Sunday, November 30, 2008

and it was very good!

A few weeks back I was given a vicious bug from several preschoolers in the Sunday School class I teach. I pretty much know the exact moments they shared their precious gifts as more than one repeatedly coughed directly on my face....we then spent a few minutes learning and executing the proper way to cover and cough into ones elbow.

This lesson was too late for my benefit.

Two days later the yuck had set in. In the four weeks that followed, things went from bad to worse culminating with a diagnosis of pneumonia just days before Thanksgiving.

Those who know me well understand I'm a fairly high energy-on the go caregiver and not one who easily sits back and allow others to pitch in and help out...I'd much rather do it myself.

I can be a real control freak at times.

As Thanksgiving neared, my breathing and energy wained. I was ready to abandon any thoughts of business as usual.

Reluctantly we cut out all the fluff foods, decorations and preparations leaving us with the bare boned holiday essentials. Truth be told, were it not for my determined little family, I would ordered a pizza or two and called it a day.

Instead, a few of my resident angels rolled up their sleeves and saw to it that some semblance of Thanksgiving would grace our table this year.

Paw Paw and Kyra did the grocery shopping which included raw and prepackaged food stuffs.

This was okay with me.

We made a few phone calls and delegated some side dishes.

This was okay with me.

Then there was the pie.

I don't know about the rest of you, but in our house besides the bird, celebration of this holiday must include pumpkin pie.

Now Madame Publix is a mighty fine baker, but let me tell you, she has nothing on Miss K.

At 5 years old, Thanksgiving 2008 marked our baby grands first solo baking experience.

And she did good!

Actually, little Miss did very, very good!

Using her radical reading and math skills, she gathered all the necessary ingredients and proceeded to make pies.

First, Baby Grand measured and mixed the sugar and spices...

lots of spices.
Next, she broke some eggs...
Eggs can be messy!
with only a few pieces of shells

Then little Miss beat the eggs...
After which she added some pumpkin...
and more pumpkin....
Next up adding the wonderful sugar and spice...Yum!
and mix!
Mixing can be hard...Sometimes, this requires two hands
BG added some milk
(one of only 4 things Maw Maw got to do help with) More mixing...
then pour!

It was as easy as pie!
and of course, you've gotta lick the spoon.

Ready for some heat
Into the oven
(another of the things Maw Maw was allowed to do)

While the pies baked,
we set to work tending the turkeys...yes, I said turkeys-plural.
LOT'S of turkeys!
we cleaned up...
made bubble sundaes....
Until the pies were done...
to perfection.
With requisite goodies prepared, we headed off to bed.
Early Thursday morning we wrestled the other bird and had him in the oven all of an hour before a power outage struck our section of town. After an hour and a half, as we readied the grill-planning to smoke our fowl (stuffing and all), the power returned.
By the time our family gathered later in the day, a few more plans had fallen by the wayside,
but nothing we could not do without.
The bare essentials were in tacked.
Football was watched, kiddos played, the grownup caught up trading stories and laughter.
We spent Thursday and few days more
giving thanks for the bounty of that is our lives.
and it was very good!

I hope you and yours were blessed in similar ways during this time of thanks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Baby Grands and Oreo Turkeys

One of my greatest joys at this season in my life, is the time I get to spend with the grands. My little gang of three keep me on my toes spiritually, physically and emotionally. Challenging me daily with a unique wit, wisdom and faith that is often found in members of the pint size set. They prove time and again that out of the mouths of babes God will be known and praised.

The fall and winter after my daughters death, a large part of me wanted to hunker down, stay indoors and hide from everyone in hopes that I could ignore the annual parade of holidays until it passed.

The one-two celebratory combo of Thanksgiving and Christmas held some of the sweetest and most cherished memories of times spent with my girl. Lauren was a self proclaimed homebody, who loved her family and revelled in all occasions that brought the family together.

I made the silly assumption that because we were so recently bereaved, no one would expect the usual Thanksgiving fair. Those who usually graced our tables would make other plans to spend their days in more joyful surroundings, with brighter spirited people.

I could not have been more wrong.

This family of mine barraged me with request for all their favorite dishes, I had parties inviting themselves to dinner as well as their latest love interest. We were to have a crowd.

What was wrong with these people?

Despite my intentions to sit out that inaugural year, my family had other ideas.

With help from my dear husband along with emails and phone calls from in laws and outlaws we assembled a menu, filled the cupboards and prepared for the pending celebration.

My family had high expectations and good intentions-committing to do everything they could to make this festival of thanks go smoothly and with little effort on my part. There were many promises of what would be done and how they would help, promises that ultimately were broken as most fell into their normal holiday habits that included watching lots of football, Christmas movies and naps by the fire.

But not the wee folk.

Seems my baby grand girls would have no part in my boycotting the holidays. My girls begged to know what we would be having and how they could help put on this party.

From decorating the house to baking pies my two K's hijacked every plan I made to sit the season out, instead setting a course for a holiday wrapped in true thanks.

At just over 2 1/2 years old, these two little sprites were formidable.

It was Thanksgiving by golly!

They knew what to expect if we were doing this holiday up right and they were tenacious enough to keep me from collapsing on my memories and shutting the whole thing down.

To that end, these two girls were on me all the time: my kitchen, my bedroom, my bathroom, my world. From early in the morning to late at night they seemed determined to miss nothing.

With my two little sous chefs and Paw Paw in tow, we went about preparing a Thanksgiving feast.

We measured, stirred, whipped and baked.

The girls wash dishes, shucked corn and deviled some eggs.

We read volume's of thanksgiving books, played lots of birdie in the nest

all when we weren't

swinging and sliding all over our backyard and everyone else's.

My crew painted, colored and had all manner of tea parties that effectively filled every

dark corner of our big ole house with waves of love, laughter and other reminders of how much we truly had cause to give thanks for.

Those two girls wore themselves out with it all...they were so determined to be thankful!

By the time we actually sat down for dinner that year my heart overflowed and I dared to mention the unmentionable...the empty chair....

As with many families we traditionally take time to share something we are grateful for before going to God in prayer.

I was first to take a turn.

I thanked my loved ones for putting out all the effort, changing their plans and pushing so hard to be there in a home that no one in their right mind would want to be in - the home of a dead girl and her grieving family.

What kind of fun could that be?

Where's a cause to celebrate and give thanks?

Yet they came, made me stay, face my loss and ultimately blessed me so. It was a bittersweet day of thanks.

What a family I have!

I am blessed and abundantly so!

This year, no one will be traveling over the river and through the woods to this Maw Maw's house. It is not our turn to prepare their feast.

Instead, we prepare for a party of five.

Baby grand and I have been busy creating menu's, writing grocery list and making decorations including place card holders made of Oreo turkeys all while anticipating the baking of our first pumpkin pie this season.

For this I am thankful.

My son and daughter in love are expecting again...a miracle in itself as Elizabeth has unique medical anomalies that have kept her from successfully carrying 3 other pregnancies to term, so we lift them up in prayer and praise God.

For this I am thankful.

Same precious daughter in love gave her heart to Christ earlier this year and has been waiting to be baptized here in Georgia. Lord willing, Elizabeth will take this next step of faith when the family comes to stay throughout Christmas and New Years.

For this I am so thankful.

Little Man K has been living with his Mama full time for almost 3 months now, they seem to be getting along well.

For this and so much more I am thankful and ever

Now it's your turn, please share.

How has God blessed you and what is your testimony of thanks?

This post is a part of the Thanksgiving feast at L.L. Barkat’s Seedlings in Stone. Join us at the table. When you do, drop a comment by L.L.’s blog to let her know. L.L. will link to you in the Thanksgiving Celebration post (and Christianity Today and High Calling Blogs will link back to said post, so their readers can check out the full celebration).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Breakin Free!

I've spent the last 4 days in Nawlins being part of the re-taping of Beth Mo ores 'Breaking Free' Bible study.
As I've said before this book and study have had much significance for me personally as I was introduced to the teachings of Beth Moore and this study specifically, just a few short months after my daughter's death.
I have shared some of the details of this journey God led me through that brought me out of bondage, but not necessarily the timing of this re-taping and the friends I've been blessed to share it with. That in mind, here's the rest of the story.
The bare bones of my testimony are that I’ve occupied all manner of pit from birth on. It has taken nearly half a century and supernatural intervention that began

after the death of my youngest child just over 3 years ago before I finally started realizing the truth of my existence.

Through divine manipulation, God brought the radical teachings of Beth Moore into my life. This proved to be a catalyst that drove me deeper into the Word and a relationship with God the likes of which I had never fully known before.

Prior to my Lauren’s home going, I lived and believed myself to be a 'Pity Child of God'. After accepting Christ in my heart as a child of 10, I was passionate to spread the Word. Yet the pit relentlessly drew me back, making sure I knew what I was and where I came from. My upbringing caused me to view my Heavenly Father in a very brutal way.

Unwittingly I felt God was always looking to catch me messing up and just like I knew parents to be…would rightly come down on me with everything He had. Despite these lies I viewed as truths, I attempted to ‘be’ good enough to deserve the love of my Father. Of course with every failure, I knew I was moments from destruction and God yanking me outta here because I was such a poor example of Christianity. HIS children would never fall so far, so hard and as sinfully as I did.

My bias’s to the contrary, God never let me go, never stopped loving me and never gave up on me, never. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and humbled beyond measure that He loves me like He does. Truly only a God like You!!

After my daughter’s sudden death, I was certain God had ripped her out of here because I had never lived up to what He had planned for my life.

Though I know now it was a lie straight from the pits of hell, I spent some long hard months struggling to make any kind of sense of it all….more often than not just believing I was not good enough to deserve any better. Now it seemed my children would suffer for my wickedness.

Within 8 weeks of Lauren’s death, I was asked to take custody of my 2 year old granddaughter, as her mother (my eldest daughter) was making dangerous life choices.

What was God thinking? How could I be of any possible use to this tiny, precious but shattered toddler? What a pair we made...the both of us…walking wounded. Lord what ARE You thinking?

He knew better of course….doesn’t He always?

Late one morning in the deserts of Arizona, a woman I met that very week mentioned the name Beth Moore , Breaking Free and gave a line or two of her testimony.

Nancy Vandewater, my angel in the desert

In those moments, through her passing comments God flooded my hurting heart with the most amazing sweetness of His true all encompassing love for me.

The hope that I clung to during the most trying days of my life proved more well founded than anything I could ever imagine. My faith…though oh so weak at times, was rewarded beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined!

Did God ever show up with so much fanfare, grace, love, peace and eventually…joy…real Joy!

Did I tell you about the JOY?

Yes, joy truly comes in the morning and most brilliantly after our deepest and darkest of nights!

Due to a series of horrific events that led to our little Grand baby being raised by us, it became very apparent my 2 ½ year old granddaughter had experienced some monumental trauma.

My husband and I found ourselves engulfed in a battle for this little girl’s life, spirit and very soul. This grand little girl was walking in a pit of fear and terror most adults will never know, and she was not even 3 years old.
Having personally reaped huge rewards for believing and praying Gods Word as a result of reading Breaking Free, the Lord led me to surround this toddler of mine with scripture specifically designed to address the devastation the enemy was bent on destroying her with.

I found CD’s of musical Scripture verses with topics on fear, bravery, sadness, anger, love, friendship. These were played everywhere we went day and night, throughout the house, in the car and in her bed; she slept while Gods Word played on.

Baby girl would wake early and sit with her Maw Maw in the dark morning hours. We shared quiet time, prayed, and read devotions loaded with even more scripture. Both of us just immersed ourselves in our Father and His Word!

One evening after reading bedtime stories, saying prayers and playing more scripture set to music, I fell asleep beside my granddaughter. Shortly thereafter this precocious waif began shaking me and calling out that I wake up.
“Maw Maw, wake up, it’s important! Wake up Maw Maw, I’ve got to tell you something….it’s important Maw Maw!” she was so excited.

Once I lifted my head, she grabbed me and began spouting how the monsters were gone, they could not hurt her anymore, God had not given her a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

"Maw Maw, the monsters are gone and can’t hurt me! Maw Maw the monsters can’t hurt me! God did not give me a spirit of fear!”

With the biggest smiles on our faces we hugged, we danced, we laughed, we celebrated and when we finally settled down, we prayed and praised as that little girl drifted off into a most peaceful sleep.

There’s more.

That Sunday, after picking up my granddaughter from her Sunday school class, she and I began looking and discussing the artwork she’d created that day in class. In her pile of lesson sheets and memory verses was a large, bright and beautifully colored painting.

“What is this?” I asked , “ What can you tell me about it?”

“Well, there’s the monsters-right there in that box and they can’t hurt me anymore. And over here’s the cross of Jesus”

“And this? That’s me, and I’m blowing all these bubbles, because I’m so happy”

The monsters are in the large green box, that big green blob next to the Orange 'cross of Jesus' and then there is all the blue bubbles...precious!

I was stunned and ecstatic. Simple profound truths so beautifully made known to this child were embraced, believed and owned by her with total abandon.

Just so you know, the child had never seen the diagrams in my Breaking Free Book and yet that Sunday, she unmistakably illustrated the freedom she was now experiencing by covering God’s truths over the enemy’s lies.

Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!

At 3 ½ years of age, my granddaughter broke free!
With You Lord ALL things are possible!

Her life has never been the same!

Almost a year later, my granddaughter asked Jesus to be her Savior and was baptized soon after.

Our little grand girl is 5 years old now. Recently she was in to see her doctor and I had a conference with her teacher as well.
The same doctor, who reluctantly pronounced unavoidable severe psychological damage, could do nothing but praise the amazing condition of this child’s mental and emotional health and overall well being. She was not the same child the Doc knew.

Her teacher -unaware of the child's history, was startled at the news. In both instances these professionals had nothing but high praise for what a normal, loving, caring, well adjusted little girl we had. Both teacher and Doctor kept trying to credit my husband and I with our granddaughter’s incredible state of mind, body and soul. We want no part in that.

We boldly give God all the credit, all the glory and all praise for the miracle in our grandchild’s life.

Were it not for Him, His Word, Grace and Love all hope would be gone and our baby grand would be just another statistic.

This little girl and her Maw Maw are walking testaments of what Gods Love and saving grace can do for any life if we are courageous enough to do the hard thing and face our giants.

Back in May, Lifeway made 300 tickets available for purchase to attend the re-taping of Breaking Free. I was blessed to be able to purchase tickets. I have been even more blessed to be sharing this adventure with 2 very sweet friends of mine,

Jenny Hope Williams and Nancy Vandewater, my desert angel.

I feel like I have come full circle in my journey to break free.

For all of this and oh so much moore, I am so grateful in Georgia.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spook'n a Ride and 'Hallelujah Parade'

After a long hiatus of Lovin Loud, Trippin, Treating, get'n out the vote and a week of yucky cold I thought it is was about time to post a little something.
So as I wait for the beginning of a week immersed in the Word with one of my favorite Bible teachers, I give you the following photo journal that chronicles a few of the more colorful happenings of me and mine. Enjoy!

For starters:

Our neighborhood hosted a
'Spook Your Ride Halloween Parade'.

Children and some adults walked and rode various rides while parading through a segment of neighborhood.

One of the not so spooky rides

At the end of the route an assortment of games and treats awaited, including hot dogs, s'mores and inflatables.

What's not to love?

For our crew it was more like a 'Hallelujah Parade'
as you may have noticed from the costume choices.

The cool thing is, these kids choose their own dress
which resulted in an adorable collection of Biblical Super Hero's.

The eldest Angel and a Snow Princess
Check out those accessories!

In attendance at this years festivities were 3 angels, 1 Moses and 1 Joseph and an assortment of princesses, ninjas and the obligatory Hanna Montana. Honestly, each one sweeter than the next.

Our little man was not available to trick his ride,

but Mommy brought him by Halloween eve where he had a howling good time.

He and big sis doing a bit a bonding

and a bit more.
This would be some of the howling started.

Free at last!

Now we're talk'n! Where's the candy?

Sister had the best luck at getting Mr. K to smile

a real charmer

Um....was that due to her stellar photography skills,
silly head dress or cool camera?

As expected the real thrill came as the two went door to door displaying much cuteness in hopes of filling their bag and pumpkin with goodies.

One of our more creative neighbors in the 'hood'. How cute are they?

True to form, our little man was most enthusiastic at the realization he was being encouraged to walk by himself, through leaves, up stairs and we about lost him all together when we encountered a motion activated spooky sound machine hidden in a rock. That one really cracked him up!

Unfortunately for him, his night ended early when he tripped on a driveway and bonked his little head. After failed attempts to get him to hold a Little Pony ice pack on his noggin, his Mama took him home to wind down from the nights excitement.

By the time it was all over we had learned a few things:
  • Magic carriages can be just about anything and come in all shapes and sizes.

  • Little monsters don't bounce very well on pavement no matter how cute they are


  • You can do just about anything in angel wings....just plan on leaving a trail of feathers in your wake.