to big, and from one…

…to a crazy mass!

And of course, with everybody dressed up in matching clothes, and a photographer-wanna-be and a memory-saving-momma on the beach together with a decent camera, we had a photoshoot.

behind the scenes adjustments

It wasn’t all serious…

Before we went home, we headed up the coast a little ways to a beach with a pier, and took some pictures there. I’ve really been wanting to take pictures under a pier, and the conditions were delightful!

Mama took the one above, and the next two, from the pier. Last time we were at this beach there was a shack at the end of the pier, and now, after hurricane Sandy, there are empty poles and this sign. The boardwalk at this beach is also still not rebuilt. God’s ways are unsearchable and unstoppable, but full of righteousness and mercy.

We stopped for ice cream and had “Coffee Mud Pie,” “Caramel Lover’s,” and “Rum Raisin.” You know, because eating bagels while watching people exercise really works up an appetite for ice cream!

My birthday was also made very special this year by a couple of friends who did some really thoughtful things for me. I am constantly in awe of the blessings God has given, and sweet friends are one of them. I am ever more grateful with each passing day for who He is, and the mighty work of His hands!

A Heart for the Difficult Days

(written this morning)

It’s one of those days. The wet dripping outside reflecting the (now clean…) wet spots throughout the house in the aftermath of a bad night of kitty indigestion (those of you with cats prone to such will chuckle in sympathy at this). Grey clouds casting their shadows over all the little corners normally bright with the newness of a breaking day. Muddy spots making our yard and garden look like a mess meant to match certain areas of the house left to themselves over the weekend. The heaviness of the humidity settling over your lungs like the reluctance to face a new school week already behind from the previous one.

It’s one of those days where you don’t feel like going to too much trouble, yet it’s precisely days like this that require more of us than the “normal” ones… days like this that demand a servant’s heart, full of joy and diligence in what the Lord has given. And today, I am smiling and crying and bursting with the desire to laugh out loud as I am poignantly aware of the reality of my Lord’s great salvation.

Through the gloom, my Savior has called to me. He has rescued me from the restless wanderings of my own heart and given me everything in Himself. It is a theme of my life that has repeated again today – the Lord bringing me to the end of myself, and showing Himself to be so much greater than I ever believed Him to be. And every single time it happens, my previous idea of who my Lord and Savior is falls apart, and I learn to know Him deeper. I learn to know myself to be so much less. I learn to love the Lord more, and to delight in whatever He delights in. Even, and especially, if that means joyfully working hard through a dreary day.

How can I help rejoicing when the Lord is with me? How can I not be thankful for a day that has turned my heart back to the Lord? How can I refuse to do a hard task when it is a royal privilege that honors and pleases my King? How can I use these same lips that praise the Lord to grumble moodily about the day ahead? Oh no, the Lord has created me, redeemed me, set me on high with Him, put a new song in my heart… and I will rejoice in Him!

This day is a blessing in disguise. Deep disguise, but with an even deeper blessing.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19)