Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Sinner Perfected Through Christ

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  ~1 John 1:8-10

    We ALL sin (Romans 3:23).  I recently had a friend call me to tell me about something going on in her life and she said she didn't want to tell me because my life was perfect!  Talk about a punch in the gut!  My life is NOT perfect!  I am a sinner and I live in a world filled with sin which means yes, I have problems too! 

   Everyone sins - it's what we do about our sin that differentiates us.  According to these verses we have two options:  (1) We can deny we have sinned, deceive ourselves and make God a liar; or (2) We can confess our sins and he will forgive us.  Seems like such an easy choice doesn't it?  Yet it's so difficult for us to admit we are wrong!

   However, as difficult as it may be, it's necessary for us to grow.  Proberbs 28:13 says "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."   This verse takes it a step further and says not only to confess but forsake sin!

    If I confess my sins then "he is faithful and just to forgive".   Then and only then comes the true peace and contenment of living a life for Christ.   So while my life isn't perfect, I am perfected through his ultimate sacrifice!  (Hebrews 10:14)  What does that mean?  Trials and sin are going to enter into my life but I have somewhere to turn.  When I give it all to Christ, then I can experience peace, joy and contentment.  That's as close to perfectionism as I'm going to get!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Johnny Appleseed!

I haven't been doing so well on our Tuesday Family Nights :( so we decided to take a "daycation" just the three of us and spend some time together.  Since this week is Johnny Appleseed's birthday and we are going to be learning about apples this week I thought what better way to spend the day than to go to Mercier Orchards and pick some apples.  "Miss Priss" LOVES apples and the weather was perfect so . . .that's exactly what we did!

When we finally got there (after a 3 hour drive) we hopped right in the line for u-pick.  They snapped a quick picture of us while we were waiting:

We took a tractor ride from the store to where the apple trees were.  On the way we had a short tour.  Merceir Orchard has over 50 different types of apples so you can imagine how many apple trees we passed!  Our "tour guide" also gave us a quick history of the family owned business, and instructions for the proper way to pick an apple :)

When we got off the tractor they gave us a bag and we were ready to pick!  We were allowed to eat all we wanted while we picked and "Miss Priss" LOVED it!  Her favorite color right now is green so she wanted the Granny Smith apple. These apples were HUGE and she ate nearly every bite!  I just knew she was going to have a stomach ache but she didn't!

"Miss Priss" struggling to pick her apple. She needed work on her "twist and pull"!
 They let you hang out and pick as many apples as you want.  The weather was perfect so we took full advantage and had a blast picking and tasting the different kinds!  My usual favorite apple is Fuji but after this trip I have a new favorite Beni Shogun!  Here's a couple more pics of us in the orchard:

After we had picked our apples, we hopped back on the tractor and rode back to the store.  There they had over 20 different pies, several cider flavors and pretty much anything apple you can imagine!  We went to the cider bar and I tasted peach cider and "Miss Priss" tasted the cider slush.  Her first taste was a little sour!

After the first taste she loved it though and we had to order a big cup for her!  After purchasing a few more apples and some pies, we were ready to head home!

Enjoying her apple sucker on the way home

So what am I going to do with all those apples?  I've already made a caramel apple cheesecake:

And in the next couple days I plan on making some apple butter!  Do you have any favorite apple recipes?

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.
Robert H. Schuller

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tot School - Weeks Two and Three

Ok-so I'm a little behind on Tot School so I'm squeezing in two weeks here!

Week Two - Circles

Tabel Time:  We painted a circle with watercolors; painted with different sized circle sponges; made circles with play-doh, made fruit-loop necklace; and used our circle stamp on our magna doodle

Floor Time: shape sorter, went around room finding our toys that were circles, ball

Snacks - banana slices, fruit loops, circle-shaped popsicles

Music - Ring Around the Rosie,
             It's A Circle (Tune of Brother John) 
Here's a circle (Repeat)  Hold up your circle
How do you know? (Repeat)  Hands out as if asking a ?
Because it goes round and round (Repeat)  Move circle round and round
It's a circle (Repeat)  Hold up circle

Sponge painting circles

Stamping Circles on MagnaDoodle and wearing her Fruit Loop Necklace
Playing in the Circles at Imagine That

Play-doh Circles

Week Three - Body Parts

"Miss Priss" already knows most of her body parts such as head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth but we still needed to work on shoulders, knees, and a few others!

Tabel Time:  We traced their bodies, labeled, and colored them; created play-doh people and faces

Floor Time: giant bone puzzle, Body Parts and Moves on our Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Station, hokey pokey Elmo

Snacks - baked cookies and created faces on them with smarties, fruit loops, marshmallows and icing

Music - Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; Be Careful Little Eyes; Hokey Pokey

Books - One of my absolute favorite books for 1-3 years olds - We've All Got Bellybuttons by Randy Cecil; and All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler 

Miss Priss' Life Size Body

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with our Laugh and Learn

Hokey Pokey with Elmo

Enjoying our "circle face" cookies :)

Next week we'll be doing apples and celebrating Johnny Appleseed's Birthday!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

God Is Real!

It's Women in the Wednesday where I share a little about what I've gotten out of our GMG study so far!  We started 1 John on Monday.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; )”  1 John 1:1-2

Part of me was a little jealous of John when I first read these verses this week.   John was the “beloved disciple” and one of the three in the inner circle.  I don’t know if anyone was closer to Christ than John.  How great it would’ve been to have walked side-by-side with Him and to see first-hand the many miracles He performed.  
As a teacher you learn that the best way to teach is by hands-on experiences.  That’s exactly the kind of teacher Jesus was.  By becoming flesh and dwelling on Earth the Word of God was “manifested” or clearly seen.
As John says in these verses, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes…our hands have handled.”  John wrote this decades after Christ’s death and resurrection but you can still sense how real God was to him. 
I’m ashamed to say it but there was a time in my life when I started to doubt God.  It was right before I turned 21 and I was taking a speech class at a community college.  Two of the speeches we had to do were “Guardian Angels” and “Life Changing Experiences”.    There were several wonderful Christians in that class and as they began to give their speeches they had some amazing stories about how real God was.  I wrote in my journal at that time “Although I truly believe God is real I want to have an encounter with Him or a guardian angel.  I feel I need something to tell me that I’m right- that everything I’m doing is not in vain.”  I began to wish that God would give me an experience to reassure me that He was real.  As they say be careful what you wish for…
…I was on the interstate driving home from work.  I worked at a law office at that time and we’d been in court all day.  I don’t remember much of what happened but I do remember barely running off the road and hitting some gravel.  My car spun around twice and then hit a guard rail.  I can remember stopping in the car and the first thing I thought was that I’d hit someone else.  It was about 5:30 and the interstate was crowded with everyone on their way home from work.  Then I felt a breeze on my back and realized that it wasn’t another car I’d hit but the rest of my car!  When it hit the guardrail my car spit in half sending me and my seat one way and the back of the car the other way.  There was nothing left of my car but the seat in which I was sitting.

It took me a couple of days for it all to really sink in and fully realize how God has just wrapped his arms around me and kept me safe.  The car split only an inch or so from the gas tank.  When it split the back of the car came across the front seats and slashed them and my headrest.  It caught only the shoulder of my suit and ripped it.  If I had been sitting even slightly different it would have gotten my back, neck or head.   I had lost control of the car but God was still in control.  If I had just slid off the road or the car would’ve turned differently it easily could’ve been my side that would’ve had the direct impact.   I walked away with only a scratch on my shoulder, some pricks on my face from the airbag, and torn cartilage around my ribcage from the seatbelt.
I said at the beginning of my story I was ashamed and I still am.  God saved me and blessed me beyond measure and had I of been as close to Him as I should’ve been I wouldn’t have needed an encounter like that.  God’s realness is all around us we just have to open our eyes and see it.
Yes, on one hand I’m a little jealous of John; however, on the other hand, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for his any day of the week. 
Maybe I haven’t heard his voice with my ears, but I’ve heard that still small voice in my heart many times.  
Maybe I haven’t seen God in the flesh, but I saw him as I sat out on my porch reading this scripture and I watched the sunrise and felt the wind on my face.  I can look around and see his greatness everywhere!
Maybe I won’t physically touch him as John did, but I can feel his peace the kind of peace that only comes from Him. 
So while I’m so looking forward to the rest of John’s testimony and letter, I wouldn’t trade his experiences for mine.  John had God in the flesh but we have the Holy Spirit which is just as real.  One of the girls in my group said that God was as real in her life as she allowed Him to be.  So how real will you allow God to be in your life today?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Session of Good Morning Girls Begins Today!!!

         Woooo  Hoooo!!!!  It’s  finally here!!  Today is officially the first day of the fall session of Good Morning Girls!  In case you can’t tell, I’m very excited!  Our group will be starting back with the original 8 and a few others have joined us since we first started so we’ll actually have 13 starting this time! 

          Good Morning Girls is a tech accountability group to help hold you accountable for your daily time with God.  Our group uses a closed Facebook group to communicate but if you don’t have Facebook then you can also e-mail, text, or twitter each other.  The current sessions begins today and runs through December 15.  The study is on the entire book of 1 John.   

How I got started with Good Morning Girls:
          During one of our revivals a lady testified and talked about how years ago a pastor had challenged them to set their alarms 30 minutes earlier and spend the first 30 minutes of their day with God – in His word and in prayer.  She challenged us to do the same and I took her up on it not realizing how much it was going to completely change my life!  For the next month, I got up 30 minutes early and did just that.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to get out of bed when you know you’re going to have some peaceful moments before the chaos begins!  It sets the whole tone for your day and makes the entire day so much better!        
          Then one day I was reading a blog while doing 31 Days to Clean and the author of the blog (sadly I don’t remember which blog it was) mentioned that she was involved with Good Morning Girls and linked their page.  I went to their page to check it out and loved the idea!  I knew how I was and while I was still involved in studying on my own I knew I’d do MUCH better if I had a group to hold me accountable.   Through Facebook, I then contacted several girls, a couple from my own church and others from different churches but within the Blount County Missionary Baptist Association.   Several of the girls I had connections with but honestly didn’t know that well.   I had seven that said they loved the idea and were in- thus our Good Morning Girls group was born!   We’ve shared so much over the past four months I now consider them some of my closest friends and I’m so thankful God put them in my life!
          I’ve tried other Bible studies and methods before but Good Morning Girls is my favorite! 
Why I love Good Morning Girls: 
1.       First and foremost my relationship with God has grown!
2.       I can do it in the comfort of own house.
3.       I’m held accountable for studying EVERYDAY (well Mon-Fri anyway) not just once a week or every other week.
4.       I communicate with other girls in my group everyday which helps to really get to know them.  Also, if I have a prayer request or something to share I can do it anytime and usually get a quick response from someone!
5.       I LOVE the SOAP method of studying!
6.       At the end of the study I will have the entire book of 1 John written out with my notes and reflections.
7.       Courtney and Angela – the main GMG girls – make this a GREAT study!  I love their videos, blogs and challenges that they offer along the way.  They are both moms and wives experiencing everyday life while they are doing this study; therefore, I can SO relate the things they share to my everyday life!  So thankful they started this and for their role in it all!
          If you’re interested in Good Morning Girls, today and tomorrow are “get to know each other days” and the official study doesn’t start until Monday, so it’s not too late to join!  You can find a group, easily start your own group, or just follow along on your own.  For more details check out the Good Morning Girls website.  If you are a member of Good Morning Girls or following along I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Simple Life Just Became a Little More Complicated... but in a Good Way :)

 Just when you think you may have it all figured out God has a way of reminding you He’s still in control! 

     I had just laid out all my priorities and created my new schedule to incorporate them all when I started becoming so tired I could barely move.  The kind of tired that would come only from taking a whole bottle of Nyquil . . .or being pregnant!    That’s right God has blessed us again and “Miss Priss” is going to be a big sister!   We are so excited about becoming a family of four!

      We’ve known for a couple weeks now but had our first doctor’s visit on Friday and told all of our family and friends over the weekend.  I’m due on April 22nd and so far everything looks great!  I’m just a lot more tired and nauseated than I was with “Miss Priss” but I guess that has something to do with having her and not being able to slow down as much! 

          When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to be honest not just write about how I wished my life was but how it actually is.  So I must be honest and say I basically took last week off and rested!   Labor Day turned into Lazy Week for me!  While we did not officially have a family night or Tot school we did get to visit with several people and share our good news. 

I also slowed down a bit and enjoyed some simple moments this week:

1.        I decorated our house for fall and started cooking some chili.  The house smelt like fall and I could hear “Miss Priss” with her giggle box on playing with her Daddy.  I had to stop cooking for a minute and just listen to them laugh.

2.       I opened up the computer to check my e-mail and “Miss Priss” said “No 'puter Mommy-sing Jesus Loves Me.”  So I closed the computer and went to the piano and we sat down and sang for about 30 minutes.

3.       Being able to visit with family and friends and see the excitement on their face as we shared our good news!

4.       A Sunday afternoon walk with the family.

          So while I hope we can get back to our “schedule” this week, even if we don’t I’m thankful God's blessings are plentiful and not scheduled!  I also thank Him for all those he's give us thus far and the promise of those in our future too!   Hope you don’t miss the simple blessings you receive this week. I’d love to hear about them!

“It’s the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tot School - Week One

Last week we did our first week of Tot School and overall it was a success!!  I loved having those couple hours a day to do nothing but play with "Miss Priss".  Her cousin, "Sour Patch Kid" (first he's sour, then he's sweet) also joined us for most of the time.  

As I mentioned earlier, we do Tot School Monday-Wednesday.  The we go on a Field Trip on Friday.  This is our very laid back schedule:

9:00-  Circle Time:  We go over what we're going to be learning, our monthly memory verse, and usually read a story
9:15-  Table Time:  usually involves a craft, sensory activity (play-doh, sensory bin), puzzles, etc.
10:00- Snack
10:15- Music
10:30-11:00- Floor Time:  Blocks, pop beads, dramatic play (kitchen, dolls, farm, etc.)

Tot School basically works around weekly themes.  I decided to set a monthly theme where we focus on one thing each week but reinforce the other skills throughout the month.  For example, our theme this month is Apples.  This month has five weeks we will be learning about:  red, circle, number 1, body parts, and apples. 

I've decided to not really focus much on letters other than just saying our ABCs.  I think we have plenty of time for that later.  I'm more interested in "Miss Priss" learning her shapes, colors, nursery rhymes, etc. this year!  Our monthly Bible memory verse this month is Gensis 1:1 and we're also going to be learning about creation.  Each morning during circle time we sing our memory verse to the tune of "Are You Sleeping":

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Tune:  Are You SleepingIn the beginning, (2x)
God created (2x)
The heavens and the earth (2x)
Genesis 1:1 (2x)

This came from the ABC Jesus Loves Me Curriculum.

 Our focus this week was on red.  Here are some hi-lights from our week!

Miss Priss coloring her Red Crayon

During Circle Time reading a story on Creation

Making our red, apple-scented play-doh!  They LOVED this!!!  We got our recipe from here but halved it!

Painting Elmo Red
One of our floor activities - dress up with red clothes, jewelry, hats, shoes, etc.



Enjoying one of our snacks - Watermelon!!

Our Friday Field Trip was to Noccalula Falls to ride the red train!

We're already off schedule this week with Labor Day and we were  a little lazy today with the rain still going on but looking forward to doing circles tomorrow!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Home Fourth, Health Fifth

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
~ Proverbs 31:27
         We built our house a little over a year ago.  Like everyone else that starts to build, we looked through EVERY magazine and every book there was.  We looked at house plans until they all started looking just alike!  We each had things that we knew we wanted.  My two things were yellow siding and a huge porch.   I LOVE houses with porches and have many fond memories of being on porches (maybe a blog entry in itself one day).  To me nothing says welcome like a house with a big porch!   Everyone said it was a waste of space and we wouldn't use it - but the swing on the porch is my favorite place to be!

I was looking through one particular magazine and saw a house much like what I wanted and the ad said something to the effect of “build a house worth coming home to.”  I showed it to Curt (my husband) and said that’s what I want to do - I wanted us to build a house that when we pulled up it screamed “Welcome!” and we were relieved to be home!  So we did!  I LOVE our house (and the fact that it's built in the middle of a cow pasture) and must admit there’s not many things I’d change.   
Of course with a house, comes the dreaded part of cleaning!  Last April I stumbled across an e-book that completely changed my views on cleaning:  31 Days to Clean:  Having a Martha House the Mary Way.   I started it as a way to get some Spring Cleaning accomplished and got way more than I bargained for and a wonderfully clean house!  I realized how important my role was in keeping and fostering a warm, inviting home not just a house.  The first thing Sara Mae asks you to do is to create a mission statement.  As a teacher, I always had my class create a mission statement at the beginning of the year.  For some reason it never occurred to me to do it for my job as a homemaker.  Here’s my mission statement:

My mission is to create and foster an environment that puts God first.  I want to strive to make our home our “happy place!”  Not only to us but so that others will find it welcoming.  I want to “look” for ways to encourage and make a better life for my husband, daughter, and all those around me.
In case you’re curious, they’ve actually just started another session of 31 Days over at Homemaker’s Challenge.  Today’s just the second day so check it out! 
                Now onto my last priority:  Health.  I've learned that when I eat healthier and exercise I feel SO much better!  Not to mention, I've also realized that now is the time to teach my daughter healthy eating habits.  Which brings me to another book that I highly recommend: Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron.   It's not a fad diet but a change in life-style.  It's also full of great scripture and recipes!  I love her emphasis on self-discipline that can be applied to every aspect of your life!  I read the book awhile back and still have a long way before I implement it all but I'm working on it!

How I Plan On Living Them Out:

1.        Home – I have adopted and modified Courtney from Women Living Well’s cleaning schedule:
a.       Monday – Wash
b.      Tuesday – Toilets and Tubs (Bathroom)
c.       Wednesday – Whatever Needs to Be Done -Catch-up/Get Ahead J
d.      Thursday – Dust
e.      Friday – Floors

               I've found this schedule works with me because it's simple and it's almost impossible for me to clean the house in one day with an almost 2 year old so an hour a day is manageable!  I usually clean early in the morning (from about 8:00-9:00).  I’ve found that cleaning is the easiest thing for me to procrastinate on so it’s best I just do it early!  Plus it gives me a sense of accomplishment for the rest of the day!

2.        Health - I'm trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in our daily eating.  Also, trying new things that maybe we didn't eat before.  Exercise is something that is almost non-existent with me these days but I'm going to get better starting Monday!  My goal is at least 3 times a week. 

 I've finished my priorites and why they are important to me so I hope next week to start more of the "journaling" phase and share more details on how I'm living my simple life!!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!