August 24, 2017

august

August is slipping away. How is it that I started out so strong with blogging this year, and then as life began to "slow down" I stopped? I think maybe because as I get older, the less I feel the need to share my thoughts and life online. As time marches on, I do think about this blog and have the desire to keep posting, keep writing, keep updating. But life is changing, and as my priorities have shifted, this blog isn't anywhere close to the top anymore. If you still enjoy reading, I do thank you. I will keep posting, but clearly, just not as frequently and I won't make any promises of how often. 

I think one of the reasons I've slowed down is a simple lesson that time has taught me. Once you've said something - especially on the internet - it cannot be taken back. Once a picture is shared, it can't be unseen. I'm not really ashamed or embarrassed by anything I've ever shared on here, I just know that I want to stay guarded in this world that knows no boundaries. There have been enough times in my life that I look back on and cringe. I don't want to put those moments in a place where they cannot be erased. Once words leave your mouth - or fingers, in this case - they can only be forgiven, rarely are they forgotten.

The months of June, July, and August have fallen through my fingers like grains of sand. One moment I had a tight grip, the next they were gone entirely. I have been overwhelmed by God's grace and goodness. At the age of 24, I have begun to experience things that force me to look to Christ and pay more attention to Him than the circumstances around me. I feel as if these days my main request is for wisdom, while last year I had a bucketful of questions I couldn't even find words for. God can pull us out of our confusion and place us in peace if only we can adjust our focus on Him. I'm still trying, still learning, and a lot of the time it's still a struggle. Trust is simple, really, if we can just only let go of our own weak grasp on control.

On Father's Day, we were given a tangible gift that represented the answer to a specific prayer prayed for so many years. In February, 2018, my oldest brother Stephen and his wife Tara will add a little baby to our family!


July included the wedding of a close friend, and lots of swim days with my niece and nephews. August came and brought with it my friend Faith's sweet baby Judah and a huge creek baptism for our church. Jackson was baptized with several others that day, and who cares that all of us on the bank were hot and sweaty? There's such a sweetness about an old fashioned creek baptizing.




Monday was the day of the great solar eclipse, and we just so happened to live right in the path of totality. As long as I live, I will never forget that day. The photos below were all taken within a few minutes of each other, and the bottom one was around 1:28pm. Two minutes later, it was bright and hot again, but for those two minutes the crickets chirped, stars and lightening bugs came out, and we were surrounded by a 360° sunset. As goosebumps covered my arms I stood in awe of God's creation. How sweet that in a world such as ours, He still stuns the world with the evidence of His existence. How sad that some refuse to see it.


I suppose we're in the "dog days of summer", but as it cools off and September approaches with it's structure and schedules, I hope each of you enjoy it. Thank you for reading even though it's silent on here so often and my writing style refuses to stay the same. I really do appreciate it!



July 13, 2017

summer

Hello, readers, I'm finally getting around to posting again. My life has been an assortment of chaos and calm these past few weeks, but I seem to always remember the chaos more. Time is flying by! I can't believe we're already ankle deep in July.

I don't really have much to write about this week. We're in the middle of Music School and when I sit still and just think for too long I start to fall asleep. For summertime, I believe pictures and updates will have to suffice on here! I've come to realize there's a lot more of you reading than I originally thought. It's flattering and daunting all at the same time, but thank you so much for reading! 


Back at the end of June we had a baby shower for my friend Faith. It was so good to see her and celebrate her baby boy. Judah is due to arrive in just a few weeks!


This is Cowlick, a baby calf my sister-in-law is bottle feeding. Jace got to give her the first bottle with my mom's help!

 
We've had so. much. rain. The Fourth of July was cloudy and wet, but it cleared up enough that evening to sit outside and enjoy our neighbor's fireworks. I'm tired of the rain, but rainbows never will get old.


Green beans, green beans, green beans. We had a "garden" meal last week with fresh green beans, fried squash, tomatoes, and new potatoes all from this year's garden. I don't enjoy picking the produce, but I do enjoy "putting it up" and eating it!

I am fully aware that this is a "piddly" post, but I kind of want to put something up every now and then so I don't end up just forgetting about it. I hope you're all having a lovely summer! I'm heading out soon to enjoy this 90° day!


June 22, 2017

things i love thursday

Hello again, everyone! It's been a minute since I posted, so let me catch you up to speed real quick...

Since May 18, we've had two weddings, my mom took a trip to Paris with my oldest brother and sister-in-law, VBS, Jr. Camp, Youth Camp (all back to back!), my cousins and siblings and I spent a day at my grandparents' "spring cleaning", and a lot of other things got done that we just squeezed in somehow. Don't get me wrong, I love it, I just realized as I looked for my Proverb to read yesterday that it was the 21st....of JUNE. So that was a startling revelation.

youth camp 2017

So let's get into some of my favorite things over the last few weeks.

First, HAPPY SUMMER! Yesterday was the first day of summer, and let me tell you, I did not miss out on it! I wished all of my friends a happy day and generally just enjoyed the fact that even though it's felt like summer for the past month, now it's officially my favorite season!

pool days with the kids - Lena Rae swims without a ring float now, the three older boys can do handstands and flips and a gazillion other tricks, and Dougy Mac just jumps in and knows there'll always be someone to catch him. Warm skin, dripping hair, juice boxes...it's lovely.



fresh fruit - seasonal fruit will always be my favorite. Strawberry season came and went too quickly, but now there's watermelon and cantaloupe to chow down on!

"Grandparent's Day" - we didn't do this on the actual holiday, but the last Saturday in May several of my grandparent's grandkids met at their house to do some work for them. They never ask for anything, but it's been a hard year and we wanted to help out if we could. Since we're all adults, our schedules aren't great at matching up, so as many as could spent a Saturday morning washing windows, mowing, detailing their car, cutting wood, etc...whatever they needed! We ended with a big lunch and homemade ice cream. So far, it's probably been my favorite day of this year.

15 out of 22  (including "cousin-in-laws"), and 6 out of 8 "greats"!

Other things include...

Dougy's little laugh when he talks in his one word sentences - it sounds something like this: "Boys. Swim. Huh." | Lena Rae: "Kelley, when I get big like you, will you get me a phone like yours?" | simple pleasures - y'all know I love the little things, but it was raining today and this afternoon I made a bowl of spicy ramen to eat while I read a book and it was so nice | Bible trivia on Wednesday nights | VBS with the 2's and 3's | experiencing Youth Camp with 5 cousins there - 3 from my dad's side and 2 from my mom's! | new quotes


duck-duck-goose with 2 year olds - they're so little and huggable!

I remember these 2 cousins being born - now they're 14 and almost 16!

It seems like every year I find a quote that kind of runs around in my mind and becomes my non-spiritual motto for that year. Here's 2017's quote:

I hope you all have a great weekend, and that your summer is just beautiful. Thank you for reading!




May 18, 2017

a matter of time


I have so many things I want to write about, but can never seem to land on a topic long enough to come up with anything. I think it's because I've learned over the past year that a lot of the things that seem to constantly be on my mind also cast a shadow over my spirit and are simply things out of my control that are better pushed to the side of my thoughts. Things that only time will resolve and reveal, and I just need to wait.

I feel like I write too much about the topic of waiting, but that's the season of life I'm in right now. A lot of areas in my life cause me to practice this. Waiting for approval to finish a job, waiting on information to complete a list, waiting for healing, waiting on the Lord...waiting.

Right now there are a couple of things I want to grasp in my hands and fix, to make better, change, or finish. But in these situations, that's completely and entirely impossible. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it's not that my hands are tied behind my back and I'm completely helpless - because that's exactly how it feels - but it's a matter of faith, of total surrender to the Lord's will and timing. It's trusting Him to finish the job as He sees fit, and in the timing He's ordained.

Faith still doesn't always come natural to me. I'm someone who naturally wants to get things done and take action. It's one of the few things I inherited from my mom - Ladies' Meeting at 6:30? Our dishes are prepared and on a warming tray at 3:00. She calls herself a Martha, and I feel the same way so often. When you're naturally bent in that direction, sitting with empty hands and a troubled heart makes you feel so helpless.

Waiting. I asked my dad about it a few months ago, talked to him about how I knew it was simple enough, but didn't understand why God required so very much of it for some people, why even in it's simplicity it can be so hard. He reminded me that waiting can be another word for serving - like when you're at a restaurant, the job of your waiter is to serve you. Perhaps that's what God wants more of from me, from others - service. Wholeheartedly for Him. It's a lesson in patience, in service, in surrender.

Just a matter of time. I can flip back in the pages of my life and see things that have come to fruition quietly. Things that used to be such a big deal to me, but somewhere over the years they became smaller in my mind until they were resolved, and I didn't even notice. One day I'll look back on today, on the burdens that are so heavy for me, and realize God had a perfect plan. Yes, these burdens truly are bigger, more life-changing, and yet, however badly I resist, they are inevitable. I'll look back and see change and heartache, but I'll also see grace. 

If God can show me grace through the lonely days, through the difficult changes, surely I can be gracious in my service towards Him. It's just a matter of time until He reveals the reasons, shows us the full picture.


A Mendicant of God
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, "But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me."
He said, "My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee."
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

-Martha Snell Nicholson


May 11, 2017

things i love thursday




"God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don't have now we don't need now."
-ELISABETH ELLIOT



Summer Summer Summer Summer!!!!

Tennessee has come through and delivered the perfect "spring" weather (as far as I'm concerned)! 60° mornings and 85° afternoons. Warm, breezy (is this called "balmy"?) evenings with the scent of honeysuckle wafting around. I can admit that the weather greatly affects my mood.

Last night the teacher I normally help was out of town so I had the class on my own. I read a character story, but since it was fairly short I tacked on an animal story about a pack rat that was discontent. We talked about contentment for awhile, and I really enjoyed listening to their perspective. Contentment has been a thought on my mind for awhile, and last night I decided I really need to spend more time focusing on the people and things I love rather than comparison and impatience.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm a bubbly, lighthearted person because I'm pretty sure if you asked my family, they would tell you I lean towards being more of a pessimist than an optimist! But the past few weeks have been busy, warm, and glorious, and I am thrilled about it. Here are some things I've been loving.


honeysuckle infused sunsets | Dougy kisses | afternoons in the sunshine | cleaning out the pool (y'all ever burnt the inside of your elbow? try not to) | books | "Yard Sale-ing" with my friend | baking | shopping (online and in store! I've turned over a new leaf) | coffee with hazelnut creamer | park picnics & slip-n-side with the kids (I get to hold the water hose and give them an icy spray!) | a new thermos (it made my day, being an adult is so weird) | ice cream cones | churches that feel like a second home-church and an extra family (talking about Ridge Road!) | sleeping babies | Alabama & family reunions - we always come home with chocolate oatmeal cookies from Aunt Julie and almond bark candy from Aunt Pam - it's kind of nice when your dad's the "little brother" of ten people! | home



Are your windows open? Are you getting fresh air? Have you colored a coloring page lately? All of these things lift my perspective so much, I hope you have a chance to experience them soon! Last night one of the last things one of the kids said was, "Miss Kelley, you are so neat, you like coloring with us!" The yellow crayon I was using for the flowers is the same one I would have used to color in my spirit when she told me that. Do something with some children, they make everything a little more colorful!

20 minutes after taking this picture the 3 littles were sacked out! I just love their white hair :)


Have a beautiful weekend, friends!

April 20, 2017

patience


My dad was preaching at a church a couple of hours from home recently, and since it wasn't far away we all loaded up and went. Usually him preaching at a different church means we may hear a sermon we've heard before, but that's ok, even the same outline is completely different from church to church.

This particular time he gave a bit of his testimony and the history of Cornerstone. Now, this doesn't change, but I could listen to it over and over again. When he first came to the town we live in now, he was still in the convention. After his trial sermon, and older lady shook his hand and told him she'd been praying for him for twenty years. Since he'd only just met her, this was a bit confusing. After looking at her a bit confused, she said, "You don't understand, I've been praying for a Bible believing pastor for twenty years." That would have been around the time my dad was eight years old - the age he was when his abusive, alcoholic father passed away. This lady may have been praying for a pastor, but that pastor turned out to be my dad - and those twenty years in his life had involved several major car accidents, the way too early death of his mother, suicidal thoughts, salvation, the call to preach, marriage, college, seminary...you see where I'm going.

Due to a stand on the KJV and a few other issues, a few years later, my dad was asked to resign that church. He handed in his resignation, and when he and my mom got to the parsonage there was a group of people waiting for him. They wanted to start a church. An independent, King James only, Baptist church. Mrs. Hailey, our valiant prayer warrior, was part of that group. They first met in a tent, then a community church building that was falling apart, and then in '94 they moved into the newly built building we're still in debt free.

Today, Cornerstone has been going strong for 25.5 years. We've expanded our sanctuary 3 times, built a gym, a Missions House, a residents house, and a Sunday School building. We're at full capacity - and to be honest, we're probably beyond that but the only way to get more room will be an entirely new building for a bigger sanctuary. I don't say any of this boastfully because God has a different time frame for every person and every church, but I say it to illustrate the great power there is in fervent and heartfelt prayer.

Now, I've heard that story my entire life. I'm 24 and our church was established one year before I was born. I don't remember Mrs. Hailey but I've seen her prayer journal and my mom wears her ring. For some reason, sitting in that church that night, the twenty years she'd spent praying stood out to me. Twenty years is a long time. I wonder if God had given her any signs that her prayer would eventually be answered or if her faith was strong enough that she didn't need one. Growing up hearing about her, I feel confident it was the latter.

She isn't around today, she didn't get to see that our biggest "problem" is our growth - and how can that be considered a problem? People have moved from states away to attend Cornerstone...and all of the credit goes to God, but what if she had given up? There have been things I've prayed about for going on five years, and I feel like my answer must be a "no" because I've seen no progress, but what about Mrs. Hailey? The fruit of her prayers continues to produce more fruit. I think, if she could see Cornerstone Baptist Church today, she would be utterly delighted.

She prayed, and God had a plan. She had patience, and God provided in due time. 

This is a time a great turmoil and great opportunity in America. It's a time for action, but there's never a moment we can give up praying. When I think it's a lost cause, I remember Mrs. Hailey. Twenty years of prayers for the same thing. Can I be as faithful?

God may not answer our prayers in our time frame, and I've told Him a time or two how much that frustrates me, but His plan is much more complex than we can see. Our prayers may be helping someone we've never met. We may not get to witness the fruit of our prayers in our lifetime, but I sure am grateful for Mrs. Hailey. Without her prayers my life would probably be entirely different. I feel like there's a generation of people in our church my age and younger who are the products of her and seventy-something other people who stepped out on faith and prayer into the power of God. How can I not hope to do the same for a future generation?

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
EPHESIANS 3:20-21






April 6, 2017

making lemonade

My PawPaw is well known for loving lemon flavored anything. He's also famous for his dislike of chocolate, but he passed on the "lemon love" to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

A couple of months ago on his 85th birthday the dessert table was covered in lemon cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon cookies, and a gallon of sweetly tart iced lemonade sat to the side. One of his gifts was a yellow basket filled with more lemon snacks than I had ever seen. 

But although I could carry on about my PawPaw or my family or my favorite lemon treats for awhile, that's not really what's on my mind.

A package came into the mail today and I noticed the return address was from a long time family friend of ours. Whenever I think of this lady, I'm encouraged to be better. I always remember my mom describing her at a ladies' meeting several years ago as someone who'd been handed some lemons and was making lemonade.

I know we've all heard this saying, but I'll be honest and admit that the few tiny little lemons that have come my way haven't been made into lemonade right off the bat. I puckered up and sucked the bitterness for awhile, even though I much prefer a little sugar and water added.

The thing is, it's up to us to add the sweetness. To hold the lemons in our hands, whether we expected to receive them or not, and make a decision about what to do with them. God has given us the things we need to sweeten them up, and He's given us the free will to make that choice.

I know so many people who have made gallon after gallon of lemonade, I know people who are currently making a few batches. But there are also those who display their lemons and announce how terrible they are, holding onto them and protecting their bitter flavor. They carelessly squeeze out the juice, infecting others with the bitterness.

Everyone wants to be friends with the person offering free lemonade. It's a classic favorite! It just cannot be made authentically without a few sour lemons. 

I don't have any more metaphoric examples to give right off the top of my head, although I'm sure there are so many. This was just a thought I had on my mind today and I wanted to share it. 

The sun is supposed to come back out tomorrow so I think I'll make a batch of lemonade for my nephews and niece. I hope you each have a lovely weekend with just the right amount of sweetness!


one last chance to play with the moon sand