Saturday, November 15, 2014

A New Direction

Sometimes we wake up and feel like it's time to go in a new direction.  For quite some time now, I've been struggling with moving on from A Million Skies and the format here and writing in a different style - one a little more introspective and personal.

It's been really hard to leave this place behind, because obviously, I've stored a lot of great family memories on this blog.

However, it's been a long time coming and it's time to make that change.

For all of you who have been faithful readers.....I love you!

Thank you for stopping by this place all these years and sticking with me.  

I would love to have you stop by the new place and share in a more personal journey with me.

If you're interested you can find me writing here:

A View From The Front Porch

Thanks again for dropping by.

All my love,
Debbie

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Give God The Weeds


As I looked out at the horse pasture this afternoon, it reminded me of God's word and his lesson on the topic of soil (found in Mark 4:3-20).



For the past year or more, this field has been an eyesore to say the least.   Although it was producing a fair amount of grass for the horses, it also had several weed patches that we couldn't get rid of, due to some bad seed we bought, that was full of junk.

No matter how many times David would mow it down, the weeds would come back and not even the horses would touch them (and they eat anything)!

The only way to get rid of the weeds was for David to completely till up the soil, discard the weeds and start all over with some quality seed.



This is so much like our lives!   We buy expensive "junk".   We invest in things that look good on the outside, but it produces nothing but weeds in our life.    We walk around the weeds, thinking they will die or go away.   Maybe we even attempt to destroy them now and then, but they come back and we feel defeated.

Sometimes we ask for God's help - to take the junk out of our lives, because we realize that we are not capable of ridding our soil of the weeds that have grown there.



As I was walking outside today, looking at this soil, I realized that God only does this one way and that's by tilling up the bad and replacing it with the good.

In other words, you can't just mow down the weeds and plant new seed.   The weeds have to be pulled up by the roots and completely cast aside or you will just be mixing the bad in with the good.

The same goes for the weeds in our lives.

We fill our lives with bad habits, wrong choices, sorry attitudes, sin and lies, and then we try to just replace all of that with a trip to church on Sunday or a 10 minute prayer each week.   But, that's not enough.

We have to allow God to pull those things out of our lives that have no value.   That's the only way he can plant new seed and have it produce good fruit.

Sometimes he removes people.  Sometimes he removes jobs or career paths.  Sometimes he even removes ministry opportunities that have begun to choke out the better direction for your life.

With sin and wrong choices, he will remove you from situations that tempt you or he will allow conviction to accompany you until you "get" it.  Sometimes he will allow you to hit the lowest point of your life, so he can get your attention.

God doesn't want us to remain among the weeds.   He wants us sowing good seed on fertile soil and there are sure steps for getting there.



Invest your time, talent, money, resources, and soul into things that matter; things that are virtuous, good, righteous and admirable.

Everything you invest in has a value and an end product.

If you invest your mind into filthy movies, books, music or entertainment - you're going to get a mind that is bent in that direction.

If you invest your time into friends that lie, steal, cheat, or live immorally, you're going to reap trouble and persecution.

If you invest in affairs, pornography and immoral relationships, you'll get brokenness and guilt, shame and isolation.  

And, likewise, if you only invest in fake religion, you're going to get fake faith, which again - will only produce weeds to grow up around your heart.

God wants to rid your life of the junk, the weeds and the bad soil and he wants to replace it with fertile ground and rich seed that will produce an abundance of good in your life and for eternity.

The tilling is not fun.   In fact, the weeding process can be quite painful at times.   But, the end result will be worth the pain and in the end, your life will be rich with God's promises and his faithfulness.


Give God the weeds in your life and He will replace them with the riches of his kingdom.  

Blessings to you, my friend.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting Crafty - Take Note!


I've been buying these composition notebooks for quite awhile now just because I love the size and the fact that they already come with cute colors and designs on the front cover.

I've already decorated a few and given them as gifts, but mostly I make them for myself and use them for various purposes around the house.   I even keep one in my purse for taking notes or jotting down the infamous story/blog idea that so often happens in random places!


When I found the bird stickers, I wasn't even thinking about this cute little notebook I already had at home!   Turns out......they were perfect for one another!

I always start by covering up the name label with a piece of scrapbook paper.   I like things that contrast, but stay in the same color range, so for this one, I chose to pull out the green.



I wanted this particular notebook to fill with notes and quotes that I collect as I read, so I stamped "quotes" down the side and then used a larger stamp on the front.

"Love Never Fails"

I love this stamp!  If that were the only stamp I ever purchased, I would be perfectly ok with that!  It keeps things in perspective between God's love for me and any other relationship I have.   It's all about the love.


Next, I choose another piece of scrapbook paper to hide the inside cover.   Sometimes I'll use stickers here too, depending on how elaborate I want it to look.    This time I just settled for a cute patterned piece of paper.



Then, because this is a notebook for keeping notes (and not tearing out pages), I labeled the front page with some cute stickers, just to add a little color.

I'm learning to use what I have and not save my supplies for a bigger or better project.   Instead, I'm making things more enjoyable - just because life is short and why not?



This project literally took me all of 10 minutes to make and yet, it will make note taking so much more fun!

The key with crafts is to have random things that you like, on hand and ready to go.   

I have been buying the notebooks anytime I see one that is unique or even if they are just plain, but a great bargain price.   Either way, knowing I will be decorating them means they can be any color or pattern.  

Then, as I go to Hobby Lobby or Joann's, I will search the sticker aisles to see if any are on sale or catch my eye for a certain theme and I will purchase a set or two, just to have on hand.

Now that I have my designated craft table in my office, I keep all my supplies out and visible, so I don't forget about what I have!  Ever done that?  I've been guilty of buying things I already have, just because I put it away and forgot I had it!   That's why I don't buy Christmas gifts early and stash them away.   But, that's an entirely separate story!

I think this project would be great for kids to do and they make great gifts.   Who doesn't want to go back to giving and receiving homemade gifts?

So, if you're looking for a place to keep your Bible Study notes, school notes, recipes, household information, or any other random writings, these are the perfect solution and they're cute too!

Oh, and there's something about being creative that just feels good, don't you think?

Have fun!









Saturday, October 11, 2014

Say YES more!


Last week we took a little trip and woke up to this on Sunday morning.

Even though it looks like the setting of an East Coast town, it's actually Galveston, Texas.

Galveston is only a few hours from us, depending on whether you use the ferry or the highway.   Either way, it's easy to get to and great for a day or two quick trip.

We actually had a purpose for going there this time - a girl!   And, in my son's eyes......a special one, at that!

Collin and Haley

Collin and Haley met back in June, at summer camp.   They instantly hit it off and have been talking via Skype and Facebook ever since.

Since Haley's family happened to be taking a cruise that would be leaving out of Galveston, they asked if we would meet them for the day so the kids could see each other again.    Much to Collin's surprise.....we said yes!

So we got up on Saturday morning and headed to Galveston the "long way", which meant going through a little town called Kemah, where we stopped for lunch.





 Our view over lunch



 Kemah is a great little place on the water where they have a boardwalk with rides and shopping and plenty of restaurants.  It happened to be really crowded that day due to a festival they were hosting, but we managed to eat and then get back on the road pretty quickly.    Afterall, we had a girl to see!


We checked into our hotel, which was right on the bay.   The only downside was this creepy window that divided the bathroom and the bedroom.   We ended up draping a blanket over it, so we would have more privacy.   I hope this won't become the trend, as hotels upgrade their rooms!  Creepy!



Speaking of creepy......oh well.

When we met Haley and her parents, we hit it off right away.   We walked and talked and in between, stopped for coffee and ice cream at the old candy emporium.

Of course we took many pictures along the way, one of which was this one, but don't worry moms!


Though Haley and Collin were happy to see each other, this was the only time THIS happened!  Haley's mom, Dena and I, wanted to snap their picture and they kind of stood there for a second, trying to figure out how to stand and this eventually happened.  

The rest of the day the pictures were more like this......


Having fun........


Haley giving Collin an Arkansas shirt (did I mention she lives about 6 hours from us?)



Collin in a phone booth.......


And this......but that's not Collin.   It's actually David hanging out of our hotel window.   Crazy people!

We spent the day and evening together, having a nice dinner and standing on the dock visiting
until the mosquitoes got so bad that we had to call it a night.

 



Collin and Haley hated to say goodbye, especially knowing that she would board the ship the next day and they would lose contact for an entire week.   They really have built a great friendship over the past few months.

Even we parents felt for them and I'll admit, it was sad saying goodbye that night.


The next morning, I literally woke to this scene out of our hotel window!  It was so cool!

The ship was just pulling in from the previous 7-day trip and would basically parallel park, unload, and get ready for the next group of passengers to board, which would include Haley and her mom and dad.


As we walked down the street for lunch Sunday morning, I got this picture of the ship and all the people starting to board.   It was like an airport, with cars lined up to park and people and luggage everywhere you looked.   You could feel the excitement and the hustle and bustle of people about to embark on an adventure.    For one brief moment, I think we all felt like we wanted to join them and sail away for a week!

But, we didn't.

Instead, we had lunch and then drove to the ferry and headed home.


It was a great trip and I'm glad we said yes!   Collin got to see his friend and we got to meet new ones and, though it was a sad goodbye, we made some good memories.

You never know how God will direct your path and who he will bring into your life!

The key is to say "YES" more and give him a chance to bless you.

You might make some good friends along the way.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking A Stand - Standing Up - Whatever You Want To Call It - It's Not Fun!

I've always been one of those who say that people should stand up for what they believe.   On most days, that comes pretty easily.   But, eventually one will come face to face with a real life situation that calls for you to actually have to take a step forward and put your money where your mouth has been and let me tell you.......it's not fun!

I recently was faced with this kind of situation, in which I had a fork in the road, so to speak.   I could either choose the easy path, which would mean being a part of something I didn't agree with or taking the hard route and speaking out against what I felt was wrong.    I chose to speak up.

Let me just say that speaking up sounds easy when you're not really doing it!  Or when you're blabbing your opinions all over social media and you're not actually one on one with a real human.   But, having to actually confront someone over something that you feel is wrong, is so hard!

First off, in this day and time, for a Christian to speak out against a public agenda, means instant judgement from all the "tolerant" who claim to be tolerant, but really aren't.      It's a tough thing to do because, no matter how you say it, how you word it, how careful you try to defend your beliefs, you know you're going to get slammed for what you're saying.  

But, that doesn't change the fact that you have to stand up.

I've recently watched a friend have to stand up against her own child, for behavior that completely went against their beliefs.   She didn't know how the world would handle it, because she had to make hard choices.   But, who would she be, had she preached her beliefs all her life and then caved when actually faced with right or wrong?

Eventually life will come up against you and you have to make that decision to believe in yourself enough or go with the flow.

If you're in this life for the popularity, then don't say you believe in hard things, because eventually you will be forced to prove it and it will not be easy.

My advice - be true to what you know to be true.  

You won't win the popularity award, but you will still have your self respect.

And that's worth fighting for.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Things "They" Don't Tell You About Motherhood



For all the pieces of advice (wanted and otherwise) you get when you're about to have your first baby, there are equal amounts that don't get passed down to you - but which, you could desperately use to ready yourself for this thing we call motherhood.

As I enter into the second round of raising a teenager, I'm left thinking about all I've endured and all that is yet to come my way.

I think the easiest way to document my experiences is to put them in a list format, so here we go:

When you are expecting......
Breast fed babies are healthier.
Breast fed babies bond better with the mom.
Breast feeding is natural and everyone should do it.
Join LaLeche (whatha?)

The reality......
Not everyone can breastfeed (too many reasons to list).
My babies still love me and I love them!
I live in S.E.Texas - my kids would have had allergies no matter what kind of milk they drank!
LaLeche - get over yourselves!
P.S. - no one wants to see your boobs hanging out, whether there is a baby attached or not! TRUTH.


When you have the baby......
You should pick your baby up every time it cries.
You should let the baby sleep right between you and your husband.
You should read every stinkin book on parenthood.

The reality.......
If you pick your baby up every time it cries, he is training YOU!  It's so much healthier for them to learn that you are near and they are ok, without being catered to every moment.

If you don't put your baby in it's own bed, your love life will suffer and so will your baby.  Build independence, not dependency.   Your husband will thank you!

If you read every parenting book there is,  then you will fail to use your own discernment and wisdom and basically be a robotic stepford wife, who only does what she's told, rather than use her own brain.

During the School Years......
Kids need socialization with all the other creeps kids their age or they will not know how to stand in a line or read and write.

Kids must play at least 3-4 different sports in the same year, or he/she will be a nobody.

Kids need freedom of expression through exploring different religions, clothing styles, social groups and hair styles.

Kids need mostly "grace", instead of true discipline and expectations.

The reality......
Kids don't gain anything by being thrown to the wolves.   Self worth is built by positive influences and who your kids hang with for 8 hours a day does have an impact on their life!  Don't be ignorant!

Kids don't need to be gone every night of the week to feel successful.   Quit trying to live vicariously through your kids or make them something you want them to be.   Kids need down time to think and learn to enjoy being by themselves, instead of always having to be dependent on other's company or outside activities.   Creativity is born out of boredom.

If kids are craving attention through what they wear or how many bolts they can screw into their forehead, they need help.   Somewhere along the line, they've been messed up (all that "socialization")    Be a parent and set some rules, for goodness sakes.   If you ever want them to get a decent job, teach them to express themselves in ways that don't make people want to throw up.  (Yeah, the whole gigantic hole in your ear makes me want to barf.  Again - TRUTH.)


During the Teens.....
If kids are moody, they're on drugs.
If kids date, they will be scarred for life.
If kids don't learn to do laundry by the time they're two, you've raised them wrong.
Boys are easier.

The reality......
Teens are moody......and sleepy and hungry and smart aleks and annoying and still trying to figure themselves out, but they are also amazingly smart, intuitive, sincere, honest, loving and thoughtful.  Don't label them.   Just love them.

Dating doesn't kill your kids.   Have rules, guidelines, standards and safeguards in place.   But, putting them in a suit of armor won't protect their heart; it will just make them resent you and go behind your back and act like an idiot.   Keep the communication open with your kids and let them earn some rights as a young person, to prove they aren't stupid.     They may actually surprise you.

Teach your kids to work and be productive.   Teach them to respect their property and yours.  Teach them to do the laundry, cook, clean, change the oil, fix the plumbing, and all the other grown up things - when they are capable.   Until then, chill out.   Equip them, but don't make them your slaves and don't listen to Busy Betty who says her kids do all the chores.   That always leaves me wondering what the heck she does all day!  

Boys are not easier.  They are different.

Girls have their issues and so do boys.   Neither one is easy.

When they get married.....
You gain another child.

The reality.....
You gain another adult, who wants to be treated like an adult.
You gain another person to pray for and worry about.
You gain another heart to minister to.
You gain another reason to die to self each day.
You gain another human with feelings and interests and you learn to respect the individual that they are and love them with a love that only God can relate to.

You have another person running around with your heart and it's just as frightening now as it was when you first started out on this journey.


Being a mom is wonderful and hard and perfect and not.
Being a mom is the best and hardest job you'll ever do.
Being a mom takes guts and brains and courage and wisdom.

There are lots of things that people will tell you when you enter motherhood.......

But, it's all the things they forget to tell you, that mean the most.












Saturday, October 4, 2014

We All Need A Friend Like This


There's something about meeting with a friend that really refreshes your heart.

Whether it's the connection over kids, clothes, weight, husbands, marriage or just being able to share emotions like a girl.   No matter what the topic, it does a woman good!

I love that the Lord sees fit to give us different friends, with different purposes.

Have you ever noticed?

Some friends are fun.   They are your go-to friends when you want to just have a good time.   You might not necessarily get deep, but you're refreshed and filled up in a way that feels lighthearted.

We all need a friend like this. 

Then you have those that you connect with on a personal level.   You basically could finish each other's sentences and thoughts and you laugh at how much alike you are.   You respect one another and help one another work through life and all it's issues.  You count on the council of her and know that she will steer you in a good direction.

We all need a friend like this.

There is also the spiritual friend.   You connect because of your beliefs and your conversations can go places that the others don't.  You're able to share your heart at a different level and often you pray together and for one another and it's nothing to say "Pray for me" on a regular basis and know that it will happen.

We all need a friend like this.

The truth is, we need all of these women!

They meet our needs at different levels and we meet theirs and it's a beautiful thing called friendship.

So if you're feeling lonely today, pray and ask God to bring you a friend or pray to reconnect with an old one.  And once he does, nurture that friendship!  Water it, till it, pay attention to it and watch it grow!

Make it happen, as much as it depends on you!

We all need friends.





Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Do You Study God's Word?

I love the little perks you get when you blog (and sign up for little perks)!

Last week I was surprised with a little gift from Inscribed Bible Studies - just because I said I would love to try out their latest publications.


When the box arrived, I was so thrilled to open it and find a cute burlap bag with their logo and tucked inside - three new Bible studies!  (You can always get my attention with a cute bag!)

What a cute package!

Thank you, Inscribed!

I've always done Bible Studies to help myself study scripture.   I prefer the life application of studying certain topics, rather than just reading through the Bible on my own.

Of course, I've always been a pen and paper kind of girl, plus I'm visual, so the whole reading and writing thing helps to solidify the messages in my head, more than just simply reading or listening does.

Anyhow.......I'm excited to read these new authors and glean from their wisdom and as I do, I will certainly share their messages with you!

What about you?

Do you use Bible Study books or are you a straight through the Bible kind of person?

Either way - reading God's word is what matters!

Read it, apply it, live it!

It's the only way to live life to the fullest!  I promise you that!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thorns


"You have it so together all the time."  "You're so organized!"  "I wish I was organized like you!"

Words spoken that cause me to shake my head.

If they could see what I see, surely they wouldn't feel that way.

If they could know my motive behind being "organized", what would they say then?
____________________________________________________

As I'm going through my Bible Study this morning, I'm reminded of something that has come to me before......being organized and "together" is my "thorn in the flesh" that the Apostle Paul talked about.    It's the thing that keeps me humble; constantly going back to the Lord and asking for help.

How's that for a confession?

Yes, I am organized by nature, but it's not some freak attribute that I was born with (or maybe it is), but more like a necessity for me.  

The truth is......I can't function in chaos!

But, even as true as that is and as organized as I may seem, I struggle with not being enough, everyday.

My house is never clean enough, never organized enough, never as "together" as I want or need it to be.  
My school schedule is loose, at best.
My cleaning schedule is non-existent (I clean, just not on schedule).
My "menu" is on a "what am I in the mood for that day" basis, most of the time.

Yes, there are some things that I have finally succeeded at maintaining, but at the moment, I couldn't tell you what they are, unless it's the fact that rarely do we run out of toothpaste or toilet paper (although we have had some close calls)!  However, I've totally failed in the paper towel and milk department at times!

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
 (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

You see, ladies, we all have something.  Something we struggle with and something we don't.

Every day I struggle when I look around and wonder why I can't get organized in a certain area of my home or my life.   For me, that's the thing that God uses to keep me humble (among other things), and coming back to him in prayer.    It's the thorn he's given me, in order to keep me asking for help and realizing that any success I have in that area is because he has allowed me to be successful there.

As author Jennie Allen says in her book "Restless":
"Thorns push us to need God, and as I make my way through my thorns, I remember my humanity, my insecurity, my fear, my sin." 

So, whatever it is that you struggle with, whatever that thing is that keeps you humble and on your knees......that's your thorn.

It's the very thing that God wants you to take to HIM and ask for help.   It's your area of weakness where HIS strength is sufficient.
_________________________________________________________

So go easy on yourself today! But also, don't look at others and compare, because for all you know.....they are on their knees daily, begging God to make them strong in that area and they are just barely succeeding.  

Take your weaknesses to the Lord and let him work through you as you go on your way.   His strength will shine through, in spite of your weakness and then the glory will be in it's rightful place.



Blessings,
Debbie




Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Review - I've Been Framed!

It was one of those rare weekends, where we didn't have to be anywhere for at least......a day.

Friday night we were excited to stay home and catch the season premier of two of our favorite shows - Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods.  

Saturday found us working around the house, fixing things that we've ignored for long enough.

While David worked on some ceiling fan projects, I ran to Walmart and came home with the typical basket full of "where did my money go" items, including these.....



the latest Kirk Cameron film and of course, snacks!   The movie was great, by the way!

I also came home with a few frames (hence the catchy title) for some things I wanted to hang in my office/studio/I still don't know what to call it/ room.

The first was a piece of art that I fell in love with, made by my friend Sara at The Rosy Life.


Sara posted this little lady in her Etsy shop last week and I loved her the minute I saw her!

I love her curly hair (I can relate!) and her adventurous look.   She just spoke to me on several levels, so I immediately clicked the Buy Now button and claimed her for my own!    A few days later, she arrived in the mail and now she's hanging on the wall, just above my craft table.    Thank you Sara! Incidentally, very soon after, Sara posted another piece that I really want, but will have to wait on. Let's just say it involves a guitar.   Uggg!  So tempting!

I also framed something dear to me - the poster from the Listen To Your Mother show from this past May.



I mean, I had it just laying in my spare closet and thought what a waste that was!  My name is on that thing and I'm so proud to have been a part of the show, so it definitely deserved to be framed and displayed, don't you think?

It too, hangs above my craft table, to remind me of what can be done when you're brave enough to try.

Both of my new pieces hang on either side of this, which I will always treasure.


This was my first article published and David had it framed one Christmas, as a surprise.

I love this piece and the thoughtfulness that went into this gift!  It also helps remind me of my love for writing and how anything is possible.....if only you TRY!  

So, see!  I told you I was framed!  Ha!

Or at least some of my favorite things have been.

Hey, it's Monday!  Everyone can use a little humor on a Monday!

See ya soon!