Two Tiaras and a Sword

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Tiny Tarantula

Once upon a time, in a far away ocean, on a small island, a baby tarantula hatched.  He yawned, and stretched out his little soon to be hairy legs.  He blinked his 8 eyes and adjusted them to the light.  He climbed over 73 of his brothers and sisters.  As he started to leave the protection of the group, his mom and dad noticed.  They called out to him and tried to get him to come back.  They knew their tiny tarantula was not ready for the big wide world, as interesting and inviting as it may have seemed. But the tiny tarantula ignored their pleas, and continued to crawl away as he surveyed his surroundings.  He decided to check out something shiny in the corner.  It took him about 10 minutes to get all the way there.  He, being just a newly hatched baby spider was tired after that, and decided to hide in the shadow of the shiny thing for a while.  He got comfortable and took a little nap.  This wasn't so bad...

Shortly, a noise woke him.  It was two people who apparently wanted to share his space with him.  They came in and were talking and walking around.  One almost stepped on him, but thankfully he was able to scurry out of the way before they did.  He saw the lady pull a soft jacket out of the shiny thing.  So he thought that he would climb the side of the shiny thing, and check out what else might be inside.

He very carefully climbed until he was able to peek over the edge.  Everything inside looked soft, comfy and very inviting.  His little spider brain was pondering what to do, when he leaned too far over the edge and fell inside.  The next thing he knew, all the lights went out, and his world was upended.  Then it began to move and swing.  It seemed to him like his world didn't stop moving for several days.  Little did he know, but he was leaving his small island and taking a long trip.  Little did he know, but he would never see his family again.

When his world did finally stop moving, and the lights were turned back on, the tiny tarantula decided to slowly, carefully crawl out from his warm comfortable surroundings.  When he did, he heard a loud shriek and then heavy footsteps coming his way...

And let's just say that things did not end so well for our tiny tarantula who was so many, many, miles from home.  And I guess we could also say that curiosity doesn't just kill the cat.

Our little tarantula was away from the protection of his parents.  He took a trip he had no business taking.  He should have stayed on his small island living off of insects, lizards and such.  Instead, his curiosity got the best of him, and his little life ended way too soon.

The moral of the story: We know what is right, and we know what is wrong.  The world tries to tell us that there is no right or wrong.  That we should stretch our little legs and blink our eyes and try things out.  That we should do whatever we want, and whatever makes us feel good.  That we shouldn't listen to our parents or stay close to home, because our parents are nerdy, and home is boring...but the world...Well, now...the world is exciting, and we definitely should try it out.  But unfortunately, that philosophy often only ends in sadness and heartache. God has given us a plan book for the best life that we can possibly live. Doing it our own way only muddies up the water and messes up God's perfect plan for us.

It is so much better to follow God's plan.  As we yield to His will, and do things His way, we see that it gets easier and easier to continue to do so.  It may be hard in the beginning, but as we begin to experience life as God has planned for it to be, then all we want is more of life as God has planned for it to be.

It is so much better to listen to those who have been there and are wiser than us.  It is so much better to stick close to those who love us and have our best interests at heart; to listen to those who want to see us succeed and live long healthy lives.  The Bible even promises that if we will honor and obey our parents, that we will live long, and that things will be well with us.

I don't know about you all, but I want to live a long, full life.  I don't want to be like the tiny tarantula, who never experienced life as it was meant to be for him.  But the choice is ours...I have made my choice.  Which way will you choose?

*Inspired by a true tiny tarantula adventure as told to me by my wonderful mother-in-love*

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Small Part of a Big Story

It all started with a young boy and a fifth grade research paper.

Well, actually it started way before that...with a young girl who learned about five missionaries who gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel.  She then began to read about their story, very inspired by men who would choose to lay down their lives in order to keep from sending unsaved men to eternity without a chance to have a personal relationship with God.

And really if you want to get technical, it all started way before that, with the five missionaries themselves.  Five men who had a burden to take the Gospel to an unreached tribe in the jungles of Ecuador.  It is a story that took place in the 1950's, of five men who loved God and loved others more than they loved themselves, and it is beautifully recorded in the book Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the five massacred missionaries.

I remember first hearing the story as a young lady in high school, and then reading everything I could about these men who were willing to give all for other men to come to know Christ, and about the wife and sister who returned to the very people who murdered their loved ones.  I was fascinated that the men would put themselves in such danger in the first place, and then challenged and amazed that the wife of one and the sister of another would go back to the very people who killed their husband and brother to try to reach them for Christ.  The great news, is that the women actually were able to finish what the men had started, and many of the people of the Auca tribe actually accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

One of the first known Christian converts of the Auca tribe was Dayuma.  She escaped from her jungle tribe when she was in her mid-teens, after a family dispute.  She helped the missionaries learn much about the Aucas, their language and their way of life.

After the men were killed, Dayuma joined Rachel Saint and Elizabeth Elliot in returning to the Auca tribe to tell them about Christ.  One of the Aucas who received Christ was Mincayane (not completely positive about the spelling of his name), one of the men who actually, participated in the massacre of the missionaries.

Fast forward quite a few years.  I was grown and married and teaching fifth grade.  I had a boy in my class who had a tender heart and a hunger to do something great for the Lord.  That boy happened to be my son (the Young Prince).  So when it came time to do our research paper, I encouraged him to do his paper on Jim Elliot, one of the five missionaries.  He did.  And like me many years before, he became fascinated by the story.  Not too long after that, one of the martyred missionary's sons, Steve Saint came out with a movie about the story, titled, The End of the Spear.  We, of course went to see the movie.  It helped us to learn more about the story and Dayuma and the man named Mincayane.

Recently, my father in law, was able to visit and work with some missionaries in Ecuador.  He was talking of a return trip, and said how neat it would be if the Young Prince could go with him.  God totally worked it out for the Young Prince to be able to go last month.  As part of his 16th birthday present, his Poppy arranged for them to charter a small plane and fly over the area where the missionaries were trying to minister.  They actually landed and were able to have two young men act as guides and take them to "Palm Beach" the very spot where there missionaries were killed.

 Palm Beach

While on the beach, their talk naturally turned to the five missionaries, and in talking to the two young men who were their guides, they realized that one was a Christian, and one was not.  William, the one who was not a Christian explained that Dayuma, the first Christian convert from the Auca tribe, the one who helped the missionaries learn about the Aucas, was his grandmother.  Sadly, she had passed away a few months earlier.  The men all took turns praying (except for William), and then they left the beach.

Left to right: Tepenia, one of the guides, the Young Prince, William, and Miguel, a Dominican Christian
Oh, and Flat Stanley in the center.  
The Young Prince was being a great big brother and helped his little sister out with a coming forth grade project by taking Flat Stanley on his trip to Ecuador.

As they were walking back to the village and Poppy asked William what was keeping him from being a Christian.  He explained that he was worried about what his friends would think, and afraid of ridicule or persecution by his friends.  Poppy then asked William if he wanted to be a Christian.  He said yes, that he did want to be a Christian.  Poppy called over Miguel, a Dominican Christian on the trip with them, and Miguel explained in Spanish to William how to become a Christian.  There on the trail, William bowed his head and prayed in his native Auca tongue and asked Christ to be his personal Savior.  Praise the Lord!

The group then continued on to the village.  One of the men asked if they could see the grave of Rachel Saint (the sister who spent the rest of her life with the Auca tribe teaching them of Jesus). William said yes, and took them to her grave.  And just a few feet from her grave, was another grave. William explained that it was his grandmother's (Dayuma's) grave.

It was then time for them to go.  The Young Prince said he hugged William and told him, "Adios." Then they got back on the plane and headed back to Shell Mera.  When they got to a place where they had internet service the Young Prince messaged us to tell us what had happened.  After explaining it, he said, "I'm a part of the story now!"  As a high school girl reading the story, I never would have dreamed that one day, my father-in-law, and my son would visit the very place where the story happened, and actually get to continue the story by having a part in leading Dayuma's grandson to the Lord!

I have no doubt that it was all orchestrated by God.  The trip probably never would have happened if the Young Prince had not been so interested in the story and seeing where it all took place.  They were supposed to take the flight the day before, but arrived at Shell Mera too late to get a flight out, so they had to wait until the next day.  I truly believe that it was all orchestrated by God, so that William would be with their group, so that he would be able to hear the Gospel one more time and have another chance to accept Christ.  I also believe it is just like God, to allow the Young Prince to be a small part of a big story that he has admired for years.  And it is just like God to let the Young Prince's mother  get the exciting news all the way from Ecuador, that a story she loves continues still, and God continues to move and work through the sacrifice of five men.  Five men who loved God and loved others more than they loved themselves.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thankful Thursday

*For God's hand of protection on an accident that could have been much worse

*For God's leading to not only one great book, but two great books

*For an impromptu dinner with my man

*For a beautiful sunset that brought back to mind the beautiful sunsets I loved from my college dorm room window

*For getting everything done on time in the middle of a very busy schedule

*For roasted peanuts shared with friends

*For getting to hold a precious little one

*For a win for some of my favorite young men

*For home and a soft bed when I don't feel well

*For a lazy Saturday morning with my kids

*For time to make a dent in my mountain of laundry

*For a fun time with both of my princesses at a friend's birthday party

*For a delicious dinner grilled by my man

*For snuggling with the youngest princess until she falls asleep

*For a good night's rest

*For a church family to encourage, share struggles, and just do life with

*For prayers of friends

*For kids who want to do right, in a world where most kids want to do wrong

*For ladies who are faithful to see something through to the end

*For a verse that made me realize just how many people have loved, cared and poured their life into mine over the years.  How blessed am I!

*For beautiful weather

*For health that we often take for granted

*For a home that is a sanctuary from the storms of life

*For students who really grasp what I am teaching

*For children with discernment, who are strong enough to stand firm, and be in this world, but not of it

*For a great guitar teacher for the young prince, and for a chance for the young prince to learn and develop his talents to use in serving and worshipping God.

*For answered prayers for several friends

*For  the best husband that a girl could ever ask for

For all these things, and many, many more I am thankful to the Lord, because ALL good things some from Him alone.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mr. R.G. is Back in Town!

It has been almost nine months since the cold night that he came into our lives.  If you missed that story, you can read about it here: Praying He Has a Warm Place to Sleep   We have wondered about him and prayed for him many times over those nine months.  So we were excited when we found out he was back in town.  My Prince and the Young Prince were out and saw him traveling down the road.  They stopped and told him he was welcomed to stay at our church again.  He took us up on the offer.  We were able to spend a little more time with him and get to know him a little better.  He is definitely unique.  And I have no doubt that he crossed paths with us a second time for a reason.  I think we all learned many things from our encounter, and I pray that he went away as blessed by us, as we were blessed by him.  We had some food cards that we wanted to give him, and we looked for him for two days after he left, but we were never able to find him.It was as if he left and just disappeared.  We are praying that maybe someone picked him up and gave him a ride and helped him get closer to his destination at a faster pace.  At any rate, here are some things we learned from our second encounter with Mr. R. G.

He told us a story about when he was young, and working at a gas station in the Nashville, TN area.  He said that from time to time, Elvis Presley would come in, and go to the back room.  While in the back, Elvis would change into a gas station attendant uniform, and then go out front and pump gas.  He said that people would ask Elvis if anyone ever told him that he looked like Elvis Presley.  Elvis would reply, "Yes, I get that from time to time." and continue working.  So, if you ever stopped at a gas station near Nashville back when Elvis was alive, and someone who looked like Elvis pumped your gas...

I don't know if that story is true or not, but here are a few things I do know about my friend Mr. R. G.

* He made it to Florida, and could not get in to stay at (or was not accepted by?) the Veteran's home where he wanted to stay.

* He is now traveling back to Nashville, where he has at least one brother.

* He is kind to cats, because even though some people don't like them, everything has its purpose.  I agree Mr. R. G.,  I agree.

* He prefers to wear dark pants (they show less dirt) with lots of pockets.  Pockets are good.

He is from the Nashville area.

He is a Titans fan.

He does not like to leave his stuff.  It is a bicycle (that he pushes), with a train of three wagons behind it.  Probably absolutely nothing of any value. But to him, it is everything, because it is everything he owns.

He is self admittedly addicted to caffeine, and nicotine. 

He wishes that he had never stopped taking guitar lessons, so that he would know how to play the guitar.

* He will not ask for anything, but if he needs something that is offered to him, he won't turn it down.

* He is self conscious.  He was worried about his appearance and if it was okay for him to come in and worship with us.  He cleaned up the best he could so that he was presentable.

 * His observation to my husband after worshipping with us: "People in your church are afraid to go forward.  They are afraid of what other people will say about them.  All it takes is one person to go forward.  You could even pay someone to be that first person."  then he laughed.  Lord, help us to get to the point where we are so concerned and broken over our own sin, that being right with You is the most important thing.  Nothing else matters.  Especially not the opinions of other equally sinful people.

* He has nothing good to say about people who steal, and people who lie.  He also thinks that if someone will do one, they will do both.

* He is Stubborn - with a capital S!

* He likes to make people laugh

* While we sleep in our comfortable beds, in our comfortable homes, he refuses our offer of an air conditioned room, and and air mattress, and chooses instead to sleep outside in a folding chair.

* He would not accept our offer for a place to get out of the rain.

*  Did I mention he is stubborn?

* His presence, and his friendship make us ask and answer questions that we don't necessarily want to face, but we grow from the asking and answering.

* He has nothing, and yet he is generous.  Someone had just given him a Gatorade and a bag of ice when my Prince, and the Young Prince saw him and pulled over.  He insisted they take the bag of ice, because he could not use it.

* He told me about a lady who gave him a handful of change.  He said he realized that in among the coins was a ring.  He told her thank you for the change, but he doubted that she had meant to give him the ring, and he gave it back to her.  He said she thanked him, and cried.

* He has worn out 7 pairs of shoes.

* His last advice to my children was to be kind, curious, and cautious.

* He reminds us to be thankful, and humble.

* He has made a huge impact on our family - making us examine ourselves, stretching our comfort zones, and helping us to know that it is impossible to judge the true character of someone by only looking at their physical appearance.

* We hope and pray for him to find a place to settle down and be safe, but we also hope that one day we will have the privilege of crossing paths with him again.

* May we be observant enough to learn from all who cross our paths, because everyone has something of  value to teach us.  Just as we have something of value to share with others.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pea Patch Wisdom

We don't look ahead, we don't look across, and we don't look back."

This is what my cousin replied to the person picking peas next to her, who lamented about looking back and seeing some that they had missed.

Later, when I was writing a fun blog on our time in the country, I had planned on including that quote.  But as I typed it, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, and I knew I had to save it for a Pea Patch Wisdom blog.  Because, as good as that advice is for picking peas, it is also great advice for living  life.

"We don't look ahead."  We don't look ahead in the pea patch, because we might see that we have a lot farther to go before our row ends.  Like my husband, who was picking with us that morning.  We all grabbed our buckets and then started on the first empty row we came across.  As our rows came to an end, he looked up and saw for the first time that his row was longer than the rest of ours.  This of course was discouraging to him.  We had finished our rows, dumped our peas into the bucket and made good progress down our new rows before he finished his first row.

It reminds me of the verse Matthew 6:34 that says, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."  God gives us exactly what we need for each day.  Just like when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and He supplied them with manna for each new day.  He gives us what we need in order to complete today's tasks.  When we look ahead, we often become discouraged, or anxious, or fearful.  When we wake up each morning we should have enough faith to know that God will get us through that day.  He was there for us yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.  We know that tomorrow will bring its own set of troubles, but we also know that when they come, God will be there to provide what we need.  So don't focus on what's ahead.  Focus on doing your best to live for God today.  "We don't look ahead."

"We don't look across."  We don't look across in the pea patch, because then we might be tempted to reach across and pick the peas on our friend's row.  Those peas are not our business.  We are to tend to our own peas.  If we start trying to pick everyone's peas, we quickly become exhausted.

Lysa TerKeurst writes "I'm not equipped to handle what she has, both good and bad, and what she has is always a package deal of both.  In other words, I've been assigned a load I can handle."  Meaning, that sometimes we look across the rows of life and think that maybe someone else has a better deal.  But what we don't see is their whole package.  We see the beautiful wrapping, and the sparkly bow, and we think we would rather have their lot in life.  And we become discouraged with what we have, because we know our package deal inside and out.  The good, the bad, and the unlovely.  What we don't realize when we look across, is that every package contains plenty of both good and bad.  And although someone else's package may look great, their bad may be way worse than our own bad, and we just can't see it.  God has given me, and you,  and everyone else exactly what is best for us. We should not concern ourselves with the packages (peas) of others.  We just need to do our best to take care of the package that God has given to us.  Trying to keep up with everyone else, and compare our own package with the packages of those around us is just plain exhausting.

Or maybe what we see when we look across is someone making what we perceive as a mess of things, and we think that we could do a better job. When in reality, we would be biting off way more than we could chew.  We need to busy ourselves with the tasks God has assigned to us.  We need to do our best in those areas with our God given talents, and allow others to do the same.  We answer for what God has given us to do.  Not what we wish He has given us to do, or what we think we could do better than someone else.  "We don't look across."

"We don't look back."  In the pea patch, we don't look back, because inevitably we will see some peas that we missed.  And we will go back to pick them and we will find more we missed and then we will be that much farther from getting to our finish line.  If we press on and get the job done, by dinner that night we can be enjoying a delicious "mess" of peas, as my momma used to say.  Chances are, those peas that were left behind will still be there tomorrow when we come to pick again, or maybe someone else will be picking, and those missed peas will be a blessing to that person.

Philippians 3:13-14 says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."  If we are constantly looking back and wondering and worrying about what "might have been" or what "should have been," then we are not making progress.  We are spending time and energy on things that we can not change.  We can change today, though.  We can pour our time and energy into living for God, and serving others. Today.  We can make a difference.  Today.  But, if we are constantly looking back at chances and opportunities that we missed, then guess what?  We are missing out on even more opportunities today!  "We don't look back."

When we are anxious, worried or fearful, we need to stop looking ahead.

When we are dissatisfied with our life, or we judge and think we could do a better job than someone else, we need to stop looking across.

When we are not making progress, because of past failures or mistakes, then we need to stop looking back.

I am praying that this sticks with some of you who needed it as much as it has stuck with me the past week.  Praying that we take this advice to heart and live for God and do our best for Him today.  And tomorrow.  And the next day...

Now, go forth, whether in the pea patch or life...and remember, "We don't look ahead, we don't look across, and we don't look back." Charge!

Friday, July 11, 2014

4th of July in the Country Part 2

Okay, so I'm a little mixed up on the order of things...when we are out there, the days sometime seem to run together.  Before we went to bed Saturday night, we spent some time playing games.  We played several hands of "out of date" UNO first.  It was a Christmas edition deck, with Christmas trees, snowflakes, bells and such on them, and J kept saying that he could not play with them because they were "out of date".  Then we picked up the pace with a family favorite - Taboo.  I love playing Taboo.  The Youngest Princess and Unka just helped everyone in the guessing.  I love how people get in a hurry and make funny mistakes...Like how at one point in the game I used to own a puddle when I was little (the word was puddle - the player was thinking poodle), someone else had us going to the Hickey Chip for dinner (the word was hickey - the player thought it was hickory) , and someone else wanted us to "just quiet!" (the word was quiet - the player thought it was quit).  After the games - what?  Who won you ask?  That's not really important.  But I do usually say, if you want to win, you need to be on my team (wink, wink).  After the games, Aunt T passed out tickets and drew for prizes.  The Oldest Princess won a makeup bag.  The Youngest Princess won a jar with a chalkboard label.  The Young Prince won an Army pocket knife.  My prince and I won nothing, so we both got a $5 bill.  That works for me!  The Youngest Princess traded with me, so I could have the jar to use in my classroom, and she could have the $5.  That works for me as well.  Then we went to bed.

Sunday morning we all woke up and got ready and out of the door in great time, with none of the usual mishaps that usually accompany a Sunday morning.  The Prince and I and the Young Prince and Oldest Princess rode in our car, and everyone else rode in Unka and Aunt T's car.  We were following them, and the Oldest Princess made the statement that between us and them, we were owning the road.

When we got to the church, the Young Prince and I were the only two to get out on the right side of the car.  Everyone else came out from between our two cars.  The little man driving the golf cart tram pulled up to ask if any of us needed a ride.  I told him we were all okay, and as everyone else poured out from between the two cars, he had the funniest look on his face and said, "That looks like one of those clown cars!  People just keep pouring out!"  To be fair, he may not have seen the first car pull in, and there were 10 of us...

We amazingly were able to find seats for all 10 of us together.  As we were sitting there, L asked the Oldest Princess to look at a man and tell her who he reminded her of.  She was thinking of George Younce of The Cathedrals group, but all she could remember was George.  So she was saying, George...George...trying to think of his last name, and the Youngest Princess piped up with...Washington!

When church started, they had a tribute to the military, and they had a man from each branch of the military in his dress uniform come forward and salute while the song for that branch was being played. At about the fifth note of the first song, I became emotional, and cried the rest of the way through.  As each man came down the aisle and turned to face the congregation with his salute, the men in the congregation who were also in that branch would stand and salute him back.  It was very moving.  I thought I was the only one crying, until we left and started talking and it turns out it touched us all. Made me miss my Daddy as well.

When we got home, we had a wonderful brunch, complements of the Smoke Alarm Cafe.  M and J had to pack up to go home, and Sadie was still not feeling well, so we had to say goodbye to them that afternoon. So happy to get to see them, so sad to see them have to go.  You would think that J's boss would let him have an extra day off, but I hear the man is drill sergeant.  Not that I would know or anything.  After they left, we played a few games of washers, and some of us took a Sunday afternoon nap.

The Youngest Princess wanted to pick wildflowers and take them to put on my grandmother's grave. Aunt T had noticed some the day before, so she went with us and we picked some on our way to the cemetery.  It was very sweet, and I was glad that she had it on her heart to do it.

Back at the house, Aunt T knocked down some dirt dauber's nests, and folks, just let me tell you, nasty stuff comes out of a dirt dauber's nest.  I was utterly. and. completely. grossed. out. ICK!

We were at the pool again when my cousin called to say that they had gone back to the house to see if there were any trails in the powder.  Sure enough there were trails everywhere, and her daddy had the snake cornered in the hall but needed backup so to be sure it would not get away.  So my Prince, the Young Prince, and Unka all go over there.  L decided she would go as well, and after even more begging, I decided to let the Youngest Princess go with L.  This round went to the hunters, and the snake will not get in the house anymore.  They cleaned up the powder and put fresh powder out.  And I am happy to report that to this point there has been no more activity.  I stayed at the house with Aunt T for the third round and helped to clean up the kitchen.  I had finished washing dishes and grabbed the sink sprayer to rinse out the sink, when I sprayed water all over myself.  Their sprayer has the button on the front and every time I go, at least once, I grab it and give myself an unexpected shower.   Ugh! Then everyone wants to know why my shoulder is all humiliating!

The kids did a little night swimming, and a lot of fighting swarms of flying ants.  They were everywhere.  They were even in our hair when we got back into the house.  We were picking ants out of each other's hair like monkeys.  Only we didn't eat the ants.  Some of the folks, including the Youngest Princess who was VERY excited, went armadillo hunting.  That lasted all of about 10 minutes.  When they saw no armadillos, they came back to the house. Then we decided to play some more games. We played Catch Phrase this time, and we all found out that T believes that my Prince has no...sense.  We laughed and cut up and had fun.  My prince invented a new snack combining peanut butter flavored Captain Crunch and Hershey's Kisses.  I do not recommend you try it yourself.  We laughed at the habits people have when they are under the pressure of a timer.  The Young Prince lets you know you are not on the right track by saying no seven times in a row, really fast.  L gets louder the more excited she gets.  T uses her hands - a lot.  The Youngest Princess and I get right down to business.  This is serious.  No playing around on our turns.  It wastes time and loses games.  And we are not about losing!  My prince has to slow down and think things through, which can really be bad if you are after him in Catch Phrase.  Chances are the buzzer will go off on you, because he takes so much time.  And for some reason rigor mortis was a theme that kept coming back time and time again.

We found out Uncle H did not bush hog the last of the peas, and one of my cousins wanted to come and pick the last of them.  So we called it a night, and headed to bed in order to be able to get up early the next morning.

Pea picking take two.  Only this time, everyone else slept in except for Unka, Aunt T, myself, and the Youngest Princess.  She made it down one row, and then headed for the cab of the Gator.  Where she refused an offer by my cousin to take her bucket and promptly slept through the rest of the picking activities.  I was glad to be able to visit with my cousin and my uncle for a little while during the picking and shelling.  My sweet aunt brought me twelve 1/2 pint jars of her delicious mayhaw jelly. YUM!

My uncle told us the story of how he would take fried cornbread for lunch each day.  There was a boy in his class who loved it and offered to buy it from him.  So everyday, my uncle would sell his fried cornbread to the boy, and then buy a Nehi drink with the money he made.  Both boys were very happy with the arrangement.  I wish I had asked him how much money he sold the cornbread for each day, but I didn't. Cousin C if you are reading this and you know, please let me know, or if you read this and don't know, would you ask him for me?  Thank you in advance.  There were no pictures or car washes this go round.

Unka took a morning dip in the pool, and Aunt T made a breakfast biscuit for him.  The Young Prince delivered his drink, and I delivered his meal, and he enjoyed his breakfast while floating in the pool. The rest of us took our swim of the day after lunch.  And a couple of my cousins joined us.  We enjoyed watching little P, who is not yet two, show off her basketball defense stance and how to dribble, dribble, dribble jump and shoot.  She is adorable!  And the Young Prince had her laughing out loud before they left.  So sweet!

We got dressed and went "to town" (yep, that's how far out in the country we were y'all!).  We did some shopping, and the nice young lady checking us out at Old Navy gave us every discount she could think of, which meant that it took her a looooooong time to actually check us out, but we were very thankful for the savings, and only Unka complained.  We then went on to another store, where the Young Prince was so happy with his finds that he came out dancing every time he tried on something new.  And we found out that Aunt T really liked the shorts he had been wearing all day long.

We then enjoyed a wonderful Mexican dinner with "white gravy" on the side.  Unka wanted to give us a special treat, so he declared that we all not eat another bite.  We loaded in the car and headed for a cute little pink and green place with a frog on the sign.  Everyone enjoyed their frozen yogurt immensely.  We were sitting by the window when the Oldest Princess was the victim of a drive by flirting.  Some boys in a red truck drove by waving at her, and my classy girl simply looked the other way.  Then they parked and we thought that they might come in, but maybe the thought of facing 7 of us to get to talk to her was a little intimidating.  So after a few minutes, they decided to move along. We left with our bellies much fuller and two stuffed frogs richer, and some cute pictures to prove we were there.

On the way home the Young Prince made us all laugh by declaring that he "couldn't help it if he could not control his spastic drumming."  Yes.  Indeed.  Speaking of, the next day, he turned Unka into an impromptu drum set, using his belly as the bass, and the brim of his cap as the high hat.  He definitely keeps us all laughing.

At home, the kids put on a fashion show so we could all see their new clothes.  Unka and the Young Prince both came away from that shopping trip more of a "hot dog" than ever before.

The Oldest Princess spent some of her spare time bagging ice for Unka, and he told her he would pay her for each bag if she used the money she earned for a mission project that she had started raising money for this summer while she was in the Dominican Republic.  I think she earned a  little over $100 for her project just bagging ice.

I finally got R to break out the WD-40, and oil some creaky hinges.  I told him that I knew because he is his father's son, that he had a can of it somewhere, as well as a roll of duct tape.  My daddy thought if it couldn't be fixed by WD-40 or duct tape, that it couldn't be/didn't need to be fixed.  The Young Prince would add dental floss to that list as well.

The Oldest Princess received a history lesson on Carpetbaggers from Unka.  But, he had them in the wrong time frame, and my Prince had to set him straight.  The rest of us could not remember, so after a quick Google search, my Prince was right.  As much as he hated to, Unka had to admit he was wrong. That doesn't happen often, so the rest of us reveled in the moment.

Unka passed out hugs and kisses and parting gifts, and loaded up and headed back to H-town, and the rest of us cried for hours because we missed him so much.  "July!" you say again.  And you are right. We were so happy he was taking the grumpy dog with him that none of us cried.  But the kids did send him off in style, and I have a video to prove it.  The rest of our day/evening was pretty uneventful.  We played another couple of rounds of Catch Phrase and the Youngest Princess played "by herself" with a little help from L now and then and surprised us all with her playing abilities.  I told them she gets it from me, and everyone totally agreed.  Okay.  Not everyone.  But I'm telling y'all, the girl is good!  She guessed the word smuggler.  Like a pro!  I made everyone get dressed up so Aunt T could take some family photos of us, and they were totally thrilled.  NOT.  It had just rained, and it was almost unbearably humid, but we got some pictures that I will treasure for life.  L may have some photographer in her, because she recommended some great poses.

As you can tell, we had a blast.  And as always we felt as though time flew while we were there.  We had another uneventful trip home.  I think the kids were absolutely exhausted from all that fun in the sun and country air.  The Oldest Princess was feeling very sick in the car, but got home and got still and felt much better.  We are thankful for a wonderful, safe trip.  And thankful for those here at home who stood in the gap and filled in for us while we were gone.

And now you know...the rest of the story.  Until we visit the country again...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

4th of July in the Country

We loaded up the car.  I mean, we LOADED up the car.  It is funny how much stuff we "think" we must take with us, along with a couple of things that we were delivering as well.  We were so packed in the car that there was not "mushroom" for anything else.  And then, we hit the road.

 It was a pretty uneventful 8 hour trip.  Except for the part where the kids decided to watch Frozen in Spanish...I guess that they have seen it in English so many times that they needed a change?  I still think that the Spanish version of the song "Love is an Open Door" should say, "You know it's funny -  how we finish each other's...Tacos!" instead of "sandwiches".  But that's just my opinion.  You are welcome for getting that song stuck in your head by the way.  That was absolutely free of charge.

After squeezing an 8 hour trip into almost 9 hours (not bad for having to turn around before we got even a mile from home - it wasn't for me THIS time - and stopping for gas twice and lunch once), we arrived at our destination.  A little piece of paradise in the country.  In the middle of nowhere actually. We STILL don't get cell service out there folks.  And the well...lacking to put it mildly.  So all effective communication with the outside world must be done by (gasp!) telephone over the land line.  But we love it!

As soon as the kid's feet hit the hot pavement, they were in their swim suits and in the pool, while we stood around and heard about the copperhead snake they found in the skimmer just the day before, and the snake they killed on the porch just a few days before that.  Ick!!  And the kids innocently swam on.

We enjoyed hanging out, while waiting for J and M to arrive.  L gave the Young Princess a beautiful magnet to go on her car.  Honestly, L could not have found a more purrrrrfect gift to give her.  We enjoyed watching the  four baby birds that were in the nest on the porch and how their mom would fly up and feed them.  When J and M were able to get there, it was late, so we talked for a little and met the new addition to their family (Sadie, a golden retriever) and then we all called it a night.  Sadie is adorable, and we loved her instantly.  She made us miss our Tex.  She also brings the dog total to 4.  Unless my cousin's dogs come down to visit, in which case the total is then 6, with one of the 4 being very territorial.  Which is important to remember.

The next morning we all woke up ready to celebrate.  Preparations were in high gear. Tables were set up, hot dog and hamburger fixin's were flying in every direction.  Soft drinks and waters were iced.  Dogs and kids were underfoot.  Table decorations were carefully placed.  Door prizes were aesthetically arranged.  Flags were flown, and lights were hung.  The youngest princess had already volunteered to be Unka's personal driver, so when he proclaimed that he needed someone to drive him to hang the flags on the fence post, she was already cranking up the golf cart.  I joined them so I could get a couple of pictures.  One of the flags had come unstapled from its stick, and another was falling through the hole.  So after my big brother and I put our heads together, we "McGyvered" those (thumbtacks and random sticks may have been used, but were not harmed in any way) and had them all in working order.  Meanwhile, my Prince and J were doing some "McGyvering" of their own to get the star shaped lights strung.  I have to say that the brother and I won the "McGyvering" contest, as only half of the lights worked after the hanging by the preacher and the engineer.  Meanwhile the kids swam.

Family began to arrive bringing every delectable dessert you can imagine.  Cuz brought some awesome red, white, and blue strawberries.  The stories were flying and the pool was hopping.  My Uncle H walked up telling us about 4th of July when he was a kid.  My Pawpaw would not work at all.   They would all go down to Big Creek and fish, catching little perch, putting them on a stick, cleaning, cooking, and eating them right there.  He said it was a big deal.  Those 4th of July celebrations.  I hope our children remember 4th of July as a big deal too.  I hope they know what a privilege it is to grow up in a country where we have freedoms we take for granted, that others only dream of.  It was neat, as always, to listen to the stories of days gone by, and how times change.  We also talked of what my Pawpaw would think if he were alive today.  I don't know that he ever saw anyone swim in anything but a creek or lake.  I wonder what he would think of the pool/outdoor kitchen if he could have been there.  My Momo would have probably said, "Well, now, ain't that just somethin!?!"  And then she would have giggled her little giggle.  Meanwhile, the kids, and some of the adults swam, and some of us played washers.

After we had eaten all we could possibly eat, more adults joined the kids in the pool.  And because we are not a competitive bunch in any way shape or form, there were only a few...little...friendly...competitions.  Okay.  I know.  You are thinking, "'July!'  You are a very competitive bunch!"  And so we are are.  And so some people may have come close to drowning or busting eardrums in order to have the title of "winner."  I believe the Young Prince swam away (a little clumsily perhaps and with a little assistance from J) with the winner title in most of the competitions.  It took several people quit, I mean quite, a while to recover from those competitions.  And for future reference, it's not a good idea to see who can do the most back flips in a row (without taking a breath - clarification for the Young Princess).

There may also have been a few diving lessons, and a whole lot of laughter.  Bless C's heart!  We love her, but we're not sure she will ever get it!  Good thing she is beautiful and can play basketball.  If B ever sends that video to AFV, you all will KNOW what I'm talking about.  And C, if you are reading this...everything that happens is fair game for the blog.  Maybe I should have told you that...before...
And on the bright side, Little B now knows how to dive and is doing a great job at it!

I think that everyone that came brought at least 10 flies with them.  No, seriously.  Either that, or the flies got wind of the fact that there was LOTS of food, and invited every other fly they knew.  Aunt T got the flyswatter out and proved that she has mad ninja skills with one of those things.  You have anything you need annihilated?  Call Aunt T.  She will arrive with her flyswatter, and your problems will be solved!

We cleaned everything up and then were told by Sarge that we would ALL (except for the Youngest Princess) join him in the pea patch bright and early the next morning.  So we all went to bed with visions of pea patches and drill sergeants dancing in our heads.

5:30 the next morning, we threw on anything we could find in the dark and stumbled out to the pea patch.  We were trucking along down our rows when someone said something about taking a picture.  I thought I had left my phone at the house (in my defense, it was was early, and I was still only half awake).  Cuz said that she had her phone in her truck, so she went running over the pea rows like an Olympic hurdler...wearing work boots.  She got her phone, took a few pictures of all of us, and then the Young Princess pointed out that my phone was in my back pocket.  Again, it was early, and I was half asleep.  And I really thought that I had left it in the house, because I didn't want it getting in my way in the pea patch.  So...I took a few pictures as well, all the while Sarge was complaining because I wasn't working.  And I'm glad I forgot that I had it at first, because if not, we never would have known how talented Cuz is at jumping work boots.

We took the peas to Aunt T's back porch and broke out the pea sheller.  My brother wanted a picture of me in all my pea picking glory, holding a bushel of peas.  So I obliged.  He then quickly tried to sell the picture to the first person that could get it to our church secretary and into the bulletin.  No problem, there were plenty of chances for me to take pictures and videos of him to use as revenge should that ever happen. With all hands on deck, we had those peas shelled in no time.  We even let the Youngest Princess shell a few by hand, just to have the experience.  And in all the shelling fun, Cuz got a free truck wash. Although I am not at liberty to tell you why.

The smoke alarm sounded, and we all, like Pavlov's dogs responding to the sound of the bell, assembled in the kitchen to enjoy a delicious breakfast.  I am pretty sure that for the rest of their lives, my kids will run toward the kitchen expecting bacon every time they hear a smoke alarm.  I must add that Aunt T is a wonderful cook, just for some reason when she cooks bacon in the oven and she opens the oven door to check the bacon, it makes the smoke alarm go off.  We tease her about it mercilessly, and she takes it all in stride and cooks breakfast for us again the next morning.  She is wonderful. Although, I am sure there are times that she probably wishes we would all "just quite!" I mean, quit.

After the breakfast dishes were cleared, and then kitchen cleaned (we work together like pros I might add) We headed to the pool for a day of fun in the sun.  Unka always made sure we had music to enjoy from his little pill shaped speaker.  One afternoon, we had a family sing/dance along.  People would probably think we were crazy if they didn't already know us and know that we are not.  Crazy, that is. But, there was the time that we were all sitting at the table making up our own dance moves, you know, things like: the chicken neck, sheer the sheep, milk the cow,  pick the peas, put on the sunscreen, belly crawl, see a snake, and float!, when we heard J and M coming.  We all decided to be doing one of the new moves when they walked in.  So they open the door, and we are all sitting around the table doing our various dance moves, and they just start talking like nothing unusual is going on.  I pointed out that it was a little unnerving that they did not even notice we were all being weird when they walked in.  Maybe because we are weird all the time, and they didn't notice anything out of the ordinary was going on.  So, I digress, maybe we are a little bit crazy.  And maybe it was just that they were worried about Sadie having an upset stomach, and what they should do to help her.

 We were relaxing in the pool when my cousin came over and said that she had found a snake in her house and that her daddy needed R to come and help to kill it.   So R and J and my Prince and the Young Prince all went scrambling to dry off and get on boots to go help kill the snake.  When they came back, they were all singing the Young Prince's praises.  Telling how he grabbed the snake by the tail and drug it a distance of about 12 feet out of the house so that it could be killed in the yard.  It makes for an exciting story, but a story is all it is.  My cousin had already killed it by the time they got there.

We had fresh peas from the morning's picking for dinner that night.  Along with fresh corn on the cob, crock pot roast and rice and gravy, fried chicken strips, homemade french fries, rolls, and a Boston Butt cooked by none other than the Big Green Egg souschef himself: Unka R.  It was all delicious.  And we were enjoying it immensely when there was the biggest ruckus from under the table.  People and dogs went flying everywhere.  We all just tried to get our feet out of the way and to safety.  L was trying to get to her dog which was getting the worst of the the wrath of the territorial dog.  Luckily, all people were safe, and L's dog came away with a small cut on her lip which healed quickly.  The territorial dog was banished to the bedroom, and dinner was resumed.  There were several more little incidents like this, over the time we were there.  L and J had mentioned that they were going to write a book of the sayings that their dad says.  I told them that one saying that they could not include in their book was, "I don't have a dog in that fight."  because every time there was a dog fight, his dog was in it.  If he had just gotten a puddle - I mean poodle - like I had when I was younger, then it would have been much more friendly and less territorial.

We were finishing up dinner when the phone rang.  It was my cousin saying that she thought that there was another snake in her house, because some picture frames had been knocked down that were not knocked down before.  So everyone but Aunt T and the Youngest Princess (who was BEGGING to go), all loaded up in the truck and drove over for The Great Snake Hunt Round 2.  The guys went into the house to try to find it, while the gals stayed in the back of the truck.  That snake didn't stand a chance!  Except that it was a than the guys hunting it, and it went under the house.  When one of my cousins suggested they go under the house after it, my Prince quickly pointed out that he had "simply married into the family", and "was not blood kin", therefore, he was exempt from the crawling under the house leg of this exciting adventure.  Sad to say that Round 2 went to the snake.  My cousin packed her bags to go spend the night somewhere else, and we were all loading up when my brother came up with the idea (or maybe he just saw it on a show about a family of duck hunters - but he is the one who remembered it at the time) of putting powder on the floor, so the snake would leave a trail, if it did get back in the house.  So they powdered several main areas, and we all went home.  Except my cousin, she went to stay with her grandmother.  I don't blame her.  Not. at. all.

We turned in fairly early that night, because we had to get up early in order to get ready for church the next morning.  And because this is going way longer than I had planned.  I will "call it a wrap" here too, and finish with part two another day.  So for today, that's all folks!

Monday, January 20, 2014


  The signs were posted everywhere around town, and there were many posts on Facebook.  My heart would sink each time I saw one, reminding me that he wasn't home with his family.  He ran away from home on New Year's Eve, terrified of the fireworks.  But he had a tag, and we all figured that within a few days, someone would find him and call.  But the days ticked away, and although there were several leads, they all proved to be fruitless.  The community support was great.  People loaded up in their cars and drove around looking for him.  Others carried a leash in their car in case they saw him as they went about town in their daily business.  We prayed that he would be found.  We felt for the family, because we knew their hearts were burdened for their lost dog.  We felt for the dog, because we figured he was out there somewhere lost, alone, and scared, or even possibly injured in some way.  And those signs!  Those signs posted everywhere made me so sad!  I just wanted him to be found, and  taken back home where he belonged, with the people who loved him and missed him so much!  He had been missing for fifteen days, and the oldest princess and I passed one of his signs.   I told her that I could hardly stand it, it made me so sad.  It was time for him to be found.

Late that same evening, I saw a notice on Facebook that he HAD been found!  We were all very excited and we were comforted to know that he was safe at home where he belonged.  The next day on Facebook one of our friends posted this picture of his sign at the post office…
How happy is that?  My friend said that she had gone to take down all of the signs, and when she saw this one, it made her smile, and she just didn't have the heart to take it down.

A couple of days later my husband and I were talking about how glad we were that they had found their dog.  My husband made an observation that cut to the quick of my heart, and has been rubbing my conscious raw since then.  I do not remember his exact words, but my heart heard something like: Look at the lengths the community will go to, in order to find a lost dog.  But when it comes to people who are lost and doomed to spending an eternity separated from God, the God who made them and loves them, we sit by and do nothing.

Wow.  Guilty.  I am guilty.  For fifteen days, I worried about my friends and their lost dog, and prayed for the return of that dog more than I prayed for the lost people I know.  Don't get me wrong.  I prayed for the lost.  There are certain people that I pray for by name, daily.  But it has become more of a "daily ritual" for me.  I think the difference is that in my heart, I really believed that my friend's pet would be found.  But after years of praying for lost loved ones, maybe my faith has waned a little, or even in some cases, a lot that they will ever actually be saved.  If I really believed that those loved ones would get saved, wouldn't I be more actively involved in seeing it happen?  Wouldn't I be spreading the word that I have a lost loved one, and that I would give anything to see that lost loved one saved?  Wouldn't I be praying for that person more than just once a day, at a particular time?  Wouldn't I be using every means possible to spread the word to get people to help me do what it takes to see my lost loved one saved?

James 5:16 b "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much"

II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God wants my lost loved one to be saved even more than I do.  He is on my side.  I must continue to pray faithfully, and fervently.  I must continue to ask others to do the same.  I must reach out in love as much as possible to that loved one.  I must be the hands and feet of Jesus so that they may see His love for them through me.  I must speak of His blessings constantly, so that they can see what a joy it is to live for Him.  I must show grace and mercy, as He would show grace and mercy.  But most important, I must not give up.  I must continue to have faith that He will do what He says.  I must keep things in perspective and remember that reaching the lost is the number one reason I am here.

I am very glad that our friends found their dog.  I think it is wonderful.  But I would be even more excited to hear about one of your lost loved ones coming to know the Lord as their personal Savior.  Especially after you have prayed for them for years.  I know it would make my heart rejoice, and it would be an encouragement to me and to others reading this blog that are still praying to see their lost loved ones saved.  So if you have a story, please share it with the rest of us.  Or, if you are praying for a lost loved one and would like the rest of us to pray with you, please share your story, and I promise to pray even more fervently for them than I prayed for this cute, cuddly little dog to find his way home.
I don't think I will ever look at a lost dog notice in the same way again.

Lord, please help us to realize how important it is to do everything we can to lead others to you!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Would it Matter if He Knew

I have a friend who is a very strong Christian.  Her husband, who does not have a personal relationship with Christ, has just in the past few years started attending church.  They attend a fairly large church, where it is almost impossible to get to know everyone.

My friend came to me one day and told me a story that broke my heart.  And all I can think about is how I wonder if the man in the story knew, would it matter to him?  Would he change his ways?

I know that one day it WILL matter.  One day when he stands before the Lord he claims to serve, it WILL matter MUCH, MUCH more than what he THINKS matters now.

It will matter MUCH more than that little league win or loss.

It will matter MUCH  more than a little title that someone else will win the next year, and someone else will win the year after that, and soon, no one will ever remember that his team won it once.

It will matter MUCH more than a trophy made of wood and plastic, that is probably already boxed up and stored away.

It will matter so much, because it had the potential to alter a man's ETERNITY.

Now, back to my friend and her friend, and her husband who we have been praying for.

My friend, whose husband has just started, in the last couple of years, attending church with her.  

My friend, whose husband's eternity hangs in the balance.

She came to me and explained that a man who was a member of her large church, was also the coach of one of her family member's little league team.  Did you catch the LITTLE part?  We are talking about kids under third grade here. Not that it would change things even if we were talking about Major League ball.  Because on the other side of the balance is a man's eternity.

Anyway, this coach has a reputation for being very passionate about ball, and not in a good way.  So, as they would go to the games, and watch this coach act like a fool about things that do. not. even. BEGIN. to matter in eternity, my friend opted NOT to tell her husband that the coach was a member of her church.  Because she knew in her heart that it would damage the cause of Christ, and Christianity, in her husband's eyes.  Did you hear that?  She knew this man's reputation would hurt the cause of Christ in her husband's eyes.  That saddens me, as well as convicts me to the core.  I want to live my life in such a way that no one can ever say that about me.  How about you?  Does it matter to you?  Does it matter enough for you to be careful to keep your testimony at all times, no matter where you are or what you are doing?  Because believe me, people are watching you, everywhere, and how you act could very well affect where they spend eternity.

Fast forward through a few ballgames of watching this man, and a few Sunday mornings later...My friend and her husband are walking out of church, and guess who happens to be walking out in front of them.  Yep, THE coach.  The coach who in an hour and a half on Friday night or Saturday morning does more for Satan's cause than he has probably ever done in his LIFETIME for the cause of Christ.  

Because LIVING Christianity is SO MUCH more important than preaching it or teaching it.  You can preach it, or teach it EVERY Sunday morning/Sunday night/Wednesday night of your life, but if you don't live it at home, at work, at the ball field, in the grocery store, in the hospital, in happy times, in sad times, in peaceful times, in stressed out are doing MORE TO HARM Christianity, than any good you could ever do to help Christianity.

Of course, my friend's husband commented in disbelief, "HE goes to THIS church?"  My friend wanted to know what she could say.  What could she say to repair the damage done?  

I told her she needs to explain to her husband that being Christian, does not mean being perfect.  And that all Christians do make mistakes, and act in ways that we should not.  And that her husband doesn't need to be looking at others, but at Christ as his example.  I told her to point out that Christians, just like others can sometimes get their priorities all out of order.  I told her to explain to her husband that unfortunately just because the man attends church there, it does not necessarily mean that he has a true relationship with God.  The Bible does say that we can be judged by our fruit.  And from all accounts, this man's fruit appears to be rotten.  I'm not saying that this particular man is or is not a Christian, because that is between he and God.  But I do wonder…if he read this, and he knew that his actions were helping Satan give a man an excuse to not become a Christian and possibly spend eternity in hell…would it matter to him?  Would he change his actions on the little league ball field?  Would one man's soul matter more than that next win?  Would it matter if he knew?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

Wow.  2013 was a slow blogging year for me.  Well, it was a slow year for me to actually push the publish button is more accurate.  I wrote tons, I just didn't share as much publicly this year.  Some were time sensitive, and would be better shared after the fact.  Some I didn't feel were "good enough" to share.  Others, I wrote just as "therapy" for myself, with no intention of ever sharing.  I continued my Thankful Thursdays, I just didn't publish them, because they are something that I feel very strongly about and do not want to stop doing them, but I also felt that some of you were getting tired of reading them.  Or just skipping them altogether.  Our family was crazy busy with two active teens and a little one, and I didn't have as much time to sit and write like I would like to.  So.  It is what it is.  And without further ado…here are my Top Ten Blog posts of 2013…

1.  A Giveaway - I was blessed to be able to partner with Mindy at The Child Training Bible when the new Virtue Training Bible came out.  I received one Virtue Training Bible to use and review, and one to giveaway on my blog.  It is an excellent tool in helping to teach and train our children, and I highly recommend it.  I also learned that if you want serious traffic on your blog, give something away!  Feel free to click on the link and read my review, but the giveaway is over, so the chance to win one has come and gone.  You can always go on over to The Child Training Bible, and buy one, they are very reasonably priced, and I know you will love it as much as I do.

2.  If You Ever Wish to Date My Daughter - Okay, so I usually do my best writing when I am touched emotionally, or passionate about something.  This topic is obviously something that a lot of you (moms of girls and guys alike) are passionate about as well.  This blog post was my most shared post - a huge thank you and hugs to those of you who shared it!  I really felt the love on this one (smile). - so it got quite a bit of traffic.  I woke up one morning, and saw something on a social media site that really bothered me.  The result was this blog.  If you haven't read it yet, hopefully you will read it and enjoy it.

3.  All She Needs to Do is Ask - We have worked with, or in close connection to, teens during our whole ministry.  Nothing gets to me as much as teens who KNOW to do right and chooses to do wrong, or  gives in to peer pressure and makes mistakes.  Life altering mistakes.  I heard a particular instance of a teen we loved dearly who made a big mistake, and found out we had been very close to the whole situation.  If only she had spoken up.  We would have been there for her.  As it stood, we had no idea.  Hindsight is 20/20 they say.  I just wanted to let the kids we love so much know that we are there for them - ANYTIME - and for ANY REASON.  All they need to do is ASK.

4.  Praying He Has a Warm Place to Sleep Tonight - This is probably the biggest life changing event that I blogged about this year.  It was also shared by many of you.  So, I know it touched you too.  This man touched my heart in ways that words can not explain.  We still pray for him, especially on cold nights.  I wish there was some way to know for sure where he is and how he is doing.  I pray that everyone has a chance to meet, help, and be blessed by someone like him at least once in their lifetime.

5.  Our Christmas in the Country that Almost Wasn't - Part 1 - Again, we are SO thankful that we were able to go.  Look at the memories we would have missed out on if we had not be able to go.  We love our family and seriously appreciate every second we have with them.

6.  Our Christmas in the Country that Almost Wasn't - Part 2 - Because like I said, there was just too much for one blog post.

7.  Our Christmas in the Country (2012) - Last year's crazy Christmas in the Country.  I love my family, and we always have a blast when we are together.  Makes for GREAT writing material.  And I guess good reading material too, because you all keep coming back for more.

8.  She's…7! - The youngest princess…she always gets good ratings.  I keep telling her daddy that she needs an agent, and she could make us a lot of money!  But seriously, THAT is not what we want for her life.  So, we enjoy her personality ourselves, and share a little of her with you all from time to time.

9.  The Youngest Princess Says… - Always a hit and always good for a laugh, or at least a smile.  The most popular Youngest Princess Says of 2013.

10.  Who Are You Listening To? - One of my personal favorites from 2013.  It was one of my hardest to write, and actually hit the publish button on.  I hope if you haven't read it yet, you will read it and that it will speak to your heart.

So there you are.  The top ten blog posts of 2013.  I hope that something I write, touches you in some way.  I love you and appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings, and share a little of life along the way.  I pray that you all have a great day and a wonderful, blessed 2014!!