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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Knock Knock

Because our home sits directly off a main highway it seems that it calls out for every sales man or woman that passes by to come and knock on its door.

And as of late we have gotten every kind of sales person you could imagine.  From a man selling steaks to another selling carpet cleaners.  Thankfully we do not have carpet so I didn't feel so bad when when I said No thank you to that one.

So again, as I was preparing supper for my family last night (calling our favorite take-out joint) another car pulled up, another person with a clipboard stepped out and another knock on our front door followed.  

As if the man could not already tell someone was home, I told everyone to sit real still and do not say a word.  After a few moments, another knock.  This time it was coming from the door in our carport.  He was persistent, oh yes he was.

So, seeing as I was standing just on the other side of said door, and knowing he could hear our TV and see our Christmas lights on inside, I answered.

To my surprise, it was not a salesman.  Or someone doing a survey.  It was a gentleman that lived on our side of town dropping some gifts off for a mutual friend. Gifts that included a check.  Oh yes it did!! 

I ran across this story today and I wonder if God is not trying to tell me a little something?

An old beggar woman ran out of money. She couldn’t pay her rent or any of her bills and the landlord had threatened to throw her out if she didn’t soon pay up.

She had only a candle to keep her warm and on Christmas Day she warmed her hands over the candle. A knock came at her door and she was afraid to answer for fear that it was the landlord coming to kick her out of her humble abode.

She blew out her candle and sat quietly in the dark and waited for the intruder to leave. Two weeks later she found out that the knock on the door was the knock of a friend who had come to bring her enough money to pay her rent and pay her debts.

I wonder how many of us have from time to time heard the gentle knock of the Savior who wants so much to come in and free us from the burdens we carry but have ignored His knocking or were just too afraid to answer?

I pray this next year we will be sensitive to that still small knock... knock... knock. 

We never have to carry the heavy load alone. 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

So whether it's a knock on my door or a knock on the door of my heart...

I will answer. 

There just might be a blessing on the other side.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Place to Call Home

Today is a BIG day in the life of Christ Central Alachua.

Not just a big day, but a God day.

This morning we signed papers purchasing 15.4 acres of land…

One small step for God, one huge leap for mankind.

To give a little history, 20 months ago Mark, myself and a small band of people, with no church to worship in, no phone to call on, no office to work in, no curriculum to teach kids from (suffice it to say, we had nothing) came together and reformed CCA.

When we hit the ground in April of 2008, we hit it running.

To date over 90 people have come to Christ. The church has grown by over 200%. We have a wonderful school to worship in. Our administrative offices and youth facilities are located on beautiful Main Street, the heart of Alachua. And the lives of everyday people are being changed… every day.

We started 2009 not knowing how long we would have to be patient before we would have somewhere to call home. We close 2009 knowing exactly where that home will be.

So yeah, I'm pretty excited about the next decade that is just mere breaths away.

God has moved... 

is moving... 

and will forever move on our behalf.

To Him be all glory, honor and praise.  Great things He hath done!!

Our place we will call... Home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Sorry it’s been quiet here for a few weeks. I assure you, life was not so silent.

December is always insanely busy. I love Christmas time but am sad that some of the things I love most about it, I don’t have the time to enjoy.

Cards did not get out this year…

No family picture was taken…

Did not get a chance to ride around and admire everyone’s Christmas lights…

I purchased all the ingredients for my Fruit Cake Cookies in November, but no time to make and bake in December and…

… no blogs written.

I am VERY sad to put up my tree, wreaths, yard decorations and my favorite Christmas dishes. But I am SOOOO ready to start not just a new year, but a new decade.

The past 10 years have definitely been life changing for me.

And what the next 10 hold, I am excited to see... and live!

In the beginning was the Word... and the beginning of 2010 will begin with the Word for myself and a great group of men and women.  We are starting off the next decade reading through the Bible and there is still time for you to join in if you desire too.

We are reading the One Year Chronological Bible written in the New Living Translation. 365 daily readings arranged in the order the events actually occurred.

We start reading this Friday, January 1, 2010. Click here to order your Bible today.

Please click on the comments to let us know you are taking the journey with us!!

Praying you have a great last week of 2009 and will see you back here tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Remember, Again

This week is going to be crazy busy for me and seeing as I will be out of pocket Monday and Tuesday I thought today we would look back and do a little reminiscing. 

This is a week we are all conscious of our blessings, which requires us to ponder the past and appreciate our present.

Here is a post titled 'I Remember' from last year I wrote and I feel it is fitting for this week because it is a great thought provoker, or should I say Thanks provoker.

Hope it blesses you...

My kids will attest that I am borderline OCD when it comes to taking pictures. Whenever you see me, you can rest assured I have my camera with me, which has allowed me to capture some really great moments that would otherwise only be a memory. And I don’t know about you, but my camera works much better than my memory.

I was looking at all the pictures I have stored on my computer last night and remembering some really great times God has blessed me with: pictures of my family on vacations, my kids sporting events, Christmas, birthdays and so much more.

Have you ever thought about the fact our pictures for us are like the altars in the Old Testament? Me neither. It is true though. Pictures are memorials of important times in our lives.

If you look through the Old Testament you will see where God’s people built altars to mark their own moments in time. Times when God delivered, or provided, or spoke peace to troubled lives. They serve as touch stones of remembrance.

Sometimes I wish we still built altars. I am very sentimental and objects like pictures or altars help us remember. All too often we have the tendency to get caught up in the routine of everyday life and forget all the times God has been faithful to His people not just thousands of years ago, but today as well.

I wonder… Did Peter ever row out to the spot where he walked on the water and relive that day?

Did Zacchaeus ever take his grandkids and climb the tree and say, “This is the exact spot I saw the Master for the first time!”?

Did Abraham and Isaac ever go back to Mount Moriah and rejoice once more for the ram caught in the thicket?

Did Moses ever go back to the desert where he saw the burning bush, take off his sandals and say, “Thank you God for still using messed up me?”

Oh, it is so good to remember. We need to remember. It is like breathing in the moment all over again.

We do not have altars we walk by every day serving as reminders. So just for today… for this very moment… let’s build an altar in our hearts and minds and remember God’s faithfulness and simply say once more… “Thank you God. I remember.”


Today I stop and remember and say thank you again for my salvation. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of fear. Thank you for protecting my marriage, for always guiding my steps. Thank you for healing my son of a paralyzing disease. Thank you for giving me courage to do the things I thought I never could. Where would I be today without you, only you know. Father, I just simply and purely want to stop, remember and say thanks.

Your daughter,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mom's Cornbread Dressing

I just remembered that NEXT Thursday is Thanksgiving. Where oh where has this year gone?

If you are like me you are already planning out your menu and trips to the grocery store.

Yesterday I said this post was going to be 'spiritual' but seeing that the greatest day of feasting is on the brink of commencing, I thought I would change today's My Fav Friday to help a few sista friends out.

EVERYBODY loves good ole Southern Homemade Cornbread Dressing on Thanksgiving, but most of us are unaware of how to actually go about making it.  So, I wanted to give you my mom's recipe (Because her's is the best I ev-ah had!  Martha Stewart move o-va!)

First make your cornbread.

2 cups self-rising corn meal mix
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or melted shortening

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Grease 9" oven proof skillet or 9" square pan; place in oven to heat.  In large bowl, combine all ingredients, mix well.  Pour into hot greased pan.  Bake at 450 for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Dressing Recipe:

1 recipe cornbread (above), crumbled (approximately 6 cups)
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
1 1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
1 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp sage
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 to 7 cups turkey or chicken stock

Cook celery and onion in some of the canned chicken stock until tender, approximately 20 minutes, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, mix cornbread, eggs, and the cooked celery and onion mixture.  Add the seasoning and mix well.  Add stock one cup at time until you get a juicy consistency.  Place in a 13X9X2 baking pan and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, until nice and brown.

I do hope you will try this.  Ya know, it does not even have to be Thanksgiving to enjoy it. (I am 'thankful' for that!)

I would love for you to share with us your fav dish for this special Holiday!  Click comment and type away. 

Sistas helping Sistas, "It's a good thing."

Hope ya'll have a great Friday!! 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Night of Two Firsts

What a cool and amazing evening the hubbs and I had last night.

It was filled with two Firsts for me.  My first 'First' was seeing Tim Tebow.  And not only did I see him, I got to see him do his thang on the practice field.  So I guess that qualifies as two first 'Firsts.'  Anyway, here is the pic I 'snapped' (pun intended) through the fence on my cellular device.

Yea, it was through a fence, but who cares.  It was neat to watch a few minutes of practice, even though we were not allowed.  Who knew.  Well we did after this nice young man informed us this was a closed practice and we needed to move on.

So we moved on and finished our walk over to the O'Connel Center to see my second 'First', Gator Basketball.

I guess church isn't the only place people will not come early to.  Did I just write that out loud?  Sorry. Also there was a double negative in that sentence.  Sorry again to all my English majors.

Oh My Goodness, this was the most AH-mazing $6 frozen yogurt I have ever tasted.  Yes, I only tasted.  Not because the greatest hubby in the world would not share more, if you remember from a few post back, I have a 'lil, or should I say 'heavy', issue. 

There is something about going to your yearly doctors appt (fun, fun) and stepping on the scale and that nasty thing telling you you have gained 20lbs from last year.  TWENTY I say.  So we, AHEM, I mean I have been working on that. 

At some point in the night you can expect to have a need to use the ladies room.  I wonder if my CCA gals will agree this is definitely the soap dispensers we need in the restroom of our new church.  How many should I order?

Albert and I

Note to self, Take your good camera to the next Gator sporting event.  iPhones are great but Nikons are greater in the pic dept.

I know this posting was not very 'spritiual' (well, unless you are a rabid Gator fan, then it fo sho was spiritual).  Tomorrow on My Fav Friday I am going to share another first with you.  This one is spiritual.

Love you guys and love the Gator Nation!!

Now I'm off to do a 'lil cleaning in the Johns Nation. 

See ya back here tomorrow,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tis the Season to Get

As I have mentioned here before, our church has a Crazy Love Project each week where we encourage our congregation to do specified acts of kindness.

The holiday season affords many opportunities for our weekly endeavors.  As a matter of fact, this week's project is for our people to bring in canned foods for the Mebane Middle School's Thanksgiving Food Drive.  (Mebane is the school we are currently meeting at each Sunday for service)

The food will go to families in need.  Families that we may never know their names or see their faces.   

I actually love giving anonymously.  To me it is pure and unconditional giving.

Oh the many stories I could tell of times my family gave and got back way more than we ever imagined possible.

Tis the season to give, yes.  But you cannot give without getting. 

I love what my husband always says, We give, to get, so we can give yet again.

There are needs all around us.  And they do not all involve money.  A mom may need a break and a babysitter.  A coworker may need a friend to confide in.  An elderly person may need someone to help with housework.  A teacher may need an encouraging word.  A sick friend may need a meal.

It is so easy to see only our needs and our wants.  This season, let's open our hearts, our homes and maybe even our wallets to those around us.  I promise you will get back way more than you will ever give.  And then you can... give yet again.

Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Luke 6:38 Message Translation 

There is not a greater joy on this earth than to know you have made a difference in someone's life and that's all the Christmas presents I need this year.

To all my family and friends,
If you still wanna get me a 'lil somthing, I'll take it.   I sure wouldn't want to deny you your blessing.
(wink, wink)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Road More Traveled

I visited a website last night called Plinky.com where everyday a question is posed to which you can respond with your answer along with the ability to post pictures, add maps, playlists and more.

Some bloggers (ahem), when experiencing writers block, have been known to visit this site to get ideas to blog about.

Well, yesterday’s question was Describe a scary stretch of road you’ve traveled.

That is easy for me. It was a road I have traveled many times before but in 2007 my journey on it was a little different.

That fall, myself and three gal pals decided to book a chalet outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a weekend.

We had a blast.

But getting there was scary.

If you have ever traveled to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area from Florida you know there's more than one way to get there; over the mountains and through the woods or around them with interstate all the way.

We chose the over the mountains and through the woods route. A road I have traveled many times.

It is 45 minutes filled with the most curves, high altitudes, and the greatest scenic views you could ask for. Our problem was it was around 10pm by the time we began our journey over the mountain and through the woods. That, I was fine with, it was the drizzling rain and blinding fog that had me in knots.

Because I was familiar with this road, I knew there were steep drops just inches from the right side of the pavement, with no railings to keep you from, well, total disaster.

What were we thinking?

I was scared to death but tried to not show it. We literally got to the point where I was driving about 20 miles per hour and Jenny, our front seat passenger/navigator, was helping me look for the reflectors in the middle of the road to help keep me on the road.

A little freaked out. Oh yes I was.

I could not see ahead of me so I had to just trust the few signs of direction I would receive every few inches in the form of those little glorious reflectors glued to the center of the road.

Because we slowed our journey down, kept our cool and focus, we were able to arrive at our destination safe and sound. It took a little longer than expected but that was ok. We were alive and at that point I think that is all we really cared about. Know what I mean Vern? (Some of our younger generation didn’t get that I’m sure. I’m not liking this getting older thing.)

But seriously, I know that not all scary roads are physical roads, your scary road today may just be the road of life filled with many curves and high altitudes. Your journey could be one you have taken before, but this time it's filled with drizzling rain and blinding fog.

My advice is to travel inch by inch, day by day, and prayer by prayer.

Stay centered in Jesus, and His Word, and He will guide your next step and will guard your life.

It may take you a little longer, but I promise you will arrive safe and sound.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Even if He has to use little glorified reflectors!!

  I almost forgot about our give-a-way.  And the winner is.... Desiree Steiner!!! 
It's not too late to take the journey with some really great gal pals.  Click here to see what it's all about.  I promise, this one's not scary at all!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Fresh New Look at the Word

Did you know that most people will hear the Word read aloud in church more than are likely to read it for themselves?

We love God.  We serve God.  We try to obey God.  But the one thing that helps us the most in our daily walk is the one thing we do the least.  Which is, read the Word.

Don't worry if you are feeling conviction right about now.  We all struggle to set aside time to read the one thing that can change everything for our good.

Makes no sense, I know.

We find time to shop, watch our fav shows (sports for the guys, HGTV for the gals) on the greatest high def TV's, read our favorite authors, spend time with the greatest friends.

I have always said, You make time to do what you want to do.

You might not be an early bird, but you let your favorite purse go on sale, starting at 7am, and you'll be the first in line (and I'll be right behind ya).

But seriously, this is My Fav Friday and what does all this have to do with that?

So glad you asked.  Really I am.

I read about this book last year.  Bought it this year.  And plan to start reading it next year.  Yeah, I like to really plan things out like that.

It is the One Year Chronological Bible written in the New Living Translation. 

365 days. 

15 minutes a day.

And on December 31, 2010, I will have read the entire Bible, in one of the greatest and easiest translations, in the order the events happened.

A fresh new look (or read) on getting into the Word daily. 

So, if you would like to take the journey with me click here to order your new Bible.  Or two.  Great gift idea ya know.

And if you leave me a comment sharing your desire to pack your bags (and reading glasses) and travel through a few thousand years with me, I will enter you into a drawing for your very own Chronological Bible. 

The journey will be long, but oh the stroies we'll have to tell.

Grab your cameras and lets go.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cha, Cha, Cha, Changes


Well, if you have read my blog for any length of time you know I love lots of things: family, friends, cooking good food, Fall, Christmas, eating good food, of course Jesus, and last but not least, change.

I so cannot stand for things to stay the same. Whether it is my d├ęcor, the seasons, my wardrobe… I just love changing things up! It’s amazing how just a gallon of paint can make me feel. Weird, huh?

So, as you can tell (Oh, I really hope you can tell) I, with the help of one of my new BFF’s, have changed the look my blog.

Although I do like change I am so glad we serve a God that never changes.  His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His power... it never changes.  (Malachi 3:6)

Ironically, all these unchanging truths of God should forever be changing us. 

I wanna challenge you today.  What is something you know you really need to change?

Maybe it's negative thoughts, bad eating habits, bad spending habits (ouch), or maybe it's a few of your friends you need to change.  Whatever it may be, purpose today to work toward changing that one thing you know plagues you and changes who you are. Changes who you should be. 

You can do it.  WE can do it. 

Look at it this way, it will be one less thing to add to your New Year's Resolution list.  Yes, ready or not 2010 is peaking around the corner at us.
I so pray you enjoy stopping by and spending time with me as much as I do.  I so love your company. 

Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for this week’s My Fav Friday.

By the way, is it too early to start decorating for Christmas?

I really like change ya know.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Out of the Ordinary

Last Tuesday was just an ordinary day.  Or was it?

I did nothing different than usual.  Came to the office.  Started working.  Did some research.  Ate lunch.

Same ole, same ole.

But somewhere in the midst of all this, God had ordained a moment.  A moment out of the ordinary.

You see, that morning I was looking at the design of a blog I frequent because I am in process of redesigning mine.  Ahem, I mean having someone redesign mine.  I design as well as I sing.  And if you've never heard me sing, then you're one of the lucky ones because it isn't pretty.  Trust me on that one.

Anyway, back to the blog I was looking at.  I happened to read the post for that day.  It was good.  But I really didn't think that much about it.  And I moved on to look at some designs on other blogs.

After lunch a dear friend came in the office on her lunch break.  I knew she was having a tough week and I could tell she was just desiring a friendly face. 

The conversation was light until she starting sharing more of her heart concerning the situation she is currently moving through.  My mind went to the blog post I read just a couple hours earlier.  The title was... I Wasn't Planning to Write this Post.

And I'm sure she wasn't, but God was.  It was just what my friend needed to read on that day, at that moment.  So I forwarded it to her.

God used my ordinary day to minister to a friend in need through an extraordinary way.   

To be used by God does not mean you have to have a Masters in Theology,  'Pastor' in front of your name, or be the President of a large ministry. 

You just have to be willing and inviting.

Willing- to be God's hands extended. 

Inviting- allowing Him to use your ordinary day in extraordinary ways.

So, what ordinary moment has God used in an extraordinary way in your life?  Do tell. 

p.s.  If you are like me your curiosity is about to get the best of you.  Click here and you too can read the post I sent my friend.  :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

He's Still Working on Me

Yesterday, a dear young lady on our ministry team asked me to fill out a referral form.  She is applying for a new job and I was more than thrilled and highly honored to do this for her.  She's so giving and for me to be able to give back was a wonderful treat.

Limited space was provided to write all I desired to share regarding her character.  So I did as any good person would do and made my own space, another words, I wrote on the line provided and added an arrow instructing the reader to turn the page over.  Where I wrote some more.

These were the extra words I wrote...
She is someone who always goes above and beyond the call of duty.  Her attitude is always positive and she is a pleasure to work with.  I trust her implicitly.
I meant every word of it.  I've known her for over 20 years and seen her go through some great and some not so great times.  Never have I seen her overreact, be unkind, or demonstrate a bad attitude. 

Man, I wanna be like that.  

I for sure wasn't yesterday morning.  My son got to see me overreact, be unkind, and demonstrate a bad attitude.  Glad he was the only one who saw my little tangent. 

But, sad he saw it.

I asked him to forgive me.  I got over my issue.  Which in hind sight was totally not anything worth acting the way I did.  But I did.
Thankfully today is a new day.  I'm moving on and striving to be the kind of person someone could easily write sweet things about too, and mean it. 

As we would sing in Children's Church, He's still working on me... 

That's for sure.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Scribble It... Love It

I ran across this web site ScribbleItOnline.com a couple weeks ago and fell in love with it. Here is just one of their fab designs you can purchase and customize for your walls.

Here is another great idea.

I have this hallway full of family photos that I can't wait to "scribble" something onto.

So, now you can do what you always wanted to do as a child and "write" on your walls too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One Weighty Dilemma

October is already coming to a close? Amazing.

One thing I am purposing this year is to not let the Holiday's go by with out soaking up every moment I can. This definitely is the most wonderful time of the year.

Therefore, in order to keep my sanity, which makes my family really happy, I WILL not over commit, over volunteer, over fill my calendar, or.. over eat. Yep I'm still going there.

I never realized how we as Americans associate every holiday, every birthday, every graduation, every wedding, every shower, every anniversary around food the way that we do. It is the means by which we use to celebrate all the occasions in our lives.

So, in order to not "over do it" this season, I am wondering, do you have any suggestions for ways to celebrate without it being all about the food? Or do you have a really easy healthy alternative to our seasonal indulgences?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Pretty Good Advice

Ok. So that you don't misunderstand yesterday's post (below), I'm diving a little deeper today.

My issue is not necessarily about how much I weigh or what size I wear. It's so much deeper than that.

For me it's about what I crave.

And if we crave anything more than we do Jesus, that is not a good thing. Or when our minds are constantly consumed with thoughts other than what is true, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, then that too is not a good thing.

I opened my email yesterday morning to find an email from Weight Watchers (Because I used to be an online member. Probably should have stuck with that one.) And I laughed because it's headline was, "Your Halloween Survival Guide."

Survival. Fitting word. Why, because when you feel like you are drowning, you need some encouraging words to help lift you out of the sinking sand of self centered cravings. (A little wordy, but that's where I'm living.)

I really gained a lot of insight from one of their tips. Most of them I already knew like, Everything in Moderation. "Eat just one snack-size candy bar... It makes a sensible treat." (But I like king-sized best. Oh well.)

Another tip I already know and try to do is Enlist the Help of Others. Someone to partner with you in your journey makes it so much easier to stay on track. Accountability is great.

But this is the one that made complete sense to me. Not because I did not already know it. But because of the analogy they used to describe it. Don't Throw in the Towel.

It is so easy to start the day with your egg-white omelet. Have your salad for lunch with low cal dressing. But come 3 o'clock you're starving to death and your coworker walks in with the most delish sugary treat and... you cave. Next you find yourself sitting at Taco Bell eating a Nachos Bell Grande with extra sour cream and a super sized Pepsi. Oh, and don't forget the cinnamon twists too.

But not so fast senorita. It does not have to be an all or nothing mentality that says, "You've already messed up. Why not go ahead and eat what you want the rest of the day."

And here is where the great advice came in. If you buy a dozen eggs, break one, do you throw out the other eleven perfectly fine eggs. No. You clean up the one and put the others in the fridge and go on with your day.

I love that.

Just because you may eat something you know you shouldn't does not mean you have to sacrifice the rest of your day.

Clean up your mess and move on. Simple.

So today, if I slip, I will wipe up the spill, refocus my thoughts and cravings, and move on.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment.
1 Peter 2:2

No crying over spilled milk today.

By the way, this post is a HUGE milestone. This is my 100th post. That is one, zero, zero ya'll!

I think that deserves a piece of cake, don't you? Just kidding. Maybe.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Monday Morning Mantra

Someone puh-leeze tell me that I am not the only one who woke up this morning and said, "Ok. This is it. Today is really gonna be the day. I will do better this week."

It seems to be my Monday Morning Mantra.

To be honest, if I may, I looooove food. Love it. I love cooking and I really love eating. Partaking of great food for me is like an alcoholic enjoying their beverage of choice. It satisfies. It fulfills. It just makes me feel all warm and cozy on the inside.

So, again, I woke up this morning. Said those same too familiar words. And in the back of my mind wondered, "Can I really do this? Will I really do this?"

Is anyone feelin' me?

This battle for me is nothing new. I actually conquered it in 2000 when I lost 60 pounds. But, BUT it has not been a battle I have fought... won... and never had to fight again. It's my stronghold.

A stronghold is anything that has a 'strong hold' on your life. For you it may be something different. But whatever it is, it is holding us back from concentrating on other, more fruitful things in our Christian life.

I read this scripture recently and in light of my daily battle it so struck me. It is found in John 4. This is where we find Jesus and His disciples leaving Judea and returning to Galilee. On the way Jesus stops at a well and has an encounter with a women from Samaria, better known as The Woman at the Well.

While Jesus is ending His conversation with her the disciples return from buying food in the nearby town and this is the dialog they have with Jesus:

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, "Rabbi, eat something." But Jesus replied, "I have a kind of food you know nothing about."

"Did someone bring him food while we were gone?" the disciples asked each other. Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work." John 4:31-34

What satisfied Him, fulfilled Him and made Him feel all warm and cozy on the inside was doing the will of His father and completing His work. It was His stronghold.

Wow, and mine is food?

So today, my prayer is this...


Let my satisfaction come only from doing all you have called me to do. Let my thoughts be on your will for me, not the next meal for me. I pray that you would fulfill me like no parcel of food ever could. Your are the bread of life. So let my hunger pangs be only for you today.

I am so thankful for all the responses to Friday's post. I loved all your favorite things. Some were very close to my heart too.

And the winner of the $20 Olive Garden Gift Card is Penny!!!

Penny and her husband Steve are heading overseas to be missionaries to Hungray. Funny. Seeing as my post was about food. Oh, and their website? "RUHungray.com" I'm laughing right now because the coincidences are just so uncanny. Anyway, I would love for you to check out their ministry. Click here to learn all about them and the amazing burden God has placed in their heart for this country.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Fav Friday, Dressing

Beginning today, every Friday I will list one of my favorite things that I hope becomes one of your favorite things too!

Today's fav thing is something many people love and few know you can purchase it.

Who doesn't just love Olive Garden's salad? I know my family does fo sho. So every time we eat there I grab this little ah-mazing bottle of goodness.

Yep. For $4.75 it can be yours too. Not to mention, ladies, it's only 80 calories per serving! But who's counting, right?

This also makes a great gift! Just fix up a basket with dressing, a jar of pasta sauce, some dry noodles and some Italian themed kitchen supplies and you got one superb gift.

And you don't always have to have an Italian meal to enjoy this dressing. Tonight I made Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Green Beans, Salad with Olive Garden Italian Dressing and Bread.

To make Pork Chops just take 4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops and salt and pepper each side. Pan fry in 1 tablespoon Olive Oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add one medium onion, halved and thinly sliced, to pan and cover for 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and cook 30 seconds. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar and cook 1 minute. Spoon over pork chops and serve.

De-lish. And dinner was on the table in 20 minutes.

If you would love to share one of your fav things, then I sure would love to put your name in the pot for a drawing of a $20 Olive Garden gift card. Just click comments below and type away. Winner will be announced Monday.

Buon Appetite. And good luck.


On a serious note, after yesterday's post (below) a prayer request was made on one of the comments. Please remember a young man named Andrew. He is 12 and has an inoperable brain tumor. He has been in Shands for a month. God IS the healer and let's agree together for Andrew's healing today. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Certainty in Uncertain Storms, Trois

The Date: October 5, 2000

The Words: "Mr. and Mrs. Johns, Tyler could have one of two viruses. The worst of the two is Guillain-Barre Syndrome. We will have to send him to Shands in Gainesville and admit him for further testing. Let's hope that he has the "better" of the two viruses."

Not words a mother and father of a seemingly, up to this point, healthy 9 year old wants to hear. The road ahead was uncertain. We had no idea what the next few hours, days, weeks, months or years held for our family.

Our great Storm of 2000 was confirmed the next evening when the doctors at Shands gathered and told us our son in fact does have Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a paralyzing disorder with no cure.

Our family's emotions were already high that week due to a tragic death of a very close family member. And now this. It was almost to much to take in. To be honest, I'm not really sure I did take it all in. Had I, I would not have been able to handle the next week of living in a hospital watching my son in pain that was equal to a person who had been burned from head to toe.

On one of my trips home to shower and change, Tyler's neurologist took my husband aside and told him that the test results are the worst he had ever seen. He could not give 100% assurance that all would be OK and that he may want to prepare me for the worst. Just in case.

We were fortunate that the treatment he had each night was allowing Tyler's body to heal itself but we were advised to admit him into a rehab hospital upon our discharge. It was going to take months for him to learn how to walk again and get his mobility and strength back, maybe years.

So the doctors said.

But God.

Five weeks after his brush with this paralyzing syndrome Mark came home from the office to find Tyler rounding the corner on his little Honda 50 motorcycle.

Our storm had cleared. Miraculously.

On the four week check-up the doctor (who was not Christian) said, "Your prayers have been answered." Even the world can see the hand of God, even when they don't believe in Him.

So if your storm is a like our Storm of 2000, know this, God IS the healer. But we have to believe, trust, and have faith that He is clearing our dark, depressing, scary, blinding storm.

Of that you can be certain.

OK. If you are like me you want to know the rest of the story. Here it is. Tyler is doing great. He is 6' 4", in his senior year of High School and celebrated his 18th birthday this summer. Oh my.

This picture was taken two nights ago.

Stay tuned for the new series My Fav Fridays where I will share some of my favorite things which I hope will become some of yours as well. Smiles.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Certainty in Uncertain Storms, Deux

Max Lucado shares a story in his book In the Eye of the Storm about two battleships assigned to train at sea. While there the weather grew increasingly worse over the course of several days. Visibility was poor. Fog settled all around them and the captain remained on the bridge keeping a watchful eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark one evening the wing reported, "Light bearing on the starboard bow."

"Is it steady or moving astern?", the captain called out.

The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant they were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal to the ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"

Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."

The captain said, "Send: 'I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"

"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply, "and you had better change your course twenty degrees."

By this time the captain is furious and spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship! Change course twenty degrees!'"

Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."

In order for the captain to survive and escape extreme danger in the midst of the storm, he had to change.

For us to survive our storms in life, we too will have to change. That change may be a direction, a habit, a relationship, a job, a decision, a belief system or a prayer life.

I promise, nothing brings you closer to God than prayer and nothing makes you pray more than dark, depressing, blinding, scary storms.

You may be on a collosion course for destruction and the storm could just be what God is using to bring you safely into harbor.

Here is a great scripture for you to pray if you are finding yourself in the midst of a storm:

Lead me in the right path, oh Lord, or my enemies will conqure me. Make your way plain for me to follow. Psalm 5:8

Tomorrow I will be sharing a little about my storm that hit 9 years ago this week.

Until then, I am praying for peace that passes all understanding to cover you, go before you and keep you if you are traveling through your own stormy weather this week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Certainty in Uncertain Storms

You are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or waiting for your storm to hit.

Words I have heard for many many years. True words.

When I was a child I remember a storm coming through our neck of the woods. A bad one.

Being a little girl at the time I was soooo scared. I remember looking out the windows and seeing the huge oak trees across the street swaying and bending, the way big oaks should not be swaying and bending.

For some reason my father was not home at the time. And as any little child would, I wanted my daddy.

My mother was there but there is just something about having your father there to protect you. You just feel safe and secure in uncertain situations when daddy's around.

Well, the storm passed. We survived. More storms have come through the years and went. Some even caused damage. But damaged objects can be repaired or replaced usually with ease.

But the storms of life? That's a horse of a different color.

Oh they can be scarier than the real ones. They too can cause damage and change and great difficulty.

But I think the greatest issue they cause is that of uncertainty.

The storms of life are not mapped out on the Doppler allowing you to see its severity, travel pattern or time line. You blindly move through them.

Oh that's so hard isn't it?

We were all glued to The Weather Channel a few years ago as we were perpetually feeling the effects of the hurricane season. Everyone was watching to get information in order to make decisions on how we would proceed over the next few days.

It's nice to be able to make a plan. Makes you feel safe, knowledgeable, and prepared.

Unfortunately though, there's not a Doppler for the storm of sickness, job loss, marital problems, financial difficulties and the like. Which makes it very difficult to make your plans, especially when you don't know your future, but we do know the One who does and that's all we really need to know. Really.

Here are just a few things He wants you to know if you are battling a storm today.

Your future is good. Jeremiah 29:11

He is directing your path. Proverbs 3:6

He is always watching you. Psalm 121:4

You are not alone. Hebrews 13:5

Storms of life are so dark. Depressing. Scary. Loud. Difficult. Confusing. And will leave you hopeless if you allow them to.

But don't let the storm clouds blind you to the fact that Daddy is here. And everything is gonna be alright. He's not going to allow you to stumble or fall, Psalm 121:3.

Remember, storms in life are so much like storms in nature. They come... and thankfully, they go.

They are not always certain...

but God is.

So make your decision today to trust in Him, and not in your own understanding. Seek God's will in ALL that you do and He promises He WILL direct your path. Even in the midst of your dark, despressing, scary, loud, difficult and confusing storm. Proverbs 3:5-6

I would love for you to tell us how you navigate your storms in life. Just click comments below and type away.

Braving the storm,

p.s. For those of you who posted comments on my Facebook regarding the Pumpkin Bread, I am so glad you loved it too!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Sweet Treat

The Fall weather is coming our way this weekend here in North Florida and I am SOOO stoked!!

With this wonder-fall season comes the beginning of three months of great Holiday Baking.

In the month of December my home is filled with the aroma of Fruit Cake Cookies. But for now it's the scent of Pumpkin Bread filling the air.

To date I have made about... ummm... a gazillion loaves of this most ah-mazing taste of Autumn.

Couple it with homemade Honey Cinnamon Butter and it's a winner and everyone is requesting the recipe. Which, by the way, I got a few years ago from one of my favorite cookbooks... the internet; you crave it, it's got a recipe for it!!

So with that said, I am passing it on to you!! I promise, your guests will be asking you for the recipe too after they taste it. (I won't tell them where you got it... it'll be our lil secret)

Pumpkin Bread

16oz Canned Pumpkin (You could use fresh, but why)
3 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
3 cups Sugar or Splenda (I have never tried the Splenda)
4 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Oil
1 1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Allspice
2/3 cup Water
1 cup Nuts, chopped

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and sugar.

Add eggs, water, oil and pumpkin. Mix until blended. Add nuts and stir until incorporated.

Pour into two lightly greased and floured 9" x 5" loaf pans and bake one hour.

Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pans. It tastes better if you wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until next day. Keeps well in fridge and can be frozen.

Oh, and to top it off, mix together some room temperature butter, honey and a couple dashes of cinnamon. Best topping ev-ah!

Happy Fall Ya'll!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pass the Ball!!

Yep. Tebow is back in the saddle again!

I know most women do not naturally gravitate to the TV on the weekends as our male counterparts so gracefully do. For the most part we have the sentiment I'd rather be curling my eyelashes than watchin' grown men throw a pigskin ball around and slap each other on the derriere.

But, in all fairness to our men, football is a very dangerous game. Tebow's hit two weeks ago confirmed that.

It is also a game filled with tremendous pressure all of which resides on the shoulders of every quarter back. That is, until he cast that pressure, which is in the form of a football, to another teammate.

In that one moment, he goes from carrying the heaviest burden... to complete rest.

One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is 1 Peter 5:7. It gives very simple instructions regarding what to do with our pressures of life. It instructs us to cast our care on Jesus because he cares for us.

IF you desire rest...

all you have to do is pass your burdens and pressures to Jesus.

In Matthew 11:29 He said Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Originally, the pressure is aimed at the quarterback because he has the ball. But at the moment he decides to hand it off, now he is at rest and the defense is going after the new person with the ball.

In the same manner, when we hand God our ball (everything that is putting pressure on our lives) the enemy has to now chase Him... and we are at rest.

That doesn't mean that there is no longer a battle on the field. It just means we can be in a calm position, even in a tackling situation.

So if you are tired of fighting your way through life today, doing the best you can, cast your burdens to Jesus and...


Go Gators!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I know, I know... you are thinking, "Christmas? Sorry Tina, you must be confused. It's the last week of September and Fall officially arrived only a few days ago."

Yes, you are right, but if you walk in Lowes today you will see what I mean. Trees and lights are going up. The ribbon and ornaments are in their proper place on the industrial shelves and the feeling of Christmas is in the air drowning out any Fall or Halloween decor yet to be sold.

If you have read my blogs for any length of time you know I never take my Joy CD by Avalon out of my car's CD changer. It is my favorite Christmas CD.

Don't judge me. I'm sure your family could share some odd things about you as well. It's ok, we'll be odd together.

Anyway, last week while driving my car the CD I was listening to switched over and my beloved holiday music started up.

I decided to listen to a few of the songs on my way home and began preparing my mind and spirit to receive the upcoming season filled with opportunities to share the love of Christ when Don't Save it All for Christmas Day started playing.

And I was convicted.

Here are the first few lines:

Don't get so busy that you miss giving just a little kiss

to the ones you love,

Don't even wait a little while to give them just a little smile,

a little is enough.

See how many people are crying, some people are dying,

how many people are asking for love?

So don't save it all for Christmas day,

Find a way, to give a little love everyday.

Don't save it all for Christmas day,

Find a way. 'Cause Holidays have come and gone.

But love lives on, if you give on...


In the month of December we are are overflowing with love and generosity toward our family and strangers. But if Jesus didn't love only one day, one week or one month out of the year, then neither should we.

Which is one of the reasons at Christ Central Alachua we are initiating a weekly strategic act of kindness called The Crazy Love Project.

I think this is such a great idea and if you would like to join us, this week's project is simply tipping more than you usually would when eating out.

It's simple.

It's small.

And sometimes that's all that's needed to show the love of Christ to our world all year round, not just when we are in the giving spirit at Christmas time.

We would love to hear your ideas for more acts of love to add to our project. Just simply click on "comments" below to leave us your thoughts.

And remember, don't save your love and kindness for only one season of the year, but let's allow our life to look like CHRISTmas EVERYDAY!!

All my LOVE,