Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here Lately...

Nearly 8 weeks have gone by since Justin's been out doing his research. It's gone by quickly, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime. I have a very high respect for families that have soldiers fighting and people whose husbands have to be away on business constantly. I miss Justin terribly. Though we talk daily, I miss him being here. I miss waking up to him, doing his laundry, praying with him, cooking dinner and simply living life with him. I can not wait to have him home!

However, during this time, I have also learned a lot about being me and trusting God to fill my heart with His love. I have had to rest on the promise that God is enough and that He would bring my husband home safely to me. God has also revealed to me how faithful He is! We have prayed diligently that Justin would not get poison ivey and after 8 weeks in the woods and swamp in hot weather and high humidity, Justin's body is still clean, with the exception of several bug bites. God has also been faithful in providing wonderful friends to be here for me. People have offered their homes to me, invited me for lunch and dinner dates, and days by the pool. Almost daily, I have had encouraging comments whether it be via email, text message, or phone call, telling me that they were here if I needed anything and asking about Justin. For that, I am so thankful. Justin too has seen people's sweet generosity. Friends of ours were vacationing near Justin and took him to dinner, the high light of his time away.

I write all of this to remind people of the importance of a simple word or act of compassion. God has overwhelmed me with the love of Him through His people. It takes only seconds to send someone an email telling them you're thinking of them, or even a few hours to have someone over for dinner. Do not forget that we are called to love people as Jesus did!

Here lately, I have experienced God's love in amazing and different ways. I thank each of you who have been the vessels that were used to show me this beautiful love. I also hope to remember this special time and always offer my hand to those who need to feel Him. It's a beautiful thing to learn more about our Savior. He is forever faithful and worthy of all praise.

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." -Romans 1:8

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Daddy! I have always been a "Daddy's Girl". When my siblings fought over sitting beside Momma, I gladly requested Daddy. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad are him going on my zoo field trip when I was in kindergarten, playing hide and go seek at Mimmie and PawPaw's, seeing him in the stands of ALL my sporting and academic affairs, cheering me on, our many talks about everything, him sitting in the recliner and me on the couch, and him laughing. His laugh is quite contagious. My Dad truly is one of the hardest working men I've ever met and I am very thankful for him in my life. I love you!
I also want to say thank you to my wonderful father-in-law. You helped raise my wonderful husband and I am very thankful that you are in our lives!

*In memory of Paul Lamb (PawPaw) and Tom Brackett (PaPaw). I love you and miss you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Healthy Living

Good morning to all! I have been inspired by my friend Chris to post about my "healthy living" lifestyle. Chris has recently started a new exercise and diet regimen and I thought I would share mine. I really enjoy working out. For many people, exercise is tedious or boring or intimidating, but for me, it's my destresser. I really NEED to walk after many of my days at work. Justin and I also love to do active things. We enjoy walking together, throwing frisbee or football, playing basketball; these are things that we naturally enjoy doing. We have a card game that pushes us to do all sit-ups and crunches. Sitting on the couch watching t.v. is just not something either of us can do for extended periods of time, though, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Exercise truly is a hobby for our family.

With that said, I also LOVE to cook and cooking healthy is also something I enjoy. I don't really see the point in cooking things in grease when you can use olive oil or using whole milk and cheese when reduced fat is available. I also despise tons of processed food. Again, this is not everyone's opinions, and trust me, I totally get the convenience of it, but our family tries to do it in moderation. Eating whole foods, including lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables just make you feel better! Processed food takes out many of the natural nutrients God put in the ingredients in the first place, so I TRY to stick with as many natural foods as possible. Again, we definitely enjoy our share of Hamburger Helper and granola bars, but again, in moderation.

Please don't get me wrong, I enjoy some doughnuts and some potatoe chips just like everyone else, but we try to do it sparingly. Again, it's a lifestyle that Justin and I are both passionate about. With that said, I definitely want to promote a book that my sweet friend Elizabeth shared with me...In Defense of Food. It's a very interesting and practical read. Definitely look into it.

A main reason why I think eating natural foods is best is because it's not a fad diet. We have all seen the Jenny Craig commercial with Kirsty Ally and bless her heart, she can't stay at a healthy weight. God created certain foods to grow and flourish (fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, yogurt, meats) These all naturally occur in our environment...they were not man made in a factory. With that said, God's way has to be best, right?

I think the most important thing to remember is moderation is key to everything in life. Too much of anything is a bad thing, the old adage goes. So, I do not starve myself, nor do I deny myself. If I want some ice cream, I eat ice cream. I get an appropriate serving and enjoy myself. However, I do not eat ice cream every day nor do I consume several servings in one sitting (well, I again, try not to).

I think it's so important to remember the lifestyle we live has been created by our busy schedules in desperate need for convenience. My grandparents' generation walked to the bus stop every day (1 mile 1 way-There's my 2 mile daily walk right there.) They gardened and ate their own food and drank milk from their own cows. They slaughtered their own pigs. Simple chores like washing clothes was hard work. (Hand washing everything, going through the ringer, and hanging everything on a line.) People naturally ate better and exercised in every day routines. We are now expected, as busy as we are, to make time to go to the gym and make meals comprable to our earlier generations and we question why everyone is having heart attacks and cancer. Whew...

So, I encourage you to be healthy. Enjoy the foods you love and find means of exercise that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, don't do it! Find something you love and stick with it. Try to have a balanced diet and allow yourself one small treat (less than 150 calories) a day.

Lastly, I do have to throw in a plug for the home video "The Shred". I was encouraged by some girls in Sunday School to try it and it really is the best at home video I've ever done. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4 Years Ago Today...

4 years ago today my family was sitting in the waiting room of Children's Hospital in Washington, DC, waiting for my brother's 8 1/2 hour brain surgery to be completed.

For those who don't know, I want to share this miraculous story. For those who do know, rejoice and praise God with me as we boast of His greatness and faithfulness! My older brother Zach was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at the age of 2. This disease causes fibroid tumors all over his body, coming and going, changing frequently. Many tumors are not a problem, but when Zach was in the 7th grade (I was in the 5th and Jillian was in the 2nd), during an annual MRI, Zach's neurologist found a tumor in his brain stem. At this time, the tumor was considered inoperable and my family was at a loss of what to do. We were given the information that as long as the tumor did not grow, Zach would be ok. Well, that's exactly what happened. For 10 years, Zach's tumor lay dormant. During Zach's junior year of college at ASU, our family began to see signs of things changing. Zach's speech began to change dramatically and his fine and gross motor skills were deteriorating. At Zach's MRI over that Christmas (2004), it showed that Zach's tumor had indeed began to grow and there was major pressure on his brain stem, as well as causing fluid to form on other parts of his brain. Over the course of the next 5 months, Zach, along with my parents, began going to specialists to see what could be done. Well, God's grace and sovereinty shined through...There was now technology that would allow Zach to be operated on! Praise be to Jesus.

My parents drove Zach up to D.C. where the specialists were who could operate during this invasive procedure. On June 10, 2005, Zach went into a surgery that had NEVER been done before, on a part of the brain that is the absolute most senstive and dangerous. (For all those Grey's Anatomy Fans, you understand!) There were people from all over the world in the gallery watching the operation. After several hours of waiting and praying, the doctor came out of surgery. He told us that Zach had done well and things looked good. However, not to be surprised if Zach didn't wake up for at least 48 hours and he would not be out of ICU for a few days. Well, God didn't stop there. Within an hour, my sister and I were in the room TALKING to Zach! He was released from ICU the next day! Praise be to Jesus! He even was home, in our living room, within a WEEK! Man, God is good!

After his surgery, Zach went through an intensive 6 week bought of radiation at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, NC. Though he struggled with lethargy, he still continued to work his summer job! Today, he is healed. Through speech and physical therapy, you wouldn't know Zach had gone through such a terrible ordeal. We serve a risen and healing God!

I share this story to emphasize the importance of prayer, family, and friends. Without these, in this order, my family would not have been able to endure this time in our lives. My brother is a strong and courageous man and I am so thankful for him in my life. My parents are true ROCKS for one another. My sister, she is my best friend. She and I always stick together. God has a mighty plan for my brother. He allowed technology to get ready for Zach, and ready it was! Thank you Father, for your healing power over my brother!

I love you Zach!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Christ Alone

While visiting my family this weekend in Tennessee I went to church with my aunt and uncle. We sang the song "In Christ Alone" and it reminded me of the beautiful gift we've been given and the victory that is ours who are God's children. Here are the lyrics...

In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace. When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save.

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied; For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain.Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in victory Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me; For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand ‘til He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

What amazing truths! I encourage you to download this song and take a minute to really worship our Savior and Victor!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beautiful Flowers from a Wonderful Husband

This is a little belated, but I wanted to brag on how sweet my husband is. On May 22nd, Justin sent me these gorgeous flowers to school to celebrate the last day of my first year of teaching! How sweet and thoughtful. God has greatly blessed me with such a wonderful hubby!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frozen Hawaiian Pie

-1 can condensed milk
-12 oz. cool whip (thawed)
-1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
-2 tbsp. lemon juice
-2 graham cracker crusts
1. Combine condensed milk and cool whip and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
2. Fold in pineapple, nuts, cherries, and lemon juice
3. Pour into crusts, freeze for 4 hours
4. Let thaw for 20 minutes before serving.

This is REALLY YUMMY and a great summer dessert. You can also buy fat free condensed milk, cool whip, and reduced fat crusts to make it a little healthier! ENJOY!

Studying Micah

So, we just finished up a great study of the book of Micah in our Sunday School class. (Ally and Jason did an awesome job leading us!) I had never even looked at this book and I really enjoyed learning about the prophecies. Here are 2 of my favorite verses from the book:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

"Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me." Micah 7:7

What amazing truths and promises. I definitely encourage you to read and study this book. It's only 7 chapters but loaded with insight and wisdom! It may continue to be the bulk of my summer study!