Monday, July 28, 2008

You know you're in Africa when...

*A goat is slaughter 20 feet away from your room window at 6:00 in the morning. :-)

*6 people accept Christ in Sunday morning church service and immediately are walked down to the river to be baptised.

*A burning ceremony of witch craft charms.

And loving every minute of it!

I haven't been able to blog because the internet has not been great. It has been great enough for me to be able to talk to Ella several times though through Skype, my new favorite thing.

We are having a great time. The widows and orphans are so precious. I can't wait to be able to load some picture for you guys when we get back. Everybody on the team still has lots of energy and is feeling good.

We have two more full days at the orphanage and then on Thursday we head back to Uganda for our safari. And then we head home.

Just wanted to check in while we have a good moment with the internet.

Please keep praying! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love y'all!!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hello From Uganda!

Hello! We made it to Uganda and are doing great!! Both flights were VERY long but good. We are feeling good. We are staying overnight at this really cool hotel in Uganda. It's beautiful. We fly out of Uganda and 8:00 A.M. for Yei, Sudan. We are 8 hours ahead of you so right now it is 2:30 your time and 10:30 p.m. our time. We are all getting ready to go to bed. I am so wired though. 2 Tylenol PM should do the trick.

Saying goodbye to Ella yesterday afternoon was painful, but I made it. She was so sweet. She said, "I love you dada, I love you mama!" like 20 times. I miss her like crazy, but I'm doing good. It has certainly been an adventure already. And we are loving every minute of it.


Hopefully we will have internet tomorrow when we get to Yei. I am SO excited right now that there is internet where we are.

Thank you so much for your prayers!! Will hopefully update soon!! And with pictures. I feel so blessed to be here.

P.S. As I am typing this 2 bats are flying around my head! The first of many things I'm sure.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

0 Hours to Africa Trip!

We are about to leave to head to the airport! Please say a prayer for me. I have knots in my stomach because of having to say goodbye to Ella. She is just SO sweet. Her little, cute voice and laugh is going to be such a void in my life for the next 12 days. It is the cutest little voice ever. I have completely filled my phone and Heath's phone memories up with recordings of her talking and singing so I can listen to it everyday while we are there. Everyday she says a new word and sentence that completely blows me away. I cannot imagine how much more she will be saying and doing in 12 days. It makes me sad to know that I will miss out a little on her new thing for that day. BUT it's only 12 days! It could be a LOT worse.

Twinkle left me this very sweet comment: "Just think that while you are "mothering" Jesus' orphans in the Sudan, He will be "mothering" your precious Ella. He will, you know. Every hug you make...He will be giving back to Ella."

This morning when I went to get Ella out of bed, I told her, "Ella, this is the day that mommy and daddy are going to Africa." Her eyes got really big and I expected maybe a few tears. Instead, she started screaming, "YEA, I go see Grandma and Meme!" So, I think Ella is going to be just fine!

I wanted to give y'all our itinerary so you would know exactly what we were doing each day and know exactly how to pray for that day.

Sudan is 8 hours ahead of the U.S.

July 22 - Depart DFW at 3:00p.m.

July 23 - Arrive in Amsterdam @ 11:00 a.m., Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda @ 8:00 p.m., Stay the night in Entebbe

July 24 - Leave Entebbe at 8:00 a.m., Arrive in Yei, Sudan at 10:00 a.m., Get settled in and sleep.

July 25 - Head to Lura (orphanage) and meet the widows and orphans; Begin painting and discipleship

July 26 - Continue Ministry in Lura

July 27 - Spend the day in Yei; Our Pastor will preach at a church service that night.

July 28 - Head back to Lura and continue the ministry

July 29-30 - Ministry in Lura

July 31 - Leave Yei in AM, land in Entebbe, Uganda. Drive to Safari Hotel and spend the night.

August 1 - Morning Safari; Drive back to Entebbe; Leave Entebbe at 10:00 p.m.

August 2 - Land in Amsterdam at 5:50 a.m.; Land in DFW at 1:15p.m. HUG AND KISS ELLA 5,000 TIMES!

As you can see, we have 12 full days ahead of us. We will need lots of prayers. Here are some daily prayers for our team.

I pray that as one of Your chosen people, holy and dearly loved, each team member would clothe himself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

In the morning Lord, You hear their voices; In the morning may they lay their request before You and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

I pray this team would consider their lives worth nothing to themselves, if only they may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to them - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Acts 20:24

I pray as a team, they would be brought together today in complete unity to let the world know that You sent them. John 17:23

I pray that they will use whatever gifts received to serve others, faithfully administering Your grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2

I'm hoping that we will have a good internet connection in Yei because if we do than I will be able to update my blog!! Also, our leader Vernon will be updating the ministry's blog too (if we have a good internet connection).

I love y'all and I can not thank you enough for all your prayers!! They have brought me so much comfort! Trust me, without them I would not even be able to take one step on that plane! Hopefully I will be in touch soon!!


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

44 Hours...

Well, this weekend I came down with the dreaded stomach virus, which is why I haven't updated my prayer requests in a couple of days. I am almost completely over it and I'm thankful it hit now instead of later.

I can not believe that we leave in less than 2 days. My main source of stress now with only 44 hours until departure is my sadness over missing Ella. I've been sad over it off and on throughout the last month, but today it has really hit me and tonight I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with emotion. I just can NOT imagine not seeing her precious face and hearing her sweet voice for 12 days! It's not natural. But I will remember the faithfulness of our God. He got me through not seeing her for 8 days in March when I went to Honduras and I know that He will get me through 8 days + 4 more.

Our bags are almost completely packed! I have not shared the lovely packing dilemma with y'all. LADIES, we are only allowed to pack 33lbs TOTAL, that includes are carry on! This is not because of our flight from here to Uganda. It's because we have to take a little prop plane from Uganda into Sudan. Now I know y'all are with me when I say that women tend to over pack. I am the worst of the worst. So I borrowed my mom's scale so I could begin packing several days ago because I knew it would be an act of God to get my suitcase + carry on under 33lbs. And the Lord has proven faithful again because so far my two bags are only weighing in at 23 lbs! Can you believe that? A miracle. I'll keep y'all updated on this. Do not doubt that I plan on filling every bit of that 33lbs. I told Heath he was only allowed to pack 20lbs so I could have his extra 13lbs. He isn't really going for that.

We have been very blessed in our preparations for this trip. One of the things that Heath and I had to get was shoes. We need a really good pair of hiking sandals, like Chacos or Keens or Tevas. We've been told that our Land Rover will probably get stuck in the mud a few times because we are going to Africa during the rainy season. So we could find ourselves walking through thick mud and also pushing our truck out of the mud. A good pair of shoes is a must, but Heath and I don't really have $200 to spend on shoes.

My dad told Heath he wanted to take him to REI to go shopping for some of his clothes and things he'll need. My dad knew Heath needed a pair of shoes, but I also knew my dad would flip out when he saw the price tag for a good pair of sandals. While they were at REI, my dad brought a pair of shoes to Heath and told him he found these on the clearance rack. When Heath opened the box, he could not believe what he saw. They were the EXACT pair of shoes he wanted in the EXACT size he needed. There was absolutely no reason why this $90 pair of shoes should have been on the clearance rack for $19.99!!! Even as I type this, I am looking at his shoes on the floor still in awe of how God is taking care of us.

At the same time, I was in a shoe dilemma. Still needing shoes but not able to pay $100 for the Chacos I wanted. My friend Amber, whose husband is leading the trip, told me she had a few skirts for me to borrow and a pair of Chacos. She brought them to church this past Monday and when I tried them on they fit perfectly!! When I saw here later in the week, I let her know how happy I was that they fit and I don't have to buy a pair. And her exact words were, "I'm so glad! You can have them." She gave me her pair of chacos. She said they don't fit her anymore and she was waiting to give them to somebody and it would bless her to give them to me. I am in such awe!!! So Heath and I both got nice shoes for $19! Which we didn't pay the $19 because my dad bought them. Thanks Dad! We are so thankful!

Today's Prayer Request:

Prayer for the families staying home.

There are 4 of us that are leaving either spouses and/or children behind.

Oh that the families would be still and know that You are God; You will be exalted among the nations, You will be exalted among the earth. Psalm 46:10

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Here are some pictures of Ella's first pigtails! Her hair has always been so fine that she's never had enough of it to put up until now.

Oh how I am going to miss this face!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

4 Days...

I am a little behind today on the daily prayers. Ella and I spent the whole day today doing fun things. I can't even tell you how much I am going to miss her. When Heath got home from work, we went out to eat at this cute little place in downtown Grapevine we go to alot. And then we went shopping! When we got to downtown Grapevine we discovered a little festival was going on. So we got to take a little hayride around downtown and listen to some fun country music while professional dancers square danced! Then when we got to the mall, Ella got to ride the carousel, which she loves. Heath has to work a lot this weekend to make up for missing 2 weeks of work, so tonight was our family night with our little Punkin!

Today's Prayer Request

Prayer for the Sudanese

Oh Lord, I beg that the lost will receive the seed of the gospel. I pray it will fall on good soil so they will hear the Word and understand it. Matthew 13:23a

Lord, that You would open the eyes of the lost and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. Acts 26:18

The 3 ladies going on the trip, myself included, are going to be hanging out with the widows that run the orhanage all day. What we know is that they are all probably christians but probably don't understand what that means. Our pastors wife, Jennifer, is preparing Bible studies on God's promises to do with them while we are there. Please be in prayer for her preparations, that we would be able to convey to them exactly what God has for us to do.

The 7 guys that are going are going to be painting the orphanage and will also be playing with the orphans all day. Please pray that they would know exactly how to fellowship with the little children. The stories I have heard about these children and how they came about being orphans is the most heartbreaking things I have ever heard! Part of the men's duties is to basically hear the children's stories and build relationships with them. These children have lost their parents in HORRIBLE ways and are heartbroken over it! I can not even begin to imagine the pain they have gone through. They NEED God's love more than ever!


Our sweet dog Jones is so sweet to tolerate this:

They love each other.

Thank you SO MUCH for your continued prayers!! They are bringing me much peace.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

5 Days...

Praise the Lord! So far we have not come down with the stomach bug and Ella is totally back to normal. She made a fairly quick recovery and I know it's because of your prayers!! Seriously, it has touched my heart to know so many of y'all are praying and were praying so fervently for this one specific request. Thank you so much Corey and Amanda for spreading the news on Ella so even more prayers would be voiced on our behalf!

Today's Prayer Request

Please pray for the spiritual warfare that we are encountering already and will no doubt be encountering while we are there.

As You, O Lord have commanded us, may we be strong and courageous. May we not be terrified or discouraged. Let us know that you will be with us wherever we go. Joshua 1:9

Lord, let us be strong in You and in Your mighty power. Put Your full armor on us, so we can take a stand against the devil's schemes. Remind us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of the dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12

Thank you so much!!!

Just for fun, I wanted to leave y'all with a few precious pictures of my husband playing the guitar at home with Ella.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

6 Days...

We leave in 6 days! In preparing for our departure, I wanted to give you guys over the next 6 days some specific prayer requests and verses to be praying.

Prayer for Travel: For flights and for ground travel throughout Southern Sudan.

Father, spread Your protection over this team, that those who love Your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11b

Lord, stand at our sides and give us strength so that through us the message might be fully proclaimed and all of Sudan might hear. 2 Timothy 4:17

Also, Ella came down with a stomach bug yesterday. It was pretty bad. She threw up most of the day. With this, came a lot of emotion from me. Besides being totally heartbroken for her, my mind started racing with all the what ifs. What if Heath and I get it? What if we're sick when it's time to get on the plane?!! ETC. ETC. I know this is probably one of many attacks the enemy is going to throw at us in the coming days. So I am really trying to take captive these thoughts and stay focused on our mission. Could y'all please be in prayer specifically for our health and for my thoughts? That I would NOT give the enemy even an inch, not even a smidge of my thoughts.

This is my prayer:
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to DEMOLISH STRONGHOLDS. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we TAKE CAPTIVE every thought to make it obedient to Christ." AMEN 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

I know there is power in prayer, therefore the spirit in me is completely powerful enough take captive these thoughts. Thank you so much! I will be thinking about my blogging prayer warriors back home while we are there and the Peace that brings. I will update tomorrow with more prayer requests.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Back Together

Curtis, Amanda and Jackson were in town this weekend for a visit and we got to spend lots of time with them. It was so perfect and so fun for Ella, Jackson and Ava to be reunited!

Ella and Jackson were able to spend lots of time hanging out at our house and playing with all of Ella's toys. I had forgotten how well they play together.

Playing with Ella's little piano!

This is what they did for the first 30 minutes Jackson got there. They chased each other screaming at the top of their lungs. So full of joy to be back together!

Amanda and I were trying to see how much taller Jackson is than Ella. They are only 2 days apart in age, so his height is pretty significantly more.

They also got to spend some time in Ella's pool!

Jackson cracks me up how much he has always loved water being splashed in his face. Definitely something him and Ella do NOT have in common.

That evening we met up with Sunni, Xavier and Ava for sushi at Central Market! This was one of our favorite places to have playdates with Amanda and Jackson when they lived here. It was SO fun to be back there with our three babies!!

Xavier and Ava going down the slide. Xavi is such a sweet daddy!! We are SO relieved that he his back to normal and feeling better.

Ella and her daddy! The dads let us girls catch up while they persevered in the heat with the Tods.

Ella was doing a little dance in honor of the lollipop that Ava had just given her.

This is the only picture that I got of the 3 Tods together.

After dinner, Sunni, Xavi and Ava had to head home to finish packing for their Mexico trip that they left for the next morning. My parents so sweetly agreed to babysit Jackson and Ella while the parentals went to the movies. We saw Get Smart! SO FUNNY!

My mom took these precious pictures of Ella and Jackson.

My mom loves when she gets to watch Jackson. Amanda's mom and my mom spent so much time together in the hallways of the hospital while our babies were only hours/days old. They have such a special bond with each other because of that and each other's grandbabies.

Crashed out!

It was so fun to see our good friends and get to spend so much time with them! Every second was treasured.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Therefore Go...

Heath and I prayerfully decided to answer the call to go. On July 22 we will set out with 8 others from our church to Yei, Sudan in Central Africa. We have partnered with “His Voice for Sudan”, an established ministry led by Vernon and Amber Burger...“We are lovers of God. We are partners with lovers of God all over the globe. Our desire is that God's glory would be made known in all the earth. Our mission is to empower orphans, widows, and Church leaders to make disciples of all nations.”

Amber and Vernon have started two orphanages in the Sudan.

"The first orphanage was built in a village called Morobo, Sudan. It began with 48 orphans, 12 widows (to care for the children), 1 pastor, 1 guard, and 1 farmer. It has grown to 72 orphans, 14 widows, 3 cooks, 1 pastor, 1 guard, and 1 farmer. This is the first time in the lives of these children that they are able to eat 3 meals a day on a consistent basis. On the Orphanage grounds there is a school. Education is a large part of the orphanage. The school is for the orphans and also the local children. This has been such a great outreach. There are currently over 200 children in the school.

Along with the school, there is a Church. The children attend the Church and are overseen throughout the week by a pastor. This has also been a great outreach to the community. During the week the church is a place where people can come from Congo, Uganda and from all over Sudan to be trained in the Bible."

The orphanage that we will be at is in Lura. It is their second orphanage to establish in the Sudan.

Heath and I have been so excited for this trip for many months now. I can't believe we leave in 11 days! This is so exciting for so many reasons.

One of which is, my husband has never been overseas on a mission trip. In fact, he just got his very first passport one month ago. I feel so blessed to be able to share this experience with the love of my life. For the first time, we will be able to minister side by side in another country! I am thrilled beyond my ability to express.

There are 3 women going, myself, my friend Corey and our pastor's wife Jennifer. While there, the 3 of us will spend the majority of our time with the widows who run the orphanage. Through fellowship and Bible studies, it is our prayer that we can convey to these widows that they are beautifully and wonderfully made, and each of them are loved and valued.

There are 7 men going. They will spend their time with the children of the orphanage playing games with them and listening to their stories. It is our prayer that seeds of hope and truth are planted in the hearts of the children here as we strive to build relationships with them. They will also spend part of their time painting the orphanage.

I just feel so blessed and am in such awe that God has given Heath and I this opportunity. As you can imagine, I have many reservations about a trip of this magnitude and distance, but God has already proven Himself over and over that He is in control and that He has directed our paths for this journey.

I will outline many prayer requests over the next 11 days.

Y'all are the sweetest for already voicing so many prays on our behalf and asking about the trip. I can not tell you how much it means to me and how much those prayers are needed.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Shots! Oh my!

I promise that I am going to talk about my upcoming trip to Africa. I am SO excited to tell you guys all about it! But first I wanted to ask y'all to pray for me Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. as my husband and I get our Yellow Fever shots! OUCH! Maybe it will go as well as BooMama's did. I'll let y'all know how it goes! Thanks!!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Atlanta/Houston Weekend Conclusion

Sunday morning Amanda and I got the glorious opportunity to sleep in!! Oh it was so good. And then we had a feast on this:

Breakfast room service. It was a very relaxing morning which for these two mamas was much needed.

After breakfast and getting ready, Amanda and I took a cab to her sister's apartment where we were meeting up with Beth, Melissa and Collin for lunch. Amanda and I had only been at her ADORABLE apartment for 5 minutes when it was time for us to head to the airport. So we had to skip lunch. But we did get to see Melissa's apartment which is SO CUTE! She did such a good job decorating and it's the cutest place.

The flight home was smooth and we said our goodbyes to Mrs. Beth. I stayed over Sunday night with Amanda so I didn't have to drive 4 hours home that night. I'm so glad I stayed because I got to spend lots of time with Jackson and Curtis. It was so fun.

Me and the Mister!

I have to tell y'all this story. When I first got to Amanda and Curtis' home Thursday night, Amanda had let Jackson stay up so I could see him, but she hadn't told him that I was coming. When I rang the doorbell, Jackson came running to the door and saw me through the window that runs parallel with their front door. He started flapping his arms and got so excited when he saw me. I'm not sure why this surprised me. I guess I have this fear that Ella and Jackson will forget each other now that they live 4 hours apart, but this was proof that they are bound forever. Because as soon as I came through the door Jackson immediately started looking around and saying "Ella, Ella". Then after the door closed behind me, he went up to the window by the door and looked out and kept saying, "Ella, Ella"! Oh, it was a sweet moment. I'm tearing up all over again just thinking about it.

The other story is, the Thursday I left I was telling Ella, "Mama is going to see Amanda, Curtis and Jackson." And Ella looked at me and said, "I see Jackson!" It was so sweet! I felt bad though because she couldn't come with me. But they will be reunited soon!

On my way out of town Monday, I was able to swing by and see Michelle, Keegan and Jack for a little while! It was so good to see my old college roomie!

I was so glad for my 4 hour drive home because it gave me the perfect opportunity to sit and let everything I had learned and experienced the last couple days to soak in. It was good!

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Deeper Still - Saturday

This was a long day filled with so much greatness. We left our hotel room at 8:00 A.M. and didn't get back to our room until 8:00 that night. And would you believe it if I told you that I left my camera in our room? For the entire day?

We headed to the arena that morning and was able to eat breakfast again in the room with the speakers and the band. We ate some good sausages, right Amanda? hehe

Mrs. Kay Arthur did the first session that morning. I'm not really sure how to sum up what she talked about. She spoke from Jeremiah on what happens if a country sins against God. She spoke for over 2 hours and her message was a little overwhelming, but needed to be heard. It was so heavy that she said she was physically ill the week before over knowing what she was supposed to talk about and she cried several times while she was speaking. The message was that a punishment is already in place and will continue if our nation continues to sin against the God. As Christians it's our place to step up and repent. Quite a heavy burden to carry. She had lots of encouragement for us.

(Thank you BigMama for letting me borrow your camera for a few shots!)

After her message, we ate lunch backstage and I got to each lunch with Mrs. Kay AGAIN! AGAIN! We talked Bible studies and she gave me a special message to bring back to my Precept girls back home! She is so awesome and sweet and caring! I'll just go ahead and say it...I love her.

The session after lunch was the Q & A with all three speakers. This was a chance for them to be HYSTERICAL, but also I learned a lot, especially about marriage.

The final session was the AMAZING Beth Moore! Y'! It was the perfect way to end the weekend. She spoke on John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the Glory of the ONE AND ONLY who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Our goal through her message was to memorize this verse. So she broke it up into separate phrases and we all learned a cheer to help us memorize it. For example, my group was "The Word". We had to stand up and make a T and then a W with our hands while we shouted "The Word". Mrs. Beth then gave much wisdom on that phrase. Then she moved on to the next group which was "became flesh" and they had motions for their phrase and she talked specifically about that phrase and so on until ALL 19,000 women were broke up into sections with a phrase assigned to them. Only Beth could get an entire room of 19,ooo women to do an organized cheer! By the end of her lesson we all had the verse memorized with our motions. It was fun to hear each group and how loud it got in the arena. It was a neat moment.

I think my favorite part was when she went into detail on the last phrase "full of grace and truth." She said, "Jesus isn't full of just grace or just truth, but both". And she talked about how He is FULL of grace. He can't be less full. It was such a good message!!! Y'all know how well she teaches. Your lives have been changed just like mine through her Bible studies. As a Christian woman, I am so thankful for her and her studies.

After the conference was over, Amanda, her sister Melissa, Melissa's hubby, Beth and I got to enjoy a nice dinner and celebrate the Victories of the weekend! Then we continued our celebration with dessert in Beth's room. It was such a fun time of LAUGHTER and relaxation! Seriously, my stomach was sore the next day from all the laughing.

My friend Kristin summed up this weekend so perfectly. You know on Deal or No Deal how the producers will come up with a package that is perfectly designed for the contestant. It usually consists of being able to meet somebody they've always wanted to meet and do something they've always wanted to do. Well, this would be my package. To get to sit at the teachings, meet and talk with my favorite women Bible study teachers would be it. If Howie Mandel offered me the deal that was this weekend, I would have taken it without a second thought!

I am so thankful and so blessed!

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy 4th!

This year we went to Todd and Kristin's annual 4th of July party!! It's always a lot of fun. This was the 7th year they have been doing this. I can't believe it's been that long!

One of the fun traditions of this party is their food contest. There are 5 categories: Most Creative, Most Patriotic, Best Presentation, Best Taste and Best Side Dish. Usually Heath makes the side dish we take thus the reason why in the past we have won Best Taste. A few years ago, we came up with the genius idea that we would make a cheese ball, but instead of it being in the shape of a ball we would make it flat. Then we took the topping of the cheeseball and dyed certain parts of it like you would dye icing for a cake. We decided we would design an American flag. Well, the colors of the dye weren't exactly cooperating and our American flag looked more like the French flag. Needless to say, we didn't win Most Patriotic, but we did win Best Taste!

This year Heath had to work, so I was on my own. On my own in the kitchen. The thought of that alone is enough to send me into a panic attack. So I did the only thing I know how to do...bake. I made a chocolate cake with black cherry jello filling and white icing. Then decorated it. It tasted great, but didn't look so fabulous.

But it won Most Patriotic!!

Laney and Ella had so much fun swinging together and playing on the water slide BEFORE the water was turned on.

They are such sweet friends that they were cheering each other on as the other slid down the slide.

Ella cheering for Laney.

Ring around the Rosy

A Pocket full of Posy

Ashes, Ashes we all fall down.

Happy 4th of July! My next post will be the continuation of the awesome weekend at Deeper Still!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Deeper Still - Friday

Hour One:

Upon landing in Atlanta Friday afternoon, we were taken straight to Philip's Arena for a quick lunch and then the speakers and musicians had sound check. I was thinking how exciting to be a part of a sound check. That's something I've definitely never done before. What I didn't realize at the moment was how the coolest things were about to happen even before the sound check began.

The Lifeway staff greeted Mrs. Beth, Amanda and myself at this back entrance of the arena and we were walking down this hall to a room where we were going to eat a quick lunch.

Pause and Rewind: One of the things I was looking forward to most leading up to this weekend was that I was going to get the chance to meet Kay Arthur, a beloved Bible Study leader/writer of mine. I've been doing her Bible studies for about 5 years now and have lead a few of them also. So I was actually a little nervous, and by a little I mean I was FREAKING OUT about getting to meet her.

Fastforward: We are walking down the hall to this room and Beth mentioned to one of the Lifeway staff members that I was looking forward to meeting her. The Lifeway worker looked right at me and said, "Well, you are about to walk right into a room where she is." I'm sorry, WHAT. I immediately started sweating thinking I needed more time to prepare for this moment, some sort of annointing from the Spirit. This was all happening too fast.

Sure enough, seconds later we walked into a room and this is who was in it:
Kay Arthur
Priscilla Shirer
Travis Cotrell, his wife and band
and of course, Beth Moore.

Sweet Beth walked right up to Kay and told her that she had someone to meet her. Precious Mrs. Kay gave me the biggest embrace and was as sweet as sweet can be. I would be lying if I told you I didn't tear up as she embraced me and talked to me.

But the greetings didn't end there because I also got to meet all of the amazing people mentioned above too!!! Y'all, seriously? I was so hugely floating on cloud nine, I thought I was going to ascend into heaven right then and there.

Not only did I get to meet them, but I ate lunch with them. Mrs. Kay sat right next to me. That is worth repeating in case you didn't catch it the first time, she sat RIGHT next to me. Her chair. Next to my chair. Priscilla and Beth were at the same table too! Oh, I can not even explain to you how I couldn't take one more bite of my meal after they all sat down. I just could not believe that these teachers that I love and respect and have learned so much from were inches away from me. It was like a dream.

THEN, we go into sound check and while they are all doing their thing, in walks BooMama and Big Mama.

Talk about a good first hour in Atlanta!

After sound check, we went to our hotel and relaxed for a few hours, which was so nice.

At 6:00, we headed back to the arena. The first session was unbelievable! The music was out of control. Travis and his band are quite possibly the most talented musicians I have ever heard. The girls on his praise team make you want to curl up on the floor in the fetal position and sob. I don't really know what that means. But they are GOOD!

Then Priscilla Shirer got up to do her thang. I had never heard her speak before, so I didn't know what to expect. Okay, wow!

Her lesson came from Exodus. It was all about when the Israelites were walking through the dessert. Here are some of the notes I wrote down:

"In the wilderness is when they were brought face to face with God."
"Mt. Sinai was the furthest place in the wilderness away from their destination, but it is where they got the biggest blessing."
"Am I going to let the wilderness push me away from God or draw me in?"
"I am more protected IN the wilderness WITH God than out of the wilderness without God!"

God asks them to do 3 things:

1. God called them to remember what He has ALREADY done on their path. When He delivered you, lifted you and drew you to himself!

2. He called them to recognize their spiritual identity. "There is only ONE who has the authority to name you."
"True spiritual discernment is being able to discern between right and ALMOST right."

3. God calls them to new levels of surrender.
"Holiness is important to God. We mix happiness with holiness without God being the reference point."

AMEN!! I have drawn even more truths from typing my notes up for y'all. She was awesome. So dynamic and funny!

I am so grateful!

Saturday to come...

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