Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WFW - Girlfriend Getaway

My weekend had laughter...



It had praise..


It had sound Biblical teaching...


This weekend marked an important event in the Christ following story of my friend, Cindy Foor.  Cindy is one of the best Bible teachers I know.  I have heard her talk to women, to youth, and to just little old me, and every single time - she hits the nail on the head.  She has the unique ability to have me crying one moment, laughing the next, and often doing both at the same time!  Cindy is a true joy-filled Christ follower, and I love to be around her!  To quote her bio: "She allows God to use her as a messenger of His truth, gleaned from her time spent in prayer and study of His Holy Word. Although her teaching style includes lots of humor, that humor does not overshadow the depth of Cindy's passion to be a faithful steward of God's gifts to her. She is a generous and compassionate teacher with an ability to discern a group's or an individual's needs, and she guides them to God's Word for the application of His truths to their lives. She displays a holy boldness in her pursuit to inspire people to live their lives fully in Christ and the freedom He died to provide."

This weekend was the first ever Girlfriend Getaway!  God planted this idea in Cindy's heart last year - this idea to start a one-night getaway conference for women to gather, have fun with each other, and draw closer to God.  This weekend, in the ballroom of the Altoona Ramada, God's plan for Cindy's ministry was fulfilled.  We laughed, we cried, we allowed Cindy to speak God's Truth to us and His Word to pierce our hearts.  The conference is coming to Lancaster, Atlanta, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh.  If that's near you, will you join us? 




Photobucket

Tasty Tuesday - Pumpkin Cobbler

I found this recipe in Betty Crocker's Fall Baking Magazine.  It was easy and SO good!  I made mine in the morning before work and brought it in to share with my co-workers who gather for Friday morning coffee.  The prep time is only about 15 minutes, and then it bakes for about 50 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin - not pumpkin pie mix
1 can (12 oz) reduced fat evaporated milk
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
3 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup fat-free spread, melted (I used "I Can't Beliebe It's Not Butter Light)
1 cup chopped pecans (I had some candied pecans leftover from another recipe that I used)

1.  Heat oven to 350.  Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except cake mix, spread, and pecans with a wire whisk, pour into pan.
3.  In a medium bowl, mix cake mix and spread with pastry blender or fork until large clumps form.
4.  Spoon clumps randomly over mixture in pan.
5.  Sprinkle with pecans.
6.  Bake 50 minutes.
7.  Serve warm!

YUM!!!

I shared this with Tasty Tuesdays at
Beauty and Bedlam

Photobucket

Monday, September 27, 2010

We Were Packing

A year ago, we were packing.

A year ago, Isaac was still here, and we were packing.  We flew to Houston on September 28, 2009 for our first visit at MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

Yesterday, we sang Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go" in church.  It might have been the things shared by others that morning, or it might have been that I was tired, or it might have been leftover emotion from Girlfriend Getaway, or it might have been my thoughts of what was happening in my life a year ago...but I couldn't sing along with the first half of that song because I was crying. 

After we got done singing, our pastor asked if anyone else had anything else they felt compelled to share - and I did.  He asked if anyone's heart was beating with that "I think I should share this" feeling - and mine was.  But, I just couldn't talk.  I knew if I stood up, I would crumple into a messy pile of tears.  And yes - I know that would have been okay, and that people would have understood, and that they would have surrounded me with prayer and helped dry my tears.  But, I know myself, and I know that there are times when I start to cry and I just can't stop until all the tears are gone, and I knew that this was one of those times. 

I love the song "You Never Let Go". 

I couldn't sing the verses this morning that reminded me of how I felt last Fall - the "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Your perfect love is casting out fear.  Even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life, I won't turn back I know You are near." verses. 

Mid-song, however, God reminded me that where I was last Fall is so vastly different from this Fall in every aspect.  I sang the 2nd verse of that song with far fewer tears - "And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on, a glorious light beyond all compare."

And, for an extra dose of encouragement, God reminded me today that I quoted this verse from 2 Chronicles 20:17 in my CarePage update right before we left on our trip last year - "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”

Amen!

I shared this at the (in)courage carnival!


Photobucket

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worship

This Tuesday I attended a gathering called Liquid Tuesdays at a church in my area.  It's a laid back, mid-week gathering for 18-29 year olds that includes food, friends, teaching, and worship.  The food is always yummy, the people are terrific, the teaching is solid, but one of the things I like best is the worship.  I know not everyone feels this way, but I LOVE some rockin' worship.  I love the lights, I love to feel the beat of the bass and the drums vibrate through the room, I love to hear everyone around me singing at the top of their lungs.  It's like a little piece of Heaven right here on this screwed up earth. 

Tuesday night worship at Liquid was ROCKIN'.  There was a moment while we were singing "Our God" by Chris Tomlin, that I looked around and I didn't see a single person who was not completely and totally in worship of our Lord.  I swear at one point I could actually feel everyone around me as we reached hands in the air trying to reach closer to God.  It was one of the best worship experiences I've had in a long time.



But, there was something else special and unique about that time of worship.  For the first time ever, the song "Came to My Rescue" by Hillsong was included in a worship set.  I've never sung that song in worship, and I've barely listened to the whole thing because that's the last song that was playing on my Pandora when Isaac died.  My first blog entry after Isaac died included some of the details of our last few hours together.  I talked about reading "He who testifies these things says 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." from Rev. 22:20  and praying "Yes, Lord, come...come for him quickly". 

I haven't thought about that song in awhile, and having never actually sung through all the words before, I was again struck with the chorus: "I called, You answered. You came to my rescue and I want to be where You are."   Wow.  How true are those words in my life?  I called out to God and He came to my rescue and now my longing for Heaven is even greater.



I have always loved worship, but I have a new reason for loving it now.  As I lifted my hands and joined in "Our God" with those 50+ other people Tuesday night, it felt like what we'll do together in Heaven.  It reminded me that at that very moment Isaac was doing the exact same thing I was - singing praises to the King of Kings.  Everytime I worship in song I remember that, and I can't help but just smile and feel so much joy. 



Photobucket

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today Changed My Life



It was one year ago today that my life changed.  September 15, 2009.  This was the day that I got a text message from Isaac that said "Dr. T looked at my scans.  The pelvis is clear, but there are about 20 nodules in my lungs. Not good."  This was the day, one year ago, that I knew we weren't going to beat cancer.  We scrambled, about 2 weeks from hearing that news we were on a plane to Houston to see the best osteosarcoma specializing doctor in the country.  We were just praying for more time, because with 20 lung nodules, we knew there would be no cure. 

When people ask me how I manage to be "okay", I often tell them that I did a lot of my grieving before Isaac even died.  So for me, today represents something - today it has been one year since I began grieving the loss of my husband.  Today marks one year of truly understand why Isaiah 55:8-9 were Isaac's favorite verses.  I don't know why any of this happened to us, but I do know God is good.  It has been a crazy year, full of ups and downs, with one thing remaining consant - God is in control.





Photobucket

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reunited...and it was so good!

I spent Labor Day with 2 girls who I have known for 11 years.  They're pretty much my oldest friends who I still keep in touch with outside of Facebook. 

This was our first picture together.  It's extremely blurry, and really - why didn't anyone tell me about waxing?


Here we are at our college graduation:


A few years after graduation:

And this weekend:



These are the only 2 people, outside my family and my husband, that I have ever lived with.  We have shared much these 11 years - the ups and downs of college, getting jobs, being continents apart, our first boyfriends, engagements, weddings, ends of relationships, death, distance, joy, pain, much laughter, and lots of good food!


Sharing this with Emily @ Chatting at the Sky


Photobucket

Monday, September 13, 2010

Faaalllllll!!!!!!!!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee it finally feels like FALL!!!   I love Fall.  Actually, I love all of the seasons.  I am grateful to live in an area of the country that experiences all 4 seasons.  Fall just happens to be my favorite. 

Yesterday, when I got home from church I pulled out my Fall decorations.  For the past 2 years, I moved in November, so I didn't decorate for Fall knowing I'd have to repack all those items.

Fall is currently peeking out around my house in yummy scented candles, smiling pumpkins, leaves, and fall colors!  Here's a little tour of my "Fall house"!





















What does your "Fall house" look like?  Do you decorate for Fall? 

Photobucket

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Encourage!!

Today is the National Day of Encouragement!

I like to think God has blessed me with the gift of encouragement.  It's either that, or I just have an obsession with all things greeting card.

So, I was super excited when the gals over at (in)courage and the folks at Dayspring blogged an amazing offer - 10 free Dayspring greeting cards to anyone who promises to send them out and then report back!

Here are my 10 fabulous cards:


I have 8 of my 10 cards en route to some fabulous friends.  Cards are going to my grandma, my pal Michelle, 2 sweet college girls I pray for, and several friends going through difficult times right now.  I signed, sealed, and prayed!  I think one of the easiest ways to brighten someone's day is for them to receive a good, old-fashioned piece of "snail mail"!

Why not send someone you care about a card and brighten their day?
Photobucket

Friday, September 10, 2010

STAND UP!

Tonight marks the 2nd broadcast of my favorite television event!

I love this organization because they support groundbreaking research for ALL TYPES of cancer. Their research "dream teams" are working to find the newest, most innovative cures and treatments for cancer. The dream teams that SU2C gives grants to work together in a collaborative environment. They are some of the top minds in medical research. When you give to SU2C, 100% of your donation goes directly to research. Did you read that? 100%! Very few organizations can say that.


While I love a great type-specific organization (Nick and Friends Sarcoma Foundation is my favorite!), I love SU2C because they research everything.  Osteosarcoma took my husband, but pancreatic cancer took my grandfather and breast cancer took a friend.  Cancer touches everyone.  It doesn't discriminate because of race, age, or gender.  It doesn't care how much money you have or what kind of car you drive or the job you do every day. 



Tonight's SU2C event includes appearances by TV personalities, celebrities, musicians, artists, and public figures too numerous to list.  They have all been touched by cancer, and so have I. 


I know I'm making my donation, and I ask that you give as well.  Even just $10 will help the cause of fighting this disease.

I'm standing up.  Are you?



Photobucket

Friday, September 3, 2010

STRESS

This week has been crazy!!!!   We opened a brand new school in my district on Monday.  Now, in my previous district I was part of a staff that opened a new elementary school, so I thought this would be a piece of cake.

I thought wrong.

In my previous district, we only opened a new BUILDING.  It was the same elementary school, just in a different facility.  This time, we're opening a whole new school.  Bringing teachers from 5 elementary schools and a middle school together to make one new intermediate school for 1,500 students.  Do you have any idea how many little details there are in something like that?  Let me just tell you - it's insane.  No less than 5 times every day this week I have gone into another teacher's room, or they have come into mine asking "What time are we ______ ?". 

But, we made it through week 1 and today I actually felt a little bit of normalcy in my classroom, rather than the "Wait - what time are we going to that place?  And how do we get there?  And what's the teacher's name?" of the previous 4 days.  I'm super thankful that I get to work with a team of people who (with the help of some serious caffeine) can laugh about anything and get punchy rather than cranky when stressed.  It has made even this stressful week into something fun (ok, maybe "fun" is a tad strong of a word).

After that crazy week, I'm really glad it's the weekend.  Unfortunately, I still have to plan my lessons for the coming week, my house is a total disaster, my kitchen makeover still isn't finished (and I realllllly want to post pictures!!!), my laundry is piling up (and my dryer is broken - awesome!)....I could really use some sleep.

So I think the best thing to do is...

...go to the shore for the weekend with my college roommates.

Anyone else deal with stress by ignoring it and hoping it goes away?



Photobucket

Book Update

Well, now that summer is totally over, it's time to update on my summer reading list!

Here's my stack of summer books.  I reviewed part of them back in July

Since then, I've finished a few more books!

L.A. Candy:  This is about what I expected given that the book was written by MTV Reality Star Lauren Conrad.  It was fluffy, easy to read, and mind numbing. 

Hissy Fit:  This was my first book by Mary Kay Andrews.  It was passed on to me by a friend, and I really liked it!  It takes place in Georgia and the main character is an interior designer.  The story was predictable, but it was a fun read!

If I Stay:  This book was interesting.  I didn't actual read the whole thing, I read the beginning and the end and skipped a bunch of the middle.  I got the book off of the Young Adult shelf.  It was just okay.  Interesting story concept:  the main character is in a car accident with her whole family and she is watching herself in a coma in the ICU, deciding if she should stay on earth or die.  Strange.

The Girl She Used to Be:  Read this in one day.  It was an unrealistic and overly romanticized story of a woman who has spent her life in witness protection and ends up falling in love with one of the mafia guys who is after her.  There isn't a lot of depth to the character and the story is kind of flat. 

A Soft Place to Land:  I had high hopes for this book.  It was pretty good, but not the best book I've ever read.  The story is of 2 sisters who lose their parents in a plane crash.  Their parents' will dictates that one girl lives with an aunt in San Franciso and the other lives with family in Virginia.  The story follows both girls from childhood to adulthood.  It was a good read, and kept me hooked.

I'm in the middle of Balancing Acts right now!  I like it!


Photobucket

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WFW - Mission

I opened my Bible one morning this summer to Isaiah 61...and there it was - my purpose.  Why did God allow pain and loss and suffering in my life?  Because through that pain, He has given me the voice to proclaim His hope to the brokenhearted around me. 



Photobucket