Sunday, June 29, 2008

Deeper Still...

I'm back from Deeper Still in Atlanta. What an amazing weekend!  I've been trying to think of what I could write that could begin to describe it - and I'm really at a loss for words (Brad, I'm sure, finds that hard to believe :) I'm going to give it a shot - so read ahead if you'd like to read a little of what I learned.

After a little shopping (Archivers is the BEST scrapbooking store I've seen in a long time - why can't we have one here??  And IKEA - wow. wow. wow.) we headed to the hotel and then to the conference. There was drama at the hotel - rooms not ready, they ran out of double rooms, rudeness, etc.  Just suffice it to say that we were stressed a bit before we got there.  We ended up sitting in the 3rd tier of seats - concourse 31 to be exact.  We were higher than we wanted to be, but with 19,000 women, it was best to move away from the crowd and get 12 seats all together.  The moment that the praise and worship music started all of those things just melted away and He showed up. God in the Philips Arena... awesome.

I wish that I had a CD of all of the music that we sang this weekend. I've been searching the internet to see if I can find Travis Cottrell and the Living Proof Ministries Praise team. No luck yet, but I'm going to go to Lifeway tomorrow and check for sure. Awesome.

Priscilla Shirer gave the first talk, which focused on Exodus 19. She talked about how God places us in the desert on purpose so that we can fully experience Him. It is hard to think about God choosing the desert for us, but He does.  There are things that happen in the desert that allow us to see and hear Him like we never could elsewhere - when we are on our backs, there is no where to look but up - to Him.

She talked about the Isrealites and the path that they took to get to the Promised Land. It wasn't the quickest or easiest path. God chose the hard way for them. And they didn't hurry. They rested in the desert and focused on God, recognizing His power and showing Him that they trusted Him. I need to do the same in my times of trouble.

He asked the Isrealites to do 3 things in preparation for the trial. First, He asks them to remember what He's already done on their behalf (v 3&4). He found us - we didn't find Him... Take time to remember what He's delivered you FROM. And He will deliver you every time. Not only does He deliver us, He also draws us to Him. He wants us to be close. 

Second, He calls them to recognize their spiritual identity (v 5&6). God is the only one that has the right to to give you an identity - no one else! We must be on guard, because the enemy is out to attack us. He comes at us in many forms - True spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between with is right and almost right (not just what is right and wrong). I LOVED that statement - wow. We have to beware of the new age philosophies out there that are twisting the truth (even using Jesus' name!!)  Turn to the scriptures and find out who you are.

Third, He calls them to a new level of surrender - to practical obedience. The Isrealites agreed to obey God before they even knew what He would ask of them.  This kind of obedience requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - and when you have it, you will like things you never liked before, and you will not like things that you loved.  That is what new life does for you. 

When we can do these things, we will come through the desert and He will call us to Him so we can see Him with our own eyes. We are all invited to see Him - but many times we want to send someone else to see (Exodus 20:18). Don't let someone else do for you what God wants you to do for yourself. I for one, want to experience Him personally. I want to give up the things that are holding me back and go the distance!

Ok, that's enough for tonight :)  If you are still reading, you deserve a gold star!! Priscilla was funny and so personable - so relate-able for us. But she didn't give an 'easy' message, that's for sure - but one that will help us to go Deeper, Still.  I'll write about what Kay and Beth had for us tomorrow...

I'll just close this post with a picture of the great girls that I went with this weekend... 

The picture is blurry :( but you can tell that we are all happy (and cute with our matching shirts and bags - thanks Lisa!!). God blessed me with these wonderful women who not only support me, but keep me accountable! I am truly blessed.

Ok, and one last thing. I heard little feet coming to wake me up this morning and I wasn't quite ready :)  As Bennett crawled in to bed with me he said 'I love you mommy!'  PAUSE. 'But I love God more than anyone in the whole world'.  He gets it. AMEN!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

May I introduce...

the newest green belt in the family!!!

Yes, he did it. Not only did he pass his green belt test in Tae Kwon Do today, but he did it without any hesitation!!
This time was so different from the past 2 tests. This time he has known his form (a set of 20 synchronized movements and stances) for a long time. In the past, I have just prayed that he would make it through. Last time, he had to take several kicks to hit the board just right to break it. Today - he broke it the first time :) I'm so proud!!
Here he is - ready to kick:

Here's the kick...

...and I missed the actual board break!!! Shoot! Oh well, just trust me - he did it on the first try and the look on his face was priceless (and I gasped and almost yelled 'YES!', but thankfully I contained myself :) On the way to the test we talked about what he would if he didn't break it the first time. We talked about how he would just try again. And again. And again. And never give up. He was so proud!!

Here is a stance from his form :

And finally, here are the boards, complete with signatures from his teachers (who are revered like super stars!!)

What a great day! On top of the new belt, his dentist appointment was a breeze (no novacaine for a filling - the kid is amazing!!), I got to go to prayer group and see my friends, and I'm all packed for Deeper Still in Atlanta this weekend. We leave in the morning (early so we can get some shopping in before the conference starts tomorrow night). I can't wait!

Oh, and an added bonus: Brad has to call Bennett 'sir' for the next day because Bennett out-ranks him in Tae Kwon Do. I just hope Brad passes his test on Saturday :)

Final photography note to self: Good job today taking pictures on manual - just too bad that 1/60 is too slow for action shots! duh! I knew that!! maybe next time...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Feeling accomplished.

Guess what I did today? Well, actually I started doing it yesterday, but finally finished today.  I cleaned out my 'junk' drawer.  It has been, I discovered, probably 6 months since I cleaned it out and I found all kinds of expired coupons, Campbell's soup labels, and other treasures that I have been storing.

You see, I like to keep things.  Just in case.  I keep coupons to places that I just might need to go to - and who wouldn't want to save a little money?  I keep soup labels because that is like free money for the schools, and when I throw them away, I feel guilty.  I keep rubber bands from the mail because you never know when you'll need a rubber band (they do come in handy every 6 weeks or so!). I keep all of those free address labels because I do use about 5 or so a month to mail little things to grandparents...  I keep pads of paper, credit cards that we never use, pens, pencils, directions to various places... all just in case :)  And believe it or not, my mom is even worse ;)

So, here it is...
the clean drawer. It should stay this way for at least 3 days... after that, I'm sure new mail and treasures will find their way in there.  Just don't look in the drawer next to this one (or the cabinets above!!)

The good thing about the drawer - if you need something, it is probably in there!  Everybody needs a drawer like that :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It wasn't a trick...

It really was a luxury cabin :)  We all had a great weekend!  We arrived in Tellico Plains, TN around 2 on Friday and we were able to check in to our cabin right away.  We stayed in Laurel Cove, a little one bedroom cabin complete with a full kitchen, 2 satellite TVs, game room with pool table, air hockey, and darts, and hot tub on the back porch.  The cabin was spotless (which lasted for about 5 minutes after we got there!) and they even had cookies and sweet tea waiting for us!  So nice!

The property was really pretty with a stream that ran throughout.  We did attempt to hike
 to the on-site waterfall, but about 50 yards in, we found this and turned right back around. I'm not one to argue with a sign that we are not supposed to be in the woods!! :)  Brad assured me that he was harmless, but let's not find out...

Brad did great on his ride (the Cherohala Challenge) and we met him at the top at Santeetlah, over 5300 feet high! It was actually chilly up there!  After picking Brad up, we headed back down the mountain for lunch and then went to the hatchery where they breed trout for release. Bennett loved it when he bent over the sides of the holding tanks because the fish would think they were getting fed and jump up like crazy. It wasn't the most exciting stop, but Bennett seemed to enjoy it - we're just glad he's still easily entertained :) We also walked to the Telliquah River to get our feet wet, and Bennett didn't believe me when I told him it was slippery.  He ended up riding the whole way back the cabin with a little towel covering him :)  Of course, he found a way to blame his wet clothes on Mommy... not sure how that always happens! Here we are in front of the Bald Creek Falls - it was beautiful! Of course, Bennett wanted to climb it... (this was before the falling-into-the-freezing-cold-water incident:)
I'm so glad that we were able to get away and go 'camping', although Bennett said he would call it more like 'car-ing' because we spent so much time in the car!! (He was right!!)  I'd love to go back when the bugs are gone and we could have a fire in the fireplace - maybe early next Spring...  Bennett wants to go and camp in a tent by the river.  I'll take the cabin :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big weekend ahead...

Today we are heading to Tellico Plains, TN for a little 'camping' adventure.  I'm not sure about you, but the idea of camping is not pleasant to me, so I'm not sure why my boys insist on calling it camping.  Brad has told me that we are staying in a 'luxury' cabin, but when he follows up by calling it camping, I have my doubts :)  I'm not a roughin'-it kinda girl, so I'm hoping that he's not trying to trick me...

Bennett just told me that he hopes we can go swimming in a pond in Tennessee.  Yuck.  Oh, yuck. Maybe I'll 'forget' our bathing suits :)

No, really - the reason for this adventure is that Brad is going to ride the Cherohala Challenge tomorrow and Bennett and I are going to be there to cheer him on.  Can't wait to see the mountains and explore the little town there.  I'll be sure to take pictures and share - and I'm hoping that I can complete my photography class homework so that I can have something good to share in class on Monday.  

Yesterday we had our first prayer group at church and it was great.  There were only 4 of us there, but I believe that God sends who needs to be there.  We were all struggling with the same things, so it was evident that we were there to support each other as moms and believers. There is nothing better than getting together with other women who have the same struggles and can offer Godly support.  Nothing better.  I am so thankful!

Ok, so I'm off to get ready for this camping adventure.  Wish me luck!   

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Keeping busy

It is really challenging to keep a 5 year old boy busy during the summer...  I am exhausted and he's still wondering what we'll do next :)  Either he has too much energy, I'm getting old, or a little bit of both...

Yesterday we went to Alabama Adventure with friends and had a blast!  Today we are headed to a free movie after a quick trip to the gym for me.  I'm really paying for 2 weeks of minimal working out, so I must force myself to get back to it!  Isn't it unfair that it takes so long to get into some sort of shape and about 4 minutes to lose all that muscle? 

I'm taking a photography class at Birmingham School of Photography (after my Mother's Day gift of a canon 5D and ultrasonic lens!!).  This week our homework is to 'stop motion' using 5.6 aperature and faster shutter speed to practice a 'shallow depth of field'.  I'll post some of my pictures here if I have success!

Finally, Bennett is so excited because he will soon be the proud owner of this:
The Fisher-Price Planet Heroes Solar Quarters... He has been saving his money for this for about 3 weeks doing 'chores' for me (which at this age pretty much means doing what I ask him to do for $1 a day... is that the way it's supposed to work??)  Anyway, my dad (Pa) caught wind of the 'need' for this toy and Bennett's lack of funds and ordered it right away... that's what Pa's are for, I guess :)  It will also come with 2 new talking figures (and hopefully a new DVD episode - we've worn the original episode out!!)  We are going to pick it up after the free movie... and I'm looking forward to some mommy scrapbooking time while Bennett plays!!  Thanks, Pa!!

Well, breakfast requests are being made (well, he really wants a cotton candy blizzard...) so I need to get and find something healthy to present - in a hurry :)  Have a great day!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

First Post...

Well, I've been talking about getting a blog for, oh, a couple of months as least... well, here it is! I have a lot to learn, but hopefully I can begin to record the daily happenings at our house and remember all that I have to be thankful for! Eventually I'll pretty things up and get some music going like my friend Shelley :)

Last week we had vacation Bible school at our church ( and we had a BLAST!! It was Bennett's first time to be in a 'big' class and we were lucky to get 2 of his friend's mommys as teachers (hi! Julie and Heather!!). The best part of the week was seeing him GET it. He was excited to bring his offering bag for Vapor Sports. They are a group that spreads the Word through soccer fields in Africa.

Just for the record - we have NO MORE change in our house :) He even gave a dollar of his own money, which is big because he's saving for the newest Planet Heroes...

We brought Peanut Butter for Oak Mountain Missions - Bennett was so proud about how much we collected...

I co-organized Arts and Crafts and was totally blessed to work with 17 awesome ladies. We had so much fun and hopefully helped the over 700 children learn a little more about God's love. But, the best part of the week was this:

How lucky was I to get a picture of the first time my little guy raised his hands in praise?? It still takes my breath away... If this is all I ever do as a parent - if all I can say is that my son loves God and praises His name, then I guess I've succeeded.

What an awesome week! Amy