Friday, April 28, 2006


It's the weekend, so find some time for a long bath. Rest. Make the time! Celebrate the woman God has created you to be and don't listen to any negative voices, including your own. Just rest. You are a child of a King, a daughter of a King! Allow Him to give you rest this weekend and allow Him to love you.

If you are behind on your reading, it's okay. If you are having a difficult time staying with us, it's okay. Rest. This is not about legalism, it's about acceptance and you can always come just as you are. Email me if I can encourage you or pray for you.

It's been a hard day for me today and I am so ready to rest under the shadow of His wings. How about you? Use this weekend to rest in His arms.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

John 5

Thank you all for your prayers. I usually dread babysitting. I have always said it takes someone special because I don't enjoy watching other people's kids. However, I do adore my own! But I really enjoyed the kids I kept today. They were a delight! Thank you Jesus! Here's tomorrow's reading. It will be another early morning with kids so I had to post tonight. For tomorrow I will be completely consumed with Josiah, Ava Beth, Jackson, Ashlyn, Roxanne and Cassidy. Oh and the girls told me today that I was the "funnest" babysitter they had ever had! I think that's because the girls fixed my hair and did my makeup. And we had jumping contests from the couch to the LoveSac (which by the way, I really want one of these now!) As soon as their dad walked in, they told him about our jumping contest, even though I said, "You better not tell your parents I have organized this contest or they may fire me!" But, he still wants to drop them off at my house tomorrow! I think he wouldn't have minded if all four of them came to live with me until Mom came back in town! :) What can I say, it feels good to be the hero for a day! Jackson cried when I left!

And then there is John 5. What did it mean for me? I never thought I would get out of chapter five what I did. But, God uses the Word in our lives to meet us right where we are at. Nothing about marriage in this chapter but it spoke to me about my own. Marriage! What a journey!

No matter how great your marriage is, if you are honest with yourself, you know it's not perfect. At times you will be in a great place but sometimes things are hard. No matter how often you have a date night, no matter how often you have sex, no matter how often you serve your spouse, it can still be hard. Anyone that says their marriage is free from any conflict, well I would have to tell them to read the ten commandments. Lying is a sin!

Tonight was one of those nights for my marriage. We are in conflict right now. The funny thing is, the conflict is a habitual conflict. The subject matter isn't earth shattering, it's really nothing juicy, it's just the same old stuff that comes up over and over and over again. Some couples actually get married knowing that they don't agree on religion, politics or moral issues. Not us! We agree on all the big stuff! But the little stuff gets us every single time. Honestly, as I type this I am realizing how much I need to repent because I am angry. Tomorrow, He will act like nothing ever happened (this bugs me). I will end up apologizing TONIGHT because I won't be able to sleep. With that being said, I could name a million things about him that would let you know I AM BLESSED to have a man like him. And let me tell you, I know! Some days I wonder how on earth I got him to fall for me? It was all the Lord's doing! But my marriage is that one HUGE thing that I wish I could have total healing in.

As I read John 5, I could really relate to the man that had been sick for thirty-eight years. "Would you like to get well?" Jesus asked. If I picture the Lord asking me that regarding my marriage, I think my response would be the same as the sick man. "I can't sir."

So tonight I pray that I can stand up, pick up my sleeping mat and walk. I am ready to have victory in these areas for I am so tired of re-visiting the same old stuff. I love Jeremy so much and he has been the greatest healing balm in my life ever. He is a man after God's own heart and oh I love him!!!!

I love you Jeremy. Please forgive me.

(John study will resume on Monday. Take a break on the weekends but continue to stay in the word no matter what day it is! Be ready with John 6 on Monday.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

John 4

For the next two days I will be helping a friend out with her four children while she is away on a girls trip. Remember, I have two kids of my own so you do the math! Needless to say, I thought it would be best for me to post John 4 tonight. I will still be getting up early tomorrow but it will be spent in prayer over me spending two days with six kids! Ha! Before you post for John 4, please make sure you read Re-focus. The Bible study format has changed a little.

A couple of weeks ago my little brother was in town from Seattle. He had never seen our new house so when he walked in, he looked around and told me how much he liked our house. As he sat at my kitchen table looking out at the living room, he said "You need a picture on that wall. The couch looks too alone." Annoyed by his comment that I knew to be true, I quickly said "Yeah I know. We have been in this house for eight months and I still don't have anything for that wall. Do you want to buy something for me?" I could tell by the look on my husband's face that he hated the fact that my brother brought it up. It's all I have talked about since we've lived here. "Babe, I want to buy some stuff for our house. When are we ever going to have the money to buy stuff? I want to decorate!" After my brother's comment, the wall really began to bother me. I began to brainstorm and try to figure out how on earth I could get something for that wall. A trip to Kirklands or Hobby Lobby could solve it! But quickly I remind myself that any extra money we have needs to go towards something else. So the other day while I was folding clothes on the couch, I looked at the wall and felt bothered once again by it's bareness. In a spirit of hope I prayed to myself, "Lord, when you are ready for something to be on that wall, you will provide." And at that moment, I released the wall. I can't wait to see what ends up there, I know it will be something significant for sure. The empty space is going to have to be filled with something that will make my living room all come together.

As I read John 4, I am reminded of how much God has filled the empty space in my life. I have been saved for a long time but it wasn't until about eight months ago that I really began to make God's Word a DAILY priority. Before that I wasn't consistent or I was too busy filling it with other things. So many things God has given me spiritual eyes to see and supernatural strength to change. I have had a hard time trying to fathom how much God loves me. It was hard for me to accept the living water. My hunger and thirst for Him is strong. I crave Him to show me truth. When I praise Him in song, I can tell that the words are truly coming from within, they are no longer just words. I long for my nourishment to come from the Lord and doing His will.His Word has taught me that He can heal. His Word has taught me that He can restore, protect, provide, and save. Reading His Word has truly changed my entire life. It has filled the empty spaces with the most beautiful things. Instead of being empty, I am full. Full of peace, full of grace, full of forgiveness. It's not easy all the time but the more time I spend in the Word, the more I learn to quickly run to Him. For I can ALWAYS find refuge in Him.

Thank you Jesus for your Word! May I worship you in spirit and in truth!


A blog I saw the other day had a banner that really hit home with me. It said, "As for me and my blog, we will serve the Lord." All of us serve the Lord differently just as all of us are convicted and burdened by different things as well. I didn't know anything about blogs until I started my own. In fact when I started mine, I really didn't read anyone else's. I didn't even know how to get to or find other people's blogs so I stuck with mine. But then a lot of you found me and now I read your blogs. Many of you do not know this but before I started my blog, I prayed for several days about the name of my blog. I have endured a lot of pain in my life and it has left me with a very low self esteem regarding me and the Lord. I have never felt worthy of His love and for my whole life, He has been trying to show me that I am worth FAR MORE THAN RUBIES. So that's where that came from. Do I believe that I am worth far more than rubies? Some days I do, others I don't. But the blog title constantly reminds me of the journey I am on. God has called me to be a minister to Women and until that door opens up to something new, my blog is how I am going to do it.

With that being said, I want to tell you that I am radical about my faith. Some may think I am odd but I have to make sure that the purpose God gave me this blog for is being fulfilled. Now just as I clean my house, I sometimes have to clean my blog. So after much prayer and wisdom that I received from someone older than me and someone I really respect, I have to make some rules for this study. When the Lord gave me this John Study and I presented it to you, my intention was to bring people in that are new believers or ones that don't regularly read their bible. I have received a few emails from women that are really confused. This was not intended to do that. I am not a seminary graduate so I don't claim to have all the answers. Even the commentaries I read are written by men so the only true source out there is the Holy Spirit. Some of you are Methodist, some Baptist, some non-denominational, some Catholic, some Assemblies of God, some Lutheran. We all view scripture differently or we would all attend the same denomination of church. A few of you have said that you feel like your are supposed to be hearing something or feeling something when you read. You have also said that other comments are confusing you. So as the Shepard of this little blog, I want to make sure this doesn't happen through out the whole study. The devil would love for my blog to become a forum for debate and I do not want that.

This study is meant to get you in a routine of studying God's word. If you have any questions, email me and I will answer you as the Lord directs me or get help from my own Pastor.

From here on out, this is the format I am using on Far More Than Rubies. Feel free to discuss it however you wish on your blog site. I think that would be great for your audience. We all have different readers. Starting tomorrow if you wish to be a part of this Study through my site, here's how it will work. You can either post, "I read" or answer these two questions.
1.What is God trying to tell me? 2.What is my response to God? (one of you told me that these are the two questions you ask yourself after reading.)

Please know my heart is clean and I am just trying to be obedient to the Lord and help those that need His word in their life.

(If you want to make sure you are being led by someone that you feel you can relate to, this is my background. I grew up Assemblies of God until I was thirteen and then attended a Southern Baptist Church until I was 24 years old. I met my husband in a Pentecostal church and we now attend a church that chasing after Jesus without a denomination. We are not tied to any denomination, praise the LORD!)

John 3

As I sit here this morning with my big cup of coffee, I am reminded that morning is not my best time of day. The coffee is a must! I am also realizing that the time of morning I am waking is not early enough. But oh how I abhor the early morning! But maybe I'll change due to the silence in my house! I love that! To be a morning person, I would be so thankful. If I don't spend time meditating on His Word early in the morning, it will not get done. When the kid's take their nap, I have to exercise, clean house, fold laundry, unload dishwasher, etc. Then if I wait until the evening, there is no possible way I will read my Bible. So for me, God and I have an early morning date. This gets my day going and allows me to start with a clear mind and a prayerful heart all day long. I have tried it so many ways but the only way for me to have a organized day is to get up early. How about you? How is your time with the Lord going? Does morning work best for you or does the evening? What about the middle of the day? It truly doesn't matter when you do it. You just have to find the time that works best for you and your family. For me it's best to get up while it's still dark.

Some of you are struggling with your thoughts while you read. So I am praying for a clear mind and no distractions. Just this morning while I was reading, my thoughts started to wander. Instantly I had to re-focus. Also since some of you are feeling like you have to write something explaining what you read, I have decided that today I'm not going to write a bunch of stuff. I don't want anyone feeling out of place or ignorant. You are all mighty women in the Lord and I just want to encourage you and help you renew your walk with the Lord daily. The only way we fight the enemy's attacks is to have to Word on our lips at all times. But first you have to KNOW the Word! So let's get "under the fig tree" today and minister to each other and those around us.

And just so you know, I read John 3 today and it is powerful!

My Prayer for YOU!

Father, I ask you to saturate these wonderful women today with your peace. God I pray that you will give them wisdom and supernatural knowledge as they read your Word. I pray that you will keep the enemy at bay as they study your word. I pray that their children will come into alignment with you Father. I ask you to reveal to them the things in their life that need to change. God show them their worth in You! It's not in our husbands, our children, our money, our homes, our churches, our friends, it's in YOU. I pray that anyone struggling with weight issues, that you will speak to them and show them the best way to loose weight. So many women are too focused on their bodies Lord. For any woman trying to conceive a child, I pray that you will breathe life in to that body and bless their womb with LIFE. I pray for protection over anyone that may be pregnant. I pray for a safe and healthy pregnancy! God I pray for marriages and for your divine healing over damaged relationships. Father, I pray for these women and their children. God, I pray that you will give these women power to take back their homes from the enemy and I pray that their children will come under their authority and your authority. Father, I ask you to help all of us as women to choose friends wisely. God help us to spend time with people that will only make us better, people that will challenge us!!! God please protect our hearts and keep us from giving our hearts to the wrong people. In our churches, I pray that we can serve you in whatever capacity you have called us to. God, I pray that you will give us the ability to live a powerful and intentional life! Father, we are daughters of a mighty King. Remind all of us that we don't have to live in defeat! I love you Lord Jesus, help me to love others. Thank you for your Word, it is changing my life. In Jesus Name! Amen!

Here's a new one to add to your prayer list! Praise the Lord! The study is growing rapidly!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

God Chasing Women and one Man!

Here is an updated list of those that are in the study on John. Not everyone has a blog but those that do, be sure to visit. I have met some amazing, God chasing women out there.

Kathy (Kathy is the one that has a mammogram in question. She is waiting to get blood tests back today. Please pray for peace and for healing. I will update you. Kathy is basically a God mother to me and is very important to my entire family.)
Kelly Ann
And one guy, my husband, Jeremy.

Part of this study is me learning how to pray for all of you. The list has grown so I have a printed list that I ask the Holy Spirit to lead me to those needing prayer. Of course we all need prayer but through out this study some of you will have hard days while others are having good ones. So I think you know what I mean! Regardless, you will all be lifted up. Please email me if you have a specific prayer request. I would love to know how to pray for you!

Notes for John chapter 2

John 2

The first day of the study was an eventful one to say the least.
This study in John has me walking close to Jesus, that's for sure. I need to be close by His side at all times to be protected from the attacks. Yesterday was one of those attacks and I knew it would happen. Little things happened and I laughed because I knew. Then the phone rang and it was my Doctor calling to tell me that I have pre-cancerous cells AGAIN on my cervix. He's not worried but I do have to have a colposcopy done next week. I had one done when I was pregnant with Ava Beth so it wasn't too long ago. I have always gone to the Doctor and had my annual check ups. In fact, I am faithful to those appointments. When I found out I was pregnant with Ava Beth it was also time for my annual so I had a pre-natal app AND an annual all in the same day. We found out that I had a mild case of dysplasia on my cervix. Child birth will often make it go away when you deliver but for me it did not. Then I had a procedure to remove the cells and it was gone! But it has come back! I have been getting exams every three months to check and see what was going on and I had two test come back perfect until last week. He assured me there is nothing to worry about but told me to go ahead and get pregnant with our third baby. So needless to say, yesterday was kind of a shocker for many reasons. After I have my third child, which we know we want, I may have to have my cervix removed OR continue to deal with constant in office procedures and the threat of cervical cancer. But then I heard the Holy Spirit gently knocking on my door, "Have you thought about being HEALED? Instead of accepting a Doctor's report, have you thought about being HEALED?" So, I'm gonna pray for healing. Then one of my precious friends who is also doing the John study with us found out yesterday after having a mamogram that they have found something. By the time she got home from the exam, they had called her house and left a message telling her to go straight to her doctor in the morning for blood work. She is not sure what they found but they did find something. As soon as I talk to her today I will update you. As you do your study today, remember that the enemy wants to do everything he can to keep you out of God's word. Don't let him win!

The Wedding
I love this story of Jesus' first miracle. When I got married I had one of the Pastor's give a charge to the audience. We wanted anyone at the Wedding that did not know Jesus to be given the opportunity to meet him there. Our ceremony was worshipful and completely focused on Christ. Anyone there who didn't believe heard the gospel. The pastor explained that the first miracle done at a wedding was a symbol of what God wanted to do in our lives. He took something colorless, odorless, tasteless, WATER and transformed it into something rich, full, vibrant, tasteful, WINE. I will never forget that analogy. Jesus wants to do that for ALL of us! He longs to turn your marriage into something amazing. He longs to take you out of depression, insecurity, addiction, pride or whatever else that enslaves you and make something beautiful!Just as this miraculous sign in the Bible made others believe, the same can happen in our life. When others see what God miraculously does in our life, others believe.

Jesus Clears The Temple
I have read this portion many times before. This time when I read it, I thought about churches today. Many churches today are turning into Fortune 500 Churches. It's like a corporation instead of a church. You would think you could buy stock. Has the church today turned the Father's house into a marketplace? I believe some have. But the same goes for our bodies, our temples. At times our culture has us so wrapped up that our ears and eyes are completely taken by television, computers, mp3 players. Have our bodies become a marketplace? I love the verse that explains the disciples remembering prophecy from scriptures. "Passion for God's house burns within me." I pray that I become aware of what has taken over my worship. Nothing should hinder it!

It has only been a day, but can you feel the Lord working? I know for me there is a passion right now inside and I am really trying to let it overtake me. All of you read yesterday! Some of you posted a comment, some of you emailed me but all of you read! The devil was defeated!

Father, I pray protection over these women. I pray that their children will come into alignment with you. I pray that their homes are peaceful today and that you saturate them with your love. I ask you to give these precious women a GLIMPSE of your glory! Lord Jesus, as they serve you, I pray that they will learn to serve others. Give them a passion and desire to see other's saved. Today, put a smile on their face and allow them to feel your love like never before. In Jesus powerful name! AMEN!

Monday, April 24, 2006

John chapter 1

And we are up and running! Finally the blogger has been fixed for all of us. Praise The Lord! I have been trying to post this since 7:45am and it's just now up.

Well last night I did not sleep very well. There is so much excitement in my spirit right now. A beautiful college girl stood next to me in the church choir. She normally would not stand next to me for I am an alto and she is a soprano. But as we lined up to get in our places, she was late and since the service had already started and I am on the very end, she had to stand next to me and be an alto for a service. Accident for her but not for me! The pastor asked us to pray for the person standing next to us. I don't know if she was praying for me or the person standing on the other side but I heard, "Give her a fire!" Regardless, I claimed that prayer for myself. So last night I tossed and turned and prayed for all of you reading John with me. I thought about each of you and the lives that you live. I asked the Holy Spirit to show me specifically how to pray for you and He did. The fire I feel is for you ladies. I feel God is going to reveal himself to you in a big way. As you read His word, I pray that a fire burns inside of you. I pray that you will see what a big God we serve! I pray that your joy will be contagious and that your families will see a change in you. I pray that you will have a spirit of expectation, expect God to talk to you. Expect Him to change you! Expect Him to set you free!

When I read John, I am amazed by the very first scripture. In my human mind it is so hard to grasp that the Word has always been here. As Humans we always see a beginning and end in our life. So the fact that the WORD already existed is such a mind boggling thing. I don't have trouble believing it, I just think it's amazing to think about how the WORD is GOD! So if you ever read your Bible and don't understand, that's okay. You can read anything in the bible and your spirit will soak it up. It can't help but to change you! Why? It's God! The Word is GOD! Then the Word became flesh (JESUS). Can you see why the WORD is a must in our lives?

Most of us have heard the term "Born again". In verse twelve it explains this born again term we have heard. As we give our lives to Christ we become children of God and this gives us a brand new life. We know it's not a physical birth, it's a birth that comes straight from God because we have chosen to live for Him.

Verse 14 tells us that the Word became Human and lived among us. So again we know that the Word was God and became flesh. The Word lived among us. The Word has a heartbeat! This is such an incredible reminder that the Word that we spend time studying is living and breathing.

When I think of John I tend to always think "John the Baptist." But as I read this passage I think "John the Witness". Often witnesses are not reliable or trust worthy, John was. John had seen with His own eyes, so he had no problem going around telling people about Jesus. What about us? Many of us KNOW Jesus. We know Him because of his healing in our lives. We know him because of his provision, his joy, his peace, his love. Shouldn't we be witnessing? We are credible because our lives have been changed!

In verse 45, Philip says, "Hey we found the same guy that Moses talked about!" (Amanda's translation) And that is a cool thing for me and you to think about now. The same God in the Old Testament is our God. These men began to realize that the Messiah that was predicted in the Old Testament was here. When Nathanael was under the Fig tree what was He doing? I did a search in a commentary on the Fig Tree. In that day I read that "Under The Fig Tree" was a term that Rabbis used to describe meditation on the scriptures. So was Nathanael meditating on scripture? Was he meditating on scripture regarding the Messiah? When Jesus said to Him "I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you" Nathanael instantly believed!

Well that's chapter one in a nutshell for me. I pray that I will continue soaking it all in today. If you have any questions, I am here for you. Maybe we all need to get "under the fig tree" today!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

John girls

Tomorrow is our first chapter together so I wanted to give you a list of girls to pray for that have contacted me. This way we can all pray for each other. We may have more to come! Be sure to post your comments on my blog so all of us will see it. Don't be afraid to ask questions! I may not know the answer but I will find it for you! Now let's get in the Word!

Kelly Ann

And one guy, my husband, Jeremy.

If I left you off, let me know!!

Bible study on John starts tomorrow!

Okay, it starts tomorrow! If you have decided to join me in reading the book of John, tomorrow will be chapter 1. Remember that the only thing you have to do is read and then send me an email or a post on my blog saying, "Hey, I read." That's all you have to do!

I want to encourage you in trying to start your day off with this reading. If later in the day is better, that' s okay too. But, starting your day off in God's word will start your day in the right direction. It's okay if you don't "feel" anything when you read. It's okay if you don't understand it. The Word is living and breathing and when you read it, it will change you. So many Christians struggle with staying in God's Word. I have made it a habit for the past eight months of my life and I have experienced major change. If you have made this committment to start reading with me, I want you to know that I am praying for you.

A few things that help me when I read God's word, I want to share with you.

1. Get in quiet place. It's hard to read while the kids are watching Dora The Explorer. So do it early before anyone is awake or while there is another quiet time in the day.

2. PRAY before you read. You don't have to pray for an hour. Just ask God to clear your mind and speak to you while you read. I have read the book of John many times, but just last night as I was studying it, the Lord showed me something new. So, PRAY before you read. "Lord, clear my mind and speak to my heart through your word."

3. Be committed! As believers we fight a battle every single day. Distractions will come and try to keep you from reading. Don't let it happen! You can always find time for God's word. You would be surprised at some of the places I have read my Bible!

I'm going to post every single day about John, except for Saturday and Sunday. So you don't have to email me or post on Saturday and Sunday. But, stay in the Word! This is gonna change your life ladies! I want you to know that I am not a Bible Genius or a woman that knows more than you. I am JUST like you! I am not going to be preaching at you in this study, just helping you. God laid this on my heart because too many women out there are living powerless lives. By studying His word, your life will be POWERFUL!

So tomorrow let's all read John, chapter 1 together!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bible Study (John)

There are so many of you that I talk to through email. You write to me and share things with me about your life. I can't even begin to tell you how much this thrills my soul! I love hearing about your joy, your heartache, your children, your husbands, yourself. It is my desire to minister to you in every way possible via the internet. Just last night I woke up around 3am because of the Holy Spirit bringing one of you to mind. Quite often the Holy Spirit leads me to pray for you in areas of your life that I don't even know about. I think the most amazing thing God has revealed to me since I have been doing this blog is His power! God is healing me and many of you even as I type!

As I talk to some of you I am realizing how we are all in this journey together. Most of you are stay at home moms, some of you are working moms, some of you don't have any kids, some of you have kids my age. Whatever place you are at as a woman, one thing remains to be totally true, we all need Jesus in our lives! Your struggles are real! But the only way as women we can truly be set free from our past, from ourselves or from any sin that entangles us is to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and His word! It's so easy to go about our day and not spend time in His word. But, it's a must! We have to spend time in His word in order to know Him better. Many of you tell me you don't know what to read or that you don't have time to read. Well ladies, you can't afford not to! You also tell me that you are not sure where to start or that the Bible confuses you or that you don't understand it. So how about we do it together?

A few months ago the Lord gave me an idea for an online bible study. I knew that I needed to be in God's word but I knew that I couldn't do it on my own. So I asked two friends of mine to join me in an online bible study. It's hard to get everyone's schedules to match so meeting weekly in person was not an option. The Holy Spirit gave me a simple yet life changing idea. We would read one chapter a day and then email one another to report in. We also would send commentary to each other. For instance, we would just check in by saying, "I read today. I love that scripture that says our Father will never reject us." We kept it simple. But that way we knew we had to read. For me it worked out best to wake up early before the kids and read. My friend did it after dropping her two kid's off at school. So it's whatever works best for you as long as you stay up to date.

I promise you, I guarantee you that if you commit to this, you will be changed. The word will change you! Also as you read His word, you will be able to recognize His voice. The word is living, breathing, it can't help but to change us. If you are committed to reading God's word with me daily, then this is what you do! Email me so I will know you are on board. Also this will allow me to pray for you as the Holy Spirit leads me. And I can hold you accountable too! If you don't read one day, I can email you and check on you. Starting Monday, April 24th, we will begin reading the book of John. So Monday, is John chapter 1. That's it, one chapter! I will post a blog first thing Monday morning on John chapter 1.

First things first! If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, let's begin there. Have you ever accepted Christ into your life? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb? If you are not sure, if there is ANY doubt, then make a decision TODAY! The Bible says in Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be SAVED! Believe: "Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you are the son of God. I believe that you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Please forgive me Lord, please wash me clean and make me as white as snow. God please be the Lord of my life, my CEO, my boss, my FATHER. Jesus I ask you to be my friend and guide me for the rest of my life. In Jesus name, AMEN!"

I have been studying John for a while now so I will be starting all over with you. Something I like to do is go to and look at the different translations. Also if you don't have a bible, you can go to this site and read your chapter every day. After you read your chapter, you can post your comments online about what you have read. Or if you don't feel comfortable doing that, email me at the address below.

If you are joining me in the John online Bible Study, email me at I can't wait to see what God does!! Expect amazing and miraculous things to happen in your life!


P.S. As you read, I will be here to help you. If you have any questions that I don't know the answer to, I will find one. I have many sources!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


As a sixth grader I had a huge desire to wear a certain type of tennis shoes, Keds. Then seventh grade came and it was all about the brand Espirit and Guess, followed by ZCavaricci and Jaboe. Later in junior high it became all about the purses. I never had a Dooney & Burke purse, my parents did not spend a lot of money on name brand things for me. But since a lot of the other girls had these things, the "want" was always there. Then came high school and friends began getting cars and some were given brand new cars. I was happy just to have a car even if it was old. But watching friends pull up in a BMW or Toyota Celica made it sometimes more difficult to be content. As a single adult, I looked forward to not caring about all of the material stuff and for some reason I had some delusion that adults were more mature and didn't get caught up in things like that. Soon, I learned that was just not possible. Many of my friends even as an adult had parents that still paid their bills and allowed them to use their credit card for shopping. I had to work and I did not have any freebies! But still I struggled with wanting more.

Now as a thirty year old wife and stay at home mom, I still find myself struggling at times. We moved into the home we live in currently a little over eight months ago. There is a ton of stuff I would love to change in this house or add to this house. My couch is against a huge wall that is desperate for a picture from Kirkland's or HObby Lobby. My furniture is fine but I wouldn't mind having something new. I want to get rid of all of the carpet and put in wood floors like we did at our old house but it's just not possible right now. There is nothing wrong with wanting a nice home or wanting nice things. I love to decorate and if I had the money I would be buying things for my home all the time. From elementary to junior high and high school to single life to now being a stay at home mom, there are still trends that come and go. Women love to shop, it's in us, we were born to shop. But, often many women become consumed with wanting more. Now at my age and in my stage of life it's no so much about the brands. I can go to Target, buy and outfit and look like I paid a lot. But it doesn't stop with clothes. Women do it with their homes, their kids, their husband's, their SUV's, their entire life. Women want the world to see them a certain way and do everything possible to keep up with everyone else no matter what the cost.
If it sounds like I am preaching, I am only writing things that the Lord gives me. I will never speak about something that I myself have not dealt with.

It's no longer about Keds and Guess jeans. It's about furniture, your kid's school, the school district, the home builder that built your house, the neighborhood you live in, your husband's job, your husband's salary, your vacations, your minivan or SUV. Oh and let's not forget the kid's soccer team, piano lessons, ballet lessons and name brand clothes! Even as I type this, I feel an ouch coming on. I love buying clothes for my kids and I struggle with wanting them to have the best looking outfits and my husband looking stylish. I want my home to be beautiful, I want to have a nice vehicle, I want my kids to dress cute, I want to live in a nice neighborhood and be in a good school district. Those things I have. But what is behind me motivation? Can those things be sanctified?

If you know me at all, you know I love clothes and shoes. I also love buying things for my house. But we are in a season where I am not able to do a lot of shopping. In the past I could go to the grocery store and within reason, I could buy whatever I needed. Now I have to really plan out my menu for the week. Josiah is going to be taking swimming lessons in June and we can't afford it, so we have a grandparent that has offered. This year we did not have the money for me to buy a new outfit for Easter. Usually I would push it, I would force a way for me to be able to buy something. In the past, I would even have thrown a fit about it until my husband agreed. During this time I have had to learn what is important. It's not my clothes, my furniture, my neighborhood, my kid's school, my SUV. I can have those things but can they be sanctified?

It started long ago with Eve. She wasn't content. As women we want more! We long to have something to look forward to. We live for the events! And we look around at what other women have and we want it so we go out and get it. I wrote a blog along time ago on my old blog site about magazines. My husband knows that the best gift for me would be a magazine subscription. About a month ago, the Holy Spirit convicted me about the magazines I was choosing to read. I always knew deep down that the magazines were not helping me but I never really paid attention to that voice inside (the Holy Spirit) telling me, "NO". But a month ago, I listened. Standing in a grocery store I would find myself totally and completely taken by magazines at the check out counter. Many times I came home with US Weekly, People Magazine, InStyle, Lucky or Redbook. I was obsessed with looking at what the Stars were wearing or obsessed with reading about Jessica Simpson's divorce or TomKat's baby. While cooking supper I would make sure the TV was turned to EXTRA on NBC so I could hear the latest Celebrity Gossip. As I watched the celebrities on TV and looked at them in the magazines, I always felt discontent. Instead of being content with what I had, I began to notice what I didn't have.

The Lord has just showed me that the things that I really want and desire in this world have to be able to be SANCTIFIED. I can be fashionable, I can have a nice home, but how can I have those things and not let it rule who I am? Can I have those things and still strive for purity and holiness? I have always been a frugal shopper. The name brand clothes that my kids wear are always, always found on a clearance rack. For me, that's how I have to shop so I look for the best deals. As far as my house is concerned, I have to save for things I want to buy. In the past, I would just use a credit card to make sure I got it. My desires would overtake me and I would buy too much, too often. But the Holy Spirit has showed me that I have to have limits, I have to be more concerned with the condition of my heart than the condition of my fashion. My home could be beautiful with extravagant things, but if it's not focused and centered on Jesus, it's ugly.

A few weeks ago I prayed that the Lord would give me a bitter taste for things in this world. Each day He is showing me something new that won't fit in my life. So today as I share my struggles with you, I pray that you will examine your own life and ask God to reveal to you what it is you need to change. Since I have shared so much already, I leave you with a prayer that I am praying today for myself. I know that if I put it out there and share it with you, I will be better at staying accountable to God's call on my life. His call requires me to set myself apart from many things in this world. How do I do that? Well, God is showing me right now!

God, I thank you for allowing me to hear your voice. I pray that you will continue to show me things that I need to change or things that I no longer need to be a part of or take part in. Please continue to do the work for me. If you give me a bitter taste for things of this world, then I won't even want it. The water that the children of Israel found was bitter so they had to wait for you to provide water they could drink. Please do the same in my life. Help me to realize instantly what is bitter! From the inside out, mold me into a woman who will honor you. When choosing clothes to wear, help me to be modest. When spending, help me to spend wisely. When listening to music, help me to be aware of the lyrics. With movies, show me if I even need to go! As you change me, change my husband. Please get us on the same page Father. God, please convicted me when my conversations are not positive. Use me Lord, use me! Thank you Jesus, thank you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's an illusion

Last night I couldn't sleep so I laid in bed and watched an episode of Oprah that I had recorded on the DVR/TiVo. I like to record her shows so I can watch them later when nothing else is on. A lot of the time she has very interesting, real life situations on the show. Some of you may not like her but I do enjoy her show. The episode from yesterday really hit home with me.

"Today we're exposing lies that millions and millions of people are living every day." On the show was a twenty-four year old girl that was obsessed with Hollywood and celebrities. She looked at all of the magazines to see what they were wearing, what they were driving and even what kind of dogs they had. This poor girl spend over $165,000 in clothes, shoes, purses, dogs, pet carries, designer pet collars and more! Through out the interview Oprah explained to her about how this life in Hollywood is all an illusion. Behind the clothes, behind the designer hand bags, there is pain. When we see pictures of celebrities, it's the kodak moment. But we have no idea what is going on behind the smile. We don't take pictures of bad events. When I look back at pictures when Josiah was first born, I see pictures of me holding him and smiling from ear to ear. One day I was showing those pictures to someone and the person commented with, "You look so happy." Honestly, I was miserable. He was colic, I was afraid, he was crying ALL of the time, I was too. I looked at my friend and said, "Behind those eyes was a terrified new mother lacking hours and hours of sleep!" The picture was an illusion.

Then the second person on the show was a stay-at-home Mom. The lie she was living? Everyone thought she had the perfect marriage. When the world looks at this Mom they see a Mom who is married to a Doctor, a Mom that has a big house, a big SUV, two kids that play soccer and a perfect family. But, it was all an illusion. This wife/mother had been unhappy for years in her marriage but no one knew. She said when they were in public, they put on smiles and showed affection to each other, they acted. When they got home, they went the separate ways. Sex? Maybe once a month she said. I wanted to explain to this girl how much she needs Jesus!

How many people do you know living a lie? Maybe you are one of them? Why are we so afraid to let others see the truth? Pictures don't tell the truth. They do show happy occasions but they don't show what's on the inside. Then we make the mistake of wanting to be like others when God created us to be ourselves.

For any of you that read my blog and think that I have the perfect life, let me tell you I don't! I want God to use me for what I am and what's on the inside. I think if you read my blog on a regular basis you will see that I definitely don't have it all together. The pictures may cause you to think otherwise but don't let it fool you. I do have a wonderful husband and two wonderful children. I love them dearly. I am happy with the life I have but I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle with being discontent. I encourage you ladies, to be real!!!! Don't try to make everyone think your life is perfect. God CAN'T and WON'T use perfection!

Here's the truth...

My husband and I had a really bad fight yesterday. We love each other but we have a lot to work on. I have even called him names.

I have an addiction to clothes and buying clothes for my kids. I have gotten better. I have to because we don't have a lot of money.

I sometimes feel that if I don't have cute hair, cute clothes, a singing voice, that I won't be anything.

I am insecure a lot with my body.

I have CELLULITE. I have stretch marks.

I have yelled at my three year old.

I have struggled with smoking. When I get really stressed out, I want to smoke. I don't know why. When I got depressed and was single and lived alone, I bought some cigarettes. Sounds weird, I know.

We don't have a lot of money. I have to do things to try to make extra money for spending.

I lived in a mobile home in a trailer park growing up.

I failed the seventh grade.

So, there you go! Now none of you will think I have the perfect life. And for those of you that think I am crazy for being so honest, too bad. I may kick myself tomorrow but now that it's out there, you know that I am just a real woman. I live in a beautiful neighborhood, with a beautiful house and a beautiful family, but my life is not perfect and may I NEVER make you think it is.

Thank you Jesus for all the things you are doing in my life. I love you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

God has a plan for your life

When I was in junior high and high school, I had a precious friend. She was different and not like anyone else. While all the girls including myself were involved in silly gossip and struggles with boys, she was not. She must have been studying because she was our Valedictorian out of about six hundred people. There was never a time I heard her say something bad about someone. Never! It's not that I don't remember, it's that she never did. We were close friends and at times we spent a lot of time together. Her family was one I adored. Her Dad was a Pastor of a church in the community and everyone knew who they were. Their reputation was gold. I always felt honored to be her friend and I longed to have the family she did. I know it wasn't perfect but I know that this family loved each other more than anything. One night she had spent the night at my house and we walked to the donut store when we woke up. That morning I was extremely upset about some stuff at home and I felt hopeless. I kept wishing I had a family like her's but I knew that when I returned home, the trouble would still be there. When she returned home, it would not. As we walked to the donut store, I cried. That morning she comforted me and encouraged me with godly counsel. I will never forget what she said, "Amanda, God has a plan for your life." It stuck with me and I believed her. I knew that God was big enough to have a plan for my life, I just didn't know why it had to be so rough right then. Then there was the year that I didn't make Class Council. I had been voted on the year before and the next I wasn't. She called me when I got home from school to find out the results and once again she said something I will always remember. "Amanda, we don't know why God chooses certain things for us. I know it hurts that you didn't make class council this year but God has a plan for you. Maybe there is going to be a fire in the school during a class council meeting and he doesn't want you to be at the school so he orchestrated something like this to protect you. Maybe he is trying to teach you something else. It may seem silly, but God has a plan for you and this does not mean no one likes you." She may not remember the walk to the donut store or the phone call we had that day but her words have never left me. After high school, we remained friends. While she was away at Texas A & M, I was living in an apartment all by myself trying to figure out this plan. She came to visit me in the summer and once again sat in my apartment listening to me cry over a broken heart. Once again, "Amanda, God has a plan for your life. He has the perfect husband for you." And once again, her words stuck with me.

At times I feel like that fifteen year old girl walking to the donut store. When troubles come, I feel like that sad girl all over again. The feelings I felt then, I continue to feel when I am hurting. But, thankfully the Lord uses Janna's words to remind me once again that He has a plan for my life. Sometimes I feel unloved, not needed, not liked, not wanted, not accepted. The walk to the Donut store comes back often. So many things from my past come back to my spirit when I am hurting. For so long I have been trying reject the pain and get rid of it and now I am trying to embrace it. God has a plan and maybe, just maybe the plan was the pain! The pain has produced many great things. Right now I am trying to press through and really listen to what God is revealing to me and I think that for me I have been given a revelation. If I will thank Him for this pain and thank Him for the past, then I can be free. Instead of putting so much pressure on myself to change, I need to embrace who I am. Those that don't accept me, I move on. Christ lives in me and anyone who does not accept me, rejects Him. (John 13) So, why am I putting so much stock in people. I have spent my whole life putting everyone's comments about me in the forefront of my mind. I have heard it from my family. I have heard it from friends. I have heard it my whole life and it has destroyed me because I have believed it. Since I have believed it, I have acted it all out and proved them right! But, it doesn't matter at all what they think. I am loved, I am accepted, I am chosen, I am needed, I am wanted! God will always choose me. He will always pick me to be on His team and He will always be there. His opinion is the only one that counts. He has a plan for my life!

As I try to matter in this world, I am also trying to like myself. God does have a plan for my life just like Janna told me fifteen years ago! I live just a couple of miles from the house I lived in and the donut store I walked to. It may be necessary to take a drive from that house to the donut store and hear God say, "Mandi, you are loved. You are needed. People like you. People love you. Your family needs you. Your family wants you. Your family loves you. I love you. Now you must love what I have created you to be."

Thanks for reading everyone. I don't have great writing to give right now but I do have great revelation from the Lord. As I hear His voice, I will share it with you. Thank you Janna, you made a difference in my life and in many others. I love your "guts" friend! I get that now! You really did love my guts and not everyone can love my guts but you did. Thank you for allowing God to use you. I think of you all the time and I need to make a trip to Austin! Kelly, let's go to Austin! :)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter and all the stuff...

Despite trying to make sure my kids have the perfect Easter outfit, an Easter basket and the traditional bunny cake, I pray that they will grow up knowing exactly what this day means. I thought about it a lot on my way home from church. I rushed home thinking about the final things I needed to do in the kitchen before family arrived for a big meal and egg hunt. But then I began to think about our church service and this morning's worship. It was the first time in a long time I felt passionate about my worship. As I sang the songs, I really tried to focus on the words and what they truly meant to me and my Savior. At one point while singing in the choir this morning, my eyes anxiously watched the choir director's mouth as she fed the words. It was a song I didn't know. But as I looked out and saw the people singing and raising their hands, all I could do was cry. It didn't matter that I didn't know the song, I felt it. The second service came and it was time to sing again and once more, I cried during the song I didn't know. I didn't want it to be over, I wanted to keep singing but it was time to walk out and face the world once again. I pray that I can worship my Lord this week without the church and the choir. May I truly make my home a sanctuary. Easter tends to be a picture takin' day, a big eatin' day and an egg huntin' day but today it was all about worshipin' for me! We all wore our best attire today, some ladies even broke out the hats. The choir sang beautifully and the sermon was powerful. And today the Lord showed me that He wants my BEST every single day. Easter comes with a lot of stuff, that's how we have made it. But all the stuff really doesn't matter. For it's all about JESUS!

Happy Easter everyone and remember that Jesus Christ who arose from the dead is COMING BACK! Hallelujah!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Redeeming Love

Novels are not what I usually choose to read. I prefer books that will give me instruction in life. Parenting books are always nice or Christian books that teach me how to trust God more or how to be free from fear. That way I feel like I'm not wasting my time and I don't feel guilty for being wrapped up in a book. Well, actually I almost never finish a book. I have always admired those women that say how much they love to read. When I was in High School I loved reading. At times we had to read a book a week and I enjoyed that. But then I got busy with life, then kids and lost my joy for reading. I struggle so much with digging into God's word every single day and books would get in the way of that. So my books usually find a home on my night stand!

A few days ago I posted a blog about a few books that were put in my possession. My Mother told me that I would love reading Francine Rivers, a Christian Author. So I took her advice and found myself totally wrapped up in a book! As a stay at home Mom, my life at times is not always full of adult type things. But as I read The Scarlet Thread, I found myself counting the hours until nap time so I could read more. Then I would actually dream about the Characters. Sometimes during the day I would think about Sierra or Mary Kathryn and how they felt. Then all of the sudden, way too quickly, I finished the book. When I finished, I thought there was no way I would enjoy another book like I did that one. The Characters had my heart and I just wanted the book to keep going and going.

Then five days ago, I began a new book called Redeeming Love. This was another novel by Francine Rivers. I have never read a book where I felt like the character but in this one I did. My story is different but also much the same. Each chapter, God showed me something about myself. I felt like Angel was really Amanda! And if you read the book, you will see that she was Amanda. But, I won't give any more away. Last night at 12:30am, I finished the book. The last ten chapters were captivating and I cried and cried and cried with each page. My heart raced, tears flooded my eyes, and I found myself crying out on the inside to these characters. I wanted to will them into doing something or not doing something. It was just like the end of a movie when you are just wanting all the good stuff to happen and everyone live happily ever after. Redeeming Love has changed me. Only God knows how, but I know that this book has definitely changed my life. God also showed me through this book how Jeremy, my husband, has been my redeeming love. Actually, my precious Heavenly Father, sent Jeremy to me to show my just how much HE loves me.

My blog isn't turning into an Oprah's book club ladies, don't worry! Today the kids are going out of town with Jeremy's family so I'm starting Francine River's "Mark Of The Lion" trilogy. Reading her books gets me excited about picking up my Bible and reading it because I have learned so much from her writing. Her books are full of God's awesome and mighty Word and that's why her books are so anointed. So put down your InStyle, People or Lucky Magazine and read something that will change you!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

173 degrees

What a beautiful Texas day this Tuesday has turned out to be! Despite my allergies, I decided to have lunch outside with the kiddos. They love eating outside and since it is so pretty out and feels so pleasant, I thought I would join them! These are the kind of days that all Texans should stop and breathe in deeply. Before you know it, the weather here will be miserable! The kids will only be able to play outside in the early morning and late, late afternoon because the temperature will be too hot to bare. Oh and who can forget the Ozone alert days when the weather men tell you to stay inside! So now is the time to cram every outdoor activity into your schedule because this amazing weather won't last, it just won't!

While sitting outside eating lunch with the kids, my Dad called and told me about something funny he had heard on the radio regarding the time and temperature man! There is a number you can call 817-844- then any four numbers and you will hear a man tell the time and temperature sponsored by Chase Bank. I knew about the number because when I was much younger and my little brother did something to irritate me, I would pretend like I was calling my Mom at work to tattle on him. I had many conversations with the time and temp man about Josh! It was great when I told him that Mom said he was grounded, he changed his tone real fast! Little did he know it was only the time and temp man! Anyway, my Dad said that when you call to find out the time and temp, the date and time given is correct but the temperature is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it's insanely wrong! So, I thought I would call and give it a try. Sure enough, the date was correct, the time was exact but the temperature was way off. Current temperature given by the Chase Bank man? 173 degrees!

It's a struggle for me to not make little things into big things. Some of you can relate. I remember one time while I was working for a Christian Company, I had a really difficult co-worker in my life. This person said hateful things to me and quite often attacked the way I dressed, the way my hair was styled or cut, or just anything about me that they didn't like. This person was much, much older than me and so I found myself feeling very intimidated. One day I sat in my cubicle crying because I did not know how to handle this person. My boss walked out of his office and said, "Hey, don't let em' get to you. People are always going to try to tear you down, always. It does not matter for one second what that person thinks about you, this is a little thing in life." It was hard to take his advice. This person told lies about me, tried to get me into trouble and constantly talked bad about me. It wasn't all in my head, this person did not like me! So as this went on, my boss stopped by my desk one day and gave me a book called, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff." And today I think about that book a lot. My boss was right, it doesn't matter for one second about the little things! So many times I let little things take control of my day. In my mind it becomes 173 degrees and dreadful but the reality is, it's only 80 degrees and beautiful!

Father, help me to live in your reality, not my own. Give me your vision, take away my blurry sight so that I may see the truth. I am desperate for you Lord and I need you every second of every single day. God, PLEASE use me to show others how to be free from those things that keep them so tied up. May I not be silent Lord but tell the WORLD what you have done for me! Remind me Lord when it's not really 173 degrees.


Sometimes we just need a hug, a pat on the back or a word of encouragement from someone that we know really cares. Deep down I have a huge desire to just be loved on and taken care of. At times it's hard for me to express that without coming across as being needy. My husband knows it and he knows exactly when I am needing that love and attention the most. But when I receive attention and love from other women, it truly meets a need in a therapeutic way. I have struggled with feelings of hurt a lot in my life, actually too much. It helps when someone comes along that can really just love you through it and believe in you no matter what. Family can do that, our husbands can do it but friends can do it like no other. Friends don't have to love you, they choose to. For that, I am so thankful for my precious friend Kathy. I like to refer to her as my "Fairy God Mother". Often she changes my world in a second with just something she says to me. She arrives on the scene and takes care of me. No matter how much I get down on myself, she shows me that anything is possible. I know that I can pick up the phone to call her and always have acceptance on the other end. She knows I don't like to be preached at. She knows I need gentle pushes as I face the truth in my life. I don't handle things well from a drill sergeant, she knows that. It's comforting to know she is in my corner and that she will always defend me and honor me no matter what. I really need that in my life. I think we all do!

Kathy, I will do the same for you. I love you and thank you for loving me as if I were your very own daughter. Happy Birthday Kathy! You are a gift to my family and we all love you so much.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I've changed but I've got more to do

Back in my single days, I lived a few glory days that involved me singing in front of thousands of people each weekend. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I still miss that time in life very much. To remind me of that season, there is a video that I have and it's put away in a drawer along with other VHS tapes that we never use. Does anyone even remember VHS?! Well, one afternoon while I needed to run errands, my Dad came over to watch the kids. Ava Beth, my 15month old daughter and Josiah, my three year old son, became very restless and my Dad searched all over the house for something to keep them entertained. Well he found the drawer full of old tapes and found one video labeled "Amanda's solos". When I arrived home I noticed the storm door had the window raised. I could hear myself singing and it was coming from inside the house! As I walked in the front door I was shocked to find my kids sitting completely still in front of the tv watching me sing on this video. My Dad looked at me and said, "This is the third time they have watched this! They love it!" At one time Ava Beth could only be entertained by Baby Mozart, now that's been replaced by Mommy singing! So a little while ago while Josiah was playing with his friend in the backyard, Ava Beth was extremely upset that she couldn't be out there with them. I thought I would give it a try with the Mommy video and it worked! Instantly, she was happy. I decided to sit down and watch it with her, it had been a while since I had seen this video of all the different solos I sang. As I watched, I realized how much I have changed. Not only is my hair a few different colors and longer, but I am several years older and much, much different.

Watching that twenty-two year girl sing her heart out on stage brought me back to who that girl was at the time. Not one time while singing any of those songs did I ever think that my children would someday be watching me on video. There are many days when I wake up feeling insecure and disgusted with myself. Sometimes I slip back into an old way of thinking and forget how far I've come. But today as I watched the video with my daughter I realized how far I really have come. My trust in the Lord has grown in ways I never dreamt was possible. My hunger for truth has gotten stronger and I am much more self aware. At twenty-two I believe I was extremely selfish and self absorbed, sometimes I still am. My patience was non-existent and my self esteem was poor. I trusted everyone I met, now I don't. Good thing? Bad thing? Both! I worried about everything and I do mean everything. I thought I would never find true love and I thought I would for sure never find a husband let alone him find me. Having children was a craving but it just didn't seem possible. Even though I was only twenty two at time, I really thought there was no one that would ever fall in love with me. As soon as I thought I may have met the man I would marry, my heart was broken. Since I was so insecure, I did a lot of damage to others. Sometimes I got very close to people only to burn a bridge soon after. Again, I sometimes struggle with doing the same thing at thirty years old. But, one thing I know for sure, I'm not the same. The struggles are still there and I'm still pretty much the same girl, but there is one big difference! I'm better!

It seems that I am my worst fan in life sometimes. Self condemnation is my biggest struggle and the voices in my head sometimes get the best of me. The video today reminded me, I have changed. Back then I wasn't so bad, I was just young! I am sure that when I am forty I will look back at me being thirty and realize how much I've changed.

So all this to say, I need your prayers. I am really struggling with some things about myself. I know that I have some great qualities. I know that I am a good mother and wife but at times I am not quite sure how to be anything else. Before God can fully use me to be a minister, I have got to learn how to love other's. Before I can love other's, I have got to learn how to love myself.

Please pray, I need it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Okay, I know this is my third post of the day. I promise my kids have been fed and taken care of. They both take three hour naps! Yes, I am blessed!!

Before I went on vacation my friend Kelly Ann put two books in my mailbox one day while I wasn't at home. She said, "Take these two books on your trip. They are great books." Her two books? Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and Praying God's Word (Breaking Free from Spiritual strongholds) by Beth Moore. Now both of these books I really need. Kelly Ann and I talk a lot about our kids and a lot of about struggles. When the two of us are together, there is no small talk. It's straight to the guts! There is no since in talking about the weather! We have known each other since we were fourteen years old so we get down to business quickly. If anybody knows my junk, it's her! So, there is some safety there. We both share some of the same frustrations with our kids and in our spiritual walk and since I know she has read both of these books, I was excited to read them both! As much as I wanted to start reading these books on vacation, I didn't. And this is why. My Mom!

Okay, it's a good thing for me to be reading my Bible and a miraculous thing for me to be reading a book too. My attention span is short and I can't ever find the time to sit and read. But while the kids are sleeping or while I am taking a bath, I have started trying. My Mom loves to read and as much as I love to write I figure I need to be reading more. I am sure I could learn a few lessons in writing or grammar while I am at it. The night we take the kids to my mom's before leaving for vacation my Mom hands me two books. "You gotta read these! They are some of the most awesome books you will ever read and you learn so much about the word too in these books." So now I have two more books! The Scarlet Thread and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. My Mom loves this author, I had never heard of her. "Mandi, you will love both of these books." So I pack all four books and head out for vacation!

Needless to say, I am a bad reader. I get sidetracked, I fall asleep, I daydream. While getting ready to lay out by the pool on deck, I searched for the books and found the two my Mom sent with me. The ones Kelly sent me I could not find. Later I found them in a pouch in one of my suitcases that I forgot I had. (They are good though. I am reading both of them a little at a time now. THANK YOU KELLY!) Anyway, I grabbed The Scarlet Thread and began to read. Like I said I am a bad reader especially when so much is going on around me. This week I picked it back up and I have been hooked ever since. All of this rambling to say, if you need a good book to read and you love fiction, Francine Rivers has a wide selection. I think you will enjoy her writing. And if you need a book to help with your parenting, Boundaries With Kids will definitely give you tools to help. Then there is Beth Moore's Praying God's Word. I think when you see the name Beth Moore, you know it's a good read.

So for any stay at home Mom like me that would like to read a book during nap time, these are good reads. Or any woman that needs a new book to read, here's a few to buy.

Be blessed ladies!

Stop, Wait, Listen

In my excitement of shopping, packing and planning our vacation during the last few days before we left, there was something I forgot to do. As we pulled out of our driveway two Friday evenings ago to drop the kids off at my Mom's, I knew there was something I was forgetting. But I couldn't figure out what it was. Not only did I pack for me and my husband but also for the kids. While we were on vacation they would be staying with grandparents so there was a lot I had to remember for all of us. I wasn't worried about leaving a coffee pot on or anything plugged in that shouldn't be, my Dad would be staying at our house to keep the dog. But something was nagging at my brain! What was I forgetting? By the time we reached our Cruise Ship and boarded, I had forgotten that I was forgetting! Until, today. The car payment!

I don't know why on earth my husband believes I should do the bills! He is much better with money and much smarter too, so the fact that I have this job annoys me to no end. This morning as I prepared to pay bills, I found our car payment stub that clearly showed it was due on the 27th of March. Thankfully, we have a ten day grace period but I didn't want to take any chances so I called to pay by phone. When I called I instantly got an automated system. I can't even begin to describe through my writing how much I abhor this kind of system. But, I had to go through it! The worst part about these types of systems are how sensitive they are to sound. If I sigh or breathe too hard it uses that as a response. "I'm sorry, I did not recognize your account number." And I have even been one of those stupid people that talk back out of anger. "That's because I wasn't saying my account number, I was BREATHING!" You get the point by now, I'm sure. After finally getting to the "PAY MY BILL" portion of the call, the recorded voice tells me that I can pay two different amounts. Apparently after speaking with a real person, if you are one day late the phone system records it as late, but the financial records do not. So I could pay one amount that would be two months worth or I could pay the current amount. Well wouldn't you know I accidentally paid two months worth. Now for some of you, this would not be a big deal but in my home, we can't afford to make two car payments at one time! For those of you that can, BLESS YOU!

As soon as I heard the system tell me the amount, I panicked! Yes, I even began to cry. However, I knew this was one more thing I could use to convince Jeremy that my resignation of bill paying was needed a.s.a.p! Okay so I take a deep breath, try to calm down and then call my husband screaming! "Jeremy you have to call Ford Motor Credit, I accidentally paid two months worth of car payments and I just paid a bunch of other bills too and we don't have enough money in our account to pay and ..........". "Babe. Calm down. BABE! WHAT'S THE NUMBER?" You see I couldn't call back because my name is not on the account, just his. So we call three way and since he was on the phone they would talk to me. He got to hang up and then everything was resolved. "Mam, did you get a confirmation number when you paid the bill?" "No." "Well, then it's not posted to your account. But let's make sure." Okay so after all of my freaking out and emotional meltdown, everything was fine. "Mam, let's go ahead and go through the automated system together and I will stay on the line while you make the payment. But remember to get your confirmation number, otherwise the payment is not valid." After making the payment I then hear the words, "To confirm payment, press one. To cancel, press two." Funny, I didn't hear that the first time. Instead I assumed the worst. I then explain to the nice man on the phone walking me though the steps, "Sorry, this was my fault. I apologize for my frantic state!" I am sure he was rolling his eyes but he said, "That's okay, I probably would have done the same thing. But it's a good thing you hung up because you never got a confirmation number so it canceled the payment."

There are so many times when I need to stop, wait and listen. It's kind of like the stop, drop and roll concept that you learn in grade school regarding clothing contact with fire. If I could just stop for a moment, wait for a moment and listen for a moment, I would get much better results from a lot of things in my life. Over the past few days I have been trying to come to a conclusion on some things in my life. Decisions need to be made regarding my involvement in some areas and choices need to be made in some questions I have been asking myself. Usually any battle I am facing involves me, myself and I. Even when I have a conflict with someone else, the main person I tend to conflict with is me. Or when I have a decision to make about something, I usually battle within. Too often I don't really stop and wait for the right answer. As a woman I think it can be very difficult at times to not go with our emotions or with what our friends think we should do. At times we need to respond and respond quickly but more often than not, we need to stop. I believe that this is how God can truly reveal His power to us. When I react and do things quickly, the results are not always positive. Instead of saying the first thing that comes to my mind when giving advice or when involved in a conflict, I have found that it is best to walk away. There are some things that can't be solved instantly. If I don't take the time to stop and listen to what the other person is trying to say or stop to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying, I will often jump to conclusions. If I would have STOPPED while making that car payment over the phone, I would have saved myself a lot of stress today.

Waiting is the most intense verb I believe there is. Most of us become extremely weary just waiting. For some reason we feel like we should always be doing something. If there is an issue with our spouse, friend, co-worker, child or family member, we want to work it out, get it resolved. At least I do. My husband is quite the opposite! He likes to walk away and not talk about it. Actually, he would be happy to never bring it up again. But, I like to get it out there, hash it out, confront it, discuss! This is not always the best choice. But recently God showed me that there was something in my life that I needed to wait on. As I have waited, a wound has begun to heal a little at a time. If we could just sit back, and take a break, God could do a whole lot in our lives. There are so many things that we take on that we don't have to! He will do it for us! He is faithful to work out every single detail of our lives. One thing I have noticed with my husband is that waiting to discuss an issue with Him is key. If I wait, I often find the issue to disappear or I find him to be more approachable or softer towards me. When I don't wait, the results are the total opposite. While on the phone with the automated bill system for my car payment, I should have stopped. If I would have stopped, I then could have waited and heard my next step.

Instead of going through the stop, wait and listen process, I tend to lean more towards the stop, panic and scream process. Every single time I do this, the Holy Spirit comes along and sits me down. "Let ME handle this. Calm down, don't react. Don't let this turn into such a big thing." And for any of you that doubt whether God speaks to us, HE DOES. He speaks to me just like that too! I may not hear an audible voice but I have come to learn His voice and I know it well. It's always gentle yet strong, always recognizable and always speaks the truth. When I don't listen to HIM, I listen to myself or others. There are days when I haven't been in the Word and there are days when those that I am surrounded by have not been in the WORD. When I need some help, some wisdom, some advice, I need to listen to someone that's prayed up and full of the Word. If not, I may be taken in a wrong direction. It's crucial for me, for you, for everyone to be careful whose words we choose to listen to. Our friends will sometimes jump on our bandwagon and take our side which doesn't always help. Our family sometimes does the same. If we listen to ourselves, we can bet our emotions will taint our desicions so it's best to listen to our Heavenly Father. God does speak through other people and when He does, I believe it will be what He has already been showing you in your spirit. If we stop, wait and listen, we can always hear His voice. It may take a while, but I promise you will hear Him. Paying my car payment never had to be so difficult but I made it that way. Listening to the automated system would have helped my cause. Clear instructions were given at the end but I didn't wait long enough to hear them.

When we don't stop, we assume the worst. When we don't wait, we miss what God has for us. When we don't listen, we make poor desicions. When we do stop, we find hope. When we do wait, we find strength and when we do listen, we find peace. This process will always bring peace, every single time.

Isaiah30:18 But the LORD still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them

Lamentations 3:25-26 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

My three year old

Life with a three year old is really quite hilarious. I never imagined that Josiah would make me laugh so much. The word bored never enters my vocabulary anymore. With the kids, I'm never bored. When Josiah was born I couldn't wait to see him sit up, crawl, walk and talk. Since he was my first, the time seem to drag for a while. Then all of the sudden, he's three! And let me tell you, he NEVER quits talking. Josiah never meets a stranger and doesn't care who is around, he's gonna sing to the top of his lungs. This particular blog entry will really only interest my close friends and family, especially the ones that know Josiah so well. But, I just have to share some of the things this precocious three year old little boy says.

As much as I hate to admit it, Josiah has heard his Mommy and Daddy arguing before. One of the things I say to Jeremy when I get upset with him is, "You don't have to be rude." Or "Why are you being so rude to me?" Don't our arguments sound so grown-up? Anyway, I realized Josiah was catching on when he told me one day, "Mommy, don't be rude to Daddy!" Then the other day I told him he could not go outside and he started crying. From across the house I heard Josiah in our bedroom crying to his Daddy, "Mommy was rude to me." But last night while reading him the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him as a slave, I realized Josiah truly understood the meaning of "rude." After I finished reading he asked if he could read to me so I listened as he read (he thinks he's reading, maybe he is). "This is Joseph and his brothers were RUDE to him!"

Josiah has had a difficult time getting used to a 15month old little girl following him everywhere he goes. When he goes to the bathroom, she follows him and he yells "Get her Mommy!" She wants to do everything he does. I never imagined this would be like this with a boy and a girl but she loves her big brother. If Josiah is digging in the dirt, she is too. At times he loves this, but most of the times he is annoyed. A couple of days ago, he obviously had reached his limit with this feisty little diva. "Sissy, this is my backyard!" As I come running I hear Ava Beth screaming in her very sassy tone that she quite often demonstrates to Josiah. Then Josiah begins to cry, "Mommy, I don't want her in my backyard! This is my backyard, not her backyard!" This is why I pray daily that God will help me to NURTURE their relationship!! So we had a talk and he now realizes that the backyard is not only his kingdom but her's too. And if he's not careful, she will take care of him all on her own! This little girl needs a separate post on this blog. I could write about her for days and days.

Now I end with one of the craziest things my son has ever said. This morning I had a short but unusual conversation with Josiah. It went like this!

ME: Josiah, are you ready for Mommy and Daddy to have another baby?
Josiah: (with an excited look on his face and eyebrows raised) Yeah Mommy!
ME: Do you want a baby brother or a baby sister?
Josiah: I want a Baby Elmo!
ME: (blank look on my face, I could say nothing)

So there you have it! Today is a brand new day of crazy things said by a three year old. I know ALL of you moms can relate with the silly, yet smart things they say. I am simply in love with my kids, they never cease to amaze me. There is nothing else on this earth I would rather be doing than staying at home with them! I'll never be tired of Thomas the Train, Dora, Diego or The Wiggles, never! In fact, someday I am sure I will long for them all to be back in my house.

(Although, I don't think I will miss Elmo's World too much! I thought he would be done with Elmo by now but he still likes him and now Ava Beth does too! Perish the thought!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

My heart and my mouth

This post started as funny, witty, long bit of commentary all written out on my blog for last week's American Idol show. Some of you have probably read it already. But then the Holy Spirit convicted me and I erased the post. None of the stuff I have written has had any mean spirit behind it, just my honest opinion that I am sure a lot of the world would appreciate as far as AI goes. But, my opinion doesn't matter and as I pray to have a clean heart, I need to learn to keep a lot of things to myself. Not everyone needs to know when I don't like something. What do I prove? Nothing! Except that I often sound like a fool! Me writing a bunch of junk on AI doesn't match up with what the Lord has called me to use my blog for. So, I gotta stay true to His calling in my life.

Last week when we approached the check in counter for our cruise, a very mean male employee checked us in. A lot went in to our stressful check in, too much to explain. But, there was no excuse for this cruise line employee to treat us the way he did. My friend almost started crying, my husband's face turned red and me? Well, I couldn't keep my mouth closed. "You don't have to talk so ugly. This is not our fault. Call the travel planner for your company, he did this." It didn't end there. I was so mad! Finally we get the clearance to board the ship and I am still ranting and raving, looking for a manager of some sort to talk to. As we approach the bridge to walk across that takes us to the ship, we are greeted with a photographer and a background to stand in front of so he can take our picture. Waiting in line for our picture, I am still mad, still telling my husband how rude the guy was and then telling my husband he should have said something to him. Suddenly it's time for our picture and I have to turn on a smile! It was amazing, I turned on the fakest smile you have ever seen. Needless to say, we didn't buy that picture but I can guarantee the smile was big! As soon as we walked away from the camera, my attitude continued.

After finding our cabin, we walk in to find that our beds were still in twins and not made into a king. Just something else for me to be mad about! We all head to the pursers desk and approach the counter together. I did all the talking. Surprised? Chris, a sweet man behind the desk from South Africa said "No problem, I can fix all of this. I will get your credit card information corrected and get each of you with your spouses." Before that our rooms and credit info was all wrong. Girls in one room, guys in another. No thanks, I prefer to room with my husband! Then Chris, the pursers desk employee, in his beautiful South African accent said "Oh and just tell your steward about the beds and he/she will switch them into a king. Is there anything else I can do for you?" I wanted to say, "Yeah you can go punch that guy at the check in desk in the face!" But instead we smiled, thanked him and went to eat! When in doubt while on a cruise ship, eat! You can always eat on a cruise, always.

As we walked all around the ship anxious to find the lido deck, the FOOD deck, my husband put his arm around me and said "Babe, shake it off. We are on vacation! I'm sorry I didn't step in and say something to that man. He was a jerk but I knew he was messing with the wrong woman. I know you can handle people like that." And, I can. But, sometimes I just need to shut up. What do I prove? What do we prove when we complain to the waiter about our food? Sometimes attention needs to be brought to certain situations especially at restaurants but sometimes we just need to shut up.

So as I try my hardest to grow in the Lord, I learn about more and more things that need to change in my life. And let me tell you, it is HARD! Sometimes it is so hard to not see myself through the eyes of others, let alone my own eyes. More than anything, I need to focus on the eyes of the Lord. May I be pleasing to Him and when I am trying my hardest to please Him, I will instantly be pleasing to others. So, I'm not going to criticize the American Idol contestants, they get it enough from Simon. Who am I to judge? And maybe the guy at the cruise line man at the check in was really hurting that day. Who knows what may have been going on in His life? Who am I to judge?

Yesterday while singing in the choir at church I heard my mom praying to herself while everyone else was praying. "Give me a clean heart Lord." Well, that's what I need! A clean heart indeed. That would answer a lot of my problems in life, for sure.

Thank you Lord for the things you are teaching me. At times it is so difficult but I press on. Help me to see myself through your eyes, not the eyes of others. Help me to find my strength and confidence in YOU alone. Lord, help me to keep my mouth shut and my heart clean, daily.

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(For those of you that liked my American Idol weekly commentary, sorry. I would hate for one of them to stumble upon my blog and read my comments regarding how I think their performance went. You never know, Oprah could read my blog! HA! I just got to thinking about it and I don't think my AI opinion is necessary to share with all of you. I'll share my opinions with my husband!)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The big 30!

Well it has officially arrived, I am thirty years old. I know that in the grand scheme of things it's no big deal but, I will say that I miss being in the 20's just a little. Although I have heard from just about ever older woman I know that the 30's are much better than the 20's and I believe them! I often have conversations with God that no one knows about and many of the things I have prayed for regarding this particular age in my life, has happened. He has shown me so many things about myself and also shown me just how much He loves me and that is all that matters! His love and the love from my family are the best gifts I could ever hope and pray for. I think that is something I have learned this year for sure! People come and people go, but those two things will always remain.

This birthday has been full of fun and surprises. It started with a cruise (my birthday present from my husband), then three different birthday dinners and a birthday lunch! I think I still have one dinner left to go! Today the phone has rang off the hook, cards have been sent and emails have flooded my inbox. I have heard from one of my bridesmaid/dear friend/high school friend, two friends that I have known since 8th grade, my friend that lives in Houston who has known me since I was a rotten twenty-two year old, new friends, old friends, and family members calling to sing Happy Birthday over the phone. What a day it has been!

But the best was spending the day with my three favorite people, Jeremy, Josiah and Ava Beth! Now, they are the ones that make my world go round! I love you. Mom, Daddy James, Dad, Randy, Char, Jon-Michael and Chrissy, Josh, Jeremy and my babies, thank you for a wonderful 30th birthday! I love you so much!