This song is on my heart as we leave 2007 and enter 2008. I pray that you spend some time thinking and praying about your life in this new year. We all have so many desires and wishes for each new year that rolls around, but God has revealed to me some simple things...."Live for Me!"
Ok, I'm all yours Jesus. I'll pray that my everyday life is lived out for you.
Even if you have seen or heard this song a million times, give yourself 4 minutes to listen and let it soak in. I just love this video. Enjoy y'all!
May 2008 bring you closer to Him and may He be your hearts greatest desire~
Sunday, December 30, 2007
This song is on my heart as we leave 2007 and enter 2008. I pray that you spend some time thinking and praying about your life in this new year. We all have so many desires and wishes for each new year that rolls around, but God has revealed to me some simple things...."Live for Me!"
posted by Fran at 5:33 PM
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
We had a fabulous Christmas and covered a lot of family, food, and gifts in 24 hrs time. I won't comment too much on each picture, but allow you a look inside our time together!! I hope Christmas blessed you all.
Where is Santa now?? We only checked this radar every 2 minutes!! Just too cute!
We even at dinner off the fancy Christmas china and that table called the Dining Room table....thanks mom for fixing that up for us!!
And, then there was the "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake!
MOM! These candles won't light!!
And, there was a note for Santa himself.....and he had to sign it before he left!
And, then we had to get Santa's cookies just right!
Opening ONE gift before they went to bed....
Thank ya....thank ya very much! GOOD-NIGHT! Christmas morning awaits.....
Don't worry, this is not all for my kids. This is at grandparents house and there are 5 grandchildren. Still alot though!
Dylan's favorite gift of all....a PSP.
Tyler's favorite gift...a scooter thingy that is motorized
Clay's favorite gift are tickets to a Memphis Tiger basketball game....
Come on mom! Please not a picture!
There was a lot of coke drank by my kids these last few days and a lot of PSP playing too. It was a BIG technology Christmas for them and we all might need our stomachs pumped tomorrow.
The Thomas kids and their cousins hope your Christmas was full of fun and cheer.
And, may the new year be filled with God's love in your hearts and homes.
Friday, December 21, 2007
It is Friday morning. Two of the three children are still asleep at 8:00....(I love breaks from school and the sleeping they do!) And, it's foggy and wintry looking, but a balmy 55 degrees outside!!! But, I am overcome with thoughts and emotions as I sit in my comfy bed with my laptop on lap, big giant cup of yummy coffee next to me, and Christmas is literally 4 days away!
Life is good.
But let me tell you of an amazing experience from Thursday evening where life is not so good for everyone......
Last night, our families within Children's Ministry at our church, had the opportunity to deliver "dreams" to the Dream Center here in our home town. Let me tell you what the Dream Center is first. This is a Christian facility for adults and families to live for free while they get their feet back on the ground. You see, there is no alcohol or drug addiction, they just need some help getting their feet grounded. They must have a job and go to work. As soon as they begin to make enough money and afford a place of their own, its time to move out and move on. It is truly a wonderful place for people to get the help they need, spiritually and emotionally. It is a temporary landing when they had no place to go. I LOVE IT!!
For 3 or 4 years now, our Children's Ministry families are given an opportunity to take a "dream" off our Dream Christmas tree at church. And, can I tell you when I first get this list of dreams from the center that I cry like a baby over it. There is a 23 yr old male at the center who asked for one item in particular......I thought, this is great, we can do this......and then he asked for a 2nd dream.......
A family that loves me.
Whoa! I took a deep breath and prayed right there for that boy. There is heartache in this world. There is sadness in the Dream Center. There is a desperate need for hope and love for these folks. Really, for any of us.
I could hardly get through our presentation last night of the "dreams" that we had bought, prayed over, and delivered to these families. The emotions were high in my heart and finally broke through as we sang "Silent Night" at the end.
Their dreams were very different than our dreams. They want families that love them. They want items for the center in which they live.....BASIC necessities that we just go out and buy at Walmart. They want easy, easy things. These are their dreams.
The joy from this event comes at the end of this process of picking a name off the tree, getting their dreams, wrapping the gifts, and then.........you get to actually SEE who you bought for and prayed for. To put names and faces together was awesome. We made dreams come true last night and the gratitude from their hearts and mouths was the most genuine thing I've seen in a long time.
Their faces were joyful. Their "thank you's" were straight from the heart. Their hugs were from deep within. Their dreams were met.
Thank you to all our church families who participated and who were able to come. We gave them hope. We gave them love. We came together as the body of Christ. I felt Jesus in that room last night. I was overjoyed and full of love.
I hope you have had those feelings of "Jesus in the room" and being overjoyed and full of love this Christmas season. If not, I pray your heart allows Him to do that beautiful thing that only Jesus can do........His presence can come at any moments asking. He is at His finest when He is present. Because, hearts and lives are changed forever whenever He shows up.
I love you, Jesus. I want to thank you for your birth. You were the greatest gift of all. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.
Merry Christmas friends. I love all of you deeply. Thank you Leigh for praying.
Romans 15:13 was our scripture and it says this...."May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I'm beginning to write this on Sunday night and asking God to give me the words to convey my heart to you. I told someone at church tonight that if you could split me down the middle in two parts, I would be 1/2 happy, and 1/2 lay down on the floor and cry for 101 reasons.
Tonight at church, we had our annual Carols and Candles service. This service is my favorite service during Christmas. I grew up going to it on Christmas eve, but our church has communion on Christmas eve and this service is the weekend prior to Christmas. And, I absolutely love what it does for my heart and to my heart. I think.
I instantly had a lump in my throat from the very beginning.
We began to get ready for the service and I decided that I wanted peace among us as we left the house and entered the sanctuary, so I told all 3 boys that they didn't have to "dress up" for the service. And, that went over very well to say the least! So, we pull into the parking lot and the first family I see is all decked out and I instantly second guess my decision. However, I knew we were probably going to be sitting in the balcony because we were late getting there and maybe noone would see us! :)
And, then my mind began swirling all around (for a split second) the opinions we all have based on what we wear to church. And, I grew up getting dressed up for church and there were no casual service or jeans in church. But, I've become more casual with myself and my family as we head out on Sundays. But, my point with this thought was not about me but about the man, woman or child that cannot have nice clothes for church. What if they want to come into church but don't feel as if they "look" the part so they do not. That breaks my heart. So, now I begin to pray for a place for everyone to find God and worship with Him. I will show reverence to God and give Him my best. But, my best should be found in my heart. And, that is exactly what I asked God to do. Purify my heart Lord and let me come before you to worship and be only with you.
Ok, moving on to what was inside the beautiful sanctuary tonight. As we headed upstairs to the sanctuary I proudly sat with my family right smack in the middle, looking down to see the full choir, the orchestra and musicians in place, and God's house filled to the rim!! WHAT A SIGHT! Right then and there, God fell on my heart and into my mind and I couldn't get Him to let up. He arrived with much to say over me during that 45 minute service. Oh goodness. What do you have to say Lord?? My heart was prepared and once I focused my mind, I heard so much from Him. This is where we started.....
As I looked around at the people sitting near me, I could see many things.....I was HIGHLY entertained by a precious 3 yr old boy who used his candle as a microphone to jam out to some of the very grown up songs. I saw him also use this same candle to try to look through it like a telescope or something. And, then the highlight was him sticking the candle up his nose for all the boys around to giggle and laugh. Even this mother. He would say out loud in the hush of the service..."Look Mama!" I truly love all these moments as a bystander and not the mother. I wonder if momma was sweating buckets over there with that precious boy who reminds me so much of my Dylan?!
I saw families who deal with anniversaries of the death of loved ones in the month of December. I wonder how their heart felt during that service and I prayed for each of them to experience another level of God's healing and mercy. When you put the church body together, you can look around and see much that has taken place in their personal lives. Our own Sr. Pastor lost his mother just this past week and his dads death was 2 yrs ago on Sunday. December can be a very difficult time for so many. I felt that emotion come over me with each reading of scripture and each magnificent song. I prayed for God's presence to touch each families life in that new and loving way that only He can do.
I got teary eyed as my finger followed along the words to some of the traditional Christmas hymns and my sweet 7 yr old son sang his heart out. He sang with true joy. I had flashbacks of my mom holding the hymnal down for me as a child and using her finger as a guide so I could follow along. That moment can take you back for a second as you see yourself all grown up and you have been given the beautiful gift of children to grow, love, and teach them about Jesus.
My oldest son sang and that made me so happy. He truly followed along with every word, song and prayer. It was beautiful for me to see him participate and not be "too cool."
I saw families of many generations come together during this Christmas season. I thought of the future when my boys come home at Christmas and what that relationship will be like and look like. I will pray daily for their futures. I don't want them to fall off this safe path they are on now. The world has not hit them yet. Oh, Lord, may their hearts and minds be set firmly on Who you are and Your desires for their life.
And.... now the end of the service and the lighting of the candles and the dimming of the lights.....
Ok, Fran....no crying! You see, this is a very tender part for this momma's heart.....the beauty of the church and its families, the children carefully holding their candles waiting for their turn, realizing again that WE are the light of this world and we pass that light on to each person we know....our families first. We sing the beautiful song, Silent Night, and tears begin to roll down my face. I can't help it. God has come in and showed me many things tonight.
Jesus came as a human. The WORD became flesh to dwell among us! That hit me fresh and new. He came for me, for you, for all of us. I pray that each person in church REALLY knows the daily-ness of God. I pray that when we leave the church and shine our light brightly, others will be drawn to us and we can share Jesus with others. He is the perfect gift. I pray that you spend some time reflecting on Him, your family, and your prayers for the World, His kingdom and your role.
I was blessed beyond words at our Carols and Candles service. I allowed Him to come in and reveal things to me that I might not have seen.
Do that between now and Christmas. Ask Him to reveal new things to you. Feel Him in places that you should and then places that surprise you. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, spend some extra time seeking Him in these new places.
Have a wonderful day my friends! Thank you Jesus for coming to dwell among us.....first as a baby and now in our hearts. I love you~
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Somewhere I read about family traditions at Christmas and to be honest I had to think a little bit. There is much we do together during December, but to think about a tradition caused me to think deep. What do we do year after year that would be considered a tradition???
I will say that my DNA is made up of some strong service genes. I love thinking about how we, the body, are all made up so differently with different gifts. When working together, we can bring others closer in their walk with Jesus. We might even be the first glimpse of Jesus these people ever have! What a thought! If you ever just think about the differences in humanity you can get blown away. Boy! God knew what He was doing, huh?! We all have gifts and a purpose.
The body is defined as the physical part of a person and also a group working as a unit. Think about it....a GROUP working as a UNIT. I love it.
Thank you Jesus for the differences in the wonderful body. Let it bless us and not divide us. May we have the eyes and heart to see your beautiful body living at its potential!
Today, my 2nd son, Tyler's 4th grade class, went to RIFA. RIFA stands for Regional Inter-Faith Association. It started 31 yrs ago by a group of pastors to help people who are without jobs and are in need food, clothing, etc. Today, they take care of the working poor, the homeless, and anyone that is of need. RIFA provides EVERYTHING, to the best that they can, for those with a need. One piece to their puzzle is the Snack Backpack program for elementary school children. Let me explain this fantastic puzzle piece....
The schools began to see that children were coming to school on Monday morning very hungry. Teachers learned that these children had not much, if anything, to eat over the weekend at their homes. So, with donations, RIFA puts together a "backpack" once a week for these 250 children to take home EVERY Friday. This, my friends, is one beautiful example of the body of Christ at work. Here are some of the kids assembling the backpacks for the children.....
You see, some people want to shop for the food to bring. Some people will be able to take the time to sort through the food. Some people will want to fill the backpacks. Some people want to load the backpacks into the proper place for the school to pickup. Some can give a lot of time. Some can give only a little bit of time. Some might not be able to give anything of time, but they can give money to buy the food for the backpack But, in all of this, there is one most important similarity.....
THE HEART OF JESUS!
When we are able to do what God calls us to do...no matter how much or how little... God doesn't see size....we can be Jesus to others. We can be Jesus to others and maybe they didn't even see who did all the work. Sometimes our work is behind the scenes. Sometimes our work is with our hands and feet right there with the people.
I love it all!! I want to serve and show Jesus to anyone I can. Because, Jesus transformed my heart and life, I want others to see the hope that comes from only Him. He heals. He restores. He loves. He saves. He provides. He is faithful. He is merciful. He can do anything with anyone! HALLELUJAH!
One tradition my family can count on in December is being Jesus with skin on to many people. I want my kids to be hands on for Him. I want them to be involved from beginning to end with a family we might support at Christmas, a mission, or a project of some kind. They won't just buy the gift. We will find scripture for that family and their circumstance. We will pray daily for them. We will deliver the gifts as a family if we are able. We will see it from beginning to end. WHY?
This will make a difference as they grow older. I want them to be servants for Jesus and growing His kingdom. It needs to be something they feel, see, and hear. Here are Tyler and his classmates being hands on and making a difference in the Kingdom....
Y'all the body of Christ is the most beautiful thing to me. I pray that I am not angered or frustrated when I don't think people are doing what they should be doing.
God convicted of me this recently and I pray for the body to be using the gifts HE gave them. Not the gifts that I think they have.
The Message says this in 1 Corinthians 12:4, "God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit."
So, if your gift is service, wisdom, teaching, preparing, etc. The gift is from God and when we work and operate together in unity, we are a beautiful body in action.
My child experienced action today as he put his hands and feet and heart to help others. I pray that you, during Christmas, will experience the fullness of serving and showing the love of Christ to others. And, that will look different for each of us. And, thank you Lord that it is!
And finally, boys wouldn't be boys if they weren't allowed to jump in a giant box and stomp the trash down! Have a joyful, loving, giving Christmas. May Jesus shine brightly for others to see Him through your family.
Love you all! Be a Jesus Action Figure this Christmas!!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My hubs just walked past me and said, "This was my dinner tonight..."
1.A peanut butter sandwich before kids basketball practice(we had no jelly or turkey for a better sandwich)
2.Two waffles (after kids basketball practice and me and Dylan ate finely at mexican restaurant)
3.And a prepackaged thingy of blueberry muffins while watching Boston Legal.
That's not nice y'all. We are dying laughing though. The sad thing is I have been to Wal-mart, Target, Kroger, and Walgreens every day and yet we have nothing of substance.
At least we can laugh. Oh yeah, and he's come down with some crud in his head and we have no medicine either. WHATS WRONG HERE PEOPLE????
posted by Fran at 9:39 PM
Monday, December 10, 2007
I am going to share some complete randomness with you today that includes some favorite pictures and scriptures. I hope this will bless you as you have stopped by to read what I have to say.....And, let me start with my Christmas card scripture from this year that is powerpacked in one beautiful sentence....
John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
WOW! That is huge, and beautiful, and very cool. I can't get my mind around what the Father has done for each of us. I love you Jesus! Happy Birthday my Savior!
Now, onto some randomness and I hope it brings you Christmas cheer as you may feel crunch time, overwhelmed, stressed, sad, depressed, or frustrated. May His presence come in and do things that only our Savior can do.
A few days ago I wrote about my 3rd sons birthday and wrote that he is complete joy to our family. I found this scripture and it blessed me as I thought about my Dylan and I pray it blesses you if you have children..
Psalm 23:25, "May your father and mother rejoice, may she who gave you birth be joyful." Dylan, I rejoice over you, sweet one.
Ok, now onto the other December birthday we have....my hubs!! His birthday is 4 days after Dylan's. And December birthdays are really difficult by the way. So, if you are planning a baby...try November or January. I almost forgot hubs! I wish y'all could have seen my kitchen the day of his birthday....I was cooking up a storm for dinner and even did a giant brownie birthday cake because thats the one thing we all love....ovens were smokin and I was a little frantic...those of you that know me, know that cooking dinner AND a birthday brownie cake is requiring a lot of me.
But, you do it out of love for your family. And, I'm thankful for my family.
Psalm 95:2, "Let us come before him with thanksgiving...."
Also in that same week of 2 birthdays, was our annual Christmas parade. Well, our church does something very cool, I think. We have a hot chocolate station and we pass out free hot chocolate to anyone and everyone. It is a beautiful act of love and kindness to share with others. We simply say, "Have a very merry Christmas."
It was so much fun. It gives me complete joy to give to others....even a cup of hot chocolate. And, then to see some of our own precious children pour and serve to others. That brings a tear to this eye! So, here we are.
Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people..."
Me and hubs at the parade!
I just love this family right here...oh, do they have a fabulous testimony!
And finally, my dear friend Carolyn and I rode to Victory Ranch which is just north of where we live. Victory Ranch is a christian camp in the Summer for kids but during the winter season they do all sorts of things. This January, this is where our church is having its first ever overnight retreat for women! I am beyond excited! Whenever I have gone to an overnight retreat, I'm changed for life. I desperately want all the women from church to come. I want them to come get away with Jesus. I am praying for God to make a path for them to come. It's hard for us mommas to get away. He will bless the socks off us though. Because thats what Jesus does when we gather together in His name! So, these are some pix that I took of that day. I can't wait. And, for all you prayer warrior friends out there who are outside of TN, would you please pray for the event? Thank ya!
I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman. And, I need time away with Jesus to accomplish this.
Yes, this is a buffalo. There are many to greet you when you enter in the Ranch.
This is where we get fed! How cool is this?!
And, then it was time to go. See ya in January Victory Ranch! I just love the name.
It makes me want to spell it out...V-I-C-T-O-R-Y
Psalm 60:12, "With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies." You go God! You trample down anything that is not of you in my life!
Bye, Victory Ranch.
If you are in need of some hope right now, this is one of my absolute favorites:
Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
God is awesome. He can do things we cannot do on our own. Give Him everything. Trust Him with everything. He's in the business of hope, love, peace, healing, joy, salvation, restoration, grace, mercy and a million other things.
May God's presence and love be more real to you than you have ever experienced.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I heard about this video this morning. It's too cute. I was singing along and I don't even know the words....and I love the point they are making. Enjoy!
And, Merry CHRISTMAS!
UPDATE!! I figured it out Bethanne!! I am so happy. I am becoming techno savvy! :)
Y'all if you have not seen or heard this, then click on this link below and enjoy. It's fun, and easy to find yourself singing right along with this song you've never heard before! Maybe you have though. :) And, on another note...I want to know how to post Youtube videos without doing this linkything and my brain can't figure it out. Sorry...thats what I really wanted to do, but I'm just a girl from Arkansas living in Tennessee that doesn't know what the heck she's doing! HA!
Merry Christmas everyone!
posted by Fran at 1:05 PM
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Today was the 1st Sunday of Advent....Advent means "the coming." This is the time on the Christian calendar when we celebrate the coming of Jesus. He is coming! He is coming! We celebrate the coming of His birth. We also celebrate the glorious return He'll make one day in the future.
Let me share something with you that one of our pastors on staff shared last week and it came up again in our sermon that is completely worth sharing in regards to Advent and HE'S COMING!
When you even say those words, "He's coming" or hear those words "He's coming,"your ears kind of perk up a little and want to know more about who's coming and when are they coming??? It peaks my interest in regards to how we, as humans, act when we hear someone is coming. It can be a good thing or a bad thing. Now, I've got a whole new visual of how I begin to visualize the coming birth of that most amazing baby boy named Jesus. Oh, what a special birth announcement in the heavenlies. The gift is coming.
Let's go back in time a week or so. Remember the infamous Black Friday?? Remember how you either were a part of it or saw the people on tv?? Remember the lines of people waiting outside Best Buy or some other store all night long in the cold waiting?? Remember the anticipation, possibly even seeing the gift just inside the door of the store??? Do you remember?? Do you remember how it looked to be close but so far away?? Remember how you felt if you were out there with them??? Were you exhausted, but would wait it out?? Were you anxious, but excited, to get the gift you wanted so badly??? We lost sleep. We woke up early. We sat outside in the cold even. For what???
Oh, the gift. Lets think about gifts for a second. Here's a tough question. Can you remember what gifts you gave your family last year?? Can you remember what you received as a gift last year from your family??? I'll be honest....I can't remember much.
But, oh, the gift of His birth. This gift means something huge. It meant hope long ago and it still means something deep into our hearts over 2,000 years later. The gift of hope.
Gifts (not necessarily tangible gifts) are important to me at Christmas. As I get older, I think about the amazing gifts that were brought to baby Jesus when he was born. I want my gifts to others to be just as amazing. We all do. I do not want to get caught up in the crazy, frenzy world of "they don't have enough and they need one more thing." I want to give personal, meaningful, thought out gifts to those people I love. It's also getting harder each year.
Let me ask you a question regarding the season of Advent and the coming of Jesus' birth many years ago......
What if we camped out with that same excitement from Black Friday and that same kind of anticipation of getting "the deal" and we anxiously waited on the doorsteps each time the church doors were to open .......for the gift? Oh, yes.....that most perfect gift. I can see it. I want it. It's just right inside the doors. Do we get that excited over being in worship either alone or corporately?? Ouch.
"Oh Jesus, please Lord please, fill me with that excitement, joy, anxiousness, I can see it just inside the door kind of desire, for YOU. For You Jesus. I want to experience You like no other Advent.....like no other time in my life. May you come in and fill my heart with that hope the people were desperately waiting for as they were seeking out the birth of the Messiah! You are the one. You came Jesus! You came!! You are the perfect gift. I want to experience You every single day.
Hope is defined as: to desire something with confident expectation of its fullfillment
Romans 15:13 says this..."May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I hope for many things this Advent season. And the things I hope for are not tangible. I pray that you spend some time today thinking about what hope means to you. What kind of excitement do you have this year? Is He waking you up early? Is He causing you to be excited?
Are you anxiously awaiting Him?
I hope that you anxiously await the celebration of Jesus' big day! I hope you cannot wait to get inside church and feel the gift, see the gift, embrace the gift you have received!
I love you Jesus. I want to experience you fully this Advent season. You are unbelievable in what you do and who you are, and I put all my hope in you! May our hope in Him be full all year long.
Merry Christmas! And, Happy Advent season!