Thursday, November 18, 2010

my little Lulu

December 1, 2005 was a day that changed my life forever. That's the day I found out I was going to be a mommy! I was surprised- we were planning to wait longer, but thrilled nonetheless. And on July 24, 2006, I held my baby girl for the first time. She is the light of my life, so much like me. She looks like me, acts like me- she's like a mini-me. I love her dearly, and she means more to me than I can say in one post. She is so smart, so pretty- she has hair I would die for!, and she's such a kind child. God really smiled on me when He chose me to be her mommy.

I love you, Lulu!

my hubby

I'm thankful today for my husband. Garrett stole my heart literally almost the first time I laid eyes on him. I've written about how we met before. If you'd like to read it again, click HERE. The past 8 years have had their shares of ups and downs- heck, it's a regular roller coaster, but one ride I will always love! He puts up with my insecurities, which are numerous these days, and he comforts me. He's taken up for me in so many ways in the past few months, and sometimes it's cost him dearly. But, through it all, he smiles, all the while telling me I'm worth it. :)

I'm thankful for you, Garrett Pelt, and all life with you brings. I love you!

Hospice

This may, at first, seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but I truly am thankful for the local hospice facility.

November 6th, when this post would've originally debuted, was my grandmother's birthday. Ice, as we called her, went to be with Jesus in 2002, but not very many days go by that I don't think of her. I truly do not believe that people "come back in other people", but my goodness, both of my children both have so many qualities of hers- it's almost eery. To have never met or known each other, both Carter and Saralynn have so many of her tendencies. They both cross their feet- right over left- just like she did. My grandmother had an "I don't really care what people think about me" attitude that I sometimes really wish I had a little more of myself. One of the "Ice stories" we all like to recall is the day my mom, Matthew, and I were in the grocery store and turned down an aisle to see Ice standing there in her swimsuit, curlers in her hair- and that's it. No shoes, no cover-up, nothing. She was hot at home so she put on her suit (she didn't swim, by the way), she was curling her hair, and decided they needed something to eat, so she grabbed her keys and went on her way. That's just how she rolled. And I think often about how nice it would be to turn the corner in the grocery store again. To have her rock my children would be a highlight for me.

Ice went to hospice as she began to slip away from us and into eternity with Jesus, and the entire experience was absolutely wonderful! The staff loved on all of us and gave her such dignity as her life on earth ended. I can't say enough about them. Words would fail, so I really won't even try.

I have a co-worker whose family ushered her mother into eternity on the 6th, also through the hospice process. Because I haven't asked her permission to write about their journey, I won't say more than that, but I am grateful for the fact that hospice was available to them in their time of need, too. And I asked Ice to find my co-worker's mom and show her around her new digs. :) I'm sure she did.

If ever your family is faced with a situation where a hospice decision has to be made, please know how wonderful the experience truly is.

Bub

Today I'm thankful for my brother. Matthew. Bub. Uncle Bub. He has lots of names, but he is phenomenal. He's been mentioned on this blog before, but he's worth mentioning again. :)

I was 5 1/2 when he was born so I pretty vividly remember the process. He was born on a really cold day- March 6, 1986. Mom's water broke early in the morning. I had on my Superman footie pajamas, and put a sweatsuit on top of that. I had to wait on my grandparents to get to the hospital, so I drew pictures. Mom was a not-so-flattering pear shaped blob in most of the pictures. I remember ALWAYS wanting a brother. I'm not sure why I was so adamant about a brother, but I remember going to my little prayer nook (which happened to be beside the refrigerator ???) and praying for a brother. And I got what I prayed for.

Matthew always has been such a great human being. He is so kind-hearted, so encouraging, and always by my side and in my corner. We fussed and grumbled a little as we grew up, as all siblings do, but I don't know that we've ever had any knock-down, drag-out fights. And he loves my children. He spoils them on special occasions and holidays, and though a Saralynn fit will sometimes evoke a "remind me not to have kids" comment from him, he adores my children, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.

He is, thus far, the only college graduate from our family, and I am so proud of him. He has a great job at a wonderful company that he took pretty much right after graduation. He gets to travel and see the world like he'd hoped to do, he gets to use his creativity, and he's making a difference in his own way on the world, and I just can't say enough about how cool it is to watch him in action.

Growing up, I always was keenly aware that he was watching me, following in my footsteps, and so I credit him for helping me keep my nose clean (or at least somewhat). I wanted him to live his own life and not be "Mary Beth's brother". In alot of ways now, I'm "Matthew's sister", and I'm totally fine with that. I love him and only hope to be somewhat like him when I grow up. :)

So, during this time of thanksgiving, I'm so thankful for you, Matthew. Thanks for all you teach me and for the way you love and support me. I'm a better person for having you in my life.

Love,
Dis (He couldn't say my name and called me "Dista" for sister, and "Dis" stuck all these years later). Love it!

So behind on posts, but not on thankfulness!

I'm so very behind on posting, but that doesn't diminish the thankfulness in my heart today... Here goes a marathon of thankful posts!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Laughter

Today I'm grateful for laughter. Because that seems to have been the one constant that's defined our work day. It started out a little gloomy as we have two co-workers that are dealing with loss. One lost a family member and one is in the process of learning to say goodbye, and it's hard to watch. But, by the time lunchtime arrived, my cheeks were hurting so badly from laughing that I couldn't do anything but be grateful. I don't really know what we've laughed about, but I know we've laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. It really is, after all, the best medicine sometimes!

A Rowdy Bunch of 4-Year Olds

That's what I'm thankful for today. It's Wednesday, and that means one thing: it's time for IGNITE, our Wednesday night children's program. I teach choir to Saralynn's group, which is so BIG we have to split them in half if we have any hope of maintaining control. We average about 22 each week, and we have THE.BEST.TIME learning about each other and about Jesus and His love for us. I'll have to get Garrett to help me upload some video. They sang in "big church" last week and did a fantastically wonderful job. As a "leader" I couldn't have been prouder. I'm grateful for the gift of each child in that room, and I told them all individually last week what they meant to me and what they bring to the group. I'm one proud Mama and teacher! Love me some 4-year olds!!!

I Didn't Vote

Not exactly what you thought you'd see for a thankfulness post title, huh?

Well, see, it's like this. I was going to vote. Really, I was. But the cold/sinus/whateveritwas yuck came to visit me and I was IN.THE.BED.ALL.DAY.

That does not, however, diminish my gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy every day. As with the electricity, water, food, etc. I have at my disposal every day that I take for granted, the rights I have based solely on my location on Planet Earth are gifts I don't think of nearly often enough. But, even though I didn't get to exercise my right to vote, I'm still grateful for the chance to do so. And I'm praying for those that were elected into office, that they learn from the past and look forward to the future.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful

I had trouble accessing the blog again yesterday, so the first thing I'm thankful for this month is actually being posted on the 2nd. Oh, well. It doesn't diminish my thankfulness.

I read something Monday morning that suggested I go through my house room by room, thanking God for the material things He had provided me. Whoa, I thought. I'm not sure that's such a good idea. But, I kept reading, and liked what I read. I like to put my own spin on it, though, which leads me to what I'm grateful for today.

I am grateful to live where I live. With my parents? Yes. My husband and my children live with my parents, and have since before both of my kids were born. It's strengthened my relationship with my parents, my husband, and my children. Has it strained it, too? At times. But, it works for now. My kids know "home" and "their beds" no matter if Garrett and I have to be out of town or not. They get to see my parents every day. Life is good.

I know that there are plenty of people who don't have a warm place to live. No family to live with. And that makes me sad. And it makes me pray for them.

God, help me to do what I can to make sure that at least one life is bettered by my actions.

Thankfully,
Mary Beth

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful November

Today is November 1st. The dawn of a new month. A month in which to be execptionally grateful. Let the thankful, grateful posts begin...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Big 3-0

Today I embarked on a new journey in my life- entering my 30s. My dad and Carter wished me Happy Birthday first, followed by Garrett, and then my sweet Saralynn. "Happy Birfday Mommy. You're firty." Thanks for the reminder, Dear One. My mom followed suit not long after. I'm a very blessed girl.

A few thoughts on what I've learned in the first 30 years of this wonderful life I've been given (in no particular order)...

1. The older I get, the faster time flies. (This applies even more to watching my children grow- it's just going by too quickly.)
2. Some days are just rainy days.
3. I miss my paternal grandparents. They would've loved watching my children grow.
4. I'm thankful that we get to visit my maternal grandparents each Friday. I'm sure that when they Memaw and Papa go to meet Ice and PaClyde in Heaven that they'll share some pretty funny stories about Saralynn and Carter with them.
5. I'm still a Daddy's girl.
6. I'll always need my Mama.
7. My brother is my hero.
8. My husband is the light of my life. I have no doubt that we were created for each other.
9. I think I could have the chance to sing and lead God's people in worship every day and it wouldn't be enough.
10. Thinking about the huge worship service that awaits me in Heaven excites me!
11. I love fresh out of the tub wet baby hair.
12. I still want to adopt a baby some day. There's a brown skinned baby out there (and maybe 2) that will complete our family.
13. Sometimes you just aren't as close to people as you think. They're a bigger part of your life than you are theirs.
14. I love being able to talk sports with my Daddy and somewhat hold my own.
15. Most Memorable Birthday Ever: 20th- 9.12.00- My mom and dad conspired with Bobby and Christina Jones to have our college Bible Study meet at Los Nopales for the evening. I thought it odd that we would meet somewhere to eat since Christina usually cooked for us. Little did I know it was a birthday party for me. My first surprise party!
16. 2nd Most Memorable Birthday Ever: 21st- 9.12.01- the day after 9.11.01. I woke up and immediately realized how much I missed my grandparents. That was the first birthday that they had not acknowledged with a ridiculously too early phone call to me. My grandfather had already gone to the arms of Jesus and my grandmother was debilitated by the heinous disease of forgetfulness that eventually took her from us. And then I quickly realized how many other people woke up missing people, too. I'll never forget...
17. 3rd Most Memorable Birthday Ever: 22nd- 9.12.02. I didn't have class that day (but I think that was by my own choice.) I woke up to the phone ringing around 9:30. It was Garrett. We'd only been dating about 2 months, but he'd taken the day off and surprised me with a visit to LaGrange. So fun. I really don't remember everything we did (oops) but I remember he bought me a Beta fish and took me to the coffee shop that night.
18. Even though the last month or so is tough on me personally, I LOVE being pregnant. (I am, however, done being pregnant.)
19. I want to go back to college one day.
20. I love watching my little girl learn something new.
21. My son melts my heart with pretty much anything he ever does.
22. Sometimes all you can do is cry.
23. A coloring book and some crayons are the best stress relief!
24. Learning to sew isn't as hard as I thought.
25. I still don't understand the need for ridiculously scary movies. Which is why I don't watch them.
26. I miss playing Mary in the Living Christmas Tree each Christmas.
27. I still want to learn to play the guitar.
28. Watching Saralynn "play" soccer is hilarious.
29. Carter eating cat food wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
30. I'm ready for the next firty years of my life!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grass Stains

Do they bother you? They don't bother me.

Excuse me?

That's right. I don't mind the sight of a grass stain. Maybe if it were on my great-grandmother's heirloom garment or something I might feel differently, but otherwise I have absolutely no problem with grass stains. This stems from my last blog post.

You see, that wonderful, beautiful, albeit hot and muggy night in July in the mountains of Tennessee when Jesus called me to minister for Him was also the night I got the worst. grass. stains. ever. And the best part? They weren't on my clothes.

They were on my knees.

As I mentioned before, I was never really big on the whole "get on your knees and pray" deal. As far as I knew, I could pray just fine on my hind end in a chair or on my feet, or even laying in bed at night. But that night I learned a great deal about what it means to be in an attitude of prayer. I still remember the outfit I wore- a red and white striped shirt, blue jean shorts, and navy Keds with no socks. (No comments, please.) I spent a really long time on my knees experiencing Jesus that night. If I close my eyes and concentrate really hard, I can almost smell the scent of the grass. But I can still picture the grass stains on my knees. They stayed for days- I think through the rest the week we were at camp. An argument could be made that the less than stellar showering situation could've contributed to the extended stay of the greenish tent on my knees, but I like to also think the Master Gardner Himself used it as a reminder of what He had done in and through me that night.

Think back to a time in your life when you experienced a grass stain. Most likely that stain resided on a piece of clothing or some other material. The first time you slid into second base in a T-ball game? A picnic with a special someone that left a mark on the blanket you sat on? I'm sure at some point we've all had a stain to set in. And if we were around our mom during that time, we might've, just maybe, been scolded for said stain. "Do you KNOW how hard this stain is to get out of your clothes?"

Luckily for me, the stains on my knees eventually went away. But, the pigments, or memories, of that night stained my heart in such a way that a beautiful piece of artwork was born. The Artist Himself holds the brush and works, stroke by stroke, painting on the canvas of my life. Sometimes I try and take the brush thinking a blue stroke would be better than the green one He used, or thinking the road He's painting should go left instead of right. But, with patience that only He possesses, He lovingly and delicately takes the brush back from me and paints a curve that swerves the road from the left- and the danger sign that's ahead- back to the right, and smiles as He envisions how straight the road will be.

So, the next time you come across a grass stain- whether in your own garment or your child's, stop and think back on the situation that made the stain. Take time to see it for what it is- a chance to reflect. Stains are life-changing things, especially to the garment that bears them.

I hope you have a grass stain moment with Jesus soon, if you haven't had one lately. I've spent a lot of time in the past months trying to paint my own picture. Trying to make it match the vision Jesus gave me that July night so long ago. And I'm learning that the timing just might not be right for that picture to be finished. But through it all I'm learning. Learning that even though that vision was given to me, it wasn't time-stamped. Sure, I would've thought three years- one of planning and preparation and two of actual events and services- wold be enough. But, it's His timing and not mine. I'm thankful that what's on the canvas now is a picture of me and a very dear friend singing this coming Sunday.

And, if I look closely at the painting, I think I see a grass stain...


Thursday, September 2, 2010

When People Let You Down

This is yet another devotion I came across today- on a day that I really needed it. I'm sharing it because it's healing for me to share, and because I hope it helps someone else, too.

I've been struggling with a particular issue/situation for the better part of three years. Yes, I know- the Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years, so what's three years, right? And, you're right- three years isn't that long. But, when things don't always go as planned, three years can seem like eternity.

You see, I felt a call on my life in the summer of 1993 to ministry. Vague, right? Maybe. Ministry takes on many faces, many voices- it can really be anything from writing a note to a shut-in once a week to moving across the world and sharing Him. However, during this calling, I had a vision of me leading worship. Again, vague, right? I have, after all, been singing in "big church" since I was three. Leading worship has become part of who I am- not just what I do. It warms my heart so to watch people from my vantage point as they enter the throne room of the King. I guess you could say I am helped in my worship by others and their worship.

I love to hear the stories of how Jesus touches people. For that reason, I share mine. I accepted Jesus as my Savior in early 1990. I was in the fourth grade, and it was Revival time. I LOVE church revivals. It's a time for a refreshing word from a different perspective, at least most of the time. This one was no different. Revival was compartmentalized by adults and kids. Our church was, I would say, filled with between 100-150 per service. A pure guess, but... There weren't usually very many kids- in fact, I was the only kid my age. But, the preacher that week took one night- Tuesday, I think- and spoke directly to the kids in the Fellowship Hall. He talked about our hearts and what they look like when they're full of sin. The Fellowship Hall became our heart, and as he spoke, he threw trash, paper, etc. all over the floor. The place was a mess! To make a long story short, the image of him having to kick around trash and nastiness just to be able to talk to us- and that representing the sin that infiltrates our hearts- spoke to this chick. I prayed with my preacher-all-my-life grandfather to ask Jesus into my heart and walked to the front of the church the next day or day after. (I think I actually made my "faith walk" on that Thursday.) I was in the pew with my Daddy, and as we prayed, I clearly felt a hand on my shoulder. I thought it was my Daddy, nudging me that "it was time." I looked over through a peeked eye (we are after all, praying), but he was in an attitude of prayer- head bowed, eyes closed, no doubt praying for me. I stayed put. Again, the hand. And again, not my dad. (Remind you of something? Samuel? Eli? Anyone?) I finally realized (duh) that it was the hand of Jesus, nudging me to the next step in my journey with Him. I went forward, made my profession of faith, and was baptized on Easter Sunday.

Fast forward a couple of years to Youth Camp. Hunter green t-shirt with a mountain-climber dude on the back- sky blue writing. "Reach the Peak". I know someone remembers... Again, Tuesday night. What's up with me and God and Tuesday? (Subsequently, I met my husband on a Tuesday. I digress.) The speaker calls for a time of prayer, and I feel a nudge. Talk about hair standing on the back of my head. We're in the mountains of Tennessee. It's hot. Maybe I'm delirious, but I feel it- just like I did in the pew of Unity Baptist Church. I look over, thinking maybe someone beside me just needs out. Nope, no one there. Really? So, I surrender to the Hand and leave my folding chair. I'm sitting about 6 rows back, looking at the stage, on the right. I have no idea where I'm going or why I'm going, but I am led to a patch of grass to my right. I feel the hands lead me to my knees, and my face into the grass. Whoa- I'm not really used to this whole "face to the ground" thing. But, I can't deny the Hands. I cry out to Him- "why am I here?" And, as audibly as I hear the pecking of the keyboard now, I heard "because you're going to minister for Me." Um, ok. "I have given you a voice- now use it. I want you to help lead my people as they worship Me." And then, I see it- a vision of the gym at our church. And I'm there, helping lead. I'm singing- people I don't even know are playing instruments around me. We're singing a song I don't know. But, we're there- I can see it clearly. And it's wonderful. It's beautiful. It's natural- right where I know I belong.

Now fast forward a few more years, to a time and place in our church that looks ALOT like the vision I had in Tennessee that year. I mean, ALOT. Like, the same. To think that our church would venture into such an environment was sort of unheard of in my younger years, but now, we're there. And, because of the vision I had, and the longing in my heart to help lead people to Jesus, I just figured I'd be there. If I had the vision, surely that meant I was to be a part, right? Maybe. But that hasn't been the case yet. And I'm hurt. I'm sad. I'm disappointed. And I've acted out of those emotions. My sweet husband, trying to come to my defense, has acted out of those same emotions, and has been admonished greatly for it. And I don't like it. That in itself hurts me. This is my battle to fight. My questions to ask. Garrett didn't sign on for it- he's just trying to protect me. To say that the past three years has been a struggle would be an understatement. I've been told to seek God more, listen to God more, try and understand where others are coming from in their decisions more- they're listening to God, after all. Well, so am I. And don't get me wrong- I don't think God gives people varying visions and such about the same situation. He's not a God who sets out to confuse us. And I know that we're all doing the best with what we have and what we feel, but I would really appreciate being heard- and I would really appreciate someone acknowledging the fact that I, too, am seeking after Him. Sure, there have been times I've not heard Him clearly and begged for something from Him. The past few years have been plagued by many other struggles- not just this one, but in it all I've tried to listen. I feel alot of the time that I'm just alone. Standing in the midst of a crowd, yelling at the top of my lungs, and being completely ignored. I can't help the way I feel. Am I wrong? Maybe. But, as the saying goes, it is what it is, and I can't shake that feeling. Sure, I've been told my day will come, and even that the day is closer than ever, but honestly, I've heard that before. And, again, I'm hurt. And again, I can't help it.

Fast forward now to today's devotion. So. Timely. For. Me. I will lead worship this Sunday with one of the greatest friends I've ever had in my life. And I am so excited to do so! My friend playing guitar, our voices joining together as they have so many times before... Pure excitement! And, oh, the vision I have of the activities of Heaven while we sing. I can picture my grandfather- whittling away on old wooden spools, making tops for the children sitting around he and my grandmother. She's rocking babies, both her outstretched feet hitting the floor at the same time as she makes the rocking chair rock. And around them, the cherubim themselves- watching over them all and singing "holy, holy, holy" in time with the flutter of their wings. What a beautiful picture!

I am still disappointed. I'm still hurt. But, today, I'm choosing to grieve what I "thought" would be reality, and grab hold of what is reality. I've spent too much time trying to put my vision and my calling into words. Frankly, I'm tired of crying, being upset, and upsetting my husband in the process. So, today, I'm choosing to let go of what wasn't and isn't, and hold onto what is.

When People Let You Down

2 Sep 2010
Melanie Chitwood

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8 (NASB)

Disappointment feels like a heavy rock sinking to the bottom of my spirit. I've felt disappointed in many situations – a business opportunity that didn't pan out, a writing door that didn't open, and a relationship that broke my young heart.

The heaviest disappointments for me, however, stem from people. And not just any people; people who I'm closest to. People who turn out to be not at all what I hoped they'd be, or not who I thought they were.

I know I'm not alone in wondering how to deal with people who let me down. Just this week a friend said with a choke in her voice, "I wish my mom and I could be closer, but I don't think we ever will be." Another woman said with despondency, "My husband and I just don't talk." I've heard the edge of bitterness in women's voices as they vow never to trust again because of a friend's betrayal. And most of us have swallowed the hopelessness that comes with a broken heart, "I thought he was the one."

I've tried different ways to handle disappointments in relationships. One way is to ignore the disappointment, to shut it in a box and hope the lid holds. Another way is to gloss over it with a quick statement such as, "People will let you down, but God never will." True, but does this really help me process the hurt?

One morning in my quiet time I was pouring out my sadness, anger and disappointment about a close relationship. As the tears slipped down my face, I begged God to show up. What do I do with all this? Show me and I'll do it because what I've been doing is not working.

Clear as a bell ringing in my spirit, Jesus said, Grieve.

Really? I questioned. I remembered that Jesus knew all about disappointment – Peter's denial, Judas' betrayal, and the disciples falling asleep during His anguish before His crucifixion (Matthew 26). I remembered people in the Bible who were well acquainted with people they loved letting them down, such as Joseph or Job. I felt reassured that Jesus wouldn't misunderstand my sadness as a lack of faith.

So I cried, feeling every ounce of the disappointment. I told God all the things I wish were different about this relationship, all the things I thought this person had done wrong, and what I wish this person would do differently.After the winds of grief subsided, I was done. Grieving was the bridge I had to cross to move beyond the disappointment. On the other side I found myself in a place where I could embrace the relationship for what it is, not what it's not.

On the other side of grief lies a place where we can consider how to respond to the person who disappointed us. There are a number of possible responses. Sometimes we need to talk to the person or get godly counsel. Other times we may need to create healthy boundaries, or we may need just to let it go. Only after we've allowed ourselves to grieve, however, will we know how to respond to this person in the way that God wants. Then the words, "People will let you down, but God never will," will be truly comforting, not just empty words.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful that when it feels like no one else understands, You do. You understand about being disappointed in people but You loved them in the midst of that. Lord, I want to follow Your example. I'm thankful You know this sadness is a part of healing from the pain of disappointment. Give me guidance in handling this -I trust that You can bring good out of this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Something Profound Today

I get an emailed devotional each day. Some days, they don't speak directly to me in a really profound way. Maybe that day's nugget isn't meant to speak to me directly. Other days, though, the words pierce my heart. Today, the words did just that, so I had to share here. I know that not many people, if any, some days, even read this blog, but if you're reading today, allow me to share:

Damaged Goods
13 Aug 2010Carol Davis, A She Speaks Graduate

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

I walked down the aisle of the discount grocery looking for a bargain that I couldn't live without. It's always hit and miss in this store...and I had missed...again.

But, I passed by a bin that caught my eye. "Damaged Goods." It was filled with dented cans and missing labels...no real rhyme or reason, just random items that were not shelf worthy. And suddenly, I knew just how they felt.

Life sometimes delivers the unexpected. Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks bruise us, dent us and remove the label that defines who we are. We feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on the shelf. Some people substantiate the lie that we are second class failures and all hope is gone.

So, I leaned over and intentionally chose a dented can with no label from the bin. I got it home and placed it on the can opener with anxious anticipation. The whirr of the can opener finally penetrated the metal lid to reveal....peaches!!! I let out a school girl squeal! I love peaches!! What a treat to open this can and be greeted by one of my favorite fruits. The can was damaged but the contents were still good...and sweet.

God must have smiled...because at that moment the sunshine beamed in my kitchen window. I knew in my heart there was a lesson.

I have been damaged. We all have to some degree. I am not living the life that I dreamed about when I was a kid. However, the damage that I have suffered has made the contents of my heart so much sweeter, so much more compassionate, so much more in pursuit of Jesus. I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my label missing and slapped on their own.

I've wanted to say, "Don't judge too quickly. My damage has not defined me...but, it is refining me." I may be at the bottom of the life's bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as He did for those that are proudly displayed on the top shelf.

Look around you. Is there someone in your life, your family or your church that you consider "damaged goods"? Don't miss an opportunity to reach out to them, to love them. You just might find a friendship that is good...and sweet.

Dear Lord, my life hasn't turned out exactly turned out like I thought it would. But, I know that You can still use me. Please forgive me for labeling others and judging them by their outside circumstances instead of the work that You are doing in their heart. Help me realize that we all have dents but that's what keeps us desperate for a Savior. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

In Awe,
Mary Beth

Friday, July 16, 2010

the number 8

Today is July 16, 2010. To most people, it's just another day in paradise. For me, it's a huge day, and for many reasons.

July 16, 2002 was the day that changed my life forever. I was the youth minister at First Baptist Church in Pine Mountain, GA, and had taken my youth group to that awesome annual event called Summer Camp. I am privileged to know some really great people in ministry, and thanks to one of those ministry heroes of mine, I connected with a really great group of other ministry heroes at Ormond Beach youth camp in Daytona Beach, FL. By most accounts, the Tuesday of camp is a huge day- it's the first full day of activities, the first morning devotional, etc. But one thing that always set Ormond Beach apart from any other camp I've ever been affiliated with was the fact that the youth ministers themselves weren't given a specific role for the week. We weren't asked to lead a small group. We didn't have to necessarily chaperone a room (though I did). We were there just to love on our kids and form unforgettable relationships with our youth as we pointed them to the greatest Love ever known. Given the free time I had, I was headed to the beach. Or so I thought.

My lily-white legs were taking me straight to the beach. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. However, I saw one of the members of the leadership team frantically talking on the phone and gesturing with her hands. "Go outside, Mary Beth. You know your mission is to get some sun." But I just felt drawn to the scene. I found out through the side of the conversation I could hear that the room we used for our big group sessions had been vandalized the night before. Someone was needed to inventory what was still in the room, which would tell us what wasn't in the room. Was I free? Sure, I guess. At least I wouldn't have to think of a Halloween costume that year- I could go as Casper's girlfriend. No sweat.

Yellow notebook and black gel pen in hand, I was told to follow the tech guy around- it looked like his stuff was hit hardest. Great. Follow some goofball around that's going to be upset about every Energizer battery that's missing. I'm sure to hear more about megabytes and video cameras than I could ever want to know. Oh, how wrong one person can be.

Lest you think I didn't meet a techy goofball, let me clarify. Yes, I did meet that guy. But he wasn't at all like I expected him to be. He was sweet, pretty funny, and extremely passionate about his role during the week. It was his responsibility to make sure that the camp attenders had the best visual experience possible. In his words, what he did or didn't do with camera shots, etc. made an impact on people's worship. Wow. I was impressed. It wasn't "hello", but he had me, nonetheless.

Fast forward to today. I met, dated, and married that techy goofball, and through God's provision, he's given me two techy goofballs in training. And they're also a big reason why today is so special to me.

Carter, aka Monkey Man, Gus Gus, and George, turns 8 months old today. I'm pretty sure I just had him yesterday, but my calendar says yesterday was 8 months ago. As I type he's shrieking and playing, rolling and smiling. He's been through alot healthwise in his 8 months, and I'm more than grateful that, at least in his world, today is just business as usual.

Saralynn is 8 days away from her fourth birthday. Since I just had Carter yesterday, I just had her last week, but again the calendar says it's been almost 4 years. As I type she's twirling in front of her dresser mirror to the joyous sound of the VeggieTales gang as they sing "Joy to the World". No, your calendar isn't deceiving you- it really is July. I just have an overly creative child. She gets that from her daddy. :)

Garrett is away tonight, using his gift of photography to enhance the wedding of some really dear friends. I was supposed to go, but am instead here, typing and taking care of our two blessings. I wish he were here so we could talk about all the crazy things we've done over the past 8 years, but I'll remember them now, and we'll discuss them at another time.

For now, I'm grateful for today and for what it means. It's a great day! Thank you, Garrett, for coming into my life 8 years ago and doing all you could to ensure it would never again be the same.

And the number 8 will always be a good number. It was, after all, my T-ball jersey number. And we all know what a famous T-ball player I became.

Friday, July 2, 2010

VACAY!

We are headed to Mississippi for a much-needed vacation, filled with family, fun, and a swimming pool! Pictures to come- I really promise this time! (Since thousands of people read my blog anyways...)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Little Out of Order...

So you haven't seen pictures yet. Nor have you read about Carter's birth and first five months. I know, I know. I'm behind. I promise to catch you up soon, but for now, I must ask for your prayers.

Carter has had quite a few respiratory and intestinal issues during his short little life that have led to a recommendation by our pediatrician that we have him tested for cystic fibrosis. It shall from here on out be known as CF. Two letters I've not ever thought about in the same thought. C is for Carter- my maiden name and now the name of my son; C is for cat; C is for cookie. F is for frog; F is for fun; F is for fruit. But C and F together? Not something I've ever thought of together. Dr. A. began to talk to us about a month ago about testing Carter for CF since he's had so many issues- an RSV stint that hospitalized us, an intusseseption stint that hospitalized us, and many other bouts in between.

So, on her recommendation, we report tomorrow morning, April 19th, to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Egleston campus for a sweat-chloride test that will either confirm or rule out a cystic fibrosis diagnosis for Carter.

I've been thinking alot about tomorrow, and for many reasons. Firstly, tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of the day my grandmother went to be with Jesus. "Ice" as we called her began to slip away from us about a year and a half before her homegoing, having been plagued with dimentia symptoms that slowly took the grandmother we knew away. But we loved her no less. She had such a heart for children- rocking many a baby at the day care center my own children now attend. Oh, how much she would've loved knowing my sweet Saralynn and Carter. They both have some of her qualities. Both of them cross their feet like she did. Saralynn lives with the same reckless abandon for which my grandmother was known. I have thought of her often- especially in the last few days since we've learned of our date with CF destiny. I didn't think much about it at first, but then I wrote the date in an email and seeing it on the screen brought my fingers to a halt. Is it a coincidence? I think not. My grandmother will be watching over us, alongside my grandfather, as we await the results that will change the course of our lives forever.

I said I've been thinking about tomorrow for alot of reasons- another one of them because I've been hit with the revelation that our lives change forever tomorrow. Why the gloomy attitude, you may wonder. I choose to think of it not as gloomy but as realistic. And I don't mean to sound like I'm bringing something unnecessary on Carter. But, the fact is, our world will change. We will either A) learn that Carter has CF and begin a journey of educating ourselves on all that will change for us, or B) learn that Carter does not have CF and be able to check it off the list of ailments plaguing our child. Either way, life changes. If he does not have CF, praise God! If he does have CF, praise God! The same God that molded and shaped him before we knew him is the same God that will carry us along the journey- whatever that journey is. I am fully convinced that if Carter does not have CF, God has given us this path to follow so that we can relate with those families whose loved ones do have CF. I will never look at CF the same way again. Please hear me again- I'm not bringing more on my child than what is already charted out for him- I'm merely trying to be obedient and listen to the will of my Jesus- and I firmly believe that will, at least for now, is for me to learn to relate to those families who deal with CF on a daily basis, and that's exactly what I intend to do.

I ordered a book in February that arrived yesterday. Angie Smith is a brilliantly gifted author who has written the story of her daughter Audrey for the whole world to read. If you aren't familiar with her story, go to http://audreycaroline.blogpot.com. You will surely fall in love with her just as I have. Angie's book, "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" arrived yesterday and I've read 3/4 of it already. I don't think it's by accident that the book showed up earlier than expected. It has spoken to the heart of this mommy ho so desperately wants to know what's wrong with her baby and wants Jesus to be glorified in every detail. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the results of tomorrow's test and our family's journey from this point on are not mysteries to God. He knows and i carrying us through the uncertainty.

Will you pray with us? Yes, I want a healthy baby. I don't want to think of daily meds and regular visits to the doctor, but if that's His plan, then pray with us that we are moldable clay that can be used by the Potter. Refine us, Jesus.

Thank you for praying alongside us.

For the Sake of the Call,
Mary Beth

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I PROMISE we're all ok... It's just been a journey :)

For those (ok, 1) of you that read our blog, you'll notice a prolonged absence. Let's just say that adjusting to life with 2 kids has been an adventure. And, about the time Carter made his arrival (a post or two on that note to follow), Garrett began working 10+ hour days, so my time for "playing" on the computer, as he calls it- I call it writing on the blog- was non-existant. But, all is well- we're loving every single nanosecond of being a family of 4 and can't wait to catch you up on life around here. Buckle up tight- many posts to come. (Just maybe not all today...)

I signed off last year with the word "Intentionally" because that was my buzz-word for the year. 2010's buzzword is "details". Not sure how I'll incorporate that into a signature, but, it's my goal this year to pay more attention to the details. In the lives of my family, of those around me, and in the lives of those that will come into my life for the first time. Yes, I'll even pay closer attention to the details in the lives of those that will leave my life this year, if God ordains that be so. He does, after all, give and take away. I'm praying above all for HIS will to prevail for my family and for my own life in 2010 like it never has before.

Let's give this one a try...

Working on the details,
Mary Beth