Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Worship: The Only God For Me

Saw this on BET's Lifted program, which I have on in the background while I bathe and dress my youngest for school. I hadn't heard of the artist before but as I listened, I fell in love the words of this song.

Tomorrow is a new year. 2008 had highs and lows, bumps and mountaintops. Let us prayerfully enter 2009, in a spirit of thanksgiving, peace, and expectation. God has great things in store for all of us.


Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 29, 2008


It's the end of another year. I didn't have any personal goals written down anywhere that I can look back at so I'm thinking about the blessings that came our way.

  • We all celebrated another birthday. My mother celebrated her 87th birthday and one of my sisters celebrated 50.

  • My oldest receive nearly a full scholarship to attend a private prep school in the area. He's completed his first semester, with nearly all A's, including ones in high school Latin and Algebra.

  • My oldest is playing JV basketball, one of only two 8th graders to ever do so at his school. (The other is his best friend. They made history together.)

  • My middle son graduated from pre-kindergarten and began kindergarten. He is learning to read.

  • My youngest was given a three-year reprieve by his cardiologist at his last checkup. (He had surgery in 2006.)

  • We traveled to Atlanta to visit the in-laws. My oldest stayed for a month and attended a basketball camp.

  • I traveled to Destin, FL for the Faith & Fiction retreat, where I put faces to some names, met some of my favorite authors, made a few friends, and had a great time.

  • I never gave up on losing weight, even if I didn't accomplish much by way of the scale. But I learned just how hard I'm going to have to work to make any real dent in my weight loss goal. Knowledge is power.

  • I learned that I was severely anemic and vitamin B-12 deficient. I now take supplements for both and have lights years more energy than I used to. Again, nothing like a little knowledge.

  • My middle and youngest sons got involved in competitive sports, playing two seasons of Pony baseball.

  • We went to the beach.

  • We visited Christmas Lane, a holiday light and decorations extravaganza in our area done out of the goodness of a homeowner's heart.

  • We survived another hurricane season with very little rain in these parts.

  • My brother had two car accidents. He survived both.

  • We struggled financially but praised God as He made way after way, which He did EVERY time.

  • We linked up with a new church organization from which we are learning some organizational and operational things that will be implemented when we resume our own services.

  • I started this blog and continued my writing blog.

  • I began writing a novel that feels like it's all over the place right now and won't turn me loose until I finish it. Things to do in 2009...

  • I placed among the 12 finalists for a writing mentorship sponsored by a literary agency.

  • I volunteered for the Obama campaign and knocked on hundreds of doors, something I never thought I would do. (He won.)

  • I became an elected official myself when I ran unopposed for precinct committeeperson. (Whatever it took to help Obama. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm supposed to do.)

  • My husband had a short-lived but well-received Christian radio program locally. Listen for more from him in the year to come.
There's so much more I could say but this sums it up, I think. What do you have to be thankful for in 2008?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Midweek Worship: Peanuts' Christmas, O Holy Night

It's Christmas Eve.

Only 24 hours of last minute hustle and bustle, getting the kids off to bed and then negotiating with them to stay there, wrapping presents and putting them under the tree.

Tomorrow, we'll begin with an early morning family prayer. Then, unwrapping presents followed by a big homestyle breakfast. The boys will immerse themselves in their new gifts and playing together while I clean up and turn my attention toward dinner. We'll eat, relax, and reflect on the wonder of God's greatest gift to humanity, His son, Jesus.

So today I'll share songs I associate with this season. First, what would Christmas be without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts?

And then, my all time favorite Christmas song. Couldn't embed it here but you can follow the link to hear David Archuleta sing "O Holy Night".

M E R R Y     C H R I S T M A S

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Focus On What Matters

The cookies have all been baked--8 dozen--and eaten. 2 1/2 doz to one son's school. The rest? Hey, my family likes my cookies. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the fact that they enjoy my baking.

I had such a wonderful time in worship at yesterday morning's service. I'd been kind of down, more up and down, which might even be worse 'cuz folks around you don't know what they're going to get from day to day. In truth, this won't be a big Christmas for us. The finances are not there and may not be in time. We may not even have a Christmas tree, although I'm still holding out hope.

Oh, I know that these things shouldn't matter. And for me, they don't. Really. I've known "the reason for the season" for a very long time.

But for my boys, they matter a lot, and my boys matter a lot to me. Thus, my funk.

In worship, however, I put all of that foolish stuff out of my head and concentrated on the precious Lamb of God. And when I did, I felt such a release in my spirit.

So now, things still may not be exactly as I might want them for my children but they will have a merry Christmas, in ways that truly matter. We'll be together as a family, laughing and loving. We'll open the presents that required more thought than grabbing the latest, greatest toy off a store shelf. We'll gather together around the blessing of a wonderful meal cooked by me, with a little help from Oldest One, who's going to learn how to make peach cobbler. We'll remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, no matter what we perceive ourselves to be missing.

And we'll thank God for the greatest gift of all, His Son.

Now behold the Lamb,
The precious Lamb of God
Why You love me so,
I shall never know.
The precious Lamb of God.

Peace & Blessings,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Crunch Time

Ok, Christmas is officially seven days away.


If you're like me, you have yet to...

-- Make a shopping list
-- Buy any presents
-- Purchase gift wrappings, boxes, bows, tapes
-- Get a Christmas tree
-- Decorate said tree
-- Purchase groceries for Christmas dinner
-- Pull together a Christmas card list
-- Write out Christmas cards
-- Mail said Christmas cards

Why do I do this to myself?

Mostly because I hate all the obligations of Christmas.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no Scrooge. In fact, I really enjoy buying gifts for family and friends. I just hate shopping malls and strip centers that are bursting with people. I tend to do the online thing.

I usually catch the "last day to shop..." in order to get gifts before Christmas, all of which get wrapped on Christmas eve, but this year, I even missed that.

So off to those dreaded stores!

I'll get it together. I'm out of days off from work this year. Whenever that happens, I'm at my worst as far as getting into the spirit of things but everything always comes together in the end.

The things about the Christmas season that I love?

  • Baking cookies and other sweet treats (I'll try not to overindulge)
  • Putting up and decorating our Christmas tree
  • Driving around to look at the decorated houses
  • Visiting the Santa display in nearby Dover (it's a huge, highly decorated farm that people come from miles and miles around to see)
  • Listening to Christmas carols and songs
  • Watching Christmas specials on TV
  • Reading Christmas-themed stories with my sons
  • Teasing my sons with the countdown to Christmas
  • Looking at the lighted tree, especially after everyone has gone to bed
  • Seeing the happy smiles on the faces of my children on Christmas morn as they open their gifts
  • Receiving Christmas cards and year-in-review newletters
  • Reading and reflecting on the story of the birth of Christ in the Gospels
  • Attending Christmas services
  • Hunting down and attending a good Watchnight service on New Year's Eve to close out the sesason. (And it's a hunt down here in FL)
Perhaps we'll get started this weekend.

Are your Christmas activities all completed or planned out? What do you enjoy most about Christmas?

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Midweek Worship: Praise Him Now

Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, daughter of Karen Clark Sheard, has come a long way since her little girl-big voice cameos on her mother's albums. These days she's an anointed gospel singer in her own right.

Kierra sings a lot of upbeat, hip-hop infused songs but this one really speaks to my soul.

Sometimes there's so much going on in life, especially my life, that it feels like one big season of busyness. As we move closer toward Christmas and the end of the year, it gets worse. I have to catch myself and remind myself to stop and enjoy the moment rather than to just move through it to get to the next one. And I definitely have to still myself and remember to "Praise Him Now".

UPDATE: The original video link I had was removed from YouTube. So I found another, earlier one of Kierra singing, "Praise Him Now".

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Giving and Getting Involved

Walking into Wal-mart with my youngest a few evenings ago, we heard the clanging of the Salvation Army bells. He asked, "Mommy, who's making that noise? What's he doing?" In my usual hustle and bustle fashion, I kept focused and kept him moving into the store, skirting behind the SA Santa Claus, so that we could quickly get what we came for. On the way out, however, I made sure that we passed in front of Santa and dropped something in the bucket. Youngest One, just three years old, said, "Mommy, what are you doing? Why you give Santa Claus that?" I explained that Santa was collecting money for people who need help. Then I said, "Hey, at times we all need help. So it's important to give." He nodded, satisfied with this answer.

In this Christmas season, we see a lot of people giving more and helping more than during the rest of the year. But help is needed all year long, not just at the end of the year.

As we head into 2009, keep in mind the charities which do so much in communities throughout the country, like The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Feed The Hungry, or any one of the host of agencies raising money for medical research, battered women shelters, homelessness, fighting poverty, etc. Give an extra special blessing to your church to help provide for needy members or neighbors. And, if you are not already, get personally involved beyond writing a check or dropping some cash in a bucket.

I just learned of a new organization that will help many to get involved: The Human Unity Project. Check it out, or any host of a number of local and national organizations, and get involved. the only time you don't have is the time you waste...doing nothing.

UPDATE: And just after posting this, I learned of the new America Serves initiative by the Obama-Biden Transition team. The intent is to get all of America back to a mindset and practice of serving, serving the nation, our regions, our cities, our neighborhoods. Sign up for America Serves.

Peace & Blessings,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Camera of My Mind

Last week I had my son take a couple of photos of me in my workout gear. My before pictures.

I won't post them because I don't want to scare anyone away.

Not a pretty picture.

The interesting thing to me was how different I look in the picture from what I see in my mind's eye, even when I've stood before a mirror. I've long since given up on seeing myself as the svelte, twenty-something I was twenty years ago.

But I didn't see myself quite the way the camera captured me.

I really could be a contestant for NBC's The Biggest Loser.

The mind is an intriguing thing. God made us in such a way that we are able to protect ourselves from unpleasantries. It's why folks seem to be apathetic and uncaring sometimes. They're not, when faced dead-on, but if not hit smack in the nose, they're able to "see but not see".

That's what I've been doing.

I do a pretty good job of hiding what's beneath my clothing, and it's a good thing I do.

Eye-opening is the word that comes to mind.

When I get to my goal, I may actually post those pictures because I'll be really proud of how much I lost, and how hard I worked to lose it. As much as losing weight is about better health, I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about how I looked. I've completely lost my sense of what size I am, because I don't shop a lot, and what looks good on me. I'd like to get back to a point where I can want into any woman's store and try on something off the rack that doesn't have an L or X in the size.

Until then, those pictures are for my eyes only.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Midweek Worship: Wait

I wanted to feature Mary Alessi's Great Grace (if you haven't heard it, be on the look out for this one) but there's no video available at the moment.

While on my hunt, I came across Nia Allen, a new gospel artist being presented by CeCe Winans. Her song is entitled Wait and was just as appropo because I frequently have to remind myself to wait on the Lord, to be still and know that He is yet God, and to give Him space to work things out for my good in His timing.

Lord, help us to wait on You, especially in these difficult economic times, where good businesses are getting dragged down by failing ones. Where foreclosures and evictions are up, unemployment is soaring, and fear is rampant.

Help us to wait on You, Lord, even when things are good. For You know the plans You have for us. We don't and anything we design, no matter how good it may seem, is incomparable to what You have in store for us.

Then too, waiting is part of the Christmas season. Children wait eagerly and impatiently for the presents they expect to receive on Christmas morning.

In Biblical times, Mary and Joseph awaited the birth of Jesus. The shepherds in the fields awaited daybreak when their flocks would be safe from nighttime marauders. And the people of faith who knew the prophecies that had been put forth to Isaiah awaited a Messiah.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Lord, help us to wait.

Peace & Blessings,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Day At A Time... how I have to view this weight loss battle.

I'm still upbeat and determined.

I exercised four out of five days last week.

I watched what I ate, even over the weekend when we were on the road to basketball games in Gainesville, complete with concession stands and victory pizza.

I mostly avoided the office junk food--baked goods, candy, chips, and other snacks--that seems to come in truckloads this time of the year.

I drank more water.

I closed my book at night and went to sleep, making it easier to get up, no matter how much I wanted to read one more chapter.

I stayed away from the pantry in the evenings (by going upstairs and leaving the kitchen cleanup to Hubby).

The result?

I'm down 2 lbs. from last week.

If you want to join me over at the 50 Million Pounds site, where I've been a member for over a year, in which time I've gained 16 lbs but I haven't given up, click here. I've created a group called Faithfully Fit. It's a group of one at the moment but I'm hopeful some family and friends will show up and together we can make our dent in that 50 million lb. weight loss.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Midweek Worship: I Trust You

I heard this song last Wednesday AM as I dressed my youngest son, and as I tried to tamp down the stress I was feeling over some financial situations. I was speaking the Word to myself and admonishing myself to give everything over to Jesus when this song came on the radio.

I Trust You.

If I'm completely honest, I trust God in many areas of my life. Yet, I'm continually striving toward a deeper level of trust in Him.

Do you trust God? Really trust Him? For everything? 100%?

Peace & Blessings,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today Is A New Day

Seems like I'm always starting anew, whether it's with consistent Bible study, fiction writing, weight loss, exercise...

But that's okay because the fact that I'm always willing to start again means that I never give up.

From what I've learned, some of the greatest successes others have achieved came after many, many false starts.

So once again, I am starting on a new exercise regimen. Three days a week strength training minimum. Two days a week cardio. No less than 45 minutes per workout.

I bought a new set of hand weights to help boost my strength workouts.

I cut my hair really short, in part due to damage but in part so that I can exercise and not worry so much about perspiration.

I would have gotten up 45 min earlier this morning, as intended, but I forgot that I had disabled my early AM alarms over the holiday weekend. Nonetheless, I did get in 20 min.

Today is my new day. No sense in waiting until January. I gave up on making New Year's resolutions a while back because I believe it's a recipe for disaster, in my case.

I'm going for a loss of 10 lbs. this month. That's my focus.

What does December hold for you? What are you putting off that you can begin today?

Peace & Blessings,