"blessed to be a blessing"...

this was something that pastor has said a few times or more during this season of dominate in our church. i just have to share how i was able to be a part of what elevation is doing to bless others in our city!!!

a week ago saturday, i had the awesome opportunity to be a part of something i thought was amazing. elevation has five strategic partners to whom we reach out to and support. let me tell you about one of the five organizations ~ communities in schools (cis): safe journey. safe journey exists to help keep and encourage teenage mothers to stay in school. i had the opportunity to attend a training meeting in august and i believe that this organization is top notch! it is run so well and the director of the program is an amazing lady with such a huge heart for these girls.

elevation and safe journey chose one deserving family to bless. i was able to be a part of the big day! along with a friend from small group and her teenage daughter, our job was to take the teen mom shopping for herself. not for her little guy but for herself. but that is not all elevation did for the family. i was there as her family was presented with a large sum of money (and i mean large) for housing repairs, a scholarship for college, gift cards for gas and groceries and a shopping spree. this family was so appreciative. after the presentation we took the teenage girl to northlake mall and helped her spend her shopping spree money! it was soooo much fun. i was so blessed to be a part of the day. it was a complete blessing to me to be a part of a blessing to someone else!


a new kind of friend

sitting in the teacher's lounge almost ten years ago, talking about hairstyles and uncomfortable high heeled shoes, an awesome friendship began.

we both had just moved from far away and to teach at the same school in different grades. two new teachers became instant new friends. we had a lot in common and hit it off immediately.

we were each in a different stage of life, she was newly married and i was no where near it. i got to know her husband and became friends with him. i would hang out with them when i wasn't out doing my single life thing.

gradually, my friend began to introduce me to one of her friends. a friend i didn't know well at that time but i had heard of him, who didn't?

she began to tell me about God she and shared her faith.

i knew of God, i had prayed before, and even been in church on occasion while i was growing up.

then one night, while her husband and the guy i was dating (my future husband) , were out of town, we had a good old fashioned sleepover. early in the evening, we began a discussion about having a relationship with Christ. i had questions about what it meant. i thought i had that if i knew of God and knew some about a particular religion. i believed in God and thought that meant i had a relationship with Him. she taught me otherwise. not only in this one conversation but over several months of sharing her heart and allowing me to see Christ through her.

that night, we called her husband and on a three way phone conversation i accepted Christ in my heart. i was ready to turn away from the displeasing, unsatisfied and unhappy life i was living. i was ready for joy and contentment. later that night, my sweet friend also baptized me.

God placed her in my life for a big reason.

we have been friends for almost ten years. wow. she was in my wedding. we were pregnant together with all three of our babies. our oldest boys, were only three days apart and spent many years growing up together.

our friendship went through some hard times and we went our separate ways for a couple of years. it was unhealthy and needed healing. during that separation, i had no idea what kind of healing or how it would occur.

then a few months ago, God prompted me to reconnect with her and i was obedient. i am so glad that i was. by the grace and mercy of God, we were able to forgive each other and move forward. neither of us were sure how that would look. and what would happen in our friendship, would it stay mutual and acquaintance like or would it be deep and close?

it has only been a few months but we have been able to have such an amazing friendship. we have been able to become very close. we have so much fun together. we are so real and transparent with one another. and our children have been loving their time together.

the Lord has truly worked in my heart and in our friendship to bring us to this point. i am so blessed to have her in my life. i am so thankful to God for bringing us back together and healing this friendship.

during this whole time of us rebuilding our friendship, her and her husband have been preparing to move out of the state. they are being led to take their gifts and use them in a church several hours away. i am so excited to see how God uses them for His glory. they know this is the call of God and they are being obedient. and who can stop them? not me, although, i have tried a few acts of bribery to get them to stay and they won't budge.

so, with no other choice, i have begun over the last week to prepare myself for this change in our friendship - to not have her nearby (7 minutes to be exact). i have begun to shed tears when least expected. i have been spending as much time with her as i can. i feel like i am suffering another loss although i know in my heart that our friendship will not be lost. i know it has been found. with the power of Christ it has been found. it just looks a little different with us being apart.

i know that God put the courage and initiative in my heart at the exact time he did so we could reconnect and rebuild our friendship. i also know this story of our friendship is large part of my testimony. one that will testify to the love and faithfulness of Jesus. this friend has been a large part of who i am today. and i thank her for that. i thank God for putting her in my life. because without her i wouldn't know Him.


raining contentment...

it has been a long long time since it has rained around here. we have been in a pretty serious drought. so it has been a long standing prayer for rain and a lot of it. this week we started getting rain again - yeah!

it occurred to me the other day as i was taking the puppy outside - that this week was one of the first times (if not THE first - and we have had her for two months - wow.) that i had to deal with her muddy paws and remembering to bring her back inside. oohhh the smell of a wet puppy. my husband cringes.

so we have prayed and prayed for rain. God answered! can you believe it? i have found myself starting to complain about the mud, the wetness, finding and wearing rain jackets - which have broken zippers or don't fit anymore, muddy shoes, no outside playtime for the kids or the dog (ohh the extra unleashed energy and stir crazy kids), etc. anytime i have found myself going down this road -- i quickly remind myself that this rain is an answered prayer, a blessing and not something to see as miserable or inconvenient. what is wrong with me.

this situation reminds me of life in general when it comes to being content. we pray or ask for things and then when we are blessed with them we are still not satisfied or content or fulfilled for whatever reason. and then we want something different, something more. if only we could be content with exactly what God gives us and when and how it gives it to us.

this rain has made me look at life and the weather in a whole new perspective. be content and happy with the blessings you do have. don't look at what you don't have. it is all in the right timing and in His will. He will give you what He wants you to have when He wants you to have it. it is as simple as that.

now waiting and wondering what that all looks like is a different story for a different post...

until next time, enjoy the rain and all of life's blessings.


what a dream...

in september, i starting going to dream dinners. and i can honestly say that it is a dream! i love it! love it! i have had several friends tell me about it and had been invited to a few sneak peaks. then finally i took the plunge and went. it has really helped out our (my) dinner planning! it is such a relief when it comes to dinner time and i barely have to do a thing! so if you haven't tried it -- you need to check it out. i was worried it would affect our budget but it hasn't. i use most of my dream dinners as my more elaborate meals and then the other nights we do easy stuff like tacos, spaghetti, shrimp and grits (yes i am becoming a southern girl - beth, this is one more thing you can add to the list of addictions you have introduced me to!) anyway, just thought i would give a shout out to dream dinners.


gotta love it...

i am going to add a new element to my blog. each week i am going to write about one of my favorite things. it could be a food, place, household product, cosmetic, etc.

this is a little spin off of oprah's favorite things -- although my things will be more realistic to those of you living on a budget like me! often, i love what oprah has on her show, but could never afford what she loves.

so here is what i gotta have...

on my way to ballet and carpool i was driving and munching on some chex mix. not the traditional flavor -- i love the chocolate turtle chex mix. i can seriously put some of that away! a friend of mine introduced me to it this summer and i have been hooked ever since. i love that stuff. if you haven't tried it - you have to!

bonus... if your kids go to a school that collects "box tops" you can clip them off the packages of chex mix!!

so there it is my first gotta love it post!!!


what i love best about elevation church...

last night, my husband asked me what i love best about our church. it was really hard for me to think of one thing or the "best thing". but the one thing that came to me immediately is that our church talks to the talk and walks the walk!!!! so many churches talk about what they want to do and how they will do it. our church not only talks but they do the walking part! the staff and leaders do what they say. and they do it with excellence! the vision of elevation is clearly defined and they use whatever strategy God puts on their hearts to meet that vision. sometimes the strategy changes but the vision ALWAYS stays the same. i love it!

if you haven't seen the front page of the charlotte observer check it out!!! the story is all about the bless back project!!!


face to face...

as i was approaching a short line in the food court at the mall, i saw a familiar face getting in line behind me. i did a double take. it was a face i knew. a face i haven't seen in a long time. a face i could never forget.

we greeted each other casually, "hi, how are you?" and "good and you." the usual stuff for someone you bump into here and there. although that wasn't the case with this person. it had been a long time and at one time she was more than a casual acquaintance.

after our exchange, i turned around to face forward, feeling very awkward, feeling that i should have said more. but what? my mind raced. what to say, what to do. replaying the situation. replaying her expression and what it meant. trying to get myself together.

i turned back around to greet the other faces she was with. we exchanged a few kind words, catching up for a minute. one was her sister and the other was a little girl who looked about three. i knelt down to the sweet little girl with the beautiful big eyes. her mom introduced me and then i told the little girl, "i was friends with your mommy a long time ago."

i turned around feeling uncomfortable, completely awkward. the exchange was not how i ever pictured it would be. i had imagined this day in my head for a long, long time. i thought i knew how i would handle it if i had a second chance. and this was my second chance. you see, over a year ago maybe even two, i saw her in a store and i received barely a wave as she chatted on her cell phone. i felt heart broken and rejected as i stood there with a big huge smile, ready to hug and reconnect. but she kept walking and with no choice, i proceeded to do the same.

i knew i didn't want my second chance to turn out the same as the first. my mind continued to race and the line was being rushed through, i didn't know what more to say or do.

i followed my group to the next line at the food court, thinking that i was not satisfied with the way this took place and ended. i had tears in my eyes. i just wasn't proud of myself, i wasn't showing the love of Christ. and i wasn't being me.

while i was in the next line and chatting with the ladies behind the counter, i looked around to find this old friend. praise God, they were still there sitting down. i prayed quick and prayed hard, Lord tell me what you want me to do.

right then, i was reminded of what i should do. as our food was being ordered, i quickly found a pen and jotted down my phone number and email on a napkin. i couldn't leave this time without saying more or without trying to reconnect.

as my group sat down to eat, i excused myself. i walked across the food court to find her. i approached her and said, "i know it has been a long time, but i would love to get together, i would love to catch up and see what you have been up to" her reaction was pretty much the same as when we greeted each other. non-emotional, not really friendly, or even glad to see me. but i pressed on. "so, here is my phone number and my email address, i would love the opportunity to reconnect and catch up." she said she would call or email and that was basically it. i said good bye and walked away from them. this time i felt much better about how i reacted and the steps i made to reconnect.

this face was a very very good friend of mine in college, we were roommates and sorority sisters. we even moved down here to north carolina together and shared our first two apartments. she was my best friend during that season of my life. when our paths began to go different directions, she moved out of our apartment. and we had very little to no opportunities for our paths to cross. we may have run into each other once shortly after our separation. and then the second time was a year ago. i have thought of her often and wondered where she was and how life was treating her. i have fond memories and photographs of our times together.

i praise God for the opportunity to cross paths with her today. it was part of His plan. He completely orchestrated this whole entire thing. i was at the mall doing an amazing outreach project for elevation when all of this happened. a mall i have never been to before. He allowed me to be right there where she was. He allowed me to once again repair a broken friendship. and i put all hurt and hard feelings behind and put forth an extension of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

i don't have any idea of how this story will end. will she call? email? will we reconnect? sit and talk about life over starbucks until 2 am? i don't know. i would love to say i do. i would love to plan a perfect ending to this story. i actually have a plan in mind. i pray that God will allow us to be in each other's life. i pray that He will allow me to show her the love of Christ and who Christ has made me to be in the last eight years while we haven't been connected.

i also know if she never calls me or she never emails me that i did what i was suppose to do. i know God gave me this face to face opportunity for a purpose, for a reason. i know that i opened the door. it is up to her to walk through that door and meet me face to face. i pray that she will.

wow, how God has been blessing me this week!!!


traffic jam

this is a first for me (to post on my blog). this is a personal prayer i wrote today during my quiet time (reflecting on the dominate prayer journal) inspired by a dear friend today during a long conversation.

today, Lord, i need a clear vision - a completely clear vision of the calling that you have on my life. i feel like i am at an intersection and in the middle of a traffic jam. i just can't get through the intersection. and i know if i did get through, which road would i chose? i don't know. i am asking for you to specifically tell me what your will is for me. all of these desires and passions have been placed in my heart. and i don't know which one or which ones i should follow. Lord, i need you to fine tune and show me which ones are your will. they are all great dreams, passions and ideas but Lord, i can't do it all, unless you clone me and make me into three. dear Jesus what is your vision for me and where do you want me positioned during this season of my life? i want to know how i am suppose to effectively serve you Lord, my family, my church, my friends and whoever you place in my life. where do you have me and where do you want me? is it to be a full time stay at home mom? is it to work part time? it is to balance career and family? is it for me to go back to school for my nursing degree? is it for me to serve at church and where and what kind of commitment level? show me, tell me Lord. where, what, how, when, why? Lord, you know the answers and only you. i give up complete control and place this in your hands. tell me how to get through this traffic jam and which road to take.


if you haven't heard, you must know this...

elevation church is about to dominate the city of charlotte. elevation is on fire for the Lord and for it's vision!

on sunday, elevation gave away the offering. instead of collecting an offering, everyone in each of the five services received an envelope with money in it. this is only the beginning of the bless back project. we are to use the money we received and use it to bless someone else. wow! powerful stuff. you can read about the stories of how elevation is blessing people all over our area.

we have launched into a season called dominate. it is a season where elevation is going to dominate charlotte. dominate by showing and sharing the love of jesus to those who do not know him. we are all being challenged to stretch ourselves, to give above and beyond and to step out on more faith then ever. it is so exciting and so awesome to see God working amongst this body of believers. i am so proud and honored to be a part of elevation church.

a large part of this season is about giving back to the community. last night, i received some details to all of the ways that elevation plans to do this. i am so excited to know that i belong to a church who believes in giving back and not just sending a few people to the event taking place, but to really take an interest and bless others with whatever means necessary.

on saturday, i will be involved in part of an effort to reach out to a family in charlotte. so as not to give away the surprise - i won't say anymore. but i am so excited about it. and i can not wait to share with you the details after it is all said and done!! i will put it on a post soon, i promise.

if you haven't, you must check out elevation church for yourself!


what i should be doing instead....

of blogging...

~ getting ready for our yard sale tomorrow
~ cleaning the house
~ laundry
~ making dinner
~ making some phone calls

do you ever have times of your day where you chose to do something other than what you should be doing? i do and today is one of them ~ i am catching up on blogs today - aren't you lucky???

jesus isn't first in my life anymore...

jesus is the CENTER...

i have said it many times and written it many times over: "jesus first, family second and everything else third" up until yesterday when i read pastor's blog called "don't put jesus first"

pastor's blog really hit home with me and really helped me to look at how i operate on a daily basis. jesus isn't happy with being first, he wants to be center. as a busy mom that helps me out a lot -- if jesus is the center of everything that i say and do -- then he is content. i don't have to stress out anymore if i didn't put jesus first. because if he is the center of all i do then that is how i glorify him. he can be a part of all of the little things i do during the day and a part of all the big things i do. i don't have to compartmentalize him, i can spread him all over and all throughout my day and the things i go about doing.

i love looking at my relationship with christ as the center of my life rather than first in my life.

thank you pastor steven for that awesome insight and perspective!!

posting some pics...

here are some pictures from the past few weeks...

josh and jaci after a bath

princess jordyn and puppy

jordyn and jesiah on their first day at WEE school

isn't he too cute???

jesiah wants jaci to play ball

jesiah plays ball!

this is a pic of jaci last week -- 16 weeks old


looking up

for about a week or so, i have just not felt like myself. i have felt really, really out of it. i have been dealing with a lot of stressful things, most of them are things i had placed on myself -- expectations i had set way too high for myself as a mom. last week was pretty bad, it was like the peak of all the yuckiness i had been feeling. i was at a breaking point and i just was not in a very good place. and i couldn't really put my finger on exactly what was making me feel so down in the dumps. i am happy to say that today, i feel like things are starting to look up for me and my attitude.

i realized a few things during this time of turmoil and yuckiness.

~ my need to control everything and everyone was just out of control -- i mean out of control!

~ i didn't really need to spend so much energy trying to figure out why i was feeling so miserable (goes back to the control thing) i just needed time to pray through it and seek God instead.

~ i have a great support system of friends in place who have helped me through the last week -- thank you ladies -- you all know who you are!!!

~ God is still working on me and our family and we are still on that verge of something big is about to happen but don't know what it is!! that is exciting, all though for a control freak a little scary to be unknown.

~ through a season (could be an hour, a week or a day) of turmoil there is always light at the end of the tunnel. things will look better at the end of the season -- thankfully that is where i stand today -- even though my knees are still shaking a little bit from the emotion.


push while praying...

sunday's sermon was excellent! for those of you who don't go to elevation or for some reason missed church on sunday, you really need to take a few minutes and listen to pastor steven's sermon. it was the second sermon in the series entitled "sun stand still". if you go to elevation's web page you can hear the sermon!! (click here and then click on week 2 of the sermon in sun stand still series) you don't want to miss out on this life changing and prayer changing sermon. it is really, really good!!

pastor spoke on a new way to pray! he gave three main points -- to pray with audacity, accuracy and action. the third point, action, really spoke to me.

a lot of times we pray to for something and then we forget to do our part. we expect God to do it all. but as it clearly states in the bible in James 2:20 "faith without works is dead". sitting around all day and just praying isn't going to achieve a thing. to see God in action we have to take action.

pastor and his wife holly were blessed with a healthy baby boy on friday (yeah!!!) and pastor told the story of graham's birth. it was a complicated one. he used the analogy of labor and delivery. we have to push while we are praying. how true. to actually birth the baby we can't sit back and expect the baby to just be born, so while we are pushing we can pray for the new life about to be born.

and for those of you who know me and my heart, this one really hit home. i love hearing and talking all about labor, delivery and babies!!! and this made total sense to me.

there are a lot of things that are going on around here and am going to push while we are praying so that we can get through some of this stuff!!

i hope you will be pushing along side of me!!!!


my baby is seven years old!

at 1:39 pm today seven years ago, my oldest son, joshua was born. what a big day!

today, joshua and i spent a few minutes looking at his baby album (note: he is the only child of mine who has a complete first year scrapbook, my second child has the first six months done and my poor third child doesn't even have an album to speak of -- yet!) and of course that sent me back to the day he was born. wow, was it really seven years ago? hard to believe. as joshua looked at the pictures of the day he was born, he made a comment about the one of his daddy holding him for the first time. he said, "daddy you look like you are about to fall out of the chair!" and jamil said, "i probably was about to."

i thought back to that day and how jamil and i had not a clue what we were getting ourselves into. we knew nothing about being parents, we barely knew anything about being married. so the sheer emotion of our new miracle and the unknown was definitely about to send jamil flying off of his chair.

jamil and i were married just about six weeks when we found out we were pregnant with joshua. so a lot happened in our first year of being married. we not only became newlyweds, we also became parents.

we were blessed with a very healthy little boy from day one. we have had only minor health problems like ear infections, flu, etc. and only to the e.r. one time for stitches in his chin. there have been more ups than downs during our seven years raising joshua. he is a very intelligent child who loves to make others laugh. he is very strong willed and sometimes pretty defiant. joshua can be pretty stubborn and he is very independent. he is learning leaps and bounds about who God is and he for the most part has a kind heart and pretty good manners. joshua is very athletic and has a lot of energy ~ which sends my grocery bill through the roof. he loves to write and draw and loves to build things. joshua is also a great reader. and he loves to play video games.