Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Do You Know?

I mentioned a few posts back that some friends and I are doing a study on the life of David this summer. It's been not only a great study of the Word of God, but also a great time to get to know friends better and find out a little more about their backgrounds. It so cool to know someone for a long time then find something out about their past that makes their story even more amazing.
I always feel like my religious upbringing makes my testimony a little bland, you know? Like, how cool would it be if I said, "I was headed straight to hell in a handbasket when the Lord picked me up and turned me around and changed my life forever." Wait, that's exactly what did happen. See, it doesn't matter what your life is like growing up, we're all sinners heading for hell unless we except salvation from Jesus Christ.
A few times this summer salvation questions have been brought up in my small group. I've mentally kicked myself for not having my study Bible on hand instead of my "pretty church Bible" that I don't ever write in. My study Bible is worn out! It's literally falling apart. That's why I leave it at home. I don't want the minor prophets to fall out and end up all over the sanctuary floor! Inside it though, is so much truth.
I've been part of some of the most amazing church revivals. I've heard most of the greats: Billy Graham, Henry Blackaby, and Louie Giglio among hundreds of others. But it was a revival message preached by Ken Freeman that changed my outlook on salvation forever.
The name of the sermon was "Test Your Faith." It was February 13, 2000. I know because I wrote it all in my Bible afterwards. I was sitting close to the front of the congregation at the Summit Church with my boyfriend. It's likely we were more concerned with our Valentine's Day plans than anything else, but from the time Ken walked on stage I was captivated. If you've never heard Ken speak, you're missing out. He delivers his message in a fresh way that has you interested in what the word of God has to say.
He preached on 2 Corinthians 13:5, which says, "Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is in you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith." He spoke to those who, like me, had grown up in church and knew all the answers to all the Sunday School questions. He asked if we'd ever questioned our faith, then went on to give five "test questions" to test the work of God in our lives.(I'm including scripture that you can look up on your own)
  1. Did you feel the Holy Spirit start to work in your life first?-John 16:5-11,6:44
  2. Do you realize you are lost?-Romans 3:23
  3. Do you have saving faith from God?-Ephesians 2:8-9, The whole book of Hebrews, but especially chapter 11.
  4. Do you have repentance?-2 Corinthians 7:10
  5. Do you feel guilty and unforgiven all the time?-Acts 5:31, 10:43
It's so easy to question if you are actually a believer. I remember wondering over and over again if my prayer "took." I've heard so many people talk about how they "pray the prayer" over and over just to be sure. Friends, you can know! This is how! You don't have to live your life wondering if you are saved or not. Test your faith. Did you fail the test? Ask Jesus to save you. 2 Corinthians 13 goes on to say, "Change your ways. Encourage one another. Live in harmony and peace." Among these things should also be the fruits of the Spirit which you'll find in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control." Don't have these things in your life? Then your not walking in the spirit. They aren't things that you can work for. They're things that are in you if the Holy Spirit controls your life.
If you read through this and still have questions contact me or someone else you know can help you. We are all in need of a Savior. It doesn't matter what kind of life you live. We need Jesus.
**EDIT**I should mention this also helps when trying to decide if your children are ready to make a commitment yet. That's a tough decision to make on your own, so cover it with a lot of prayer.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Anointed

The last few weeks have been SO tough on me. I mean, if I'm being honest, the last year has been tough on me. There are a lot of things that I would change about our life if I could, but for reasons I haven't quite wrapped my heart around yet this is where the Lord has us.
It's hard, being in a place you don't really want to be in, ehh? I've been doing a study with some mom friends of mine on the life of David, and this past week I've been blown away by the life he lived. Was he perfect? Absolutely not, and he was quick to talk about his flaws. What really has me thinking though is the waiting period between when David was anointed and when he actually became King.
This story can be found in 1Samuel 16:7, but I'll do my best to work through it with you. Obviously, I'm no Bible scholar, but thankfully the Lord knows my heart...See, when David was about 15 Samuel(God also chose him at an early age to be a prophet. ) came to his father Jessie and says, "Hey Jessie, one of your sons is to be king." Of course Jessie starts to put up all of his handsome strong sons. One by one Samuel(actually the LORD) rejects the boys of his house, then he says to Jessie, "Is this it?" to which Jessie says, "Well, I have this one other scrawny son out in the fields with the sheep." Samuel says(in his best British accent), "Well, go on then." SO, Jessie sends for Dave. I can just picture a cute little scruffy headed boy with lanky legs, sparkly eyes full of wonder, and hands full of lambs. He walks in and immediately the LORD says, "That's him! Anoint him KING!" So, Samuel anoints him as king in the presence of all of his looked over brothers. Here is where the story gets really juicy.
So, here we have this 15 year old boy who is anointed by the Lord, but the Lord has plans for him BEFORE he's ready for him to be king. Davie has several jobs that through the years bring him experience and strength of heart. God takes him before Goliath. God sends him into Saul's service as a harp player and armor-bearer. Then there's this whole long section in 1Samuel about Saul's jealousy of David and how he tried to kill him, but the Lord keeps him safe, because he's got great plans for our little shepherd boy. SO, TWENTY-TWO years go by before David actually begins to reign over Israel. 22 YEARS! After all that time, once Dave gets on the throne he looks back and he GOD was the source of his station in life. There could be NO other explanation. God had guided David through those 22 years and allowed EXACTLY what he wanted to build David into the man he needed him to be. I'm sure there were times when Dave looked at his circumstances and thought, "I'd really rather NOT be here!", but once he was on the other side he had the insight to be able to thank God for where he'd brought him and how he'd delivered him.
Now, I've not been anointed King(too bad, because I KNOW if I can run this house like a well oiled machine I could run a country! JUST KIDDING!), but I have been placed in the position of wife and mother. There are circumstances that I HATE! There are things I'd LOVE to change, but after reading this story I've GOT to believe that God isn't going to take me to a place without a reason and I'm going to make it through and be a better person for it. And you know what happens when I look at my life with that perspective? JOY! Unexplainable joy. Joy that, honestly, I'm missing in some areas of my life.
God is waiting for me to move back into a place of submission to my husband. He's ready for me to be his supporter. He's ready for me to give back control to Manly. The best part is that not only have I been chosen to be wife and mother, but my MAN has been chosen to by my counter parts! He's made Manly the perfect fit for me. Together, working in the roles God has called us to do, we are unstoppable.
This waiting period can be tough, but stop and look at where you've already come! Think back over your life and recognize God's presence in your past circumstances! Once you start to list those you'll remember it might not be the FIRST time you've been in such a waiting period before. Remembering those times throughout your life lets you more fully trust His involvement in your life NOW.
Listen to these words from Priscilla Shirer, "Whatever your life entails right now-no matter how far removed it seems from what you expected-He has anointed you and divinely equipped you to not merely handle it but to thrive in it.  If you can't be faithful in a little, God will not give you the larger assignment. He may want to adjust your life and character in smaller assignments to prepare you for the larger ones. "
Yeah, I want to be like Dave the shepherd boy. I want to look back and be content with where I've been and where I'm going. Where did David go? Well, you might just find him in Matthew chapter 1 as part of the genealogy of Jesus. I'm just sayin...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweet Days of Summer

I can't believe how fast summer is passing by! Everyone keeps asking me when I'm starting school with the littles. To that I say, "NOT YET!!" It's not time to crack open the books just yet. We've been spending our days playing outside, playing with friends, going to VBS, singing in musicals, and sucking down our weight in popsicles. I just love the sweet sweet days of summer!



 
















Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six Kids in Walt Disney World= Vacation Safety 101

In September we'll take the Littles to Disney for our third time. While I don't claim to be a Disney pro, as I'm sure that would take many more trips than my novice three, I do love a nicely planned trip including a family safety plan!
We've never really taken too many precautions before, because we've always taken a couple double strollers and worn the littlest baby in a sling, so there has literally never been a moment when they weren't right next to us. We have two that are too big for strollers now though. Three really, but I still let her(Addi) stand in the sit and stand when her little legs get tired. We also had a TERRIBLE time last time losing DADDY and his share of the kids!! He would take someone to the bathroom or to ride something no one else wanted to ride, then he'd be gone for an hour. I'd call and call his phone, but he wouldn't hear the ringer. By the time I'd find him I'd be ready to skin his red head! SO, this year we are bumping up the safety for the kids and for us.
While I pray that we'll all be safe and no one will get lost, I know that it's possible, so I want to be sure and cover our bases. Here are a few of our ideas:
  • I almost always dress the kids in at least coordinating colors, but while we are on vacation I always try to dress them in the same color. I always try to match them too, if possible so that I can just glance down at myself and know what color they are wearing that day. This helps SO much in a crowd or in play areas! I also try to match them in the pool, which is a huge help.
  • We plan to take daily pictures of them individually and as a group each day so that if something does happen we will have the most recent picture possible.
  • I'm going to create a luggage/dog tag type card that will have minimal personal information that they will have pinned on the inside of their pocket each day. Be careful not to put too much information about the child, and never put it in an area that's easily seen so that strangers who might like to take your kids home with them won't be able to call them by name, and know your name and phone number to tell them something like, "Well, your mom, Leslie, said you were supposed to come with me, KK!" My kids would likely go with them even though they've been trained NOT to! Just be careful about what you put on your ID card and where you put it. Mostly, you just want someone to be able to help your children if needed. You may also want to include hotel information. I have some friends who actually made dog tags for their boys. That works too. There are these CUTE temporary tats, if you're interested...
  • We will go over what cast members look like with the kids and teach them that if anything happens to find one of them. These people are EXPERTS on finding lost momma's and daddy's quickly.
  • We have already decided on specific meeting points in each park. These are pretty simple, as there are landmarks in each park, but we have a specific place near each landmark where we'll meet if separated. This is especially for Manly and I.
  • Because there's so much to do at night in Disney World I plan to buy several packages of glow sticks for the kids to wear to make it a little easier to see them. I know there are going to be LOTS of other people with glow sticks, but it will help anyway. You can get a pack at the dollar store and a mondo pack at WalMart for really cheap.
  • Use strollers to keep kids close. Even the ones who can't SIT in the stroller can hold onto them. I have these little handles on my joovy that I call "power bars." When we are out I have each of the older kids hold on to a power bar to keep my stroller powered up. Ha! Works every time...so far. You can also simply hold hands to stay together. Always have the same kids hold hands. They'll get used to it and automatically do it most of the time.
  • Also, there are TOTALLY COOL apps that you can get here. I have NO idea how to use a smart phone, because I still have an I-Granny flip phone, but if you DO know how to use one I HIGHLY recommend going to this site and getting all of their COOL apps! They have so many neat ideas on how to make the best of your time in Disney. WE LOVE UCT!! And no, they are not paying me to say that.
  • They also have their own safety tips here. Most of which are doubles of what I just posted because I really liked them!!
  • I always have STRICT rules in the bathroom. This is the EASIEST place to get lost. Especially if momma(or daddy) needs to potty too. I wait until all my kids are in their stalls then tell them to stay in there until I am finished. When I'm done I do my momma whistle and they all come out of their stalls. I used to try to put them all in my stall with me, but now there are just TOO many kids to go in there! Now, the little kids we for sure keep with us, but the big girls are safe to stay in the stall. Does this hold up the line? Uh, yeah, but honestly, if you have a problem with me keeping my kids safe from bad guys you shouldn't be at Disney World. Ha!
  • Basically, there is NEVER a reason for the kids to be alone. EVER! Not to sit while I wait in line, not to go see a character while we are waiting to ride a ride. There is NEVER a reason for kids to be on their own in Disney World. Ever. No, seriously, EVER!!
  • Have a safety plan!! We've never done this, but plan to do it this year. So important!! Especially for Manly and I, but very helpful for our bigger kids too. Just go over it before you leave your house, then each day before you go out.
  • As far as personal safety goes, be sure to carry a small first aid kit in your bag. When(not if) someone gets a boo-boo you are prepared and don't have to find a first aid center(which are AWESOME by the way if you do ever need one).
If you're planning a trip to Disney, you can find our general tips here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Being a Brother

My sweet Brubbs loves being a brother.
He's such a joy and the sweetest piece of heaven on earth a mother could ever have.







Friday, July 12, 2013

Addi's Zebra Minnie Party

My Addi loves all things fancy. When I first mentioned her having a Minnie Mouse party since this is her year to go to Disney World her first response was, "ONLY if it's FANCY!!" After she thought about it for a while she decided she wanted me to make a Zebra Print Minnie Mouse party for her. So, that's just what I did. I love the challenge of a fun party theme!
I was surprised at how easy it was to come up with stuff. There is zebra print stuff EVERYWHERE right now, so I didn't have any problems finding cute things for the party.
I made her invitations with pink and zebra paper I found on sale for 50% off at Hobby Lobby. I just googled Minnie silhouette for the Minnie face at the top. I attached it with the double sided foam dots to make it stand out. I got the free font online so that it would match the Disney font. They turned out really cute. I accidentally ripped this one getting it out of the envelope. 
 
I also go the cute matching envelopes on sale. Sorry this pic is blurry. My camera is on the fritz!
 
I used my old party wreath and just added a zebra and black Minnie Mouse with pink sparkly bow and toile poking through. I thought it ended up being cute and Addi thought it was very fancy. 

My cutie pie birthday girl with her Minnie ears AND birthday crown. I made the banner from two pink prints, a darker pink solid, and zebra letters. I used toile and zebra print ribbon to attach the banner. It turned out SO cute!! Addi LOVED it. I left it up for a couple days so she could enjoy it.
 
The food table was simple. I'm really trying to start scaling back on parties, but since I love doing them so much it's really hard. I just got the cheapo table cloth for .99 then added zebra wrapping paper(which I got for 40% off at Hobby Lobby). We had watermelon which is Addi's favorite fruit, oreo's which are her favorite cookies, zebra pretzels, punch, and cupcakes.
Just almond bark. Manly actually made these. Woot!

These cute little dears didn't turn out quite how I wanted them to, but they were still really cute. Hot pink icing, and white icing. Cupcakes were "zebra"(marble). The ears are mini oreo's, and the bows are made out of sugar sheet. That stuff was a MESS! I thought it would be a lot easier to get it to move around, but apparently it was too dry, and it just kept breaking. I ended up just using scissors and cutting the bows from the sheets and placing them on there. They have these in all different prints and solids, but honestly I don't really recommend them! Just use fondant or something if you'd like to do these.

A close up of the cupcakes. I bought the zebra cupcake liners at Hobby Lobby.
The dining room. I don't usually buy packaged stuff for parties because it's always cheaper to just make it, but this time I got for sets of ears and found stickers and glitter glue(something I HATE, but needed some for the activity) to decorate.
 
The kids loved making their own ears. See Isaiah wearing his other pair? So cute!!
 
The little ears were so cute on!
 
How stinking cute is this little mess?!
 
I put out all of our ears from WDW as d├ęcor. I had planned to wear mine, but ended up forgetting to put them on until it was too late. I also had a SUPER cute apron I was going to wear, but it sat in the dryer waiting to be worn! MAN!

Before we begin a party Manly always prays a prayer he has written out for each of the kids. I'm so proud to be his wife. He's such an excellent father.

Addi waiting to blow out her candle.
 
My handsome big boy.

My sweet baby boy(and mom and granny).

Some of the kids eating.

Addi with our Minnie head. We made this for Olivia's 5th birthday, but after a little fluffing she was still in pretty good shape. We used her to play pin the bow on Minnie. Huge hit!
 
 


cut the bows from leftover paper.

Addi's best friend was able to come to the party. She was so happy! 

 
Such sweet girls!

Addi was SO excited about this gift! Her Aunt Teresa and Uncle Bubba hit it out of the park!! A Cinderella doll in a carriage with the horse and everything. She's over the moon over this and so so thankful to them.
 

 Oh Addi Fae, Momma loves you so much! You've turned our fireplace into a catwalk and our kitchen table into a place for debates. I love your spunky personality and your desire to truly honor your mom and dad. I love how you can give just about anyone an honest compliment. You are one for the quickest thinking kids I've ever met. I love that I can speak in short hand to you and you always understand my. You melt hearts and unfortunately for your dad will one day turn heads.
We love you, Sassy Pants!